Sean Seah is a 37-year-old investor in Singapore. On the internet, though, he’s better known as the guy who went viral for copying the workout of an anime character called One Punch Man. Every day for 30 days, he says, he did 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats and a 10K run — and when he posted the results, he sparked a new fitness trend.
Seah sat down with MEL to talk about how he started this workout, what motivated him to keep up the routine, and what it’s like to become an overnight exercise sensation with a dedicated and growing Facebook group of 22,000 people.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is One Punch Man? And of all the workouts in the world, why this one?
One Punch Man is a very popular Japanese anime — he’s a superhero that has super strength. He can eliminate all his enemies and all the monsters with just one punch.
In that anime, there is a particular scene where they ask him, “Where do you get your super powers from?” And he tells them that it’s actually a training regimen: He does 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats and a 10K run every day. And on the show, the workout is actually quite a joke because we know that it doesn’t give you super strength. So for fans of the show, it became a popular concept. Everyone kind of laughs at his very particular routine.
But then it was January 1st and I needed a New Year’s resolution. I was thinking I needed to lose some weight anyway, so why don’t I start something? And I remembered the One Punch Man routine, and I thought, even if it’s funny, I should just do it.
It is really simple. I don’t have to go to the gym. I can do it anywhere. So I figured I’d start with something really simple and really cheap so I could just get started immediately.
I don’t really do much weight training. I’d been doing push-ups and sit-ups sometimes, but I don’t do it often.
One part of One Punch Man’s regimen is to “never, ever use the air conditioner in the summer or heat in the winter so you can strengthen the mind,” but it’s too hot in Singapore to do that.
On the 2nd of January, [I did] the full workout right off the bat. I wasn’t in very good shape, [so] I actually couldn’t move for the next few days. In fact, I was in such great pain, I had to take two to three weeks to totally recover.
So then, on the 10th of February, I decided to start from a 5K run instead of 10K, and I redid the whole routine from level 1 to level 10 to ease into it better.
What kept you going? I didn’t run today, and it felt great. I love quitting.
When I started on February 10th, I did a short video for my friends, asking them to do it together, and I posted it on social media as a challenge on the first day. And after the first day, some of my friends actually caught on.
They began to post their results, and they kept me going. I continued posting together with my friends. I think that can be really helpful, knowing that someone is watching you and you’re accountable.
Why do you think that out of the infinite number of workout videos, this one caught on?
I’ve never had a post that’s gone so viral. So when I look back, I think it was a combination of a few things.
One thing was the results. I think a lot of people saw that and wanted it for themselves. [Also] that it is a very simple workout. Almost anyone can do it, anywhere.
And finally, I do think the anime factor is very big. Because if I had just posted about doing 100 push-ups and sit-ups for 30 days, it might not have gone as viral. But [it’s] because of the anime and the humor factor of the anime: It’s supposed to be a joke, but it turned out to be effective.
When people watch the anime and see One Punch Man’s routine, it’s a joke, it’s funny that he has superpowers from this simple workout. But then when I actually did it, people saw that it actually had great results and that caused it to go viral, in my opinion.
One more small thing is that I noticed that it went viral because a lot of people shared the post — and when they did, they would tag their friends. People tagged their friends because they wanted to do it together, either to work out together or because they both shared interest in anime. So it became a very social thing too.
And that’s what lead to the [One Punch Man Workout] group. Someone in my Facebook audience messaged me and asked me if I could start a group to answer questions and encourage one another. For me, I had an accountability partner, so I thought starting the group would be good. I’m not an expert but maybe we can encourage one another.
What was your diet?
I don’t really eat very un-healthily normally. I just eat really normal food. I began to [cut] down sugar — like, instead of soft drinks I drank water, and I cut down on snacks, carbs and fried food. Other than that, I just ate normal. I still eat burgers, but just one half of the bun. [I] cut fries. As you exercise more, you start to want to eat healthier too.
Since completing the 30 days, how does it feel to amass a following?
I did a follow-up video since it’s been 60 days already. I made a confession: After 30 days I was actually pretty tired.
But the post went viral, and with the group, I realized there was no turning back. I had to keep going. So when I started to see a lot of people get results too, I got motivated. I know it’s just doing simple exercises and making lifestyle changes that can give you results. So I felt really excited.
So what’s next for One Punch Man?
I’m doing more videos talking about dieting and another couple videos on alternative ways to do cardio. Some people can’t run, so I’m going to talk about swimming, biking or skipping at home. I’m going to do some more videos to encourage as many people as I can in the group.
And the group is actually self-sustaining now. It’s people from everywhere in the world, it’s amazing, everyone is posting things and asking questions, and the other members are posting answers and encouraging one another. So I’m just going to keep posting things I find along the way. I always make sure to emphasize that I’m not an expert, I’m just sharing my experience with it.
It’s quite funny: I’ve always been an investor, posting videos about investing, and none of them went viral. But suddenly this video went viral. I like the rule [that] staying healthy can give you a lot of benefits. So it doesn’t really change my persona: I am who I am. Fitness is just one portion of your life we all need to take care of — whether you’re an investor, engineer or an editor. I think it’s important for all of us to stay healthy, and we all need to take care of that portion of our lives.