By Circle Editorial Team  

Who knew that all it takes to get a nation talking is a game show that revolves around one’s physicality? Surprise surprise, South Korea is back at it again, after blessing the world with global sensations like Running Man, Squid Game, and Singles Inferno. This time, it is Physical: 100 that is the talk of the town. On this show, one hundred contestants in top physical shape are pitted against each other through a series of gruelling physical challenges.

With the wildly popular extreme survival show crowning its inaugural champion last Tuesday (21st February 2023), there is no better time to review the one takeaway we should be leaving the show with.


As a show, Physical: 100’s premise revolves around the most perfect physique. To many newcomers, this can be a daunting prospect. This is why the experience shared by South Korea-based Singaporean actress Elaine Wong felt so relatable. And it is not just because she is one of our own.

Elaine Wong Physical: 100 Trailer | Photo Credits: Instagram, Netflix

In a phone interview with The Straits Times, Wong shared her feelings of intimidation. In fact, she even contemplated quitting when she was positioned in close proximity to an extremely muscular female bodybuilder. It is not hard to see ourselves in the same role of a diminutive rabbit adrift in a sea of land sharks. Those eight-packs and bulging biceps are equal parts appealing and terrifying. We probably would have thrown in the towel too.

One would think that the one to clinch the final prize of 300 million Korean Won would be someone who wouldn’t look out of place in a Spartan army. Bodybuilders, powerlifters; just about anyone who could pass off as Hulk from the Marvel comics would be the safe pick. Yet, for all the focus on one’s physique, reality would beg to differ. And as early as the Pre-Quest, even!

Physical: 100 Hanging Challenge | Photo Credits: Netflix

The Hanging Challenge, as its name suggests, saw the 100 contestants hang on a metal bar for as long as possible. This is arguably one of the most demanding tests of one’s upper body strength and endurance. Surely someone with pythons for arms would have the last laugh, right? Nope! It was ice climber and mountain rescuer Kim Min Cheol who managed to outlast the competition.

“My muscles weren’t made in the gym. They were made in my daily life of rescuing people.” Kim’s relatively lean frame has not held him back a bit in this gruelling competition. In fact, he is the only contestant to have emerged victorious in all the challenges before the finals!

If one were to summarize the aforementioned points, it would be that in fitness, looks ain’t the be-all and end-all. But for those who prefer a more visual cue, it can be found in the most unexpected of places - elimination. The contestants each have a plaster cast of their own torso, which they must destroy with their own hands should they suffer the ignominy of elimination. 

Photo Credits: Netflix

Gory? Definitely. Yet, the symbolism is worth so much more than the visual spectacle that it provides. What is destroyed upon elimination isn’t the physical body - just the visual representation of it. For the gym buffs, swole-ness is meaningless if you can't hold up your weight in a real-world scenario. For the typical salarymen like us, the scenes challenge us to break the ancient notion of valuing looking good over actually feeling or being good. Don’t let your body image stop you from aspiring towards living better through sports and leading an active lifestyle!

Just like how age and gender didn’t stop the contestants from accomplishing the grandiose feats of physicality on the show, it is never too late to take the first step towards healthy living. Fortunately for us, there are various ActiveSG Gyms (and other public sports facilities) dotted all over the island for us to work out and enjoy. Find the closest ActiveSG Gym here!

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