Kevin Zahri’s 5 year plan involves tackling the root of the issue – Malaysia’s current fitness education in schools
A US certified personal trainer and nutritionist with over 14 years’ worth of experience, Kevin Zahri has published over 10 books, written for Men’s Health, other fitness and lifestyle magazines, hosted and appeared on various TV shows, programs and magazines. We manage to catch up with the founding creator behind Malaysia’s nationwide weight loss program, Jom Kurus and his plans on developing a healthier nation, one school at a time.
How he got into the fitness scene
“I’m a chemical engineer by profession but I’ve always been active in sports. I originally started getting fit out of passion while I was pursuing my engineering degree at Northeastern University in Boston, USA. I enjoyed it so much that I pursued my official American Fitness Training of Athletics (AFTA) certification. When I came back to Malaysia, I started to do personal training coaching and consultations to earn some extra cash on the side.”
Kevin’s passion for fitness turned into a full-time career when he started the Jom Kurus program.
“We launched the Jom Kurus program in Kuala Lumpur back in 2012 – it was very successful because of the approach we took,” he explains. “What we did is we educated and empowered the public to understand what is fitness and nutrition, not simply just to train them into becoming more fit.”
The success of the program in KL then created a demand from other states like Penang, Johor, Kelantan and Sabah who actually requested him to bring the program to them.
“Since the essence of the program comes from us, we figured the public would just need a vehicle that allows them to jump on board. So we opened up the registration for team leaders all over the country. The response was overwhelming. The first season was in 2014 and 40 to 50 different regions around Malaysia took part. It has grown to over 200 locations in Malaysia, with Singapore and Brunei on the list.”
Are we aware of what’s
going in our bodies?
Kevin explains that people are aware that it’s important to be active and that obesity poses dangerous risks.
“I feel the problem for Malaysians is that we are constantly surrounded by food. Although this doesn’t just apply to Malaysia specifically, we embrace food a lot more than others. Therefore we are currently working on to bringing education tackling topics on fitness, weight management and active lifestyle to schools. The rate of obesity among schools in Malaysia is reaching an alarming rate. We lack a creative form of health education so whatever taught to students doesn’t actually stick to them.”
Kevin also talks about how food made available for schoolchildren in Malaysia needs to improve.
“My son attends an international school – one of the ways they learn on sugar is they would have to go around the school in search for available drinks. They study the nutrition labels and jot the number of grams of sugar per serving for a drink. They also do cross comparisons between different drinks, discuss about the importance of sugar as an energy source and why certain drinks contain more sugar. The way the problem is presented is much different so students are interested and the information is more fun to digest. Rather than presenting it from a dry, educational perspective.”
“We want to try and instill these health education with the help of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. We are currently in a midst of discussion – it’s going to be a five-year plan to slowly develop these creative health modules at schools so that the teachers can adopt them and pass it down to the students.” — The Health
School activities in Japan for instance, are more focused on keeping children healthy and fit through daily sports.