Interview: Ian Tan

As a child, I was always picking my nose and spacing out. People had to try hard to get my attention. My mom used to have to say, “Earth to Ian” three or four times because I’d be lost in my own world.

I was really angry. There was a bit of bullying in my life; in school and during tuition. That was how I got into martial arts. It helped—I learnt how to fight back.

When I was studying in a university in California, I was insecure and oversensitive—I felt like there was a lot of racism, when there really wasn’t.

Dad said, “When someone says something you don’t like, wait a moment to question the guy’s true intentions and breathe. After that, if you feel you still need to react, do it. But it probably won’t be necessary.”

You are not better than anyone. A good person is a good person, regardless of where he or she comes from. F*ck you for thinking you’re better.

If I woke up one day and realized I’d gained 10 pounds, I’d probably take a sh*t and carry on with my day.

Weird things happen on cheat days, but I’m okay with that.

Ice cream makes everything okay.

Ritual is the biggest thing I’ve ever helped create. The process was tiring, aggressive and beautiful, all at the same time. To me, it was and still is an epic quest.

Waking up is hard for me, too, when I don’t get enough sleep. But once I’ve done some deep breathing and joint mobility movements, and had a cup of coffee, I’m so happy I get to do what I do.

The crew that I hang out with, the Orange Kettlebell Club, inspires me. They do what they do well and with more heart than anyone I know. Everytime I travel with them, I come back a better person, with a clearer mind.

If I could be a published author, my book would be about exercise and nutrition, and I’d call it We Don’t Know Sh*t.

I try not to look at success as an end goal. I try to succeed every single day.

I would do what I do now for free because I find great enjoyment in helping people realize their goals, learn about movement, feel inspired and inspire others.

I have a lot of respect for everyone that is trying to make a positive change in their lives.

People take life too seriously.

When I seek pleasure and attain it, I never feel guilt. I realize this might be a flaw.

I need to work with someone who has a rational mind because I can be quite a purist. I’m stubborn—things have to be the way they should be. But there are too many constraints for that.

It’s difficult to stay true in the world we live in now.

I would rather not be bound to one country. I’m working on automating a good amount of the work I do so that I can spend my time traveling and living in multiple places around the world.

The only thing that’s keeping me in Singapore is my family. I’m not too worried about friends. They’ll travel.

If I were stranded on an island alone, I’d want a good knife, a flint and a hot girl with me.