TV personality Baki Zainal is hooked on the outdoors and he cannot go more than three weeks living in the concrete jungle, writes Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan
THE striking thing about TV personality Baki Zainal, who is dressed in T-shirt and bermuda shorts, is how skinny his legs are.
They look like twigs. Really. And he looks like he can wear a pair of skinny and make them look like straight cut jeans.
His hands are skinny too, flailing as he speaks, camouflaged only by the loose grey sweater he has over the black T-shirt.
“I am not into muscle building,” says the trilingual host, who can speak Malay, Mandarin and English fluently.
The truth is, Baki, 31, is a cardiovascular exercise junkie with a soul for the outdoors. He runs, swims, fishes, rafts, climbs, cliff jumps, bungee jumps, cycles, dives and treks in forests.
He swims three times weekly and right now is taking swimming classes to improve his swimming techniques. Soon, he wants to enrol in swimming classes for rescuers.
BE A MAN
He is the youngest sibling. His eldest brother wanted to “make a man out of him”, so he was dragged for camping, kayaking, diving, fishing and all other outdoor activities the brothers could think of.
“My nephews are as old as I am and they are master divers and trainers and they are all very outdoorsy. To blend in, I better join in what they do!” says the bubbly host.
Two years ago, he and his eldest brother Fazwi, 43, bought a boat since “we fish a lot”.
They are so into the outdoors that they even bought over a nature tour operating company in Royal Belum State Park, Perak, which organises camping, fishing and trekking in the forest.
“We work with Orang Asli to promote eco-friendly activities to reduce carbon footprint in the park,” he says.
“As much as I love the city and chilling out with my friends, if I don’t see the sea or the forest in three weeks, I think I slowly become cuckoo... really.
“Nature and exercise rejuvenate me in a way that nothing else can,” he says.
EXERCISE AS NECESSITY
But exercise isn’t something he does for fun. “It’s all out of necessity. After recording for three hours — talking, jumping and interacting with the audience — you’ll feel flat and tired. It’s that bad. You really need stamina in this field.”
So he exercised to build his stamina for work and before long, he found love in outdoor exercises.
“I don’t like running on the treadmill. It’s not as difficult as pounding the pavement where there’s no air-conditioning and you need to be aware of your surroundings.
“Road running requires you to train your breathing and heart harder,” he says.
He’s busy with work but he squeezes in workouts when he can. Even at night, he will go home in Shah Alam and run. If it rains, he wears a windbreaker and hits the road.
“All those excuses people give are excuses, not reasons. You can talk of traffic jams, not having time, too tired to exercise... but if you want something, you make time for it.”
“My mum is 65. She asks me to buy her exercise gear but she never wears them. One day, I asked her to walk with me to a nearby shop. We took a longer route home and it was awesome to spend time with my mum.”
Baki says meetings often revolve around food. “We’re like the Italians, you know. We talk, fight, discuss and decide on important matters over food. I think we can have that and we can also exercise together.”
Functional is the keyword when he dresses up for any outdoor activity and he rarely leaves for an island or a forest without his Columbia gear.
“It was a brand I bought overseas before it was available here,” he says. “Outdoor clothes have to be lightweight. Your backpack is heavy enough with supplies, so you don’t need extra weight from them.
“And you need a fast-drying technology that wicks sweat and does not make your clothes smelly after three days in the forest. And something that dries fast,” he says.