“It doesn’t matter if you’re doing bodybuilding, weightlifting, wrestling, soccer, badminton, ping pong — whatever it is, as long as you get off the couch and do something,” the actor said Friday.
Bringing his signature sports festival to Hong Kong for the first time, Terminator star Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday extended his warmest welcome to the people of the city, including martial arts actor Jackie Chan.
Addressing a room of reporters in his neatly ironed suit, the former California governor also called China “one of his favourite countries” and praised mainland athletes competing in the Olympic games.
The former bodybuilding champion is in town to open his inaugural Arnold Classic Asia Multi-Sport Festival, an annual global sport convention with Hong Kong as its Asian home base this year.
The festival – which features a wide range of sports from martial arts to bodybuilding to chess as well as some festival firsts: rugby and table tennis – will be held on Saturday and Sunday.
The Hong Kong edition is partnered with Alisports, partly held by the Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.
In an interview with the Post, the Hollywood star said he would love to invite Jackie Chan, just as he wished to invite everyone in the city, to the festival.
“Jackie Chan is a great friend,” he said, sharing a rare glimpse into the relationship between the two.
“As a matter of fact, my first Segway, which I ride around all over, was from Jackie Chan. He sends great birthday gifts and is a very generous guy, a very smart guy and a very talented guy.”
Founded by Schwarzenegger in 1976 as a bodybuilding contest, the festival then expanded to include other sports in 1989, with the help of his business partner Jim Lorimer.
The annual sports extravaganza has since taken hold on five continents, with Asia being the latest this year.
Schwarzenegger said that Asia boasted loads of potential.
“If you come to Asia, you really hit, like I said, two-thirds of the world population, [that is] 4.4 billion people. So you can really reach out and reach a lot of people,” he told the Post.
“You cannot have a successful fitness promotion, bodybuilding promotion and health promotion without including Asia,” he also said in a speech on Friday.
Schwarzenegger said: “One of my favourite countries is China, and Hong Kong is a place I have promoted my movies, I have promoted special Olympics here.”
“It’s a hip place. So if you want to present something new and different, I think Hong Kong is the place to go,” he told the Post on why he had chosen the city for the event’s Asian base.
“It’s a great place for people to come together from all the Asian countries, and then unite here and celebrate sports and fitness,” he added.
The Hong Kong edition of the festival is also a collaborative effort between the private sector and government.
“We really love this. This is fantastic for our young kids. We want to go and help,” the actor said, noting the support from local authorities shortly before he was scheduled to see Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at a business meeting.
He said the event aimed to encourage families and people of all ages to get off the couch and exercise.
The city’s youngsters are notoriously under intense academic pressure, and the Austrian-born star reminded the city not to forget striking a good balance.
He said he competed and trained “five and six hours a day” while he went to university, adding that exercise should be a lifelong habit.
“Until you are six feet under, you have to work on your body,” he said.
Asked for his secret to good health, the actor said he woke at 5am every morning to hit the gym and never missed a session.
“It is not only important to be a bodybuilding champion, to do movies and to be the governor, but to use my power of influence to promote health and fitness over all the world,” he said.