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Fitness Guru and UFC Coach Ruben Payan Jr. on ‘China From All Angles’

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Ruben Payan Jr. is a force to be reckoned with. A former member of the United States Marine Corps, Payan identifies as an expert mountaineer, writer, actor, film producer, fitness guru, and UFC coach. On this last note, he was the strength and conditioning coach for former world champion UFC fighter Zhang Weili.

In this episode of RADII’s China From All Angles podcast, host Wes Chen prompts Payan to speak about developing fitness programs and witnessing the growth of MMA in China over the past decade.

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After leaving the U.S. Marine Corps in 2000, Payan fell into the fitness industry and was the first-ever fitness professional to climb the Seven Summits and the notorious K2.

Payan moved to China in 2007 with the original intention to only stay a year. Six months into living in the country, he decided to hang around longer.

His own mother has described his move to China as ‘destiny.’ In the podcast, Payan recounts an incident that happened to him through his mother’s eyes: As a child, he had pointed at a star and said, “China.”

Following in the footsteps of many foreigners who move to China, Payan spent his early years in the country teaching English but eventually turned his attention to fitness, his true passion. In 2008, he opened his first studio in China, which also happened to be the country’s first functional training studio.

Fast forward to 2021: Stride Gym, Payan’s latest project, is even more specialized and focuses on functional training tools.

But there’s more in this episode of China From All Angles. Listen to the episode to learn about Payan’s novel-turned-film We Are War and what working with Chinese MMA fighters is like.

‘China From All Angles’ is brought to you by East-West Bank, the premier financial bridge between the US and China. Listen to the new podcast’s first episode on SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon PodcastsSoundCloud, and 小宇宙.

Hungry to discover more human stories from China’s MMA scene? Then take a look at our ongoing Way of the Warrior series.

Cover image designed by Haedi Yue

Lu Zhao
Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.
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