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Joshua from R U Tough Enough shares about his never-say-die attitude

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KIX HD and official Telco partner, Singtel TV, have teamed up to launch R U Tough Enough?, a nationwide search for Singapore’s toughest individuals. This competition focus across physical strength,mental and emotional resilience. Ten finalists will be shortlisted to compete in a series of challenges – for a cash prize and title – that will push their physical, mental and emotional limits.

The Active Age (AA) speaks with Joshua Tan (JT), of the Ah Boys to Men films franchise about how he became the face of R U Tough Enough as well as some anecdotes from his budding film and TV career

AA: What’s different about this year’s version of R U Tough Enough (RUTE)?
JT: Past editions of RUTE had always been held in Malaysia and other countries in Southeast Asia, but KIX HD is looking to expand its search. This year, KIX HD is partnering Singtel TV to bring RUTE to Singapore in search of our nation’s toughest. The winner and the first runner-up of RUTE Singapore will represent Singapore in a bigger version of RUTE Southeast Asia, where finalists from across Southeast Asia will enter a final regional competition in Kuala Lumpur to compete for the title of the “Toughest in Southeast Asia” and a final grand prize.

AA: What do you think led KIX HD and Singtel TV to choose you as the ambassador of RUTE?
JT: I believe this would be a question best answered by KIX HD and Singtel TV, but hopefully it’s because I embody the kind of physical, mental and emotional resilience that they are looking for. I believe that real toughness is resilience under pressure. It doesn’t matter what obstacles are placed before you, the ability not to crumble under pressure and to face your challenges head-on represents true resolve.

AA: Why did you agree to be the face of RUTE?
JT: When KIX HD and Singtel TV first approached me, they shared their beliefs and the inspiration behind RUTE, together with some of the inspiring stories from RUTE contestants in other countries. One of the Thai contestants was previously involved in a  car accident and ended up losing his memory and mobility. He had to learn everything again from scratch, including everyday activities such as walking, talking and eating. He persevered for about a year, and eventually recovered fully.

These stories of trials and tribulations, and the never-say-die attitude of the people, really inspired me and I wanted to do my part in encouraging more Singaporeans to share their story, and hopefully be able to inspire more people to overcome the hurdles in their lives, be it physical, mental or emotional.

AA: What can we expect from this year’s version of RUTE?
JT: This is the first time RUTE is coming to Singapore, and I foresee a lot of inspiring stories coming through, which will impress the judges and hopefully motivate other Singaporeans. I am looking forward to seeing the variety of contestants this year, and how Singaporeans can push themselves to going beyond pre-conceived limits.

AA: What does toughness mean to you?
JT: Toughness is not just based on one’s physical strength, it embodies the mental focus, determination, and resolve a person has.

AA: What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced in your career, from an ah boy to your involvement in a live action comedy?
JT: I was tasked to gain 20kg for my role in Ah Boys to Men 4, and due to my extreme weight gain, I faced teasing from my friends and peers. My mental toughness and discipline helped me to turn the teasing into motivation to lose the weight.

Stunt training in Korea for Flying Through Time, a live action comedy theatrical production, pushed my physical capabilities. I learnt the basics of acrobatics and gymnastics, and also expanded my martial arts repertoire. Unfortunately, while working on a back flip, I landed on my neck. While I escaped unscathed, I developed a fear after the accident but eventually overcame this fear.

AA: In your opinion, do you feel that Singaporeans are tough enough?
JT: There seems to be an increasingly common perception that Singaporeans are “soft“, but I would really beg to differ. I feel that people tend to underestimate us. To answer your question, just take a look at our humble beginnings, and compare that with where we are today. I think this speaks volumes about how tough Singaporeans really are. I am excited to meet inspiring contestants that can motivate us to be tougher and persevere through life’s challenges.

AA: Is there anyone you would consider as the ultimate representation of tough?
JT: My father, to me, is the epitome of tough. Coming from humble beginnings, my dad lost his job just around the time I was born and took on another job that he did not like for more than 20 years just to support the family. My dad never complained, and worked tirelessly so we (the family) can live a comfortable life. He taught me that in life, we need to face tough times head-on and do what needs to be done.

AA: How does one go about building resiliency?
JT: For anyone who’s going through a tough time, the most crucial thing is to keep pressing on, no matter how small the progress seems to be. There will be obstacles, plateaus and even regression in every journey, but as long as you’re constantly inching forward and keeping momentum, that’s resiliency.

No matter the outside circumstances, it is important to always maintain your inner strength and resolve. Comparing yourself with other can be the easiest way to get discouraged, and I find it more useful to use yourself as a benchmark, and constantly strive to be a better version of yourself.

AA: What are some tips you have used previously to cope with challenges and changing environments?
JT: Share your struggles too, not just your glory. In times of trials and tribulations, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s very common for people, especially guys, to think that toughness means solving your own problems without the help of others, but that’s a misconception that we need to overcome.

I’m very blessed to have my friends and loved ones as a great support system, and they are always there to encourage me. I would say that my closest bunch of buddies would be my fellow cast members from Ah Boys to Men, and we always push ourselves, and each other, to our limits, so as to not be the weakest link and also to not let each other down.

One instance would be during the training for Ah Boys to Men 3, where we were training alongside actual naval divers. Us regular guys undergoing training meant for elites in special forces was no walk in the park. Going through that with my buddies by my side really helps. In a way, it was comforting yet still competitive. We really grew a lot through that experience.


KIX HD (Singtel TV Ch. 309) is partnering with official Telco, Singtel TV to launch R U Tough Enough? (RUTE) Singapore, a nationwide search for Singapore’s toughest individuals. The competition is open to all participants 18 years and above residing in Singapore, regardless of their physique, gender or background. One winner will be given the title of “Singapore’s Toughest” and a grand prize of S$10,000. Interested participants can sign up at this link.

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