Kuya Kim mutates into a triathlete

IMAGE Mike Caliwara


In 1986, Kuya Kim was "a fitness guru." He recounted, "I was the very first male to wear lycra on national TV." His first job was as aerobics instructor in Muscles in Motion, which aired every day on Channel 9. In 1990, he joined Super Body of the Philippines, but, "I didn’t win. I was a finalist."


Life for Kim Atienza is about constant mutation.

From being his dad Lito Atienza's political successor, he became the next Ernie Baron. From being Steve Irwin of the Philippines, he became Matanglawin.

But of late, after his stroke (Read Kuya Kim's story) in 2010, he has found a new passion.

At his press launch as the endorser of Omron blood pressure monitor last July 9, he told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), "I’m mutating now into a triathlete, e. Papunta ako roon, sa fitness.

"'Eto, bagong mutation na naman ‘to, e. Naging very passionate na naman talaga ako…

"This is a new mutation. I don’t know where it’s going because as I said, 'I’m in the now,' I don’t plan it. I’d see where the passion goes.

"But right now, this is my passion, and I’m very happy with it."

GOODBYE, HEART PROBLEM. Of course, he had to secure clearance from his doctors first.

After surviving that fateful morning, his prescription included the drug Coumadin, which prevents heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots in veins and arteries, according to drugs.com.

But the TV host shunned the idea of being "on maintenance medicine all my life."

Besides, Kuya Kim was not too hot about the side effects of Coumadin: "You cannot eat any vegetable, especially green leafy vegetables, you cannot fall, cannot get wounded, cannot hit the head, because if you fall, you die, you bleed to death."

His thoughts then, "This is for a 70-year-old man, this medicine. I was 43 years, I don’t want this medicine. If it takes open heart surgery, please open me up."

And through an occluder, the hole in his heart was fixed.

The Kapamilya star described the procedure: "They put a tube inside my artery. Sa angioplasty, they put a stent in artery. A stent is like a balloon, lolobo yung artery, dadaloy ang dugo

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"My procedure was the very first time in the Philippines."

New York-based Filipino doctor Jonas del Rosario did the procedure.

Kuya Kim continued, "It’s a device called occluder. It’s made of nitinol [an alloy of nickel and titanium] in the shape of an umbrella. When they put it inside my heart, when they put the cathether out, it opens. So it seals the hole.

"It’s very flexible. The metal memory is so good that even with the beating of the heart, hindi siya mayuyupi, hindi siya masisira.

"A year after my operation, they checked on that device and they saw na my tissue totally covered already the device. You can hardly see the device."

That was when he got the go-signal: "You can run na!"



HELLO, MARATHON! His stroke became instrumental in introducing him to running.

As part of his therapy, he was advised by his doctor to do brisk walking 30 minutes a day.

"Yung slow walk became a slow run. The slow run became a fast run," Kuya Kim added.

One time, while doing his routine in Manila Polo Club, he met triathlete Miguel Lopez, who became his running coach.

"Six months after my stroke, I joined my first fun run. It was a fun run organized by my neurologist.

"I did 5k [kilometers], then I started joining and joining runs.

"Six months after my first run, I was training for my first full marathon. This was after my stroke, ha. This was a year after my stroke. I signed up for the Bordeaux marathon in France, sosyal! My wife is very sosyal, e.

"I trained for it. I was doing 30 kilometers, 35 kilometers, I did the whole 42-kilometer training, and then I joined it, and I finished very slow—five hours and ten minutes."

Waiting for him at the finish line was his wife Fely, Kuya Kim recalled. "It was our anniversary. [She] was waiting for me... with big hug and crying....

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"Then I got hooked na. Naku, ‘eto na, I’m going to be a runner."



HI, TRIATHLON! With Gilbert Remulla as his buddy, they added swimming and biking to running.

The two media personalities trained for 10 months, and "we both learned how to swim."

He finished the "2 km swim, 90 km bike, and 21 km run" in six hours.

This December, he will join his first full Ironman— 4 km swim, 180 km bike, 42 km run—in Australia.

"I’ve been training for that for six months already... Wish me luck."

BUCKET LIST. When asked about his list of must-do's as a triathlete, Kuya Kim answered:

1. "Finish my Ironman this coming December in good time."

2. "I’d like to do the New York marathon next year."

3. "And eventually, be able to run the Boston Marathon. Why? The Boston Marathon is the most prestigious of all the marathons because there’s a cut-off. Meaning, even if you have money, even if you are persistent, you cannot be able to run a Boston marathon unless you run a three-hour and forty-five marathon. Right now, I’ll run a four-hour marathon, malapit na."

4. "I’d like to do a ten-kilometer swim at least once in my life."

HAPPY HEART. Given everything he's been through, how would he define "happy heart" literally and figuratively?

His reply melted the hearts of most women in the room:

"My heart is very happy, maybe because I’m married to a beautiful woman. It takes a lot of grace from God to be able to find the right one.

"My motto in life is simple: A happy wife is a happy life. And my wife is very happy with our three beautiful children. That makes me happy.

"All else is extra. My barkada now are the triathletes, e. Bonus yun. My Showtime family, bonus yun. My friends in media, bonus lang ‘yan. Kahit mawala silang lahat, happy ako dun sa core ko, e—my wife and my three kids."

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As for the real heart, he reminded everyone that all forms of abuse done to the body, "Magbabayad ka, totoo iyan."

So, he underlined "exercise and diet."


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