Indonesian icons: Ade Rai, the father of Indonesian bodybuilding – Lifestyle


“Indonesian icons” is a series offering in-depth explorations of the people, elements and events that have defined the country, remarkable people and culinary delights at historic places and unforgettable moments.

More than two decades after retiring from professional competition, Ade Rai remains the only Indonesian bodybuilder to rise to mainstream stardom. Known for his friendly smile and model-worthy look, Ade is always busy promoting healthy lifestyles, including as a guest speaker at events and through appearances in various commercials.

Ade is the second of four children born to father I Gusti Agung Rai Widjaja and mother Selena Susanti. He was born in Jakarta on May 6, 1970, under the name I Gusti Agung Rai Kusuma Yudha.

At age 9, Ade was determined to become a badminton player. Like many Indonesians, he saw the glory sport had brought to the country – especially the Olympics – and wanted to be a part of it.

After struggling as a junior commuter, even after years of practice, Ade finally switched to weight training.

Adé said Jakarta Post that he never thought about what his life would have been like if he had stuck with badminton.

“I failed badminton,” he said in a neutral tone. “If I could have been champion, I probably would have stayed. “

Ade said he was grateful fate had steered him towards bodybuilding.

“Bodybuilding has only given me good things – nothing else,” he said.

Arm wrestling passed

Ade did not choose strength training at random. In his high school years, his friends organized friendly arm wrestling competitions. It inspired him to work his muscles, to gain a competitive advantage. An acquaintance who was a trainer told him he had what it takes to be a professional bodybuilder.

Ade Rai won his first national bodybuilding championship in 1994 at the age of 24. This has not been easy.

Teenager, Ade Rai, measuring 183 cm, weighed only 55 kilograms. He slowly built his figure through his dedication. Vowing never to use steroids or other performance enhancing drugs, Ade Rai taught himself to be a natural bodybuilder. He studied the right ways to eat, sleep and exercise for sports.

Start strong: Ade Rai won his first national bodybuilding championship in 1984 at the age of 24. (Instagram / Courtesy of Ade Rai Instagram)

His victories began to pile up. In 1995, he won the Mr. Asia Hong Kong Bodybuilding Competition – his first international title. He also won the Musclemania World USA in 1996, one of the most prestigious drug-free bodybuilding competitions in the world at the time. Winning the gold medal for Indonesia at the 1997 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta was another momentous achievement.

In 2000, his final year as a professional athlete, Ade Rai won the Superbody World Championship USA as well as a second Musclemania World title.

Advocate of healthy lifestyles

Ade’s anti-drug stance is central to his image.

“[Normalizing performance-enhancing drugs] it is like saying that it is normal for a senior politician to engage in corruption. No matter who you are, corruption is a big no, ”he said.

He said anyone who used shortcuts to sculpt their body forgot about the meaning of sports and the consequences of drug abuse just weren’t worth it.

Ade estimated that 90 percent of bodybuilders in Indonesia, amateurs and professionals alike, use performance enhancing drugs.

“I don’t care whether someone is a professional bodybuilder or not. It is not wise to compromise our future just because we want better bodies, ”he said.

Champion: Ade Rai won a gold medal representing Indonesia at the 1997 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta.Champion: Ade Rai won a gold medal representing Indonesia at the 1997 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta. (Instagram / Courtesy of Ade Rai Instagram)

Branching out

After retiring from professional bodybuilding, Ade created Rai Fitness, a fitness center brand that includes a health food restaurant. In 2006, he established the RAI Institute, which focuses on training fitness professionals for certification.

“One of my aspirations is to educate people about healthy lifestyles,” he said.

For a time in 2012, Ade was a columnist for Jakarta Post. He answered readers’ questions on health, training and nutrition.

In 2020, he caught the public’s attention by helping 13-year-old Arya Permana lose 110kg in three years overseeing his training. Arya, once known as Indonesia’s fattest child, weighed 193kg at one point. He lost weight after dieting, following strict training programs, and undergoing medical procedures and plastic surgery.

Ade contacted Arya’s family in 2016 out of concern for the teenager’s situation. The bodybuilder regularly posted photos and videos of himself training with Arya. Ade said that Arya’s success was mainly the result of the teenager’s good attitude and determination, as well as the support of his family.

In the age of social media fitness influencers, Ade remains a mainstay.

On YouTube, where Ade pledges never to ask viewers to “like” his videos or subscribe to his channel, he has 116,000 subscribers – even though he last uploaded a video. 4 years ago. He has 488,000 followers on Instagram.

The Idol's Idol: Ade Rai with his mother Selena Susanti, who died last week at the age of 77.The Idol’s Idol: Ade Rai with his mother Selena Susanti, who died last week at the age of 77. (Instagram / Courtesy of Ade Rai Instagram)

For him, however, the numbers are not that important.

“[What matters is that] people can find something useful [in my content],” he said.

Ade added that because he’s been around for 35 years, he hardly needs to apply for validation. The most important thing was to share with people what strength training gave him.

On July 23, Ade lost his mother, who died in Jakarta at the age of 77.

“My mother always believed in me, in my efforts, to help others. She has always supported me. She will always be missed, ”he said.


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