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Body Watch | GUEST WORKOUT

His Exercise Routine Isn't Just for Kicks

February 28, 1996|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's one thing to flip in the air any time you feel like it--"I can wake up and do the somersault right away," says 41-year-old actor Jackie Chan, whose newest movie, "Rumble in the Bronx," opened Friday. But it's that business about scaling walls that really gets to us.

Question: How in the hell do you do that? How do you climb up a wall?

Answer: You just go up. I don't know how. I just do it. . . . You're just born like this where you know how to. . . . You just climb up.

Q: You're very good at it, you know.

A: Yeah, kind of.

Q: Kind of?

A: Yeah, I'm very good at it. I'm not only good for the stunt. I can [do] everything good like stick fighting, kicking, punching, jumping, acrobatics. And everything around me--a telephone, a sofa, a computer--becomes a weapon.

Q: You've adopted some silent screen greats such as Harold Lloyd as mentors.

A: Not only Harold Lloyd, but Charlie Chaplin. And Buster Keaton--I think he's the best. And [during] their time they didn't have protection--elbow pads, knee pads or special effects computers. They really surprised me. They did all [their own] crazy stunts--that's why I learned everything from them.

Q: Which exercise works the best for you?

A: I love to jog. Not up and down hills--level like a park--for eight kilometers. You see, most good is the park. And I wear three layers of clothes--light inside pants and then short pants and then the suit--to make the sweat. Every day I like to see the sweat to keep thin.

Q: And what do you eat to stay thin?

A: I eat everything. Sometimes five meals a day. Sometimes none. I'm not careful about a diet. Sometimes I eat a lot of meat. Sometimes I eat a lot of vegetables. It really doesn't matter. I like every good food. I like chocolate and ice cream. Everything. Every time I eat, I just control it. Not too much. I just don't want to waste food.

Q: Have you developed a routine specifically for your movies?

A: I must keep my body very flexible. I can't deal with the muscle [being] too big because too big and I can't move so fast. I lift light weights, 20 kilos, for the chest, shoulders and arms for 1 1/2 hours--including talking, you know. Talking and drinking water.

Q: You go through a lot of water?

A: Yes. Yes. Natural water from the faucet.

Q: Then what do you do after the weights?

A: Punch and kicking. I watch [myself in] the mirror. With my trainer [the workout is] like a practice, like spar fighting but we're not really hurting each other. We touch but not hard.

Q: What about the kicking?

A: We do it together . . . kicking for about another 45 minutes. Very difficult--stretch the leg and kick and [then a] side kick.

Q: There's dancing in your movements. Did you ever study dance?

A: No, no, no. Never. Never. I learned a lot of things from Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire. Actually, I totally copied from Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.

Q: How did Kelly inspire you?

A: The dancing and rhythm. I like the fighting rhythm. It goes boom! boom! boom! boom! boom! Not bangbangbangbang. This way, [the] audience, they see I'm fighting just like dancing.

Q: And Astaire?

A: When he's dancing, it's not only dancing. He can move the light post and slide to the piano and dance with a chair. I try to use everything around me. When I'm not punch-kicking, I will fight with the refrigerator and the television and the radio.

* Guest Workout appears Wednesdays in Life & Style.

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