Ko Chandetka is an award-winning body builder based in the Midwest. He was the 2014 NPC Masters Nationals Overall Bodybuilding Champion and is Laos’ only IFBB Pro bodybuilder. Born in 1971 in Savannakhet, Laos, he has been a positive role model for Lao community members across the country. Over the years, he overcame many challenges and difficulties to become the man he is today. He is currently at work on his memoir, reflecting on his experiences and lessons he’s learned along the road to success, with the hope that his story will inspire others to reach for the best.
In the meantime, he will now be a regular columnist with Little Laos on the Prairie to answer many of your questions! Here are two we’ve received this month!
My son saw your picture the other day and was really impressed. He never thought a Lao person could get that big! He wanted to know how easy it was for you to start? -Amazed in Alaska
I started training at a very young age, 12, so the fundamentals, form and technique, came easy for me. I was also fascinated with comic book hero physiques around the age of 4 so I was highly motivated before I even touched a weight. By the time I was in middle school, people were noticing my muscular development, so to answer your question, it was relatively easy for me given my discipline, passion and genetic predisposition.
The main challenge I had to overcome was the stereotype that Asians, particularly Laotians, couldn’t be muscular. I even got that from my own family. “You’ll never be as big as those guys in the magazines!” “You’re too skinny!” Those were some of the comments I would constantly hear. But the comment that rang in my head was “You can do it!” As long as I believed in myself, it didn’t matter what people said. The mind is much more powerful than the body.
So tell your son for me, Anything is possible if you believe! -Ko
I was really inspired by your story but I’m 37 years old in Indiana. Is it too late for me to start bodybuilding now? -Interested in Indiana
It’s never too late! I would recommend getting a professional trainer to help you learn proper technique and form on weight training though. Educate yourself on proper nutrition as well as I believe nutrition is at least 75% of the battle in regards to achieving a great physique.
Surrounding yourself with likeminded individuals who are interested in the same goals will also keep you motivated. In the lifestyle of health and fitness, its the Tortoise, not the Hare that wins the race. Best of luck! -Ko
If you’ve got a question for Ko, send us an e-mail with the subject line: Ask Ko to firstname.lastname@example.org! See you next month!