It’s great to have you as part of the team, you’re definitely one of the originals! Let’s just start off with a quick bit of background for everyone who needs to quickly be brought up to speed: How have you got to where you are today and how did motivation became a central part of that?
Well in terms of my fitness journey, sport has always played a big role in my life. I started by playing football as a kid with my neighbours in the streets of Damascus and at school in Brussels. Later when I came to Berlin I took up Muay Thai, I kept playing football and 2006 I got my first membership at a gym (the same gym where I actually work today!) To be honest, at that time, getting a gym membership wasn’t really about working out, it was more like: “hey look, I have a gym membership.” Maybe it was because I hadn’t set a goal yet or I couldn’t really see the purpose of training as I was already involved in so many other sports.
In 2008 I quit Muay Thai and I set myself a goal: I wanted to look more athletic- admittedly mostly for the girls! It wasn’t the best motivation, but I was young, single and it helped me to start using my gym membership. So, I started working out with my brother 3 to 4 times a week and asked all the big guys at the gym how should I train and what should I eat?!
But my real fitness journey started late in 2014 while working on my first bachelor thesis in Civil Engineering. I wasn’t happy with myself or my body so I wanted to change things, I needed something to reduce stress and to become more athletic again. At that time I wasn’t really thinking about becoming a coach.
And now here we are! Throughout your journey where did your motivation come from? What continues to drive you to achieve your goals?
When doing my first studies in Civil Engineering, unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the gym anymore time-wise. I was at University, in the library or on the train between Berlin and Cottbus all the time and had no time for sport for the first time of my life.
I hated it! I wasn’t happy. I couldn’t enjoy University, I got more and more depressed and also gained a lot of weight.
So I was determined to turn everything around…I got my first job in a gym as a night watchman and I started working out again regularly. It increased my mood, my health and I was becoming athletic again. I enjoyed it and I wanted to become a coach more and more. I wanted to help people enjoy and learn to love sport. I wanted to motivate them and help them to set goals, to stay on track and to reach those goals. That’s when I started my second studies: Fitness economics.
It was the riskiest but the best idea and decision of my life.
In terms of my aims now, I simply want to become better in everything I love on both professional and personal level.
That sounds like a brilliant goal to have and maybe one that all of us should try and work on a little more… Speaking of goals, is there anything you’d say to those people out there struggling with Motivation of any kind?
1. You have to set a goal…And know why you are doing it. When you set a goal, ask yourself 3 questions: What? How much? And when?
- What do I want to achieve? (E.g. loose weight, gain lean mass or save money…)
- How much do I want to achieve? (For example how much do I want to lose or gain in weight, or how much money do I want to save…)
- When do I have to reach my goal by? (i.e. setting yourself a realistic deadline)
2. You have to stick to that goal! My advice: set smaller goals to reach the bigger one in the long term (e.g.: ‘going to the gym 3 times this week’ or ‘I will save 10 € this week’).
3. Remember what drove you to start and take a few minutes to refocus on your goals. If you struggle, ask yourself ‘why am I struggling?’, be honest to yourself, write your answers down and try to find a good and realistic solution.
4. Keep in mind: it’s your goal you set, it’s the choice you made and therefore it’s your task to complete! You are doing it for yourself and you will feel great when you succeed! How do you think you will feel if you quit and fail?!
So when exactly did you become a Motivator?
It was about 2 or 3 years ago. I met Vince and Kheli at the office. We talked about sport, about SPRT and how and why Jacob had the idea. When they asked me if I was in, I couldn’t say no, because it’s what I love to do: I got the opportunity to motivate others and be part of a world-wide and like-minded sport community. A dream was coming true!
What does SPRT mean for you?
- First, it is an opportunity to do sport everywhere on the planet. As I said I love football but I can’t always find enough people to play with me. That’s one example of how I can benefit from SPRT.
- Second, I am able to promote my group workouts with ease as a coach.
- Last but not least, I love the SPRT events and the SPRT community and family.
You’re a great example of exactly why the team work so hard on the SPRT app and community, why is community-based sport so important to you?
I have been a coach since 2015 and I do both personal training and group fitness. Every time I am at the gym (basically every day) I see people training alone or in a (bigger) group. About 90% of those who train alone are discussing stuff with the lads, just hanging around, looking on their smartphones, doing a few reps not even sweating or focusing on what they do. Sometimes they don’t even seem to know what they are doing. And they often cheat on themselves and on their goals.
In a group, it’s harder to cheat: Have you ever heard someone saying “Just give me a minute, I’ll answer that call and then I’ll come back”! In a group, the excuses don’t work! You start together and you stick together ‘till the end. You are led by that group dynamic. This dynamic pushes you. Everyone motivates and supports each other. When I (as a coach) have the feeling there’s a lack of motivation, it’s my job to give them that motivation back. It’s like a car, if you ran out of fuel, your are not going to go far!
And you definitely deliver the motivation! What has been your favourite event that you have led with SPRT?
I can’t pick one, they all are unforgettable! They all have a special place in my heart. My first event was exceptional but the first Motivator Monday with Bea at John Reed was legendary, if you ask me!
We all knew that event was an important one for SPRT and honestly it wasn’t an easy one to plan. It was a new location, we had incertitude about the music, the mic, the space, how to keep the area clear for our event…and of course, how many people were going to join us!
The event turned out to be a milestone over 80 participants! It was terrific teaming up with Bea, she had the mic and I was yelling so hard that I lost my voice for the next couple of days! The event went beyond any of our expectations: the community and the Motivators were at 110 %. Everyone felt the energy, the power and the dynamic. People kept joining the group just to do one simple thing: sport. That place was on fire!
It absolutely was! So lastly, as one of our longest Motivators on the team, can you tell us what makes a SPRT Motivator?
A Motivator is someone with a positive attitude and energy. A Motivator gathers the remaining energy in an athlete and pushes him or her to do their best so the athlete can be proud of what they achieved. I love to remind the group to smile, to enjoy each rep, ‘cause even if it’s hard and even if I can be a real pain while going around yelling and pushing everyone to the limit, after the workout they will look back and they all will think: ‘I am so proud of what I have done, I am really proud of myself.’
And finally, why would you recommend someone to become a Motivator if they had the chance?
It sounds like a cliché but it’s how I feel and I will keep my answer short: If you have the chance to be a Motivator, you will not only be part of something bigger than yourself and you will not only be helping people but you will learn a lot about yourself, you will evolve and become better.