Rajiv - The Dancer

I’ve known Rajiv ever since I arrived in France, some more than 8 years ago now.
I initially wanted to write about how we became friends, how he discovered his passion for traditional indian dancing and how I helped my friend improve his physical conditioning and overall body ‘sculpting’ for an activity where the men must often be bear chested in front of hundreds of spectators.

I have however chosen not to do so. Why ? Because often times we don’t realize the true role that we ‘occupy’ in our close ones’ lives.
Rajiv is one of (my closest) friends that has pleasantly surprised me with his (different) perspective on our ‘journey’. And so, I’ve decided to share it in it’s entirety. Enjoy 🙂

What Rajiv ‘had to say’

I’ve never been an active guy, in my adolescence or my twenties.

I have had however a good morphology right about my 25-26 years of age (regular guy, without a belly). I did use to run with more ‘athletic’ friends, go swimming, etc; but it was never something more than something ‘to do together’.

After my 26th anniversary, I’ve started to gain some belly fat. The good restaurants, the parties and all the social ‘interactions’ didn’t help with the scale either. I’ve slowly gained 10Kgs in the years that followed. Friends were telling me I ‘put on a few’ but it never really bothered me because I was still relatively ‘proportioned’.

However, at about the 32-32 year old ‘mark’, I started noticing that climbing the stairs, or running for the bus, left me gasping for air. I had also noticed that my muscle mass was slowly ‘going away’.

All this made me realize that I needed to get back in shape. But as you can probably guess, since I’ve never really worked out before, I was missing some good advice. I started to hard, I tried to do as many things as I could, like abs, push-ups (if we could’ve called them that) and running without preparation or clear objective. So that didn’t last for long. I was quickly tired and discouraged because I wanted a quick result that wasn’t ‘coming’.

Years passed, and I’ve abandoned the idea of ‘taking care of my body’, until one day I met Ionel. He proposed a few training sessions together, but since I was now convinced that I would never ‘get there’, I was always trying to tell him ‘later..some other time..soon..etc..’

In the meantime I also started a classe of classical indian dancing that has become my real passion. It is a very physical dance that demands a lot of technique and riguer, endurance and also esthetiques.

It was at this now that I told myself it was time to start for my health but also go get better and stronger with my dancing.

I eventually wrote to Ionel. He came to my place and after assessing my current level gave me just a little training program. It was a really small one too, with half push-ups (on the knees) and some small ab work.

At first I thought he was kind of making fun of me with his exercises and sets that did not surpass 3 or 4 repetitions. But two of the things that he thought me is that you should always start ‘low’ in order to create something that can last ‘the test of time’; and that quality of movement comes before quantity.
Today, after 2 years of following his training programs and nutrition advice, I’ve lost 11Kgs, I’ve found the form I had when I was a young 17 year old guy and.
What’s also certain is that I will never regain that weight again because he taught me to adopt working out and having a healthy lifestyle.

Merci Buckets Ionel

My dear friend Rajiv

— Mission accomplished.


Paul - The Fighter

I met Paul about 3 years ago. Paul is a big guy; and not in the bad way. Former footballer, he resembles more a defensive rugby player, or as he is now known, an heavyweight M.M.A fighter with tree trunks for legs and long powerful arms that can ‘turn the lights out’ with sublime efficiency.

Like any other heavyweight, Paul was missing the ‘running’ portion of his preparation (a little ironic for a former football player, but it is often the case with ‘big’ fighters and former footballers). At that time I was running at noon, on my work break, and seeing as how he was eager to improve, we started running together.

Because Paul is a big muscular guy (bigger than you would normally see out ‘for a jog’), we needed to start slow, managing, pace and distance. We did this so that not only his heart, lungs and feet could follow, but his joints also. We started with 1 to 2 km runs, slowly building up pace, distance, and difficulty of the run.

And because Paul was also training MMA with me, I even added a (he would at least call it unconventional) degree of difficulty to our runs, but not the kind ‘you usually do’.
Just to give you an example, because I wanted him to focus on his ‘run’/activity in time of stress, after he managed a decent distance and pace, most of the runs were ‘spiced’ with jokes, taunts, and many other ‘typical guy stuff’ that I’ll keep between us for the sake of the internet!

Paul, to get back to the ‘run’ talk, rapidly found his runner legs (again), and was soon keeping a pace that would make any man of his size jealous.
As a pleasant side effect, he also lost about 7-10Kgs, training ‘energy levels’ were up, and if he looked ‘ripped’ before, he had now become a (even more) qualified beach body athlete !

That being said, my job was done. But not quite. We still ran together, on medium distances and he soon got the running bug. So what we needed now was something to incite him to continue. We needed a goal and we soon found one : His first semi-marathon !

I will spare you the details of the preparation and I’ll just tell you a funny little story : Paul could have ran his first semi-marathon in 2 hours. He did however ‘forget’ (also known by us, his friends, that he didn’t even know) that a semi-marathon has 20+1 Km of running! So he kind of stopped at the point where everyone was sprinting for the finish, wondering where is the finish line !?!

But he did finish, and he did so in 2:03:08 at or a pace of 5:49min/km. He had also now lost about 14Kgs throughout the journey.

I recently asked Paul his opinion on his whole journey. You’ll find his testimonial just bellow, with our group photo at the ‘Euro Courses de Strasbourg – 13.05.2019 – Semi-Marathon’ finish line.
Checkout Paul’s Instagram if you wan’t to talk to the next heavyweight prospect in M.M.A. !

— Mission accomplished.

Ionel introduced me to Mixe Martial Arts a few years ago. During our training, he highlighted specific points like the importance of endurance and cardio. So we started to running. I used to play football before practicing MMA, and ‘now’ weighed 120kg (264,6lbs), so you can imagine the challenges I had to overcome. We gradually extended the distance and the pace to 16 km. It was not easy, but I managed to keep up with the pace because I told him that I wanted to be the most athletic Heavyweight fighter on earth (he was my coach at this time). He is a good trainer, and I never hesitate to ask him for advice when I need to improve my endurance.

Paul ‘La Brutance’
Guess which one is Paul 🙂

Want a goal ? : Click here!
Want to learn how to run ? : Click here!


Elena - The Runner

Elena came to me with one major goal (I want more energy) and one preference (I like to run). So we started running.
Elena didn’t know how to run (yet) however. Our first running sessions included slow paces, walking, and an overall test of patience.

Elena’s first run : 7 sets of 400-450m of running with 7 sets of walking : 3.5Km. (31 minutes).

What followed was 6 months of learning to run, with 3 running sessions per week, in a rhythm that a working, single mother of two could handle.
6 Months past, we had a decent base. Walking was still present, but the distance between walks was getting longer, and the walking itself was slowly going extinct. It was just a matter of time.
And/But now we needed a new goal. Something to spice things up. And we found a pretty one : her first 10Km.

Elena’s run on the day after Christmas : 4 x 500m run with 15s walking between sets

6 months later, after a global pandemic locked us in our homes and cancelled the race we wanted to celebrate her goal, her running transformation was complete. We Had Arrived !

Elena’s FIRST 10km run : 10km / 1:28:25 – with an average pace of 8:46min/km. Not bad for someone who couldn’t run 1 km 6 months before !

What can she do now

Elena (as I congratulated her myself fellow runners) is now a runner; has an active lifestyle throughout the week; is eating (and drinking) better.

I have more energy, I sleep better, and feel better than how I felt in the beginning.

Her words.

— Mission accomplished.

Want a goal ? : Click here!
Want to learn how to run ? : Click here!