BRAZILIAN JUJITSU . MOTORCYCLE MANIAC . NUTRITIONIST . YOGI
Where is home now? I’ve spent lots of time in Europe and the States but anywhere that’s sunny feels most like home to me. Right now I’m travelling so much that I don’t really have a place to call home!
What's your story? My mother’s Scottish and my father’s Middle Eastern. I started in the fitness industry shortly after I left school at 16, unsure what I really wanted to do. All I knew at that time was that I liked sports and people.
I did every job there is to save up to do my PT course: Harrods men's suits department, hospital porter, taking dead people to the morgue, building security, bakery, photocopy boy in a printshop, estate agent, gym membership salesman... Eventually, I had enough money to get certified. It was all worth it because everything took off from there. I was soon able to travel all over the place with my work, do my degree in nutrition, a massage therapy course, coaching courses, training as a pilates instructor and, more recently, as a yoga teacher.
I get my inspiration from my clients. I love what I do. I've probably experienced failures in just about everything I've tried to do, but it hasn't stopped me trying again and again to succeed. It's through that persistence that I've managed to achieve my goals.
What did you want to be growing up? I wanted to be an astronaut! I’m still fascinated by the stars and my first tattoo was a reminder of that, a small star.
How would you describe yourself? A work in progress, constantly growing.
How would others describe you? “A positive energy, friendly, silly, able to adapt to any situation, caring, inspiring and fun” is what I got back from a friend I just awkwardly asked! I’ll definitely take ‘a positive energy’ as that’s something I always work towards being in any situation.
How would your mother describe you? A pain in the butt, probably! And stubborn!
What do you most value in others? Honesty and respect. If people have these values, I want them around me in life. I don’t need anything else.
When did you last cry? Recently! I was watching 'Jack', starring Robin Williams. I think what got to me was that both in the film and in real life he died before his time.
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? I'm not sure… I'm no saint but I do my best not to contradict myself. I learnt this the hard way though - I once ran a half marathon without training and I couldn’t walk for a week afterwards! I’d never let a client do that!
We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? Not somewhere I know my mum can read it...
Favourite meal? Steak, eggs and spinach - great meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!!
Favourite drink? Coffee. Or dark rum with fresh lime and ginger!
Favourite book? 'The Alchemist' by Paulo Coelho. Great book. However, I'm in the middle of reading 'Tuesdays With Morrie' by Mitch Albom and it may be about to take the top spot... Ask me again in a week!
How'd you get into yoga? I started yoga despite a lot of personal resistance… my girlfriend at the time somehow managed to convince me to go with her to a Bikram yoga class. That first session was probably the most painful 90 minutes of my life! I was looking around at people making downward dog look easy when I couldn't even sit in child's pose without feeling like I was about to pass out!
I walked out of that class disappointed, disappointed in myself. But I noticed almost straight away that the mobility in my shoulders had improved. This, combined with the fact that for the first time in my life I had struggled to do exercise, became my motivation to get my ass back to the mat!
What was the biggest challenge when you first started? I was the only guy in the class. I want to make sure that's not the case for other dudes.
What would make you skip practice? I've had a thousand reasons for missing mat time in the past: too busy, different workout priorities, breakfast with friends. Now I don't 'skip' practice; if I don't quite make it to my mat when I told myself I would, I don't beat myself up about it - I just make up the time that day or that week.
Why do you keep coming back? Every time I get on the mat I experience something that I can take further into my life; whether it was a quote that my teacher told me or a thought or feeling I encountered that made me want to progress in some way. It never fails to lead me towards greater self-improvement.
Do you teach? I became a teacher a few years back now. Since then I haven't led many classes but instead use it to work with people in private training and coaching sessions. When I do teach yoga classes I still find it nerve-racking every time!
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? Brazilian jiujitsu has been my passion for 6 years now. Outside the fitness environment I love customizing my motorcycles. I love to travel and luckily, I've been able to do a lot of this whilst calling it “work”!
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Keep breathing. And make sure you come back a second time before you make your mind up!
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? I use all elements of yoga daily. One thing I make sure of is to not hold onto anything - to breathe deeply and let go.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? I think I can confidently say that most guys who do yoga wish it was a bit more socially accepted. BOYS OF YOGA is making that a reality. I remember talking to MJ about his vision before the whole thing started and was so excited. And look at it now!
If you could hang out with any one of the other BOYS crew this weekend, who would it be? It looks like Octavio and I would get along great… Coffee drinker, tattoo enthusiast and motorcycle collector -what more can I say?! And if it provides an excuse to go to Bali...!
What’s your favourite pose? Can you cue us into it? Perfect…
To begin the pose, kneel on the floor with your big toes together. Sit back onto your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Let your arms hang at your sides. Exhale, bend forward and lay your torso down between your thighs and your forehead on the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck. Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
Breathe! Child's pose.
What pose do you fucking hate? Fuck inversions… I have a love hate relationship with handstands - I have good days and then I have awful days!! I suppose it’s all part of the practice… but fuck inversions!
Yoga is... now a part of my life. I couldn't imagine my life without yoga. I practice it every day- either physically, mentally or both.
Your quote or mantra: Surround yourself with people who lift you higher.
Interviewed: October 5th, 2014
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.