Siddiqu Muhammad is more than just any personal trainer.
His teachings lack the gimmicks and tortures seen on reality TV weight-loss shows; instead they embrace the art and make-up of the individual, and engage them in a way that makes them look forward to workout sessions.
After an early-morning training session with a client, Siddiqu’s energy is still blazing on a breezy but comfortable stroll through Millennium Park.
“I’m never tired. I’m a former athlete so I’m easy to get pumped up,” he smiles. And it makes perfect sense; the former track star thrives off physical activity and the ideology of helping others achieve their fitness goals.
But to be trained by “The Personal Trainer,” which is his tagline, it takes a little work to make it official.
“Just because someone asks me to train them, that’s not enough for me to train them. It takes a bit of persistency,” says the 27-year-old co-founder and face of Chicago Fit 4 Life, a personal training service that provides health and fitness resources.
“Before I train anybody, we have a consultation and we spend almost an hour and a half talking about certain things — family history, where you are mentally, the real reason you want me to train you. It’s deep man, it’s deep!
“What happens with a lot of trainers is that they don’t make exercising enjoyable. A lot of times we’re intimidated; we see this stuff on television and you think I’m going to be like a military sergeant and it’s nothing like that. We chill, we go have fun … exercise is fun!”
That may truly be why in just four years, Siddiqu’s clientele has accelerated to A-list celebrities, CEOs, athletes and everyone in between — that and of course, the physical results after an hour of constant motion exercise, which consists of all three exercising aspects.
“We’re doing everything! You have an individual that goes to work out on their own and they will only highlight one aspect, so I do all aspects every single workout; cardiovascular, strength training and stretching, not one is more important than the other,” he advises.
The connection with physical fitness and a proper mindset allows another individual to join in on the motivation, and when training with Siddiqu, you’re in for a committed relationship, full workout, and undeniable results.
“You can’t stay self-motivated about exercising without nobody helping you,” he says. “Exercise ain’t thatfun! We don’t realize how natural it is to be with someone else. A relationship. Even me, I need workout partners in the gym next to me.”
Penning his first book, Confessions of a Personal Trainer, at the age of 22, an impressive athletic background, booking a state record for track and field at 16, an outstanding scholar and becoming an expert of his craft as a certified personal trainer, the health regimen is something instilled in Siddiqu’s vision of life.
“I’ve trained clients for the Sears Tower run. Some of my clients, I’m there sweating with you. I’m not standing there with a stopwatch, we’re going up and down these stairs together,” he says.
The Brand: Chicago Fit 4 Life
Chicago Fit 4 Life is a high-intense fitness organization that was formed based on reports that Chicago is one of the fattest cities in the country.
“With Chicago Fit 4 Life, me and three other guys said, ‘How about we market fitness?’ Let’s just do everything to make Chicago the fittest city and not the fattest city,” explains Siddiqu.
“The objective was to go into the church, schools, radio, television, publications, and really just make exercise and fitness cool because to be perfectly honest, there’s not a lot of Black faces appealing to our demographic. That was the science behind it.”
The fellas set out to become personal trainers, aerobic instructors, and fitness gurus with a helluva marketing plan — one inclusive of professional speaking, fitness commentaries distributed through various online media publications, and broadcast radio.
“Once I saw the appeal of making exercise fun and cool and I had 60-year-old people boxing or 55-year-old people running a 5k, I was like, ‘Man let’s just take this to a whole other level. That’s when I started getting into radio, TV, and writing.”
Siddiqu, being the face of the brand, spreads his wings across all arenas, contributing commentary to publications such as AllHipHop.com, diet.com, and Muslim Journal; also appearing on the morning programming for radio stations Power92 and WVON.
“I started with Roland Martin on WVON; they were like, we’re going to take a chance with this kid. At the studio, I was so nervous,” Siddiqu laughs. “But every question somebody called in on, Roland was like dang, you got something for everything!”
When it comes to working out, people question the best way to lose weight, how to stay committed to their work out plans, and the golden question: “What can I eat?”
To help with that, part of Siddiqu’s strategy is having his clients maintain a food diary that entails everything you eat on a daily basis. The key to this plan is having the ability to structurally monitor what causes your weight gain, along with observing what needs to be subtracted and/or added to your diet. Your level of activity and sleep intake are important factors as well.
“There’s no right or wrong,” he says. “Three square meals a day, that’s cool. What you’re eating in between your meals, that’s cool. Now, we just have to look at what’s taking place in your diet. And the only way I know that is by looking at you.
“All my clients keep a food diary. I’ll look at the stuff — and they don’t even know what they’ve eaten — so, I say, when’s the last time you had Wendy’s? And they’d have Wendy’s written down two times.”
The idea of working out is to burn fat, strengthen muscles, and work-up energy; the results you want will not happen without releasing sweat and putting your all into the workout, he believes.
“By constantly moving, you’re sweating and as you’re sweating, at the same time, I’m stretching you out and elongating your muscles,” says Siddiqu. “So by the time you get out of my High Intense Training (HIT) workouts, you feel great and energized, but at the same time, you don’t feel exhausted.”
“I tell people if you think you’re fat, I’ve seen somebody fatter. If you think you’re out of shape, I’ve trained somebody way more out of shape. I don’t allow you to have excuses.
“I want you to feel like this is something you’re looking forward to, so my training style is variety. You never know what to expect, so it’s exciting to you. We’re constantly going from one exercise to the next, I’m never having you sit on the machine for more than 10 seconds,” he says enthused.
Feel Good … or Look Good?!
The aesthetics of working out is an essential part of why people want to work with Siddiqu.
Ironically, though the reality shows and the advertised pressures of losing weight are said to be relative to producing good health, which holds truth, Siddiqu also points out that in retrospect, wanting to look good plays a major role as well.
“Everything is about aesthetics. I’m not obsessed with my body, personally, but my clients … you damn right they are!” he says. “It’s always about looking good. If somebody comes to me about health, it’s because their doctor sent them to me. But if you look good then you feel good.”
By staying committed to making a positive change whether it is solely for the sake of looking good, health reasons, or both, comes a nice incentive from Siddiqu and the Chicago Fit 4 Life crew. “I do photo shoots for my clients and all types of different things to keep them feeling good and motivated,” he explains.
The speaking engagements, training sessions, photo shoots, and the high-profile list of clientele for Siddiqu and Chicago Fit 4 Life are great, but there’s an urge for expansion and progression — possibly their own television show.
“My ultimate goal is for people to see that exercise and fitness can be done in urban communities, it’s fun, cool, and can be a lifestyle,” Siddiqu says.
Visit www.cf4life.com and watch for his column in future issue of N’DIGO.