Mubin has been a coach at Ritual since the start, and in this blog post he talks about his 20+ years of experience in the industry, what experience has taught him, and why he believes in Ritual. Enjoy!
Hi Mubin! So we know you’ve been in the fitness industry for a really long time, and that you were one of the first to join the coaching team. Tell us a little bit about your history and how you became a coach at Ritual.
Hi everyone! Yes, I’ve been training people in some form or another for about 21 years now, so I think it’s fair to say I’ve been doing this for a while!
I started out as a Physical Training Instructor for the army, and since then I’ve worked in a few different globo gyms as a trainer and as a manager. Shrek is actually the guy who offered me the opportunity to work at Ritual. It was about three and a half years ago when he approached me! I remember when he told me about the concept of Ritual and the coaching team he was trying to put together – I was very excited about it. It sounded like a fresh approach that incorporated a new style of training with a new way of running gyms. In fact, I happened to be experimenting with a similar training style with my private clients at the time, but didn’t feel I had quite figured it out yet. I was definitely interested, and after meeting the two founders for coffee and seeing the passion and thought that had gone into this, I said to myself “Yeah, this is going to work, let’s do this”. I suppose it’s accurate to say that I then became the second official employee of Ritual!
Any chance you want to elaborate on what exactly excited you about the training?
Everything in the industry up until that time felt a bit outdated and dry, and I felt that it was time to do things differently. A lot of the industry was still bodybuilding based, even though most clients didn’t want to look like bodybuilders. Nothing was really about function, efficiency and performance. Clients wanted to look better, but they also wanted to feel better.
When I heard about Ritual, I thought it would be a really good way forward for the industry. I was willing to take the risk and jump right in because I felt (and still feel) that this is the future of exercise for busy people.
What keeps you excited about your role these days?
The industry is opening up and evolving, and I not only get to see it changing, but get to be a part of what’s causing the change. What’s more, the clients I work with appreciate the work I do and are very respectful, so I feel that it’s very rewarding work. You know, I don’t really look for recognition or attention in my work. I look to make positive change in people’s lives through health and fitness. If I can make that impact, I am more than satisfied and I stay motivated. The best part is that I get to do this every single day!
Some clients have said that they don’t actually get to see you much these days – what do you do now that’s been keeping you so busy?
Well, at the end of 2014, we opened our first corporate gym. I run the in-house Ritual at LinkedIn, so that’s what I’ve been busy with!
To be honest, at first, I was half excited, and half apprehensive about the opportunity. On one hand, I was excited to finally be running a new gym on my own, but on the other hand, I was afraid that I’d be out of the loop and distant from the rest of the Ritual team. I was also afraid I wouldn’t meet the expectations that were set for me.
However, now, 15 months into it, I’m happy to say that I am confident in my abilities and I am so glad I took on this role. The concept just works so well in-house. It’s not just about keeping fit – people now also understand how exercise positively affects the brain, too. The staff here are really positive and trust the process, so I’m really happy that I’m here.
You know, I’m glad that I was wrong about one thing: I was worried that I’d be less connected with the rest of the coaches, but after more than a year in this role, I still feel very much a part of the Ritual team. Communication is great, and I feel proud to represent Ritual and carry the flag high where I am. That being said, every now and then I get to step back onto the training floor at North Canal Road (where I started with Ritual), and it always feels great to reconnect with that place and the people there.
In your opinion, what is it about the training that we do that makes us different?
In my opinion, the most useful thing we have at Ritual is the different levels. The progressions and regressions of the fundamental movement patterns allows people of all fitness levels to train at the same time. On top of this, the coaching style is set up so that every client gets to feel that personalization. With the system we have, I can confidently tell you that consistency is all that’s required. If you show up and you listen to our advice, you will get results. Anyone can yell at clients and throw together a random high intensity workout – but trust me, it’s very difficult to do it with the quality that we do it with.
With as much training experience as you have, surely your ideas on training have changed over the years. So what’s your training philosophy now?
You know, now that I think about it, I don’t just have a lot of years of training people, but quite a lot of years of competitive experience myself, too. I’ve trained and competed in biathlons, triathlons, dragonboating, swimming and football in my years. I even taught Taekwondo for a while when I was younger! I’ve had my fair share of injuries, and my training philosophy takes some of this personal experience into account.
I feel that to a certain extent, it doesn’t matter what ‘style’ of exercise you follow. People are built differently, and we’ll probably like different things. What’s important is that you find what works for you. Find something you can stick with. I’ve also come to realize that it’s not necessary to get super specific with your training. In fact, the more general your training is, the higher the probability that you’ll develop your body in a balanced manner. Once you have a decent level of fitness, I tend to urge people to go out and try new things. Go out and get good at a lot of things, and learn to use your body in all kinds of ways. Just put in a little bit of time to balance the body out with some structured training, and you’ll be fine.
Interesting perspective, thanks for that. What’s your own training like these days?
[Big sigh of frustration] – Unfortunately, age has caught up with me a little bit, and for the last 7 months I’ve been struggling with an ankle overuse injury. Years of competitive endurance sports and football have taken their toll. I’m working with a physiotherapist to see if I can strengthen my ankle enough to avoid surgery, but only time will tell. For now, I stick to low-impact activities like swimming a couple of times per week, and top it off with a couple of HIIT workouts (like the ones you do at Ritual), but adjusted so it’s mostly upper body movements because of the injury.
And what are your rest days like these days?
Oh, these days it’s really simple: I spend all my free time with my beautiful daughter. She’s 7, going on 8, and growing up so fast! We often go swimming together.
What’s one thing you’ve struggled with and overcome in the past in fitness or training that you think our readers can learn from?
Paying attention to food choices. When I was younger and training all the time and competing in multiple sports, I just ate whatever I wanted. I had such a high training volume that I burned off everything. However, I wasn’t really all that healthy.
As I get older and my metabolism slows, I really find myself finally understanding the importance of making good food choices, especially right now, as I’m working through an injury. Eating well doesn’t just help you accelerate your results; it helps you function better day-to-day, too. Your joints feel better, your energy levels are better, and your mood is better. I find I can even think clearer when I make wiser food choices. If you don’t really pay attention to what you eat, I’d strongly recommend talking to a coach about it and trying it out, because it’s made a huge difference for me.
If you could give all our new members one piece of advice, what would it be?
Focus on technique and don’t rush to push for the next level of difficulty. Take it from someone with over 20 years of experience doing this stuff – when people rush, they are often quick to improve, but quick to get injured, too. Start slow, build up slow. What’s the rush, anyway? Gradual improvement will build you fitness and strength that lasts much longer. Maybe this advice can prevent you from getting overuse injuries like my ankle injury, that came from years of pushing myself to my limits all the time!
Thanks for the great insights, Mubin. Alright, now for some rapid-fire questions!
How many amazeballs do you think you can eat in 5 minutes?
Probably about 3. I’m past the age where I want to get competitive with such things!
What was your favorite junk food when you were growing up?
Oh, for sure burgers. When I was younger, my thing was the whopper from Burger King, with onion rings and a coke!
What’s your favorite cheat food these days?
I try to keep it pretty clean these days because of the injury, but if i had to pick, I’d say my own homemade pizza! We’ve been cooking a lot more these days, and I find it really enjoyable.
Who’s your favorite superhero or cartoon character?
Superman, without a doubt! I was the first one to watch the new movie!
What’s your spirit animal?
I really don’t know, and the other coaches wouldn’t give me a serious answer when I asked them what they thought, so I’m going with what an online test said: a tiger!
Mubin has been in the industry for a while, and hopes that you’ll find the time to chat with one of the coaches about healthy eating and sustainable long-term training practices.