A proud family man and a veteran of the industry, Ramzan opens up and talks about training mistakes he made in the past, and drops some great gems of advice along the way!
Our regulars know you as a really detailed and supportive coach – but what else do you do while not at work?
I’m a family man, and getting quality time with them is the most important thing for me at this point in my life.
That being said, my other passion has always been training, and despite my hectic schedule with the kids and work, I don’t neglect my health. In fact, I take it so seriously that I built myself a small training room at home, and it’s set up just like a Ritual pod!
What’s your training like?
Most of what I do on my own is similar to the training we do at Ritual. Sometimes, I throw in some additional strength work. Heavy lifting used to be my thing – I guess you could say I used to be a bit of a meathead – but I’ve changed my approach in the last couple of years.
I realised that my body could no longer handle the hardcore heavy lifting. I’ve got quite a few old injuries from those years of crazy training! It was difficult at first, but I learnt to get over my own ego and brought myself back to the fundamentals of movement and health.
I like the idea of having a sustainable style of training – I’m not competitive in my training at all. In fact, at my age, I always choose to play it safe. I still push high intensities, of course, but when I push for maximal intensity, I scale down to just the most basic movements. If I want to test myself with the harder movements, I keep the intensity lower so I can appreciate the technique.
Besides the injuries, what made you want to change your approach to training?
You know, you get to a point where you realise you only have one body. Honestly, I don’t want to get injured ever again. When you hurt yourself from training with too much ego, sometimes you have to stop everything for weeks just to heal up from a silly injury. I can’t afford that. I don’t want that.
I find that training with the purpose of trying to move better really works for me. I like being efficient in my daily activities and that I can have fun while using my body. Sometimes, just for fun, I carry both my kids and the groceries all at the same time and do it with a smile!
I want to keep active and stay strong and be healthy like this because my kids are still so young. I want to do everything I can to keep having the quality time with them for as long as I can. A more holistic approach really fits this desire.
How often do you train?
I fit in 3 to 5 sessions per week. If I don’t get 3 session in a week, I don’t feel right, and my mood isn’t optimal. I’m pretty realistic about it, though. With two young kids at home, it’s not always easy to get time to train, and more importantly, sleep is usually an issue. If it’s a really stressful week with insufficient sleep, I’ll moderate the intensity quite a lot.
It seems like you’ve been through a lot of changes with your training over the years. Tell us one thing you’ve struggled with in the past in fitness or training, and how you overcame it.
I’ve injured myself quite a few times in the past, and I used to just push through without addressing the issues and imbalances. I didn’t ever really acknowledge my mobility issues until a couple of years ago. It’s such a waste that I didn’t learn this earlier, but I’ve had so much improvement over the last couple of years with consistent effort.
I must admit, at first it’s really difficult to get used to taking the time to do mobility work. But once you feel the improvements, you start to want more, and you start to want to work on it all the time because everything feels better after. I’d say that if you just commit to being consistent with it for a few weeks, it will quickly become a habit because you can feel the good it’s doing for your body.
What are your rest days like?
I take full days off from training on rest days, and just work on relaxing mobility drills – lots and lots of stretches! I used to feel guilty about taking it easy on some days. Sometimes I even got angry and frustrated at myself. But these days, I can be honest with myself about when I deserve rest and when I should take the rest so I can come back stronger and raring to go!
I do think it’s important to point out that when you decide to take a break, don’t let yourself stop for too long. Don’t let a rest day turn into a week or a month off. It can be easy to get carried away and let go, and I know from experience that it’s hard to restart.
If you could give all our new members one piece of advice, what would it be?
It’s never too late to start. And once you start, take your ego out of it.
I see middle-aged people all around me losing their basic physical abilities. I wish people would understand that it’s important to learn how to move, even if you have to learn the basics all over again. If you do it right, you can keep moving well even as you age, and if you train the natural movement patterns, you can rebuild and keep the skill of good movement.
When in doubt, slow down or reduce the resistance used, and ask a coach. Don’t let yourself push through bad technique. Is the possibility of a slightly ‘bigger’ afterburn effect worth the risk? Personally, I don’t think so. Maybe you’ll get good results for a while, but you’re probably going to hurt yourself or fry your central nervous system in the long run. I love doing high intensity interval training and it is a big buzzword these days, but in my opinion most people don’t know how to do it well and safely. Safety is always the most important factor, and I worry that people don’t think about this enough.
What are some questions or topics that you wish you could discuss with clients more often?
I wish I could spend more time talking to clients about how it’s probably not a good idea to have the mentality of ‘doing it for the sake of doing it’.
You’re already here. You’re already doing it. You might as well do it well! Don’t just do it for the numbers – think about the quality of the rep.
Also, we’re here to help you, and it’s probably a good idea to listen to the coaching cues. If you don’t want to listen, I can’t force you to, but I encourage you to remember that the quality of coaching is probably part of the reason why you joined in the first place – so you can get your results safely. You can really get so much out of your 20 minutes on the training floor, and it’s not all about smashing yourself mindlessly. We’re here for you, and we can help you find the right balance of intensity and technique.
It’s not just about the numbers you hit or the numbers on the scale – don’t get stuck on this! If you set your mind right and train with purpose, and ask us for advice if you’re struggling, we can help you learn to not worry and stress so much about numbers. Personally, when I started focusing on posture and alignment, and I became pain-free, the efficiency I felt in my body, joints and muscles became so much more important. Everything is just smoother with balanced development. Even my energy levels are so much better. Once you find the sweet spot, you’ll know it – and we can help you find it. We’ll help you learn to listen to your body.
Alright, now for some rapid-fire questions!
How many amazeballs do you think you can eat in 5 minutes?
7 or 8? I haven’t tried to do this as fast as possible before, though!
What was your favorite junk food when you were growing up?
You know, I was quite fat as a kid, but my favorite was simple: red bean buns! The ‘bao’ with red bean paste in it. My grandfather introduced me to these when i was really young. Oh, also, I always dipped the bun into hot milo – heaven!
What’s your favorite cheat food these days?
Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream! But once I start, I can’t stop, so I only indulge once in a while!
Who’s your favorite superhero or cartoon character?
Thor! He’s a real hero. I like superman, too, but he’s a bit mainstream.
What’s your spirit animal?
Probably a bear or a gorilla (some of the staff say yogi bear)? People say sometimes I look scary, but I’m actually quite gentle!
Ramzan has been a coach at Ritual North Canal Road for about 2 years, and he hopes you’ll reach out and talk to the coaches about getting the most out of your training.
See you at the gym!