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TGts Meets...Ricardo Defazio

Our series of Fitness TGt Meets interviews wouldn't be complete without who could be argued as Swindon's busiest fitness instructor - Ricardo Defazio. In his motivating interview, Ricardo gives us the low-down on how his career started, what drives him and advise for anyone wanting to boost their fitness or take on a new challenge.

1. How did you turn your passion for fitness in to a career?

For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for exercise. It has always played a big part of my life from an early age, even at school PE was my favourite subject. Originally I am from a small village called Woodcote in Oxfordshire at the top of the Chilterns. Sport and exploring was my thing. Woodcote was Situated between Berkshire and Oxfordshire.  I represented both counties in both running and football and my age I was at the top level. Woodcote was full of woodland and very high up so whenever I went out anywhere I'd have to climb back up the hills. It didn't take me long to understand my strength (physical activity). Reading and writing was never my forte but I learnt the ability of the connection between the two. Whilst others were passing their exams, I watched and learnt about the bigger picture. I used to spend a lot of time with my friends in the woods having fun and going on adventures.

From school I went to a sports college for 2 years to pass an Diploma in sports science.

I'll always remember my college tutor once said to me (please use this quote yourself - it's very powerful) "If money was no object, what would you really enjoy doing?". Well when we finally got down to what I really wanted to do which was a become a sport or life coach as I wanted to connect as many people as possible together in my life. He replied "you do that and forget the money, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid. Better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way. And after all, if you do really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what it is, you can eventually turn it – you could eventually become a master of it. It’s the only way to become a master of something, to be really with it. . So don’t worry too much".

I have always believed there are three things in this life in any culture, any walk of life that brings people together. These are Music, Food and Sports. So four years ago I really decided to combine my passion, what I believe and my desire to bring people together in to a career. I have a desire to help people get fit, change the way they feel and bring families and communities together.

2. How do you stay fit and healthy?

Being fit and healthy is not just part of my job and having to create the right image, it is definitely a lifestyle choice for me. I have a full schedule from early morning classes at gyms and leisure centres, to my 'regular' job working with the council and community, to my evening Bootcamp sessions. To put it mildly I work 7 days a week! But of course you can't sustain all that with the wrong fuel you need to feed your body. 

3. Do you have a motto or favourite motivational quote?

Yes I have many motto's and motivation sayings. Here's a few...(I use them at different times in different environments). In a class near the end I like remind the class that: 

You can not control your hair growth or your heart beat, don't try to regulate your breathing, your body does all this by its self with no help from you. 

There are only 2 things you can control:

1) Connect and hold the beat of the music

2) Take the pain you will incur 

Your body will do the REST....just let it! 

(The understanding behind this is people unlock their own power without knowing it, focus driven) . A short motto: Sweat is a weakness that leaves the body.

I work with many different people in life and find myself becoming more than just a fitness coach. Day to day life becomes too much for some individuals sometimes. And lots of people suffer with mental health issues. 

So when the time comes I use one of my other motivation quotes:

A busy life is like a fast flowing river. You will at first try to stand or grab hold of the water, you will battle to beat the power of the river. In time you will become tired of the constant fight with the river. And through fatigue you will sink and eventually drown. But...If you learn to relax, you will find you float. Having faith is to trust yourself in the water (become the water). The focus to this, is you cannot control everything in life.

But if you just let things happens life will be more fulfilling. 

4. People often struggle with fitness motivation, how do you keep yours?

As the figure and the one people look to for guidance and inspiration, keeping it going it can be quite draining. I give my all in every single session or class I do but for me it is simple.  I am humbled by the constant flow of feedback, messages and heart felt kind words I receive. That is when you know you are making a difference and that is the fuel that feeds my drive, recharges me to continue to give me so much day after day. 

5. What are your tips for people looking to get into shape?

The key before you start is to know there is no quick fix, things will not happen immediately and they will take time. You want them to take time and that is the most natural way. Even the fittest of athletes are are still trying to push themselves just that little bit further. The real key is to realise and accept it's not going to be easy, yes have goals but there is no end to how good you can be and how far you can go. It's your journey, your hard work and only once you are mentally ready will you embrace the lifestyle change. 

At my sessions we embrace new members of all abilities, anyone and everyone are welcome. Once you are mentally ready to make the start, you must not be put off by established groups. Everyone is there for their own reasons and on their own journey. 

6. What are some mistakes people make when working out?

The journey of exercise is not designed to be easy. Within each and every one of us we could probably improve on something but the most common things I see on a regular basis are; technique - you need the right technique and posture to hit and shape the right muscle groups. Diet - this is the core to your training, before and after exercise. Sleep, you need the right amount of sleep and right quality of sleep. 

One of the biggest most important things I see when people are training is that they let their mind quit before their body does.

7. Are there any exercises you advise against?

I would probably never advise against anything regarding exercise. I like people to try a variety of exercises/sports and to channel their efforts in to what they are good at/what they like. 

The key is to try and have a variety and let different forms of exercise compliment each other. But one thing to remember is to know your limits. 

8. What music do you listen to when you work out?

I don't train to a beat or tune when I work out. I listen to something to inspire me mentally. For me it is all about unlocking my mind. I listen to philosophers such as Alan Watts to engage me, get me in my mind set and lost in the workout. 

9. What foods are always in your fridge?

You will see smoothies, fresh fruit and veg, Alpro yoghurt, Alpro hazelnut and almond milk, eggs, salami and meats. All the food in the fridge, as much as possible will be natural. I try and stay away from dairy products and the fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs are sourced from local farms and the meats from local butchers. All foods of mother nature. 

I am a true believer that you are what you eat. We are all balls of energy that need the correct fuel to feed our body in the correct way. Food and the right fuel has the ability to control how we feel, our mood and our mind. A bad diet will make us feel lethargic, tired, moody and can cause bad skin and even long term health issues. Whereas having the correct diet full of all the nutrients we need has the ability to make us feel energetic happy and to sleep well.

You are what you eat. 

10. What's been the most rewarding part of your job?

This is very easy for me; I have great satisfaction in basically bringing people together. Individually they are all there on their own single journey but to have like minded people coming together forms great friendships. 

I like to plant the seed with those smalls groups of people, water and nurture it and just stand back and watch the friendships and relationships grow. 

Through exercise and the job I do I have seen people really change their lives, I have seen them find themselves, achieve things they never dreamed of and not only become fitter and stronger on the outside but more confident and secure of themselves from within. And when you can see that physical and emotional change within a person and a group, and know they feel like a better person and that I have played a part in this makes me truly humbled.

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