One Man’s Fitness Journey
From Scrawny to Shredded - A Fitness Trainer Inspires And Educates. Rohit Raj -professional fitness trainer at Virgin Active TPC - shares how he overcame heartbreak and multiple injuries through the course of his fitness journey.
Looking at Rohit Raj’s muscular physique now, it’s hard to imagine that the 26-year old fitness trainer was once a scrawny kid. “I was severely underweight in school,” he shares, with a laugh. “Nurses were always telling me to drink more milk.”
Rohit took his first step into the world of fitness training as a polytechnic student, at the young age of 18. He was inspired by the physique of two of his friends, and his interest in fitness grew stronger when his then-girlfriend broke up with him: Going to the gym kept his mind occupied, and helped him to cope with the heartbreak.
“When you go through a rough period and you’re depressed, the most important thing is to keep your mind occupied,” he shares. “At that time, the gym was the best place to occupy my mind. It was like a kid being at a playground. I’d stay for hours at the gym, and the time would just pass by so quickly.”
Encouraged by his family to pursue his passion, Rohit turned what was initially a hobby into a full-fledged career. The 26-year-old now has 2.5 years under his belt as a personal fitness trainer at Virgin Active, and hasn’t looked back since.
While trainers are often stereotyped as being aggressive, Rohit takes a more collaborative approach towards personal training. His training style is gentle and encouraging – mirroring his temperament – and he derives immense satisfaction from researching new solutions, tailoring them for his clients’ workout regimes, and watching as they take effect.
It’s likely that Rohit’s passion for educating his clients has its origins in his early personal struggles: He shares that he couldn’t afford a trainer when he first started working out, and had to employ a “DIY approach” to training. As a result, he ended up with a slew of injuries, ranging from joint injuries in the wrist and knees, and a herniated disc.
Regardless, the optimistic fitness enthusiast pressed on with his training, and now sees his injuries as blessings in disguise. “I try to look at my injuries as a blessing” he shares. “You’re always most convinced [that an exercise works] when you see it work on yourself. I [strive to overcome them] by research: reading, and learning from other coaches, and I try to implement what I’ve learnt on myself, before sharing them with my clients.”
Debunking Fitness Misconceptions
As a fitness trainer, Rohit feels a responsibility to educate his clients, and to debunk common misconceptions about health, fitness and training.
In his opinion, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to working out, and maintaining good form is paramount. While chronic injuries won’t happen instantly, Rohit warns that injuries will accumulate in the self-training process, particularly when individuals are unaware of how to execute certain exercises with the right techniques.
“People always have this mindset that the longer they’ve been training, the more they have to lift in terms of weights ,” he informs us. “With that mindset, you’ll develop bad habits from the start. You may think you’re getting results, but you’re just adding more stress.”
When asked about his future plans, Rohit shares that he hopes to continue being a personal trainer for the next few years, as he still has a lot to learn in the industry.
According to Rohit, there’s isn’t a retirement age for trainers. In his opinion, older trainers can be case-studies in inspiration for individuals who aspire to get fit at later stages of their lives.
“If people keep seeing young trainers, then they’re going to think that it’s something only young people can do,” he shares. “I’ve noticed people saying ‘I’m too old, I’m getting old for that.’ But you’re never too old, and it’s never too late. It’s your body, and you’re going to carry it with you till you die. It’s important to start changing it for the better as soon as you can.”
Stretch Goals: How To Alleviate Discomfort At The Workplace
Long hours in front of a computer screen can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders and hips. Rohit recommends doing these exercises to reduce tension and discomfort in these three areas.
Exercise 1: Stretch
Get down on one knee and lean your foot (at a 45-degree angle) against a flat wall, with the other foot flat on the ground. Keep your back straight. Repeat with the other leg.
Exercise 2: High plank scapular protraction/retraction
Get into a high plank positive and keep your core tight and hips stable.
Drop your body.
Exercise 3: Glute bridge
Lie down, keep shoulders straight and hips down.
Lift hips up and down.
Finding this exercise too easy?
Pro-tip: To toughen up the exercise, lift one leg up and repeat steps 1 and 2.
Beefing Up Your Diet at TPC
When it comes to getting in shape, a rigorous training regime is only half the picture. If you have struggles attaining your ideal body, rest assured that you’re not alone: Rohit himself struggled with putting on muscle mass during his early years as an aspiring fitness instructor.
If you’ve been planning on working out at Virgin Active, you’re in luck when it comes to getting optimal nutrition at the branch at Tanjong Pagar Centre (just saying!).
Here are just some of our editor’s top picks for food options at TPC that’ll help you to beef up your diet:
The Daily Cut
Offering customised meals for the health conscious, The Daily Cut gives you the freedom to pick from the proteins, carbs, supplements and toppings on offer each day. For a premium, you can select the rib-eye steak or salmon as your protein.
Located at #B2-16.
Big flavour doesn’t have to come with a crazy load of calories. Case in point? Randy Indulgence, which serves up an awesome acai bowl, made with a blend of frozen fruit, fresh fruit, nut butter, almond milk and assorted nuts and seeds. The average acai bowl is filled with antioxidants, vitamins and healthy fats… and Randy Indulgence’s acai bowls definitely aren’t merely average.
Located at #B1-10.