Taking a leap of faith and booking a personal trainer is a significant step in anyone’s life, but if you think that an hour of sweat, three times per week is the answer to all of your health and fitness prayers, then perhaps you should take some advice from Chiheb Soumer a former MMA star who is righting many of the wellness industry’s wrongs.
This martial artist developed the Fairfax Training Club in Los Angeles as an antidote to the humble gym after realising that many establishments, personal trainers, and their clients are making mistakes that threaten to detail their potential. M&F talked to the fighter-turned-fitness-guru to find out more.
Having been a student of Judo since the age of 5, Chiheb Soumer has been physically active for as long as he can remember. By the time he reached 8, the young upstart was competing all over his native Germany. At age 12, he joined the German Judo team. It was during this time that a love of fitness magazines piqued Soumer’s interest in bettering himself physically.
“Growing up in the ‘90s and 2000s, I was surrounded by fad diets and crazy workout trends,” he recalls. “It was much harder back then to weed out the nonsense without having the internet. Through resources such as Muscle & Fitness and others, I started educating myself and figured out the importance of nutrition and a good strength routine.”
When the promising judo star began to see great results from the fitness routines that he followed, the martial artist realized that he could coach others to make positive changes too. So, he started pursuing a career as a personal trainer at age 17. “There are many mistakes that PTs can make, and it usually starts with etiquette, pricing, program structure, and a lack of education,” says Soumer.
While developing himself as an accomplished personal trainer, Chiheb Soumer continued to further his martial arts career as a professional Muay Thai fighter. He amassed an impressive 12-1-1 record before moving to the U.S. At age 25, he found a place with Alliance MMA based in Chula Vista, San Diego. “Alliance had some of the biggest names in the industry, such as former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and I looked up to them all,” says Soumer. “They welcomed me into the team, and I started training there on a consistent basis.”
While a catalog of nagging injuries would eventually force Chiheb Soumer to make the difficult decision to retire, he understood that he could apply some of the lessons that he had learned from those MMA legends in order to better his offering as a personal trainer