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  • Community
  • Taofique Folarin / Q&A

    28th August 2018

    28th August 2018

    By Shivraj Bassi

    Taofique has worked professionally on stage and television for over 15 years. His experience as a dancer and actor led him into the world of fitness. Now working as a personal trainer, coach, founder of Sweat & Smile and trainer at numerous studios including our partners BLOK and Sweat It, we sat down with the man himself to find out more about his journey towards holistic health.

    “My philosophy as a trainer places emphasis on strengthening both the body and mind. Fitness is more than just striving for exterior perfection but should focus on total well-being from the ground up, inside and out. I believe in education through movement, and that fitness should be inclusive and accessible for all, achievable yet challenging. Taking that first step is always the hardest but with good support and a healthy mindset the possibilities are limitless.” – Taofique

    What’s your hustle?

    Sweat and Smile – I want everyone to know that fitness should be a celebration of our minds and bodies. With a focus on community and fun to combat mental health, I plan to take the Sweat and Smile concept to schools to highlight the benefits of exercise for our physical and mental health, with a focus on children who shy away from physical activity.

    What does #liveinnermost mean to you?

    A lot of what we see on our exterior is a direct reflection of what is going on inside. So when we nurture our inner selves through good nutrition and look after our bodies, we shine brightly on the outside.

    Favourite Innermost products, and why?

    The Health Protein. I love this blend. I have a very busy schedule in between classes and it can be hard to get all my meals in when I teach back-to-back. Grabbing a shake ensures I’m hitting my calorie intake for the day and have enough fuel to coach my sessions. On top of this, I get ingredients that help my body repair and a good detox, so it’s a win-win. 

    The Energy Booster. This pre-workout product is everything. Some days I can coach up to as many as eight sessions in one day, on top of private sessions. This product not only tastes so good but gives me that extra kick before I hit a session in the gym. I always feel fully energised when I drink The Fit Plus before a session and I can aways give it that extra bit more on my sprints.

    Favourite inspirational quote/words?

    Either you think you can or you think you can’t. Either way, you’re right

    Favourite healthy meal?

    My favourite meal of the day (and the most important) is breakfast. I love porridge oats with coconut milk , topped with goji berries, bananas and almond butter. It’s a killer way to start the day.

    Most physically challenging thing you’ve done?

    I was a contestant on the BBC Show “Special forces: Ultimate Hell Week”. After a gruelling selection process against some of the UK’s fittest from different backgrounds and disciplines, I was selected and then subjected to an ultimate endurance challenge and pushed beyond my mental and physical limits by battle-hardened veterans from the world’s toughest special forces.

    Based on the special forces’ selection methods, every 48 hours we were put through a set of challenges, each one more difficult than the last. For instance, the first day, on under four hours' sleep, we were awoken with four hours of PT amidst continuous cold water hosing and full body submerging. Then without food, we headed off for a trek across the Brecon Beacons with fully packed burgeons and soaked clothes. Then the real fun began with log carries, everlasting rifle holds, removing a Land Rover from a mud pit and training in the freezing cold sea. You get the gist.

    Best travelling tip you’ve picked up?

    Always trust your intuition and let that guide you. When we are able to hone in and listen to our inner voice, we’re always guided to the right the place.

    Who or what motivates you?

    My mother motivated me when I was growing up. I watched how hard she worked as a single mother and she did a great job raising myself and my sister. I would say she now inspires me, and I am motivated by myself. I see myself as my biggest competition. If I achieve something, I want to surpass it the next time so I’m always striving to be better tomorrow than I am today.

    Best advice you’ve ever received?

    To always be authentic and be yourself, because everyone else is already taken and the world needs a you.

    Best vacation ever?

    My trip to Jamaica with my family last April. I felt instantly relaxed as soon as I landed. We travelled around the island stopping off at beachfront villas along the way. I love that you can just just live off the land with fresh tropical fruit and vegetables at your disposal, and fresh line caught fish ready to be grilled. It’s so easy to eat and live healthily out there, and the Jamaican laid back approach has elements we can all learn from. In London, it’s very easy to get stressed and forget to take those moments out to appreciate the joy of life.

    Latest obsession?

    The brand new Technogym skill run runners that they have at Sweat It London. The training possibilities on these machines are endless, with speeds up to 30kph, gradients from -3% to 25 %, sled and parachute mode. You can perform running sessions and resistance workouts on the one piece of equipment. I have so much fun designing my sessions for clients as well as beasting myself on them.

    Number one reason for taking care of your body?

    It’s our duty to look after our bodies to the best of our abilities, so we can live a long and healthy life. I also have future aspirations to be a father and I want to give myself the best chance to be there for my family for as long as possible and for that I need to be healthy.

    Favourite place to eat?

    I recently discovered, By Chloe in Covent Garden and it has quickly become a favourite. The food is great especially their salads; wholesome, plant-based food that fuels and energises without compromising flavour. They have made vegan food accessible and they are extremely eco friendly. Choosing from their animal-free tasty menu you actively contribute towards lowering the worlds carbon footprint and help to preserve our planets water supply.

    To see and hear more from Toafique, head to his Instagram pages (@taofiquefolarinand @folarinfitness).

    Other Insights

    Self-Care and Putting Yourself First with Bec Ahern
    Growth And Goals With Innermost Insider Amy Costello
    Hi Amy! Can you tell us a bit about how you got into your fitness journey? Hey my Innermost faves! I was always involved in sports at school and loved running, but it was on my travels to Sydney, Australia, that my passion for fitness as a real, positive, daily part of my life, kicked off. I love the lifestyle in Sydney. Everyone is really invested in their health and fitness and that fuelled me to get my Personal Training qualification and start going to the gym (I’d never stepped foot in a gym before this!), where I learnt absolutely everything I could about functional and resistance training. I read books, I watched technique videos, and I put all of it into practice in my own training and programming. But this was just the beginning! How did your passion for fitness begin to translate into your full-time job? Whilst living in Australia, I met Mike, who is now my fiancé (woo) and my business partner in the fitness empire we are building!  It actually started when my Aussie visa was due to expire, and we were game-planning ways that we could stay together and avoid doing the long-distance relationship thing. At the time I was coaching at an F45 studio in Sydney, and after a bit of research, we realised there was only one F45 studio in London - so Mike got thinking - why don’t we see if we can open one!  It then all happened very fast - within a couple of months we had signed with F45 to open our own studio, had packed our bags and were moving to London. 4.5 years later and we've built an incredible member base and community at F45 Tottenham Court Road, and also launched our own fitness retreat company, Salt Escapes, where we run fitness holidays at various beautiful destinations around the world!  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) What was more challenging, opening your F45 Studio or launching Salt Escapes?  I would have to say F45. It was our first business so there was a lot to learn and a lot to prove. We made a heap of mistakes and knew next to nothing about business, but we worked our little asses off to build our gym into what it is today.  When we launched Salt Escapes, we already had an engaged, interested customer base in our clients at the gym, so it wasn’t SO terrifying to launch! Also, with it being our own brand and company, there were no limitations like with F45. Instead we were free to branch out, be adventurous and see what works. This is how we like to do things! How has your business evolved through lockdown?  Wow, it’s been a testing year. We lost a lot of members throughout the past year. Being located in central London was a huge advantage for the first few years of business, but when lockdown hit, everyone just disappeared!  It’s almost as though we’ve had the chance to start from scratch, which has meant we’ve had the opportunity to re-evaluate everything from our finances, processes and sales strategies, to our membership offering and client-relationships.  From that perspective (and ONLY that perspective), it’s been great for us. We’ve been given the opportunity to build our business back stronger. Nine months of closure allows you to do a lot of reflecting.  How have you personally evolved throughout the last year?  Well I’ve managed to avoid packing it all in and moving to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere - does that count?!  Haha, no but seriously - I guess for me, it’s been the year I’ve actually understood what it means to look after your mental health. It’s been a really challenging year to own a gym and a travel business, and my sleep and mental health has taken a battering.  Realising the importance of “self-care” (sounds cheesy, but it’s a whole vibe) has been a game-changer. For me, it’s walks in the park, my daily 10 minute Calm, switching my phone to Do Not Disturb, and prioritising learning (books, podcasts, journals).  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) What does the word ‘growth’ mean to you? Aside from #gains? Ha.  In the past couple of years - Mike and I have started saying to each other, and our team, “we like solutions, not problems”. Look, in work, training, life, there are always going to be problems, difficult people, and tough days. I used to obsess over the problems to the point they’d keep me awake at night. Now the minute a problem arises, I start thinking about the solution. Because there’s always a solution if you look hard enough, so what’s the point in stressing over things you have the power to do something about?  For me - that’s growth. Pushing forward, maintaining a solution-driven outlook whatever is thrown at you, and working out how to move past problems - adapt, reflect, learn.  How do you push past plateaus? I think the most important thing is that you recognise you’ve hit a plateau. Whatever it is you’re trying to change, be it weight loss, muscle gain, fitness levels, or whether it applies to work and productivity. I love to track everything. I write down all of my workouts, including the reps I’ve done, the weights I’m lifting, and even notes about how I felt during and after the session. This helps me clearly see when I’ve plateaued in my training, and encourages me to then reassess my goals and make a plan to push forward.  There are so many ways to mix things up. If it’s a training plateau, maybe try hitting the gym with a friend, trying out a different class, or getting a PT for a few sessions to give you some fresh ideas and perspective.  What aspect of your life do you struggle to develop most?  For me, it’s definitely finding balance. Running two businesses doesn’t usually allow for much down time, especially as I work with my fiancé, which means that we’re always either at work or talking about work. I really love working for myself, but it’s definitely had a big effect on my social life. Any 'time off' I do get, I usually feel like I just want to chill out alone. I definitely find it a struggle to maintain or build more meaningful friendships these days. Don’t get me wrong - I have a whole heap of wonderful people in my life - I’m just not that hot on messaging back or letting my hair down and going for a night out these days.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by AMY COSTELLO (@amykcostello) Do you set yourself goals? How do you make sure you achieve them? All the time! But I read a great book recently, Atomic Habits by James Clear, which taught me about the importance of goals that are specific and actionable. He says goals are good for setting direction, but systems are best for making progress. I can resonate with this from my own experiences, and from watching so many clients set themselves goals, and then feel like they’ve ‘failed' because they’ve been so focused on the end goal, as opposed to making small, actionable, daily changes to get them there.  So for example, a small goal of mine at the moment is to drink more water as I’m generally pretty bad at this. I’m making this a habit by setting out my bottle of water before I go to bed each night, so I see it first thing in the morning. I tell myself I can’t leave the house for work until I’ve had 600ml water. I also use a water tracker app, which sends me little push notifications throughout the day. System in place, and so far it’s working and I feel great!  What is your greatest life accomplishment? It’s got to be building Salt Escapes. Mike and I have been on the same page since we met. We wanted to create a life where we could work for ourselves and travel the world. We’ve achieved that with Salt Escapes, and there’s a lot more to come!  On top of that, I don’t think there’s any greater feeling than being in a beautiful part of the world, with a bunch of amazing people who have just had the week of their lives, and have been inspired beyond measure, and realising that you made that happen.  What’s one goal you’re going for now? Work goal: Building my businesses back up in a post-pandemic world. We’ve got 9 Salt Escapes trips on the schedule for this year and I’m going to do everything in my power to make them all happen. I just need Boris to play ball!  Personal goal: Mike and I want to buy our first house by the beach. It’s definitely a longer term goal, but everything in our foreseeable future is now driven by this end goal. We’re focused on a future of beach walks, BBQs and puppies!  What are the benefits of having a growth mindset? The opportunities! Personally, I didn’t do too well at school. I didn’t get the point of learning for the sake of learning. But I’m pretty proud of the fact that through hard work, applied knowledge and a lot of determination as an adult. I now own two businesses, work for myself and get to travel the world.  Natural talent or academic intelligence is one thing, but a growth mindset allows you to experience success, build resilience and overcome challenges, all through a simple shift in your perspective.  To keep up with Amy, follow her on Instagram and on Salt Escapes.  Read more

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