Marios Iacovou Personal Trainer
Marios is a newly converted vegan who uses yoga to balance his mind as well as his body. He tells Sundried about his motivations as a PT and how he applies his own principals to help his clients achieve their goals.
Please tell us about sporting events you have taken part in or have coming up.
I'm really a big believer in taking up challenges, though these challenges must be good for my body, and doing something I love doing. If it involves raising money for charity I'm there. I have taken part in a number of runs in London, Brighton and elsewhere in the UK. I have also raised money by doing a 'Dover to Calais' rowing challenge where I rowed over 33km non-stop.
Tell us about your journey to fitness? Where did it all start?
I did not come from a sporty background, so it took me a while to learn to enjoy the benefits of keeping fit. I always took more to activities I could do by myself and with someone else's company if I chose to. Swimming, tennis, running and strength training have always been my main interests. Now I am broadening my horizons as I made a bigger link between a healthy mind and a healthy body, where yoga has become a really big part of my life. In fact, I recently qualified as a yoga teacher and now love working in groups, something I always thought was not for me.
What are your training goals now?
My training goals now are to improve my flexibility and also to simply enjoy using my own body for resistance training. Our own body weight gives us so much potential to improve our strength and endurance. Often the fitness element holding us all back is flexibility, but this often goes unnoticed. For a healthy, injury-free body, which feels good and light, flexibility work should not take the back seat.
Tell us one unusual fact we wouldn’t know about you:
I have studied to be a life coach, which I haven't really told anyone about. I did it for myself and I feel it helps me understand and appreciate myself and others much more in daily life.
What would future you, tell yourself when you were starting out?
You do not need to get acceptance or permission from others when you are looking to follow your own path in life, regardless of how difficult it is for others to accept.
Do you follow a specific nutrition plan? If so, what/when do you eat?
I am a vegan. I have not been vegan for long, about 1 year. My only regret is not starting sooner. I eat lots of soy products and Quorn, as well as fruit and vegetables, beans, and lentils. Thankfully getting enough protein is not difficult, with a little bit of planning.
Typically in the morning I'll eat plant-based alternatives to yogurt with muesli, flax seed and a banana, with green tea. In the afternoon I may have quorn sausages, with peas and a carb source such a quinoa. For dinner I may have a meal like a chilli con carne but with quorn mince and plenty of veg. I usually have 4-5 meals a day and snack on fruit throughout the day. With my coffees I'd opt for oat milk or soy milk.
The vegan diet makes me feel much less bloated and I have more energy throughout the day. I feel that the vegan diet has increased the variety of foods in my life rather than limited, as it encourages me to look beyond the basic foods that I'd have every day such as chicken and eggs.
A vegan diet is not only better for my body but it is better for the planet. Also, I know that 4-5 times a day I may well be saving an animal from a difficult life on a factory farm.
What do you do to keep your clients motivated? Do you have any top tips to keep motivated?
My approach is to encourage clients to make improvements, but at a level that they will be able to keep it up. I always look to long term gains rather than short term. Would I recommend a disgusting tasting protein shake to someone who has to hold their breath each time they swallow it? No. Chances are that protein shake will not be used the following week, let alone the following year. I follow the same approach with activity levels. I would not ask too much of someone if it is not realistic. Therefore clients stay motivated knowing that they are keeping to certain practices, and as these practices become habit, I can take the clients goal even further.
Talk us through your training regime.
I work with a loose training regime, similar to the advice i give my clients - I do not believe in rigidity. I will base my training according to how I feel that day. I would typically aim to get 4 training sessions in each week. Each training session will comprise of compound exercises, working as many different muscle groups as possible, therefore you would typically see me performing deadlifts, squats, lunges, chest presses and back rows. I keep each session to an hour apart from when I feel I may have had a more sedentary day and therefore require a little more cardio. Outside of my gym sessions I practice yoga 2-3 times a week. My yoga sessions and gym sessions always vary as I work with how I feel, any parts of my body that require more attention or simply depending on how busy the gym is and which equipment I can get to.
How do you keep your fitness knowledge up to date?
As a member of REPs - Register of Exercise Professionals I always keep my career development up to date by studying and going on a range of courses, from pad work and suspension training to first aid. I also let my curiosities and passions roam freely, if that's simply watching YouTube channels to improve my technique, speaking to other people in and out of the fitness industry, and pushing my practice further.
What are your top 3 trainer tips?
1. Find something you enjoy. Do not persevere with something that is a chore, there are always options.
2. Try to cut down or cut out animal products. Do this gradually and with advice.
3. Don't give up. Consistency is key. Even if you fall off the band wagon, jump back on as soon as you're ready.
If you could only do one workout for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A yoga full body strength session. I trust yoga to be a fully balanced approach to training, where every part of the body is strengthened, stretched and shaped. The session will involve inversions, balancing poses, twists, flexion movements and extensions.
What are your training goals?
My goals are to reduce body fat down from 15% to 12% in the next few months. This will be done by more focus on HIT training methods.
Why work with Sundried?
Sundried has really impressed me with its eco-credentials. They are asking questions which unfortunately most other companies ignore. They are considering and acting on their responsibilities to provide ethical clothing. They provide premium ethical clothing which often don't go hand in hand but Sundried's products are modern, high quality products. They are a very transparent company so you can see the could they are doing. They are a company i'm proud to be an ambassador for, and I hope they will be an example for other companies to follow. Sundried show that there are no excuses to shy away from ur responsibilities and go above and beyond my expectations in every way.
Favourite fitness quote:
I already know what giving up feels like, I want to see what happens if I don't.