Influencers' Influencer: Yasir Khan on his journey of becoming a fitness transformation expert
Known to train some of the biggest influencers in the region, transformation expert Yasir Khan talks about why fitness is non-negotiable
For most people, weight loss is linked to vanity. It signals the arrival of a brand new YOU. But getting fit and getting thin are two different things. And as body transformation expert, Yasir Khan, 32, who trains some of the most well-known influencers in the city — Khalid Al Ameri, Ola Farahat and Niggi Phulwani — says, it is about a 360-degree perception change on your lifestyle. In an interview with wknd., Yasir, founder of Transform Your Body, talks about his journey from being a fitness model to a body transformation expert.
Tell us about your formative years and background.
I was born in Bhopal and brought up in and around many small villages and towns near Bhopal. My formative schooling was done from a Madrasa (Islamic Boarding). It was there that I learnt discipline and control while facing various hardships. My parents are simple, hardworking citizens who struggled to make their ends meet to look after our family of five. My father, a farmer by profession, taught me since a young age that our job is to give our best while leaving the rest in God’s hands and my mother worked plenty of small-time jobs before she became a librarian. She taught me the true meaning of selflessness and compassion, which has today become my strength.
How did your interest in fitness take root?
I was always a timid boy who was bullied a lot while growing up. Seeing my father working out since a very young age, I always wished to become like him and develop strength to stand up for what I wanted. I believed that my answer to the struggles of being bullied and called weak constantly could only end if I would build myself up. Growing up, the anger of being misunderstood and the pent-up frustrations regarding the society I was in, left me feeling defeated. At 13, I gathered the courage to put my insecurities of being weak aside and started working out at home as an escape from the troubles I was facing. Little did I know at that time that it would become my life and I would find my solace in the gym as I grew up. Gradually, from working out at home, I moved onto working in the local gym (akhada) where my job was to keep the gym clean and pick and put the weights in the right space. I learnt most of my skills watching the bodybuilders during their training and that is how my journey began. I started spending most of my time in the gym and started other small-time jobs like selling milk, distributing newspapers, selling gym equipment, etc. to support dietary needs for my training. After a few years, at the age of 17, I saved INR1500 and moved to Mumbai with the desire to do a personal training course. To make that dream a reality, I worked at a tea stall in Mumbai and lived hand to mouth. Once I successfully completed my course, I started out as a floor helper at a gym and slowly climbed up the ladder to a gym manager. There was no looking back there after. I gave it my all and fulfilled my dream of being on the cover of Men’s Health magazine in 2011, that was the beginning of my career in fitness modeling. The growing popularity got me to be a part of the TV show — MTV Splitsvilla 7, where I competed in the finals. Post the show, I got various offers from the television industry but my desire to explore the fitness world made me decide against television and I decided to move to Dubai. Here, I started working as a freelance personal trainer while competing worldwide in fitness modeling and classic bodybuilding — where I won several titles, including coming in second place in the UK, in 2019.
You position yourself as a body transformation expert. What does that role entail? How is it different from standard fitness?
The way I deal with my clients is unique. I try to reach the root cause of the issues instead of worrying about the technicalities. I truly believe that our body is a byproduct of our lifestyle and a reflection of our thoughts. In order to transform the body, I work closely on changing the mindset and lifestyle of every individual. My work is unique since I cannot follow the same plan for any two clients, but my vision is the same for everyone — to make them the best version of themselves. As opposed to a standard fitness training where majority of the focus lies on the mechanism (training and nutrition), I focus on the psychology and mindset of every individual wherein I make them believe in the true importance of the transformation journey by training their minds to overcome their habits, change their lifestyle and making them realise how this transformation journey impacts their families.
The desire to thin down is very different from the desire to be fit. Do you often feel the intention is misplaced when the clients come to you?
To achieve fitness goals, weight loss must go hand in hand. One cannot be overweight and fit at the same time; it is essential that the individual is in the right body weight and fat percentage to utilise their fitness gains to the maximum. I feel I am succeeding in improving lives when my client’s mindset changes from just weight loss to a more disciplined lifestyle, when they look forward to their workout and leave the gym with higher energy levels, when a sustainable diet and improving their sleep cycle are their aims. These things often result in lower stress levels and helps them stay true their fitness journey. So, to answer the question simply, I think the desire to thin down while very different from the desire to be fit are two different processes that complement each other.
You have also been instrumental in some local influencers’ dramatic weight loss journeys. What’s the challenge when you work with influencers?
I don’t think there is any challenge I face working with any client of mine, influencer or not as long as my client is ready to give it their best... I work twice as hard when I see my clients put their best foot forward and push themselves to their limits. My intent with every client is to give them their best results and transform their lives from the very core. As I mentioned, I look at changing their mindset and the same is applicable even to the influencers, which is why I have been instrumental in dramatic weight loss journeys of my clients.
In what ways does weight loss change our personality? Is it about vanity? Or good health? What have you observed among your clients?
Weight loss can bring about a 360 degree transformation in one’s personality. If I ask you to carry a 30 kg sack and run, would it be easy? No. Similarly, if one is overweight, the extra kg just slows an individual down. I have had clients who used to struggle walking up one flight of stairs who now in our TYB transformation challenge are easily doing 60-90 minutes of cardio. This goes on to show that the weight loss journey is, most importantly, about good health. Working out helps one to take control of their lives and helps in improving health issues like blood pressure, sugar, PCOS.
Have you observed a change in people’s attitude towards fitness post-pandemic?
Yes, the pandemic has definitely changed people’s point of view on fitness. It has pushed people to do most of their work themselves and showed one a mirror of where they stand in terms of their health and fitness. Doctors and experts have also stated that most Covid patients were the ones who led an inactive lifestyle. Post-pandemic, more people want to make their well-being a priority and work on their transformation journey. Most of my recent clients complain about major weight gains during the lockdown and now their only goal is to lose the extra kilos and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
What are your future plans?
As an individual, I am a keen observer and an ardent learner. My future plans personally are to keep learning, growing and evolving to become a better version of myself. Professionally, I am working on a big project, which is going to transform the world of fitness for which I will share the details when the time is right. My plan always is to change the world, one transformation at a time.