In the world of fitness, Muhammed Ali – 3asab is an inspiration for body-building enthusiasts who want to follow in his footsteps to a life of medals and accolades.
The co-founder of ‘Yaqeen Group’ tells us how he worked his way to running two of Egypt’s best gyms with their multitude of branches, while being a favourite instructor to many.
By: Mayar El-Shamy
Tell us about yourself and what you are known for.
I’m known as Muhammad Zayed or Muhammed Ali – 3asab. I am the co-founder and CEO of ‘Yaqeen Group’ which now owns two brands: ‘Hers Gym’ for ladies with three branches, and ‘Balance Gym’ for men with three branches also. It’s one of the fastest growing fitness groups in Egypt, which aims to promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone.
I had worked as an IT Consultant for eight years but always had a passion for body-building. This passion led me to many wrong diets and training plans with different specialists, so I decided to start studying fitness and nutrition to understand how to do it safely. I applied the methods I learned on myself and to my close circle of friends before opening my first small gym called ‘Balance’, while I was still working as a network engineer as a full-time job. One thing led to another, and here I am.
How did it all begin?
I love challenges and I love being the best at what I do! Last year, I decided that I would go from out-of-shape and nearly-obese to an icon of body-building who makes it to the world of championships. Almost everybody, including my personal coach, told me it is almost impossible.
With the shape I was in, and only six months left to the championship, I had little time to be ready. But it was very much possible, and I did it. Six months later, I was on the stage with the world’s champions.
Tell us how did you get interested in fitness and health?
Since I was a kid, I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone in the ‘Rocky’ films, and hence I started to train myself to achieve such a body. Back then when I was younger, many gyms lacked the professionalism I needed, so I was training hard but my body fat percentage was not decreasing at a high enough rate.
I decided to see a nutritionist and I successfully lost 30 kilograms on a very low-caloric diet during a very short time. When I started to go back to the gym, however, I realized that I lost half of my strength and this is not what I was aiming for. I was then determined to study fitness and nutrition and got my first certificate twelve years back. I had found out I had been on the wrong path and corrected it.
You are an IFBB professional. What muscle growth diets do you recommend?
There are so many diets out there, and not one single diet is suitable for everybody. But I personally prefer a calorie-balanced diet (20-35% fat, 45-65% carbs, 10-35% protein) and the percentage will be determined for each case according to the required results.
If someone wants to gain weight, they shall eat more carbs and more calories as well as add 200-300 calories to their recommended daily caloric intake. And if someone wants to lose fat, they should eat higher protein percentage and lower calories from carbs as well as decrease the caloric intake from 500-100 calories.
At what point did
you want to make fitness coaching your profession?
I started it as a side job alongside my full-time job in IT seven years ago for two years. Before that, it was only a hobby with friends. A year later, I decided to make it my full-time job and I shifted my career to fitness.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
I have to have a goal, and while most people have big goals that they need to achieve in a long period of time, I like to divide my goal to smaller parts and achieve one after the other as I move to the next step towards the big plan. Another tip for keeping yourself motivated is finding a partner to train with and to have a personal coach to support you.
What are everyday challenges you have to face daily in such a field?
My biggest challenge as a body-builder is to be disciplined. Entertainment media always promotes junk food and a lazy lifestyle, while the populace is quick to adopt such a way of life, so it is very challenging for me to commit myself to my goal. Although fitness awareness had lately seen a leap in Egypt, it isn’t enough to raise awareness and change the existing perception of fitness and sports; they are essential for health and wellbeing and not just for weight-loss as the majority believes.
How can being fit and healthy affect a practitioner’s self-esteem?
I had witnessed many times how practicing sports and losing weight would have a great impact on practitioners’ self-confidence. Society already discriminates against people with weight problems and that influences their self-acceptance. So I would like to invite them to think of it as a healthy problem for taking care of their
overall wellbeing, not just as a self-image problem. It should never prevent them from following their dreams.
Any advice for those who want to start a healthy lifestyle but do not know where to start?
Eliminate refined sugars and trance fats from your diet.
• Eat a balanced diet with raw, clean, unprocessed and unmanufactured food which includes all food groups.
- Start with walking for 30 minutes a day, then after a month, start adding strength training 2-3 times a week with a professional trainer.
- You just have to decide to start!
What are your upcoming plans?
I will continue on spreading awareness on health and fitness. On the personal level, I want to win the world championship in body-building and get a professional card from IFBB, which is a very challenging goal, but I am aiming to reach it by next year.
A word for our readers….
Your health should be the most important aspect in your life. Without maintaining it, your performance will suffer in all matters of your life, even of taking care of the people you love. You need to watch your health and love yourself to be able to love others.