To me there’s nothing more exciting than seeing people, who you thought were destined to do great things, actually do great things. It must have been at least 10 years ago when I first met Kevin. I can’t recall exactly how or when it happened but we grew up in neighbouring towns, small towns. We occasionally frequented the same places, small places. And we went the same shows, small shows. So , it was a small world and we were bound to eventually run into each other. One of the few things I can remember, and it was probably my first impression ( because those always stick with me), was me thinking something along the lines of ‘ this kid’s got heart’ . He seemed so unapologetically alive and full of guts, which is something to be admired , certainly at that age. He was probably around 16- 17 years old at the time. So years had passed, we were still friends on facebook and I followed him on instagram ( which is great because it offers you a glimpse of people’s life and a vague idea of what they’re up to. ) When all the sudden I started noticing what he was doing. I was actually pretty pleased when I found out he was going into the personal training business. Being a personal trainer to me is about, pushing your own limits, bettering yourself, leading by example and enabling others to do the same. Which is one of the noblest things you can do if you ask me. So I’m pretty psyched that Kevin wanted to do this interview for us and throw us all a sliver of what’s on the enabler’s mind.
What have you learned from being a coach/personal trainer?
That the human body and personality is capable of doing a lot more than what can be viewed from the outside. I’ve seen 50kg boys lift 120kg with ease, and 70 year old women do intense strength training. Fitness and sports is unique in its setting because it reveals what someone is capable of doing when focused on a goal.
As a coach what do you think is your biggest contribution to society?
I believe I’m not in a business where I hold the whole truth but I give people guidance to break habits. The human body is addicted to habits, that’s why some people lose 5kg in the first week and then won’t lose a single kg in the next weeks. The human body will always try to stop change, and my task is to find these habits and break them.
What does sports mean to you and how did it shape your life?
Sports means everything to me, from pro level to the next back backyard pick-up game. Sports is the only thing that holds society together. The best example is the 2015 worldcup soccer for the people of Belgium. We are famous and everybody knows Belgium for being a difficult country because we are divided on so many level, but think about is. What keeps our country together even more than our government? Eleven players that represent us on the biggest stage in the world. It’s a civilized way of warfare, the feeling of honor en pride when representing something or standing behind something.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t wait for the door to open, kick the door in and introduce yourself.
What’s your philosophy in life? Do you always manage to live by this philosophy?
Usque ad finem, which means ‘untill the end’. I’ve managed to live by this philosophy even when I only reached where I wanted to be by taking baby steps.
What’s been your biggest setback? What keeps you going?
When I started doing what I do now I thought I could just walk in and claim the job I still think I’m capable of doing. For an example I’ve sent my resume to almost every division 1 soccer club in Belgium, wanting that training spot on their staff. I thought the doors would open if they would read my resume and jaws would drop in aw, but the hard reality was that they wouldn’t even consider an unknown trainer. That would be my biggest setback but it also was the event that changed everything. It made me work harder so they can’t look over me in a couple of years.
If things don’t go your way you…
I find ways to work. Most of the time I take a time out by doing some training on my own and evaluate how I approached something and how I can change it. Afterwards I’ll try again, and again, and again but in the end I’ll get to my goal.
What makes you happy?
When a set back motivates a comeback. I’ve had countless appointments with clients who suffered set backs that would vary from injuries to motivational reasons. When those people make the smallest step forward that’s a step forward for me as well.
What frustrates you?
How corporate society tries to fog the view of the people. Even in health and fitness companies write false articles just so they can confuse the people. Training and sports isn’t a material thing, it’s old school and the most basic things you can find these days, but still companies want to shove a whole arsenal of supplements, accessories and such in peoples throat with false statements.
What are you most proud of? What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
The recognition and opportunities people give me. I’ve had amazing training sessions and moments with clients because they achieved something we’ve both worked towards.
Where do you need to improve? / What’s your biggest flaw? how would you like to see yourself grow?
In my opinion my knowledge-base still needs to broaden. I’d love to make an impact on the Olympic weightlifting scene in Belgium so I’m taking every opportunity that presents itself where I can improve in that sport.
What do you think about plan B’s? do you have a plan B?
I could always find other jobs in the health and fitness industry, even desk jobs are available if I want. But I tend not to give those options a lot of thought while I’m trying to build something for myself.
What’s your favorite exercise?
I love old school training, which means a lot of compound exercises. The most famous are the barbell squat, barbell deadlift and bench press.
What’s the most common mistake people make while working out?
The most common mistake would be that they keep telling themselves that they can’t do something. As a trainer our job is to pull clients out of their comfort zone because this is where the habits get lost and the progress is. When pulled out of their bubble people feel insecure and doubt their selves but like I said before I’ve seen amazing things happen when people trust me and let their body go its ways.
What have you learned from your clients?
That the truth isn’t written, not even by those who preach they hold it. I’ve read hundreds of articles and some amazing books by other coaches and trainers and there will always be a resemblance on how every trainer approaches a client or athlete but the human body is so complex that what works for person A won’t work for person B.
Do you have any work-out tips?
Listen to your body. If you follow a training program take it as a guideline, you are the best doctor your body has. If you don’t feel 100% don’t try to train on a 150% level. This will lead to much larger steps backwards than forwards.
What advice would you give to an aspiring coach/personal trainer?
Be yourself and find your own style. People will come to you because they can relate to your way of training.
What are the qualities you admire most in other people? Who’s the person you admire most and why?
Perseverance, honesty and pride. I’ve got a lot of people I look up to but the person I admire the most is Derek Redmond. He was a British athlete who had an injury during the Olympics where he tore his hamstring while running a 400m race. Instead of stopping his dad came on the track and they completed the race together.
How would you describe ‘health’?
Health for me is both mentally and physically. People should go back to a primal state of mind where strength is functional and bodies are strong again. We’ve adopted a lifestyle where everything we do involves food, electronics,… we’ve neglected the most precious thing we have: our body. Mentally health should be considered as a state of mind where we find ourselves confident and comfortable.
If you could only teach your kids 1 thing , what would it be?
Take pride in what you do, even if you do it wrong. The thing I get frustrated about is how people always knock people down by saying what they shouldn’t be doing instead of helping them by given them options, advice and guidance. Even if you mess things up as a kid.
How would you like people to remember you?
I’d love to be remembered as the person that stood by peoples sides. I still believe that trainers and coaches should be the ones in the shadows when their clients shine. Even if we aren’t remembered the persons whose lives we’ve changed will know where we were when they struggling to reach their goals.
What’s you favorite food or meal? What’s your favorite spice?
Chicken, barbequed, grilled doesn’t matter every dish is better with a piece of chicken in it. For spices I love the spicy things.
What’s you favorite drink?
Water and Arizona, but when I’m out I’ll even drink sodas or juices.
What does food mean to you, what role does it play in your life?
They have a saying in the health and fitness industry that what you do in the gym only makes up 20% of your result and what you do in the kitchen makes up for the other 80%. Food and other nutritional elements are key if you want to achieve some athletic or physical improvements.
What’s your favorite fashion item?
Nikes, nikes, nikes.
What’s your biggest fashion fail?
Sandals as a kid.
Which fashion trend would you like to bring back?
Jeans that aren’t skinny.
Describe a day in your life.
During the days that I don’t need to train people I write training programs, analyze data from previous training sessions, try to learn new stuff,… On training days I start by getting the material I need, then I go through the specifics of the training session. Afterwards I like to talk a little bit with the client and evaluate how things went.
Who is your favorite artist ( photographer, painter, sculpture, architect, actor, writer,..) What’s your favorite piece of art and why?
I’ve got to give a shout out to a friend of mine right now. Matthew Dawn painted a painting for me which hangs in my living room. He’s a talented artist with a message.
What did you want to be as a kid?
Stronger than my dad.
What’s your favorite word?
Fear. Because fear motivates and destroys people.
What’s the last song you listed to/ which song are you listening to right now?
Broken arrow by Comeback Kid
What’s the last movie you watched?
Saving Private Ryan
What’s your favorite movie and why?
The batman trilogy, because it’s a batman trilogy. And the underlying message of a person getting knocked down and getting back up is a beautiful story.
If you were a painter, what would you paint?
The Mona Lisa, but just a little bit bigger.
What’s the best book you ever read?
Almost every book Dan Brown wrote, I love how he can take symbolism in a story.
Who was your best childhood friend? Describe him or her.
Do you remember that kid on the playground always picking teams when playing soccer? And on the other side do you remember the kid getting picked last, the one that always had to be a goal keeper because nobody wanted him to ruin the game? That’s a perfect description. My childhood friends were honest, but they made you feel like you belonged somewhere.
Give us 5 tips for being awesome.
Stop talking, start chalking.
Don’t bring your phones to the gym, really. Don’t.
Describe yourself in 5 words.
If you weren’t a personal coach, what would you be?
I’d love to be a Jedi Knight or Batman but the most realistic path would be something in the military I think.