If you follow fitness instructor Ada-Ari Agbim’s fitness channel on YouTube, you will be treated to a new workout every week.
The DC-based LesMills instructor is changing the way we look at exercising by making it more fun with her high impact workouts (often to the sound of infectious Afrobeats).
We caught up with Ms. Agbim to find out more about her routines and her passion for helping others to live health-concious lifestyles.
Please introduce yourself
My name is Ada-Ari Agbim (My name is unique. “Ada” is a title meaning “First Daughter”, and “Ari” is my father’s name. So my name means “First daughter of Ari” I’m also a daddy’s girl). I’m a Nigerian, DC-based fitness instructor.
Can you briefly tell us about your YouTube channel and explain what inspired you to start one?
On my YouTube channel, I upload workout routines set to the beat of popular African songs. I started with West African beats that I am familiar with, and hope to branch out with time. I was inspired partially by the rich culture that is apparent in our African music, and also partly by witnessing the effect that powerful music has on workouts. As a LesMills group fitness instructor, every workout I teach is set to music, and the energy in the music can do wonders to drive intensity. I felt that setting workouts to music my people can identify with could motivate them to break a sweat while connecting to something familiar.
So How long have you been working in the fitness industry?
I have always been a tomboy and have played some sport (soccer, lacrosse, basketball), run and generally worked out since middle school. I went for my first professional fitness training in October 2010. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So being a fitness instructor is something that you have always wanted to do? Or do you have another career before this?
I have always been very active. Playing soccer led me to the gym to improve my fitness. I would always see group exercises classes going on, but never imagined that my gritty nature would find a fit. I got injured while running, and had to find ways to modify my workouts. Pure curiousity led me into the group exercise room where I took my first ever group exercise class – a BodyStep class. I had such an amazing time, that I was surprised when the hour was over. The instructor’s energy blended ever so perfectly with the music and the moves, that I felt it was more than just a workout – it was an experience. Well, with my addictive personality, I became obsessed and started attending as many classes as I could. About five months later, I built up the courage (people do not believe this, but I am a very VERY shy person) to speak to the instructor. I wanted to know how I could get a hold of the particular LesMills music. When she told me that I had to be an instructor, I went online looking for the next training (I am also ridiculously impulsive). My only goal was to go through training so that I could get all the music. Never in a thousand years did I imagine myself in front of a crowd. But the Group Exercise manager was such an amazingly nurturing soul who got me to work with some great instructors and start teaching. There was no turning back from there.
You know, my father always said he saw me in a career where I could be very sociable and help people. The more I explore new territory as a fitness instructor, the more I connect to that tip. The most addictive aspect of what I do, by far, is the reaction I see in people’s faces during the workout. I am able to take them on a journey full of laughter, energy, hard work , and determination. I love walking into a class knowing that the group is looking to me to lift their energy and brighten their mood. Even more, I LOVE the feedback I get in private conversations and messages. Like I said, I’ve always been a very shy person. But I have now learned that while I’m in front of a group, it is not about me. My focus is now wholely external, focusing on each participant, and helping him/her achieve what it is that he/she came for – and more!!!
What advice would you give to others who dream of starting up careers in fitness?
Go for it! Honestly! My entire life has been one tale after another of taking the most unthinkable chances. You will never know how much you might enjoy something, or how much of an impact you could make until you try it. As with all worthwhile things, you will meet setbacks. But always focus on the reason you began – the passion that led you from the back of a class to the front. Let that trump everything else.
So most of your workouts are choreographed to some high energy afrobeats. How do you select what tracks to use for each workout?
It’s a mixture, really. My first set of workouts, I choreographed to music that I heard and connected with. Some more recent workouts were from requests.
Exercising is not always easy for most of us. Do you have any tips for staying focused?
I am a strong advocate of team work. Find a buddy… or three. I depend on many of my friends to work out, and I have numerous running partners and workout buddies. The great thing about sharing the experience is that when one of you is feeling a little uninspired, chances are there is someone in the group who is motivated and can drag you out of that slump.
Take your time. Fitness is a journey, and there is no need to rush. This is something I have to remind myself constantly – don’t focus on getting ready for a specific occasion or to wear a particular outfit. Focus on making your body stronger, capable of doing everything you might want it to do. As a defensive player in soccer, I want strong enough legs to keep up with any attacker sprinting my way. When I babysit, I want to be fit enough to keep up with the demand of a three year old who thinks I should have a limitless amount of energy. Think of some of the things you’d like to do more of – I guarantee you’ll find something to inspire you to work towards it.
What’s next for Ada-Ari?
Eek. I am really not sure. The videos are a new venture for me. I do know that I want to be a part of the fitness revolution happening right now in Africa. I know we can change the face of exercise from a boring thing that only unfit people need to do – to what it really is – an important part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.
How can readers stay updated on new videos and updates?
Readers are very welcome to subscribe to my YouTube channel (Adagurl). I will post a video each week, so keep coming back. Readers can also follow me on Instagram (@ada_ari) where I document my fitness journey, and life in general.
Photo Credits: Adibe Photography and Magazine Cut Photography.