Zaid Al-Chalabi, 29, is a software consultant and member of Gymbox Westfield London. Legend has it he does four classes a day, and has earned the title of 'Zaid the Burpee King' due to be able to 150 burpees in five minutes. Myth or reality? We find out.
Hi Zaid! Why do you like doing burpees? Most people hate doing them!
I'm very short, so I think I find them very easy because of this! For some reason I also have that spring you need in my chest, and the legs to explode off the floor and into the air. I also love hard exercises and challenges!
So we gather! What drives you to train so much?
Quite simple: I love to eat! I eat around 4-5000 calories a day, and I'm only 5ft 1. The training does take over my social life, but it's part of my routine, part of my life. I have met a lot of good friends at Gymbox and we have a big WhatsApp group, and we socialise a lot, mainly around food and drink. However, I eat for performance, not for aesthetics. My food is my fuel! It enables me to do what I do. I'm always seen with a bag of goodies in-between classes, to fuel the fire – bananas, almonds, electrolytes.
That's a lot of calories, how do you control this?
I eat for performance, but I would say I still eat too much most days. However, I do weigh my food, so I know what I've eaten. I do still have blow-outs on a Saturday, where this can easily hit 6-7000 calories.
You do 20-25 classes a week. Which ones do you do, and why?
Frame Fitness, Bartendaz, Flatline, HIIT/MetCon, Bike and Beats/Tour, Drill Sergeant, Body and Barz, Strongman, Frame Bandits, TRX. I love to cross train, so I'll basically do anything that gets my heart rate up! I'm not really very picky. I love to mix up strength, speed and endurance.
Do you have a favourite instructor? And what makes them stand out?
Nima Jam is the man. His motivation, class structure and format are fantastic. His training techniques and motivation are spot on. In my opinion, he's the best Gymbox Instructor, followed very closely by Arleigh and Firas!
We'll make sure we tell them. If you ever miss a workout or a class, how does that make you feel?
Not great! I do get the itch. But ti be honest, I rarely miss them. I'm quite stubborn, so should take more rest. Even when I have to travel overseas for my job I always make sure there's a gym in the hotel so i can do my circuit training. It's all about the circuit training!
Zaid, are you addicted to exercise?
Oh definitely! If this isn't an addiction, then what is ?! Ha-ha. There are worse things to be addicted to, no? Also, if I can inspire others in the classes then it's all worth it! If I can get just one person motivated, then fantastic.
You were overweight as a teenager, is this what has driven you to workout so much?
Being chubby as a kid was mostly due to my mum over-feeding me, but I do also take responsibility. I guess part of it is proving to myself that I can accomplish certain physical goals or challenges in life. This may be subconsciously due to me being short, so perhaps I'm proving to myself and others that a lot can be achieved irrespective of height, through hard work and dedication. I wasn't able to work out like I do now a few years ago.
You’ve been with us since 2014, what do you love most about Gymbox compared to other gyms?
Class creativity and diversity, as well as the atmosphere and trendy nature of it all. What's not to love?
How do you think you’ve changed since then?
I've definitely got fitter, leaner and stronger. My strength and cardio endurance and conditioning is on another level. I see the fitness world through a different set of eyes now. Long gone are the days of traditional weight training, it's all about high intensity circuit training!
What fitness challenges are you ready to take on but haven’t yet?
Tough Mudder, which I'm doing this May. I wouldn't mind trying a Spartan race too. CrossFit is also on my fitness agenda. Last year I competed in an intra-gym Bartendaz competition and managed to finish second, which was a buzz. I think my fitness level is higher now though for sure, so I'm ready for the next one.
You're a fitness nut, why don't you switch your job and become a PT?
So many people ask me this! But it would mean hitting the reset button. However, I'm keen to take the Level 2 personal training qualification. I'd love to be a Gymbox class instructor.
How does being fit impact on your daily work life, and how you love life?
It's crucial, it sets me up for the day, and preps me again for the evening workout. It also allows me to eat a lot of good quality food! I enjoy what I do – work, play, in the gym. I enjoy helping others. I'm always watching to see if someone needs assistance in a session, or if they need advice on something. Life's short, time's precious, spend it doing things you love and with those who add quality and positivity to your life.