Meet the unique Nadia Hussein! "I love the human form – we’re all a masterpiece!" she says.
Hi Nadia! What has been the highlight of your day so far?
Hi! Today's highlight? Having a creative discussion online with a wonderful performer called Catherine D'Lish who is making one of my next costumes for one of my routines. For those of you unfamiliar with burlesque, Catherine is a burlesque virtuoso who, as well as dazzling her audiences with her performances, she creates incredible costumes pieces, so I’m really excited to be working with her on this.
How long have you been with us at Gymbox, and what have been the 'best bits' to date?
I have been at Gymbox for two years. There are so many "best bits”. I have to say that being in such a positive environment in the lead up to my last fitness model competition was such a help. The support from both clients and trainers at Gymbox has got me through some sticky moments. Even now as I prepare for my upcoming burlesque shows, Gymbox is always a friendly, uplifting environment to be in to help me stay focussed and creative.
You are an ‘hourglass’ specialist, tell us about that
My fascination with the hourglass body shape stems back to way before I even started in fitness or performing. As a teenager I was quite skinny, and I remember admiring my friends who had hips and curves, and all I wanted was those things. Yet they were hating their bodies and going on diets and it was the complete opposite to what I thought. I never understood why they were torturing themselves with such negative self-talk about something that looked great. As I got older and developed my individual sense of style, and my admiration for the shape of the female body grew. I became quite obsessed with understanding the silhouette that nearly every woman and man appreciates. Throughout my career as a performer, my body shape is always something important to me, so I trained in a way to enhance that, and luckily I think I have it! As a trainer, I try to pass that knowledge on to my clients. The proportions of the hourglass shape is so appealing – it's timeless.
Your brand is the 'Body Odyssey', sounds intriguing, fill us in!
The way we shape our bodies, the way we evolve as individuals and move through life, it’s all very fluid. There is no one fixed way of working, but understanding this and working with the body naturally is an ever-changing learning process. The Body Odyssey is a reflection of these things. I really believe that being healthy and in great shape is a constant journey.
Would you say this approach is unique?
Yes, I believe so, and I like that what I am doing is different to what’s out there. Even though I have competed in fitness model competitions, that, to me, was an experiment on my body to see what can be achieved through a very disciplined regime of eating and training. If I'm honest, competing is not something that I would advocate for my clients. There's a point when you can get too lean and those curves just disappear. Social life IS important. Spending quality time with friends and family should be valued, and so should a person's creativity. All these things go when you compete. So my approach is very much about achieving great health and fitness with a wonderful body shape that embraces curves in the right way.
Are bodies pieces of artwork?
Yes, absolutely. I love the human form – we’re all a masterpiece! In it’s natural form, the human body is a wonderful thing. Being body positive starts with treating your body (and mind) well. And we can be our own artists through training and and eating in a way to create your very own sculpture. As for myself, yes, I do view my own body as art, and that is how I will always treat it. Art, music, film, inspire me, and it influences how I perform on stage. I extend those influences into how I respect and treat the way I eat and the way I train.
Do you think you have an unusual look?
I think so, but even as a performer, I don't actively seek attention when I’m not on stage. Being tall probably makes me stand out, I have big curly hair which I always say is my favourite prop, and the way I dress. I go with what makes me feel good. I love wearing vintage clothing, and I have a good collection of beautiful dresses from the 1940s through to the 1970s, and my flat is bursting at the seams with costumes and headdresses for my performances. However, saying that, I’m also into jeans and wearing band t-shirts, but I also love wearing mens’ clothing, and sometimes I prefer it. In fact I’m soon going to stop by Soho to see the legendary tailor, Mark Powell, and talk suits – I need a new one in my life!
What types of clients do you train?
I seem to attract clients who come from creative fields: from the music industry, writers, novelists, dancers, tattoo artists, chefs. But I also train lawyers and solicitors, and I even train a lady who, a few years ago, we were in the same ballet class, but didn’t even know each other at the time!
Have you had a client that you feel you’ve had the most impact on?
When I work with someone, I take everything I do with them seriously, right from the planning stages through to the execution of the exercises during the session, so I would like to think that I have had a big impact on every single client. I know that some of them go through some pretty difficult personal circumstances, so coming to the gym to train with me 2/3 times per week has been the vehicle they need to get them out of a difficult period. Those things I keep confidential, they are the real success stories that occur which are the biggest things to celebrate. However, it’s an incredible thing to see photos of a bride that I have trained, look beautiful in her wedding gown (I have worked with a few brides this year), but also I took a lady who had very little training experience from a size 22 to a size 14. She had arthritis in her hands so this meant careful planning of her training, but it really transformed her body as well as her outlook on life. This made me very happy indeed.
How does it make you feel when you see people you train transform into their new selves?
It gives me goosebumps. When someone starts training with me, it's always a nerve-wracking time for the client. They are investing more than money into this, and I want to make absolutely certain that I get them to where they want to be, in a healthy and sustainable way. I'm a stickler for doing things properly, so I do regular assessments to measure progress, and I’m constantly observing how people are coping with a new training routine, just in case there are other factors that may be affecting them. Often clients exceed their own expectations – witnessing them discover this about themselves is very special. Recently I was at a shoot with a client who transformed her body, and more importantly, her confidence. Seeing her embrace her new self is an incredible thing and I consider myself lucky to be part of someone's journey.
You have a lot of tattoos, what's your latest one?
I have a lot, and some people even describe me as heavily tattooed – I will probably be getting more, I haven’t set a limit. I personally know some of the best tattoo artists in the business, and my latest one was done by my talented friend, Inma who works out of the Family Business in Exmouth Market. She did my whole left arm – a jazz club scene (I’m a huge jazz fan). I will get more, but I’m in no rush right now.
What's next for you?
I'm doing a really wonderful show in Barcelona. I'm bring together my burlesque and pole skills, and for this show I will have a big band playing for me. Performing with a live band really is my forté, and it’s a great band, so I know I’m going to enjoy it very much. I have done this show many times before – great crew, great musicians, great city... When I get back I will be continuing to work on my pole skills, developing my routines and also getting back to seeing my clients! I love training people in January. Everyone has a renewed sense of motivation, so I like to make the most of it! Also in 2016 I will be launching my group training class, The Hourglass Masterclass, which I'm very excited about. I have spent a long time working on it and knowing that it will be happening soon is quite a thrilling thought.