Publication: Natural Muscle Magazine – 2011 ©
By Carolina Gonzalez
Photos by Carolina Gonzalez
When looking for personal trainers, sometimes we hire them based on their physique alone, hoping and believing that their knowledge will change our bodies; but the truth behind real body transformations relies mostly on how the knowledge about training, dieting, nutrition, and self-improvement is delivered, and Unni and Willie from Somifitness of South Florida have mastered their teaching techniques and have helped world-wide champions to achieve their athletic goals as well as man and women of all ages and shapes. Today, they share their secrets and proudly talk about their achievements.
Unni and Willie have been trainers for nearly 20 years, and together they have empowered hundreds of people. They have mastered their profession by finding ways to connect body and mind, and they have inspired others to enjoy a healthy and fit lifestyle.
They have worked with fitness champions like Jennifer Nicole Lee whose titles and accomplishment have surpassed the competition stages making her one of the most successful entrepreneurs and models in the world. According to them, Willie has worked one-on-one with Fitness Model Jennifer Nicole Lee for the past 5 years; he has been involved in her preparation for her two consecutive world titles: Ms. Bikini Diva World, and has also helped her prepare for astounding appearances, countless editorials and magazine covers. Both, Willie and Unni, are involved in some of Jennifer Nicole Lee’s main projects by helping her reach out to others as she motivates the masses to gain a better life through health and fitness.
Another great champion that has been under their brilliant spell is Glen Johnson, the World Champion Light Heavyweight who at age 41 decided to make a comeback to the boxing world as a Super Middle Weight. Unni helped Johnson to shed 18 lb. of fat and even gain 6 lb. of muscle, and he went on to win the match in the 8th round over his 10 years younger opponent Alan Green. Currently, Johnson and Unni are focusing on injury prevention and impeccable nutrition to keep Johnson at maximum strength and conditioning. “Unni will never deplete a boxer to meet his fight weight; instead, she focuses on shedding fat and retaining muscle mass to keep the fighters as strong as possible,” added Willie.
Another name that shines on their list of champions is Luis Franco, undefeated Cuban featherweight and current WBO Inter-continental Champion. Franco’s latest victory came on August 6th, 2011 after working closely with the power duo in creating a diet that not only gave him the proper nutrition but a nutrition plan that allowed Franco to feel content and in control; important elements to a professional athlete’s focus. “We found foods that Franco liked and incorporated those in the diet. Instead of just telling him what to eat, we found that allowing him the feel in control made him more receptive to the nutritional plan and he went on to quickly shed 8 lbs of fat in less than 3 weeks”.
These three big names and their stories: CONTACT _Con-3AB905DF8 \c \s \l Jennifer Nicole Lee, Glen Johnson and Luis Franco, are great examples of Unni and Willie’s remarkable work. Not only can they help others to transform their bodies, but their lives. So, I asked them to share a few of their teaching techniques as well as the philosophy behind their work. With conviction and awareness, they shared their minds:
1. “To be a successful trainer, the first thing you have to realize is that each and every individual is different. In training and nutrition there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. What works wonders for one client, may be detrimental to another”.
2. “Push the body to change the body”. Trainers must treat the trainees as Athletes, and make them set their minds as such. “Professional athletes are highly motivated to follow a training and nutritional plan as their results directly impact their financial and personal futures and lives; for that reason, they are highly motivated and easily adhere to instructions. Consequently, we encourage all trainees to set goals, as professionals athletes do, in order to push harder and to break new barriers. Realistic goals can highly improve their progress; examples of doable goals are photo shoots and local competitions for amateurs”.
3. Believe! Once a goal has been set, everyone involved in the transformation, trainer and trainee, must visualize the goal. “If you believe it, you can achieve it”, they both say constantly to their apprentices.
4. Positive reinforcement is a ‘Must’ as it motivates the athlete. “We never resort to yelling as reproach, belittling or otherwise intimidating”.
Patience and Persistence are as important as protein and vitamins on a balanced diet. “It is not easy to get into top physical shape, and many people underestimate the level of sacrifice and dedication it takes to get there. We are in a society that wants instant gratification, and many of us are afraid or unwilling to make the daily sacrifices required. We always tell our athletes to take the entire process ‘one day at a time’. We can provide the tools and suitable advice needed to achieve a goal; but is they that need to work hard and earn it, and that ultimately takes time and dedication”.
Preparation and Commitment are vital. “Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail,” says Unni emphatically. This translates into having healthy snacks at work or school. Preparing large quantities of healthy staples and keeping them in the fridge to reheat when you get home tired at night”. This principle applies to the training routine as well, explained Willie, a trainee must have a schedule and a plan and jut follow them”. In other words, commit to your plans!
Explaining and Understanding are of the essence. Trainers have to make sure the trainee understands the importance of following a nutritional program is as significant as teaching proper form when instructing, for example, weight lifting. Both, Unni and Willie go as far as cooking meals for athletes in order to help them modify their eating habits; “because it is not enough sometimes just to tell people what to eat; but to show them the way to follow the nutritional plan”. They will take the time to educate the person about nutrition. Unni has a resounding phrase to emphasis the effects of having and following a proper diet: “You can’t out train your diet”. Many people, she says, spend so much time in the gym only to undo their hard work by not eating properly or worse, not getting fantastic health gains from their workouts because they eat the wrong foods.”
The success of a trainer is based on Teamwork, affirms Willie. “We tell them that they are a reflection of us, and they can either makes us look good or bad; hence, we work really hard in helping them to achieve their goals as if they were ours”.
“The most important component to be a successful trainer and to be a triumphant athlete is our minds. Using our minds to help us achieve our goals is the best thing we can do to succeed”.
Unni and Willie are Certified Personal Trainers and Certified Master Trainers; both are certified by the NFPT – National Federation of Professional Trainers; ENW, Exercise and Nutrition Works, and ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association have also certified Unni; she is also a specialist in Exercise Therapy. Furthermore, Unni holds certifications in Sports Nutrition. She is a Nutritional Coach, and specializes in Fitness Nutrition.
Both will be feature on the soon to be released DVD series: Jennifer Nicole Lee Fusion Program; the exercise DVD series comes with a nutrition program co-authored by Unni, who also wrote a chapter on the “Fun Fit Foodie” book also written by Mrs. Lee which it will be published on the upcoming months.
It is also important to mention that together, Unni and Willie, every year during the months of November and December, collect toys for the children of South Florida. And to add to the amazement of the ‘living by example’ approach of this power couple, Unni is the mother of four beautiful kids, ages 22, 20, 17 and 14. “If you believe it, you can achieve it”.