Yasir Khan: “I want to make people’s lives 10 times better”

As a world-renowned bodybuilder, celebrity trainer and the founder of Transform Your Body, the UAE’s biggest super gym, Yasir Khan’s life story is an inspiring tale of perseverance and self discipline.

The dedicated entrepreneur joins Livehealthy to discuss why the approach of Transform Your Body is so unique, he doesn’t believe in cutting out carbs or dairy, and how he went from working for free as a gym caretaker to launching his own empire.

How long has Transform Your Body been in the pipeline?

For over 10 years now. It started when I was still in India.  I had a specific vision that I wanted to create, so I didn’t just want to partner with anyone or do it anywhere.

It’s amazing to see it come to life. It’s a dream come true and it’s still sinking in. It’s not just a gym, it’s so much more than that.

Why is it unique?

I would describe it as a transformation factory because people can become entirely unrecognizable in just a few months. I believe that your body shape is the result of your lifestyle and mindset. So I focus more on those aspects rather than just how you move your body. I have been in the fitness industry for 20 years and I’ve always noticed that the people who don’t change their lifestyle or their thought process are the ones who don’t get results.

On the other hand, those who do very well are the ones who are open to changing, learning and adapting. They’re not just holding on to what they have read on the internet or what their community tells them to believe. If you are open to new ideas, you will change faster.

I have implemented all my experiences and all the techniques I’ve learned into Transform Your Body. That’s why it’s so different, and it’s not just a gym. 

A gymnasium is a place where you work on your body and your physical self.  But Transform Your Body is a place where you can work on your mind, habits and your overall wellbeing.  I want to make people’s lives 10 times better. That’s my whole intention. 

If someone joins Transform Your Body and their life doesn’t change at all, it’s my loss just as much as it is theirs. 

How does your process work?

First, I sit with each client for around 90 minutes and ask them to go through all the events and experiences that have led them here. I then explain to them that their new life is about to start and what it will look like. 

Some people immediately take up the new lifestyle that I suggest, whilst others are stubborn and resistant to any change. As I said, those are the ones who don’t see results.

After that, we begin the program. The training is done in different phases. You begin in the starting phase and after one month you are tested. Once you pass the test you move to the next phase and your program changes, and the same thing happens each month. It’s a unique concept that you won’t find anywhere else.

We have a nutrition program as well. The team stays constantly in touch with every client to help them follow their diet, eat healthy, sleep on time, wake up on time and make better choices.

We also do regular body composition tests so that people can see how their body is responding and changing. This is very important because it keeps people motivated. 

Everything is designed to keep your mind engaged. That is at the core of it and why we’re so different from other gyms. 

We also have some of best equipment in the world. I had it customized in Italy and it’s very different and unique. It’s designed to get maximum results. You can get the same results in 20 minutes as you would in an hour elsewhere. This keeps people wanting to come back again and again.

In addition to that, we have a healthy eating restaurant and we offer group classes like spinning, yoga, boxing, kickboxing and martial arts.  

What is the story behind your career? 

I started working in gyms 20 years ago, but my fitness journey began way before that. I first started doing push ups and working out at home when I was a teenager. My dad also used to train in the gym and the owner offered me the chance to join him for free as I had no money to pay for a membership.

So, as a way of paying him back I started doing little jobs like cleaning equipment and filling up water. Eventually, I was opening and closing the gym every day and then repairing things and making weights and bench presses. 

At this stage I decided I wanted to build a career out of fitness.

But I needed an immediate way of making money, too. I was working out so often and I needed to buy food and fuel my body. 

But I didn’t look for a job, I just started selling milk. I chose milk because I knew it was full of protein and that I could always save some for myself to drink.

I did that for three years. I would bulk buy the milk and sell it on for a higher price. Nobody taught me about business and I couldn’t do maths, I just focused on earning money.

I then taught myself to read because I wanted to read about how fitness models and bodybuilders would train and what their routine was like. 

I saved money from selling milk and eventually I had enough to go to Bombay to do a course.

It’s important that I share my story and inspire people.  Because some feel like they are stuck and there’s no way out. But I want to show these individuals that if I have done it, then they can too. If you just keep trying, you will find a way.

Where did the idea to launch Transform Your Body come from?

I started as a floor trainer, then I became a personal trainer, a fitness manager, club manager and then a fitness model.

I competed around the world and in so many countries. But I had a fire in me and a desire to do something more to help people.

After all, I think every stage of your life comes with its own responsibility.

At first you are learning, then you become stronger and start implementing what you have learned, and then eventually you see the results of your efforts and you can start enjoying life. At this stage, I believe you should also start to give back to people and teach them how to be successful too. I believe that’s what maturity is.

It’s creating a better world for your kids and the next generation. I think these stages are the fundamentals of life.

Do you still drink milk or have you cut out dairy?

I know many people will have an issue with this but I don’t believe in cutting out dairy, gluten or going on the keto diet. I eat everything and I drink everything and I’m in great shape. 

I just listen to my body. If I’m feeling a little soft around the middle, I cut down on carbs and when I’m feeling weak or depleted I up my carbs. I eat enough protein and fats. I used to drink almond and soya milk but then I realised it wasn’t good for me. So I went back to milk. I don’t even have low-fat or skimmed, just pure full-fat milk.

If I’m completely avoiding fat for a shoot or a competition I will cut out milk and have black coffee. Otherwise I drink and eat everything.

Are ‘free-from’ foods really healthy?

It’s all just a marketing gimmick. If you go back in time for 50 or 100 years, we never had these issues. We all ate everything and we were naturally in shape without even training that hard. Our body is designed to process rich food.

 The biggest issue is that people don’t eat enough, or they eat a lot of garbage.

Then when they put on weight they blame certain foods such as rice, bread, eggs or meat. But it’s not actually these things that are the problem. 

People put on weight because they are eating sugary, artificial and processed foods. I think anything that is manmade should be avoided as much as possible. Eating whole foods is the most important thing. 

For instance, small babies need the nutrients that they get from breastfeeding. But more and more people are using artificial formulas. 

The way you approach food is also easily passed on to kids as well.

It’s good to see that the next generation are so advanced in some ways.  But it’s sometimes sad to see the kind of food they are eating and the kind of body shape they are developing. If you look at the nutrient value of most foods, they are not giving kids what they need in order to grow.

Will eating whole foods provide you with all the protein and nutrients you need?

It’s difficult. Because even when you buy chicken and vegetables they are not 100% pure or organic.

That’s why we get protein powders and supplements to top us up. 

For example, if you are working 12 hours a day you can’t possibly be getting enough vitamin D as you will hardly be outside in the sun.

You can’t fix everything and it’s impossible to live 100% organically. But we can all try to do things a little better

How do you change the way people think? 

We are the product of our own surroundings, and our surroundings create our habits. 

But, at Transform Your Body we try to teach people to take responsibility for their habits. Everyone is just blaming everyone else and not actually making changes.

Once you adopt a new lifestyle, instead of being influenced by your surroundings, you will start to influence the habits of the people who are around you. 

But to be successful in anything you need to believe strongly in what you are doing.

That way everything will become aligned, including your sleeping patterns, education, friends and family will be aligned. 

Nobody is extraordinary. We all are the same. It’s just where you invest the 24 hours that you have in a day that makes you different.

You have to remove every distraction in order to reach your goal. It has to become part of your daily life.

Do people sometimes sabotage their own chances of success?

It’s all about believing in yourself. If you don’t do that, then you will always put yourself down.

But, if you believe strongly in the healthy habits you are following, you will rarely have body image issues or negative thoughts.

Is recovery an important part of Transform Your Body?

Yes. When I was growing up I never understood recovery because I was constantly attacking my muscles and training, training, training.

I never stopped. But for the last three years I have been suffering with a shoulder injury.  I tried various therapies, massages, acupuncture and I went to see a physiotherapist. But I had damaged it so much over the past two decades I eventually had to have surgery. 

That’s when I realised how important proper recovery is. But I’m sorry to say that I never had the time or the money to even stop and think about these things before. Because when your only option is to keep moving forward, you just keep going no matter what the cost.

To me recovery was just slowing down and wasting time. But of course that was totally incorrect. 

If you avoid injuries and recover faster, your muscles will grow even more. Recovery is very, very important.

Here in the UAE, the contrast between the cold of the AC and the heat outside is so drastic that it creates knots in people’s bodies. The muscles can get very knotted, especially if you train. It’s very, very common here.

I want people to succeed in their transformation journey and live a better life. So for me recovery is a priority.

Are fitness trackers necessary?  

If you struggle to follow a routine then they can help. Many people think having a routine is not adventurous but trust me I’ve been following one for the last 20 years. No kind of adventure can give you a bigger high than an effective routine. 

It might seem boring at first but, once you start noticing the progress you are making, you will feel so happy and it will start to seem really exciting.

Are gyms just going to keep getting bigger and bigger?

It’s similar to the fact that shops and restaurants all used to be separate, but now we want them to be all together in big malls.

People are becoming increasingly fitness conscious and they want to go to one gym that offers everything.

The future is very, very big for the fitness industry but I don’t follow industry trends. Everything I’m doing is very unique. We do things in a very different way and we are setting a new trend. As I said, I focus on the mind more than the body.

I strongly believe that if I can succeed anyone can, and I want to see people succeeding and becoming stronger. I want people to become more than what they are now.

Yasir was a guest on the Livehealthy Podcast Sept 14, 2022. Follow Yasir on Instagram to find out more.

Livehealthymag.com is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.

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