Fitness instructor Taofique Folarin has created the Dean Street Fitness Programme and demonstrates all the exercises in a series of online videos. We caught up with Taofique to find out more about him and his approach to fitness.
You’re looking great Taofique. Have you always been into fitness?
Thanks, I’m feeling great too. So, I was actually a very chubby child. I was never into sport and I was bullied at school because of my weight. That all changed when I moved to London and embarked on three years of theatre school training. I quickly lost a lot of weight due to the gruelling schedule, and the requirement to obtain a high level of fitness, discipline and self motivation. It was through my professional career as a dancer and actor that I found my passion for fitness. Many of the roles I played notably ‘Banzai’ in The Lion King required an astute awareness of how the body moves and I had to begin strength conditioning. In order to carry the puppet, prevent injury and fulfil the role. From this point I became fascinated with the endless capabilities of the human body, and I wanted to share my expertise and help others reach their goals too.
Tell us about the Dean Street Fitness Programme.
My philosophy as a trainer places emphasis on strengthening both the body and mind. Fitness is more than just striving for exterior perfection but should focus on total well-being from the ground up, inside and out. The Dean Street Fitness Programme’s ethos embodies just that.
Some people do not have time to go to the gym and others do not have the confidence to be in the gym environment. This programme provides the alternative option to work out at home. I am a firm believer that fitness should be inclusive and accessible for all, achievable yet challenging. The programme is tailored for beginners through to advanced so even if it is your first experience of exercise you will be able to work at a level appropriate. Taking that first step is always the hardest but with support and a healthy mindset the possibilities are endless.
Is exercise important in your life?
Exercise is one of the main tools I use to look after my mental wellbeing, without it I imagine I would be a walking ball of stress. Working out is a way of doing something positive just for me. It is one of my top methods for self care. Whether it is a 10, 30 or 60 minutes session, during that time I can forget about the outside world, problems and anxieties and focus on myself. I have never finished a workout and said ‘wished I didn’t do that’. As well as the big plus of improving my life expectancy, training gives my life discipline, structure, and I am always left in a better mood.
What or who motivates you?
My mother motivated me when I was growing up. However, I would now say she inspires me, and I motivate myself. I try not to compare or compete with others but look in the mirror to find my competition. Striving to be better today than I was yesterday.
If readers want to train with you where can they find you?
I am proud to say I have recently become a trainer at Barry’s ‘The Best Workout In The World’, you can check out their timetable and find me at one of their studios all over London. With over five years experience working in the boutique fitness industry I have been lucky enough to work in some of London’s leading studios, training clients of all levels and ages. You can also reach out to Folarin Fitness where I provide bespoke 1 on 1 training and online coaching.
What’s the most physically challenging thing you’ve done?
Separate to three years of training in the arts I would have to say when I was a contestant on the BBC show “Special Forces: Ultimate Hell Week”. After a gruelling selection process against some of the UK’s fittest, I was selected and then subjected to an ultimate endurance challenge. I was pushed beyond my mental and physical limits by battle-hardened veterans from the world’s toughest special forces. Every 48 hours we were put through a set of challenges, each one more difficult than the last. I learnt so much about myself and my resilience and it reinforced that we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.
Do you have any tips for people starting exercise for the first time?
When starting out the biggest mistake people make is exercising with bad form. The early stages of your fitness journey particular with weight training is where you lay the foundations, good technique is extremely important. My advice would be if you are unsure of how to do an exercise, reach out to a professional and/or head online and watch tutorials. I would also remind them that Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey.
Do you have any advice about diet?
Diet is a very individual thing, needing to take into account many factors, such as training frequency, lifestyle, training goals and age. As a rule of thumb it’s important to try and listen to your body. It will give you signs and signals as to what you need and when. We all know the foods that make us feel sluggish. Think about the two F’s when choosing food: is it FRESH and does it come FROM the ground. Other than that, water and lots of it!
What food is your guilty pleasure?
Hands down Hob Nobs with a side of cookie dough ice cream.
What are your plans for the rest of 2020?
I have some exciting events lined up with ‘Impulse London’ the gay men’s sexual and mental wellbeing organisation I sit on the board of. So keep your eyes peeled on my socials, as I don’t want to give too much away. In 2020 I’m working to be as happy and healthy as I can be! And I wish the same for all of you.
More at dean.st/fitness
Photos by Joel Ryder. Thanks to Sweatbox gym and sauna for the photoshoot location.