The maxims of Tafiq Akhir are stenciled blue on the white walls of his West Hollywood studio: reshape your body, restore your health, and renew your life. He lives these words steadfastly, one of the keys to the success of his personal training business.
Akhir has been a personal trainer for nearly 19 years in Los Angeles. He was introduced to the profession when, as a dancer, he injured his shoulder while lifting his dance partner over his head and had to go through physical therapy. Through the doorway of physical therapy, Akhir became intrigued and fascinated when he saw how the body could heal itself through exercise. During the rehabilitation process, he met with the physical therapist about getting into the profession, but having already completed college he didn’t want to go back to school for another seven years, so the physical therapist recommended that he consider getting into personal training. On that day, he invented a dream of helping people transform their lives through health and fitness, and now he is living the miraculous—watching people becoming healthier and happier through his program.
Akhir has another wall in his studio filled with before-and-after pictures of once unconditioned but now toned bodies, harder and more defined. Each picture tells a story of commitment, dedication, and challenge, of individuals reaching their goals and sometimes exceeding their expectations of themselves. What’s impressive is that mostly all of the clients have lost weight and inches. I caught Akhir between training classes to discuss his business, who he trains, and what he focuses on during a workout.
MS: How long have you owned the West Hollywood studio, and what is the secret to your success?
TA: I’ve owned this studio for a little over a year and a half—two years in August. And I’m not sure what the secret to success is, but I’ve always wondered that because, for whatever reason, women are more attracted to my training style. I’ve worked in almost every major fitness studio in L.A.: Gold’s Gym, Equinox, Beverly Hills Health & Fitness, Crunch. And I could take over [an instructor’s] class who had 90 percent men in the class, and in three months it would become 90 percent women. I’ve asked women what it is, and no one can tell me. Some people think that it’s because I have a soothing voice. I’m not a yeller; I’m not that drill sergeant type of person, but my classes are effective.
MS: What are the most important things you’ve learned in your 19 years of personal training?
TA: The most important thing I’ve learned is that you need to meet people where they are. A lot of times, I think trainers put their agenda onto the person and what they are doing; like they want to push someone to do certain things with their body that they may not be ready for or want. So, I think it’s important to meet somebody where they are and see what it is they want to achieve, see if it’s even possible for them to achieve that, and then navigate them to show them what is going to be best for them to reach their health and fitness goals by, again, meeting them where they are.
MS: Tell me a little bit about your clients.
TA: I would say 80 percent of my clientele is women over 40. I have a lot of moms. We’re starting to get a lot more men to come into the studio now. But [they’re] all over 40. That’s my main demographic. And I think it’s because the studio over here is not a fitness studio. I always say that we’re a whole-body health and fitness studio because we’re helping people change their whole body, not just the aesthetics of their body. So, it’s about helping them have better overall health, fitness, lifestyle—everything.”
MS: What is different about a Tafiq Physique?
TA: I think that’s just it. That we’re a whole-body health and fitness studio, so we just don’t help our clients look great on the outside, we help our clients balance their hormones. We’ve helped people reverse diabetes, reduce thyroid problems, reduce fibromyalgia pain. We’ve helped people eliminate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. So, we help people to not only look good, we help them to feel great as well. And we just don’t focus on exercise. I always tell people who come here, “If you’re just looking for a class, we’re not the studio for that. Everyone who gets a membership here gets the whole package: they get they get fitness, nutrition, lifestyle, etc., and all that type of coaching. Whether you want it or not, it’s part of your package. It’s what you get here at Tafiq’s Physiques.”
MS: What do you focus on in a workout?
TA: We always do the whole body unless it’s a specialty class, and the only specialty class we have is “tums and bums;” which is 30 minutes of abs and 30 minutes of butt. The rest of our workouts target all muscles. Our yoga classes, our HIIT [high-intensity interval training] classes, and follow-along classes are all a total-body workout.
MS: How long do workouts last?
TA: Fifty minutes.
MS: If someone only has 30 minutes to workout, what do you tell him or her?
TA: The main thing, I think, for people to understand is that they have to stretch after their workout to prevent injury and to make sure their muscles are soothed after the workout. So, if they don’t have time to stretch, I do recommend that they either look for a training program that’s going to work better for their time, or they can do private training with us. We do have 30-minute private-training programs, but we don’t have 30-minute classes.
MS: What is the diet you use for weight loss?
TA: We have a diet program that I structured about nine years ago based on the Diet Free Academy, which is the name of my program. It basically teaches people to eat real food to get real results. We don’t count calories, we don’t detox, we don’t juice fast, we don’t make that a part of the program. We literally teach people to eat real foods without supplementation, without having to do all these drastic things. It’s one of the main reasons why I created this program because I had a lot of different clients from a lot of different places. I had people from India and from Korea. You can’t give them all the same meal plan because they have such different cultural things that they eat. So, we base it on protein, healthy fat, and high-fiber vegetables. It teaches them to combine those macronutrients correctly for their specific body type and their specific goals, so they can reach whatever their health and fitness goals are.
MS: What should I eat after a workout?
TA: Everybody’s going to be different. It just depends on what your goals are, what your time is, and what your lifestyle is. It depends on the person. We do something specifically different for everyone. With pre-workout fuel, some people need it, some people don’t. We give people guidelines on different things so they can see how they feel during the workout and see how they feel after the workout. Everything is going to be trial and error because everyone can’t do the same thing. Everyone has different hormones and different metabolisms.
MS: What classes do you teach?
TA: Total Body Blast class—combines interval training and Fit Physique; follow-along with the trainer class; cardio kickboxing—a fun cardio class with basic kickboxing techniques; Tum and Bums—30-minute concentration on abs and 30 minutes of lower body with an emphasis on the butt; circuit class—a variety of exercise stations. [For a full description of classes click here: www.tafiq.com]
TA: Who are your personal trainers?
TA: Ana Lorenzana—sweat boot camp, Vinyasa flow yoga, power sculpt; Kevin Keeling—corporate wellness program; Jesse Rey—home training; Kelly Ann Carson—massage therapy, restorative yoga.
MS: Tell us about your massage therapist.
TA: Our onsite massage therapist, Kelly Ann Carson, has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Swedish and deep-tissue massage. Clients rave about her because she has strong hands, an intuitive style, and she leaves them feeling like putty: relaxed, restored, and renewed. To get rid of knots, and for stress and tension, she’s the go-to in this town. Kelly helps complete the whole-body health and fitness experience we’re known for at Tafiq’s Physiques. Let the healing begin!
MS: What kind of feedback do you get from your clients?
TA: One thing my clients always say about me is that they feel and know that I care. I always tell them that if I say to them, “If you have any questions or have anything you need, give me a call or text me,” a lot of people will just say that, but I actually mean it. Also, one of the biggest things that my clients like most is that they know I’m constantly learning and constantly making sure that I have the most up-to-date information to give them. For example, I’m about to start a course on stress management coaching, because I’m seeing that 90 percent of my clients are having difficulty dealing with stress. I decided that was something I wanted to be able to help them with, so I’m getting certified.
If you’d like to experience whole-body health and fitness at Tafiq’s Physiques. West Hollywood Lifestyle magazine subscribers get a $50 discount off their Fit Over Forty 14-Day Kickstart. The package includes two private training sessions, unlimited group fitness classes, a 14-day kickstart meal plan, and more for just $99. Sign up for the 14-day kickstart here: https://tafiq.net/14daykickstart
Whole-Body Health and Fitness
8205 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 9
West Hollywood, CA 90046