Andy Zagami, The Man With 9 Lives Is Our Personal Trainer Of The Day, Shares His Inspiring Story As A Cancer Patient Survivor
TELL US YOUR STORY, WHO ARE YOU AND HOW DID YOU START IN THE HEALTH AND FITNESS INDUSTRY?
My name is Andy Zagami and my health and fitness journey started at the ripe age of 4 when I was invited to try a gymnastics class. My gymnastics took off and soon I was training with the elite squad training for the Olympics. While that didn’t eventuate, I continued training until I was 18 and with the passion I had for the sport it was obvious to me that I was going to do something in the health and fitness arena. Straight out of school I started a double diploma in Sport and Recreation and Event Management. Very quickly I realized it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go so switched over to certificate three and four in fitness to be a qualified personal trainer. I had found the beginning of my new life.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES YOU MADE WHEN STARTING OUT IN THIS INDUSTRY?
I had a lot of guidance from my dad who had been running his own business for 25 years at the time so as far as setting up a business goes, I was set. I picked up a few clients very quickly and was underway. I’m sure I made mistakes, looking back the way I was training clients was pretty ‘boring’ for my standards but I didn’t know any better back then.
I also didn’t have much time to make any mistakes because within 2 months of starting my business I was diagnosed with cancer. The business was put on hold for the rest of the year while I dealt with a couple of surgeries and chemotherapy. Not really the ideal start to a business but the lessons I soon learnt shaped me and the business into what it is today so there’s always a positive side.
WHAT IS THE MOST ABSURD EXCUSE YOU HEARD FROM A CLIENT AND HOW DID YOU RESPOND TO IT?
As trainers, we hear every excuse under the sun and it doesn’t take long to work out which are true and which aren’t. The one that always gets me is ‘I don’t have time to train.’ Everyone on the planet has the exact same amount of time in their day, how you use it comes down to your priorities, it’s that simple. The list of excuses can go on and on with their justifications which they fully believe to be true and acceptable reasons but at the end of the day, it’s as simple as how they prioritize their life which is neither good or bad. Anyone can find 30 minutes in their day, it may just mean a shorter sleep. Then they often complain ‘but I need my x hours’ which more often than not isn’t true and what they actually need is better quality sleep which I explain I help solve through nutrition and simple nightly rituals.
WHAT MAKES YOUR GYM/FITNESS CENTER DIFFERENT FROM OTHERS?We offer mobile personal training, so it’s training in parks or clients houses. What’s different is me and my story. From a brain hemorrhage at birth, a fractured spine as a teenager, three cancer diagnosis’ and a few other bits and pieces I have a very different perspective than most on what health really means. I’ve been in the ‘best shape of my life,’ feeling indestructible to then being smashed with cancer, surgeries and chemo to only then truly understand how to treat my body.
It’s this knowledge I use every day to help change my clients' lives. My motto from day one was ‘It’s Not Just a Fitness Program, It’s a Lifestyle’ and that will never change. I am also a qualified Nutritional Therapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, Time Line Therapist, Hypnotist, and mBit (Multiple Brain Integration Techniques) Coach as well as soon to be published author of my book ‘Unbreakable.’
To clarify, I don’t really care too much about the qualifications, at the end of the day they are pieces of paper. It’s how that knowledge is used to get the best results from my clients that I’m concerned with. More than that, it’s my story and the fact that I am living proof of what I educate my clients about that actually works. Experience beats qualifications any day.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST GUILTY PLEASURE WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD?
Going through cancer multiple times taught me a lot about the food we eat and how beneficial or dangerous it can be. I used to be able to eat anything I wanted with no issues, but after a particular surgery, I had to cut everything out and start from scratch. Listening to my body and really understanding what it liked and didn’t like anymore was a fascinating experiment, I started learning more and more about myself and how powerful food really is. A couple of years down the track and any ‘guilty pleasure’ I have is a healthy snack I make like my homemade chocolate protein balls which has only good quality ingredients unlike any of the processed rubbish you would buy at a shop.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN ONE WORD.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BEST EXERCISE/WORKOUT TIPS?
Ask for help if you’re unsure. Thinking you need to be fit to see a trainer is nonsense and will potentially do you more harm in the long run. It’s crazy the number of times I’ve heard people say ‘I need to get fit before I can start training with you,’ just ask the question and get on with it instead of procrastinating and still being in the same position 1,3 or 5 years from now.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS OR PLANS THIS YEAR?
This is really the first year since I started in 2007 where I have been in complete control of my health so until this point I really haven’t done as much as I could have to promote the business. Yes, it’s served me well and sent me on overseas trips etc while dealing with hospital visits and recovery but now that I am on track I am going to launch my book, Unbreakable (http://www.unbreakablebook.com/), sometime in February which will lead onto running weekend health retreats as well as public speaking to help spread my message and help as many people as I can. The personal training side of my business is growing every week and will continue to do so, it’s going to be a huge year!