Walid Yari is an Emirati warrior who’s taking the world by storm with a growing fan base of more than 500,000 followers on Instagram. The Fitness First Brand Ambassador is influencing people to swap their burgers for burpees and get into shape with unique training routines that resemble something you’d visualise in a Marvel film. SFME’s Scott Grayston got to meet the braided superstar last month to find out his favourite workouts, what he likes to eat on ‘cheat days’ and why he has dreams of starring in a Hollywood movie, and much more…
SFME: How did you become a Fitness First Brand Ambassador?
Walid Yari: I started making videos of my daily exercise routines and one day I received an email from Sarah Thomas, Head of Marketing at Fitness First, asking me if I’d like to join the Fitness First family and be their brand ambassador? I went straight onto Google to find out what being a brand ambassador actually entailed. It meant I’d have to present fitness in a positive and healthy way and inspire people to do something better with their lives. It was a no-brainer decision joining Fitness First so I signed the contract knowing they believed in me.
SFME: You’ve got nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram now – how famous were you on social media at this point when you became a Fitness first ambassador?
WY: I only had 30,000 followers at this point so I owe a lot to Fitness First for my growth.
SFME: Why do you think people enjoy your videos and images so much?
WY: I think they enjoy how creative and unique my workouts are. I never try to copy anyone else. I’d rather create my own style and get people to follow that. If I were going to demonstrate a push-up I’d make it a superman push-up and use this technique with lots of other exercises to try and impress others. When I receive comments like ‘This guy is a beast’ and they tag their friends, my following just keeps escalating, which
inspires me to put in even more effort and work even harder.
SFME: You are an Emirati who was born and raised in Dubai. How much of a change have you seen in terms of the importance of fitness to when you were younger?
WY: People weren’t really educated about the importance of fitness and nutrition when I was growing up. People here love restaurants, fast food and are often lazy. They don’t like to park far away from where they are going, which made me think that I want to be involved in fitness to change the way people act. I told my family I wanted to go into the fitness industry and they encouraged me to finish my degree in engineering first, and then move into it. So that’s what I did. Sport and fitness are my passion so receiving inspiring emails and messages from people saying I have changed their lives just spurs me on to do more. I want to keep educating people about food, training and nutrition because some simple tips can make a monumental difference.
SFME: What inspired you to get into fitness?
WY: I’m the youngest in the family. I have an older brother who’s a year older than me and he’s into studying and education. He was bullied a bit at school so I would always try and defend him, which made me train even harder to become stronger and faster. My other brother is into boxing. I used to join him when he was exercising from a young age. Whenever I could spare the time I would take up a new sport. I started by joining the running team, then I got into bodybuilding, then I joined XFit because I wanted to try everything related to sport.
SFME: What are your favourite types of workouts?
WY: I love to do freestyle workouts using my bodyweight and simple pieces of equipment rather than machines. In this workout I’d do exercises like: rope climb, push-ups , box jumps, battle ropes and more.
SFME: Why do you think Fitness First is so popular?
WY: Because it’s everywhere and the way they take care of you is remarkable. It really is like a family from the minute you join and walk into a Fitness First club. If you take
your gym bag with you, wherever you go in the world, you’ll find a Fitness First. You really
don’t have any excuse not to train because you can find them everywhere.
SFME: How often do you train?
WY: I train every day because if I take a day off it makes me upset and I feel like
I’m missing out on something. I do different types of routines every day – some easy, some gruelling. I love to lift heavy weights and perform aggressive exercises which involve my bodyweight and heavy weights. I like my workouts to be high intensity where I try and attack my body.
SFME: Do you intend to get bigger or are you happy with your physique?
WY: My family don’t want me to get bigger but as a human I want to be stronger, I want to be more powerful – I want to be like the next Superman! (laughs)
SFME: What’s the biggest tip for someone who wants to get big?
WY: It’s not only about working out. You need to give your body enough rest so it can build and recover and the correct nutrition. Nutrition is 70% of the whole result whilst 30% is your workout effort because you only do that for one or two hours a day – you’ve then got another 22 hours to concentrate on supplying your body with the right fuels and water.
SFME: Obesity is a huge issue in the UAE, how do you think we could prevent so many people suffering from it?
WY: Yes it’s scary. I found out recently that my brother is obese which was a shock to me but when we checked his blood sugar it was really high. This made me feel that although I’m into fitness, I can’t help my brother but I convinced him to prioritise
his fitness and nutrition because obesity will prevent him from fully enjoying his life.
Nobody wants this problem but it can be avoided if you’re just careful with what you eat and that you exercise every day. This gives you a license to enjoy yourself!
SFME: What do you like to have on a ‘Cheat Day’?
WY: I love burgers! I like to have three burgers a day – I know that sounds a lot
but the more you exercise, the bigger your appetite gets! But it’s all about the gains, so
it’s cool (laughs)!
SFME: Why should people come and train at Fitness First? Why is it so special to you?
WY: Because they’re going to take care of you like you’re part of the family.
The moment you come near the entrance, they’ll know your name immediately. Small
things like this make a huge difference and you feel like you’re at home. The environment
you train in brings out the best in you, with all the finest equipment to accompany you
in the gym. Everything at fitness First is well managed and organised so there’s nothing
more you could ask for from a gymnasium. Plus, wherever you travel in the world you’ll
find a Fitness First – that’s super impressive.
SFME: You’re 33 now Walid, what do you plan on achieving next?
WY: I would like to pursue a career in Hollywood. I got an offer here in Dubai to be a bad guy in a movie but I don’t want to be the bad guy! I’d like to be in an action movie as a coach or a superhero. I always believe you should treat your life like a movie and you are a hero in this movie so why not aim to be in Hollywood? So many things seem to be happening in my life now so Inshallah, this could be a future achievement.