This is the beginning of a new life. A life I had never known. One without football in it. No more training in the cold everyday, no more pressure of contracts, no more injuries, no more uncertainties. When I look back on my life I always see two paths, led by two very different people. Who I was and who I became were two parallel paths. No one life can belong in the other. I never had the life of a “teenager”. I never partied, never drank alcohol, drugs were out of the question, no time for girls at all. Which in a way I appreciate because football kept me away from trouble. It kept me disciplined. Except the girls, I’d like to have lost my virginity sooner. Just kidding I was a pimp. Not really. I lived the life of an athlete since the age of 8. I started this thing very young and it was all I ever knew. Until I quit.
Now I wanted to live the life I missed out on. Do all the things I never did. I felt as if I had so much catching up to do. Everything was new and completely different. After all, my world had just turned upside down inside out. But I always knew I was a good boy. I knew I would never cross the line. That line between adventurous and stupid. Looking back, I may have crossed it once or twice. However I knew right from wrong. I had an intuition that was guiding me. I wanted a taste of everything. Do this, go there, do that, fuck her, try this, live there, learn this, work with that, and on and on it went. No matter where I went there was something always missing. I didn’t know if it was her, or the football. I guess it was a little bit of both. I didn’t know what I needed to get over. Her or football. It took me a while to get better.
For a long time I found myself in no mans land. I didn’t know where I belonged. I didn’t know where I fit in. I wanted to figure it all out. Find myself and do it as soon as possibly could. I thought only then would I find my peace, my happiness, my means to live. I just wanted a normal life. I didn’t know what that was. I was in search of something everybody else seemed to already have. As everyone around me seemed to settle down, get a job, find a girl, get a pet, I was looking at where to go and what to do with myself. As time would go on, I would feel more pressure. I didn’t wanna be a burden on my parents financially, nor emotionally. I always expected the best from myself in whatever I strived to do. Except I felt as if I was failing with everything I did. Every turn I made I hit a dead-end. Maybe I just quit too easily. But does it count as quitting if you quit something AFTER you become the best you can be? Nothing comes easy, and you have to work hard in whatever you want to accomplish in life. Nothing is ever given to you or written in stone. It took me a while to figure that out and I had to find it out the hard way. I did many things and jumped from one place to another. Looking back now I did that because there were so many things I wanted to do. So many places I wanted to go and new things I wanted to learn. I wanted to do it all and do it asap. Once I had conquered a skill or a place, I’d look to move on to the next thing. Keep evolving, keep learning new things, and gather skills in different traits.
After Denmark I moved back to New York. New York fucking city! My old personal trainer Marcial was opening up a small studio in Queens. He offered that I hang out and help him out with training people. It got me out of the house, which was exactly what I needed. Who knows maybe getting laid would have done the trick too but my penis was as useless as a pair of hot tits on a nun. I worked in that studio for a couple of months before deciding to become a Personal Trainer myself. I thought I had found my calling. Around that time to help me with my struggles, I decided to get a dog. I went to a pet store on Northern Boulevard. That’s where I met Charlie. Charlie was a shi-tzu, who became a part of the family quickly. It didn’t take too long before my parents fell in love with him and eventually ended up keeping him after I moved to Australia.
In those few months I spent in New York, I started hitting the gym with Marcial. We would go workout after closing and work on gaining muscle in the very same gym he used to train me in since I was 13. Only this time, I was 21 with goals of having a sexy ass body. He inspired me to start working out. I can’t tell you how much that helped. When I quit soccer, I was not only broken down mentally, but physically. My body had always been an athletes body and I treated it like so. Getting back to some form of training with any set of motivation was a gift. It helped me when I was struggling with depression. I would workout and immediately feel better.
On new years day 2010, I moved to Australia to attend the “Australian institute of Fitness”. A personal training school based in Sydney. I spent three great months there staying with uncle Frank. Made new friends outside the world I’ve known. Amazing experience all round. My only regret was not diving with a great white shark. That’s in my bucket list along with a several other things. Australia was beautiful, but far, far away. Not to mention full of wildlife. I remember shitting myself when I saw a black widow crawling up my park bench.
Trying to get some form of life on track, I decided to move to Sweden after I was done with the course in Australia. Why Sweden? I don’t know. Maybe because it was close to Denmark. Maybe because I just wanted to be closer to her. Maybe I liked my chances of making a life there. After all, I was very much into blondes. At this point in time I was trying to move on. So I was fucking girls left and right. Which is funny because in high school I was still a virgin. I was shy and couldn’t put two sentences together in front of a pretty face. Whatever happened, happened after high school. Though many women had come and gone, my heart was still elsewhere.
After moving to Stockholm I got a job at SATS as a Personal Trainer. That was a whole new world for me. A cold one too. I met many amazing people who inspired me to become a better version of myself. People I still carry in my heart today. I adapted quick to the Swedish life. Maybe because the culture was similar to the Danish. Or maybe I was made to feel right at home by the beautiful Swedish women who found my American accent so cute Everyone spoke English in Sweden and people were very friendly. I was living in the middle of the city where all the action was and working in Odenplan. Being a personal trainer at SATS Odenplan was not like working for any ordinary gym or any other SATS for that matter. The music was loud, swarm of good-looking people working out and hot Swedish girls sweating in those tight shorts. It was like a night club exploding with muscles and ass. It was unique and famous for the way it was. Needless to mention how many people I met and trained there. In pt school we were told not to become too close with our clients. Now clearly none of those people ever had a hot Swedish chick as a client.
My fellow personal trainer colleagues at Sats thought me a lot. I learned from the best. People that were champions. Everyone there was on a whole different level. Strict diets, strict training, with tip top shape bodies and a motivation that kept them always wanting more. Being under the same roof with these people who had a winning mindset made me a better Personal Trainer, and made me wanna take my training and body to the next level. I had found a new tool for motivation. Inspired by people like Alex Shirpey and Joseph Tekie, my body was under construction. I’d never forget the words that were said to me right before I began my fitness journey, “You wanna see what you look like under all that fat”? Yes! Yes, I did. Mind you, I wasn’t “fat”. But with these guys it was all about measurements and percentages. The worst of them had about %7 body fat. I mentioned their training and diet was strict. Until then I would shove myself with burgers, pizza, sugar and all kinds of carbs. Right after training I would go have a giant burger next door. Those days came to an end. I was ready to Rock N’ Roll! Alex wrote me a diet and challenged me to do it. He doubted me, and that made me even more motivated to succeed. I would get up in the morning, eat 5 egg whites with no salt. Eating every two hours, I would down protein shakes between lunch and dinner. This went on for as long as it took. Until the day I could look in the mirror and say “mission accomplished”. Things were easier being amongst people who lived and breathed fitness. I would train my clients and work out with Joseph, Abbe or Platini at the end of the night when the gym was all empty. They are the true definitions of beasts. Hence why I became a beast myself. If you learn from the best and be amongst the best, you can be the best. It’s really true, you become like the people you surround yourself with.
My diet and training was very tough. I had always trained hard, but now I learned how to train smart. Another difference was that after training, I wouldn’t munch on burgers and pies. It’s really %80 diet. Soon enough I was down from %17 body fat to %6 with minimum water retention. In other words, the specific look of a fitness model. But fitness is a drug. The better I got, the more I wanted. The more I wanted, the better I wanted to be. I stayed hungry and motivated. Which was the key for my success. Doing all this made me learn my body in and out. I was no longer getting sick, no longer getting tired. I knew my limits and kept pushing them to find out where the line of chaos was. I was always curious to see how far I can push my body. If football had taught me one thing, it was that to be the best, I had to train harder, become faster, push further than anyone else on that field. That attitude was encoded in my DNA. Sports, fitness, will always be something my body craves.
This transformation didn’t happen in 1 week or 2 months. I put in the hard work, didn’t put a single grain of sugar in my body for 4,5 months. I wanted abs like Jesus. So I had to be patient. My body taught me to be patient. It taught me that small progress that you hardly notice, is still progress. That the baby steps taken on a journey today, will one day become an adventure that shapes you into the person you are. What people don’t understand is that fitness is not only a journey you take to get somewhere. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of life. There are no shortcuts in fitness. For me, it’s like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. If I don’t workout, I feel like crap. That’s the state of mind you have to achieve in order to make fitness your lifestyle. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Working as a pt my first ever client was a elder woman called Ingela. The sweetest person you could ever meet. A humble business woman who built her empire from the ground up the old-fashioned way. Hard work. After training her a few times we couldn’t help but become friends. Ingela and I are still in touch today. She is a great person and a good friend. I think deep down maybe I’m the son she never had. Even though she says she would have killed me if I was her son. But for you to understand the core of this friendship, you have to meet Chef Francesc West.