A Moray weight loss coach who turned his back on a legal career to help people reach their fitness dreams believes gym habits may have been changed forever by the coronavirus pandemic.
Zahid Javed, from Buckie, graduated with a law degree from the University of the West of Scotland seven years ago.
However, instead of pursuing a career to become a courtroom heavyweight he has instead devoted himself to helping clients realise their dreams.
‘Not everyone is going to be a bodybuilder’
At the time he graduated, the 31-year-old was going through his own weight loss journey, which led to him losing 78kg in four years, after a “lifetime of being obese”.
The physical and mental benefits from the change in lifestyle pushed Mr Javed, who now runs his own venture Z1 Fitness, towards a career in the sector.
During the coronavirus pandemic his list of clients has grown quickly with gyms closed while his social media TikTok channel, where he shares tips and advice, now boasts nearly 120,000 followers.
He said: “During the first lockdown there was a misconception among some that because the gyms were closed then people wouldn’t be able to exercise, so they may as well eat what they want and pick it up again once it was all over.
“The gyms were closed for six months initially, now another three months, and the people who have come to me weren’t getting results working out at home.
“The most important things is that you enjoy it – that’s why it worked for me, it became part of my life that I could enjoy.
“Not everyone is going to be a bodybuilder. I’ve been through the same struggle so I know what it feels like.”
Weight loss coach: Beware of ‘fad diets’
Mr Javed, who now lives in Glasgow, began his own weight transformation by calculating the number of calories he was consuming and working out how much exercise he needed to do.
And he believes there is no substitute for “patience and perseverance” for people trying to become fitter.
The weight loss coach said: “I’ve made all the mistakes. I believed the fad diets, I took diet pills, and ultimately none of it worked because it’s a long process.
“Ultimately, it’s a lifestyle. I still have chocolate, I’ve known people who have cut off their social life to avoid food or drink, but it’s important to still enjoy life while making certain sacrifices.
“When I was growing up I thought it was important to go to university and get a decent job, but now I want to make a difference to other people’s lives.”
Mr Javed’s clients include people in their 60s and some who have spent up to 20 years trying to shift unwanted pounds.
Some have struggled to fit exercise in around work life while others have taken up exercising at home to replace regular visits to the gym – a move the weight loss coach believes may be permanent for many.
Mr Javed said: “I would say that about 90% of my clients went to the gym before lockdown but I don’t think many of them will go back.
“Firstly, if it’s working from home then why change it? But also it’s also about a lifestyle. Not everyone wants to be a bodybuilder, gyms work for a lot of people and they’ll definitely go back, but they’re not for everyone.”