The Secret of Sleek
Before I co-founded Aerospace High Performance Center in New York City and became known for my intense workout classes . . . Before I started training everyone from average housewives and senior citizens to supermodels and celebrities, including Hugh Jackman, Eva Mendes, and 50 Cent . . . Before I taught classes that were attended by everyone from Mary J. Blige to James Taylor . . . Before the world took notice when I helped Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima lose all of her post-pregnancy weight so she was slim, sleek, and show-ready in just five weeks . . .
Before every opportunity I’ve ever been blessed with throughout my twenty-plus-year career in fitness, I was a boxer. In fact, by the time I was twenty-two, I was just one fight away from accomplishing my life’s dream of becoming the International Boxing Federation Middleweight Champion of the World. But if you think I’m sharing my boxing past because I want to impress you with my successes, you would be absolutely wrong.
Instead, I hope to inspire you through my losses.
My signature eye patch isn’t a fashion statement. Instead, it covers up an injury that closed the door on my professional fighting career forever, and opened the door to the fitness career I’ve enjoyed for two decades. It also reminds me every day about something I believe in quite strongly.
Sometimes, the stories that end positively are the ones that are born from something negative. It’s through the choices we make—and the effort we put into those choices—that we decide how our own story ends.
I was fifteen, living in Vancouver, British Columbia, with my mom, when my sister reminded me that my dad—a former pro boxer—had a gym where he trained fighters, and suggested I try the sport. At the time, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I had always been mesmerized by the spirit, athleticism, and abilities of boxers like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and George Foreman.
When I went to live and train with my dad, my career left the ground pretty fast. By the time I turned eighteen in 1981, with less than a year and a half of amateur boxing under my belt, I was ready to go pro. Four years later, I earned a contract with Madison Square Garden, found myself ranked among the top fifteen middleweight contenders worldwide, and moved to New York City to fulfill my dream.
I was undefeated and only a few fights away from a title bout when I took an uppercut to my right eye while sparring. The punch hit me so hard, it destroyed the orbital floor in my face, causing what some call a bombardier fracture—or a permanent drop of the eye within its socket.
I continued to fight—and win—and eventually became the number-one middleweight contender in the world, despite the fact that I was suffering from double vision and depth perception issues. But the reality at that point was that my journey to become world champion had become a whole lot harder.
I wouldn’t realize until fighting junior middleweight Olympic gold medalist Frank Tate for the middleweight title in 1987 that my dream would be impossible.
We fought that night for fifteen rounds, and I remember feeling drained and lethargic, even though I’d been training hard for the bout. I remember being very aware of everything around me, which is unusual for a fighter when they’re focused and the adrenaline is flowing. But that night, I could hear the crowd. I could even hear people talking. And I could feel every single punch. Being in that place—having that lack of focus—is never a good place for anyone to be, whether you’re a fighter, another sort of athlete, or anyone with a goal that needs to be achieved.
I went into the ring that night undefeated, but came out suffering my first loss by decision—one that wouldn’t be my last. As my vision grew worse, I became legally blind in my right eye; I eventually had to retire in 1991 with a record of 28-4, twenty by knockout. I was twenty-six years old, still physically in my prime, and my career ended as quickly as it began—like a flash.
But losing my vision only gave me focus in another direction.
Although I could no longer compete, I knew I could still maintain the same physique, the same low body fat level, the same sleekness of muscle, and the same fast reflexes using a boxing-based program of exercises and maneuvers. The same exercises and maneuvers that I—as well as every single fighter who has ever come before me or comes after me—rely on to get my body in the best shape possible.
For me, weight loss has never been an issue, but for most everyone that I’ve worked with over the years, it’s a major problem.
I sometimes will hear others say that the reason certain people—such as athletes, models, and naturally slim individuals—may never struggle with weight loss issues is because they’re born with a fast metabolism: a supercharged metabolism that burns fat faster all day long and lets them eat more calories—and any type of food they want—without ever having to worry about packing on the pounds.
Is it true that some people are born with faster-than-normal metabolisms that burn calories more quickly so they store less body fat? Absolutely. But if you think that every athlete and every professional model has an amazing physique because they’re all blessed with a one-of-a-kind metabolism, that’s where you would be wrong.
I can honestly say that a lot of my clients—men and women with sculpted, lean, Sleekified bodies who appear to have naturally turbo-charged fat-burning furnaces—actually have normal metabolisms. In fact, some—and I mean celebrities with the most enviable bodies imaginable—have very slow metabolisms that are most likely less revved than your own.
Don’t believe me? Do you still think they are superhuman? Then just take a look at a lot of athletes after they retire or watch what happens when your favorite actor or actress is in between jobs. Many lose their physiques. They may have incredible bodies when they’re active in their sport or preparing for a role or a big runway show, but when the spotlight is off, you can see just how human we all can be.
Stars aren’t all genetically superior to the rest of us—their physiques are a result of the work they’re willing to put into themselves and the investment they make in themselves. They could continue to have those physiques if they continued to work at it, but once they stop getting paid to be in their best shape possible, many lack the motivation to bother. In other words, they give up the fight.
As for me, I don’t work out at the same intense level that I used to when I was fighting professionally in my early twenties, and I may no longer have the same physical abilities, either. But I do have a sleeker body now than when I was that age.
The aging process may be inevitable, and everyone has his or her own unique physical makeup and metabolism. But no matter what type of physique you’re currently saddled with or how old you may be, you can recalibrate your metabolism—and teach your body to burn calories faster and more efficiently—by altering how you exercise and the amount of calories you consume. It really is that simple.
WHY OTHER PROGRAMS FAIL
Every week, there seems to be something new in terms of diet and exercise. Some new way to lose weight and get healthy that’s better than the one before it. There are a million different options out there. And there’s a reason for all those confusing choices.
It’s our nature as human beings to look for the quick fix and to seek out that which is most convenient. But the problem with most fad diets and flash-in-the-pan workout routines is that they have no substance or foundation.
Most so-called brand-new exercise routines, classes, DVDs, or fitness products might say they are able to “blast more fat” or “build more muscle,” but these same products also promise that you can do all of this without having to put in as much time or effort compared to other workouts. Just that promise alone—the offer to help you accomplish everything by putting in zero to little effort—should be an immediate red flag that warns you that what you will achieve is far from what they claim to offer.
Many fad diets are no better, usually based around whatever new fat loss study or health trend is popular at that moment, such as sticking with a gluten-free diet, eating for your blood type, or matching the foods you eat with your pH levels, for example. But look behind the curtain and chances are, the program many of these diets recommend is the same basic workout plan and low-calorie diet. It’s not new, and it’s not better—it’s just a different way of presenting the same type of program that didn’t work for you the last time you tried it, under a different name.
But there is no quick fix. Most of those so-called new options are nothing more than distractions that are keeping you from Sleekifying yourself. For something to work, it has to be realistic, it has to have a strong foundation, and it has to be something that can be sustained. It needs to be something that can fit into and complement your lifestyle, something powerful enough to change the unhealthy habits that you may already have, and something you can do for the rest of your life.
That’s the power of Sleekify, a high-intensity, full-body, excuse-proof program that requires very little space or equipment—so you always have the means to work out—while it honestly targets more muscle fibers than the average exercise routine (so you always burn more fat and build more lean muscle). But best of all, it incorporates proven techniques that aren’t today’s new fad—they are the same time-tested exercises that have never failed to get boxers in the best shape of their lives. With Sleekify, you finally have the formula—and the foundation—your body has been waiting for.
The Exercise Enigma
For me, cardiovascular (or aerobic) exercise—any activity that increases your heart rate and elevates your body’s consumption of oxygen—is king. Compared to strength training, flexibility, balance, and coordination exercise, cardio is the most important of all the fitness elements, which is why it accounts for about three-quarters of the Sleekify workout.
Not only is it the most effective tool for burning off fat, but performing the right amount of cardio each week can also help you live a healthier, longer life by improving your cholesterol numbers, strengthening your heart, and even lowering your blood pressure, among other equally important benefits.
So why isn’t everyone using it to become sleeker? Most people tend to take two approaches when it comes to cardio and weight loss. One: They choose an activity that doesn’t have a high enough intensity to achieve the results they hope to gain (for example, walking). Two: They think the answer lies in sticking with one activity—such as pedaling on a bike or running on a treadmill—until all of their unwanted weight drops off.
This can fail because most of the aerobic activities average people choose—running, cycling, or stair climbing, for example—target only certain, but not all, the muscles of the lower body (primarily legs, gluteal muscles, and calves). By using only your legs, you end up missing out on toning and training half of your body. That one-sided solution can leave you too tired with fewer results to show for all your hard work—or worse, cause chronic pain or an injury that could keep you from exercising altogether.
Building more lean muscle through resistance training also plays a key role in weight loss, since the more lean muscle you have, the higher you’ll raise your resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories that your body burns all day long, even when at rest). The problem is that many of these catch-all programs are designed in a way that mostly exhausts the vanity muscles—the muscles you can see in the mirror, such as your chest, shoulders, and the front of your thighs (quadriceps)—while ignoring other equally important muscle groups because they’re smaller, less sexy, or unseen (such as your calves, lower back, and hamstrings).
Resistance training programs also come with a number of expectations. They expect you to be able to invest in weights, equipment, mats, benches, and other tools you may not have room or money for, or to join and travel to a gym many times a week. They expect you to be at a certain fitness level, which may be too advanced or too basic to be effective for you right now. They never account for who you are and what you might or might not have, which is why many people find themselves on the receiving end of being excessively sore—or worse, constantly injured—as a result of lifting weights improperly. They also expect that you’ll have access to a spotter—a person who can step in and assist you when your muscles tire out and can no longer lift the weight.
WHY SLEEKIFY SUCCEEDS
Sleekify is a methodology that’s not too terribly different from yoga or tai chi. In fact, sometimes I refer to my program as “American Yoga” or the “Western Hemisphere’s martial art.”
Just as yoga and tai chi are disciplines that allow you to have a full range of motion, core control, and functional strength throughout most of your natural life, Sleekify offers the same lifetime guarantee because it’s rooted in the sport of boxing and adapted to benefit the human body.
The exercises and maneuvers used in Sleekify are the same tried-and-true techniques that have been used by boxers since the sport’s conception. That’s why Sleekify remains just as effective and relevant today as it was when I first conceived many of the principles of the program two decades ago.
But what separates Sleekify from other fitness boxing workouts—and this is coming from a guy who was hailed as the “godfather of boxing fitness” two decades ago—is how you have complete control over its intensity. Sleekify is a combination of proven drills, advanced techniques, and unique body-sculpting exercises that adapts to your skill set, giving you back as much as you’re willing to put into it—so you dictate the pace of your results.
What I’ve done with Sleekify is translate proven boxing methods into something people can understand and apply in their everyday lives. Sleekify works for every body because it’s designed to work with your body, taking the same rooted principles of boxing and molding them into a routine that an ordinary individual, a high-performance athlete, or even a supermodel can use.
Excerpted from Sleekify! by Michael Olajide, Jr., with Myatt Murphy. Copyright © 2013 by Michael Olajide, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of Zinc Ink, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.