Tell us who Ada Ari is?
Ada-Ari is an average chick. I love hair, makeup, shopping, and the Kardashians. I still have a bit of a tomboy-ish side to me, and I love playing soccer and challenging the fastest guys on the field. Above all, I am extremely blessed! Aside from amazing parents and the best sisters ever, God has always put extremely good and genuine people in my path. It has to be more than luck! So grateful.
What was your transformation story into fitness?
Hmm… transformation? I’m not quite sure, you know. I have always been more of a tomboy, and my (diva of a) mother would always scold me for being so rough and uninterested in getting dolled up. Along with that, I preferred jumping down flights of stairs and running fast. In middle school, I played basketball in middle school, and transitioned into soccer and lacrosse in high school. My freshman year in college, I was (inexplicably) lazy, and gained the freshman 30! Soon afterwards, I started hitting the gym pretty regularly. I found my way back to the soccer field, and continued after college. One thing led to another, and I’ve done a bit of everything. I used to run lots of races, and I am currently a fitness instructor.
Tell us about your love of working out with African music
Well I LOVE music, and I love working out. As a fitness instructor here in DC, I’m surrounded by music that empowers people to move. When I used to run, I always had Ivorian music in my ears. I would zone out and let Yode et Siro or Magic System carry me through a two-hour run. Our African music is so colourful and energetic that it literally hit me in the head when I attended aerobics classes in Lagos and found people working out with Nigerian music in the background. From experience, I knew that the music could play a more prominent role in the workout and motivate more people to move. It took a lot of courage (I’m an extremely shy person) to ask people to join me for these workouts, but I’m so glad I gave it a go. I have non-Africans confessing that they bought some of the beats they heard from iTunes. It is such a treat to spread our vibrant culture around the world.
What is your approach to nutrition?
Sigh. My permanent struggle. I have never been great eating the right things, and I have made some really bad mistakes in the past. A few years ago, I had a group of friend who sat me down and put together a meal plan for me. I tell you I have never felt so healthy! The diet was mainly high in protein and low in carbs/sugar. Though I am not strictly following that regimen anymore, I generally tend towards high protein/fibre, and low simple carbs. One thing I constantly do is infuse the Nigerian foods I grew up on into my diet. So I prepare Okro soup with no oil and skip the garri. I also drink a lot of water, and very rarely drink my calories (I’m fortunate enough not to enjoy alcohol – phew! The struggle is real with chocolate alone in the picture.)
What is your current weekly workout routine like?
Let’s see. Four days a week, I teach six, intense group exercise classes where I have to motivate my classes to push further. It is one thing to do these workouts, but to do it with enough energy to push people AND talk is quite another! I will typically superset my classes with doing some of the workouts that I want to incorporate future videos. I also play soccer once a week, do informal exercises with my friends, and I’m trying to get back into running, so I’ll cover a couple of miles at least once a week in the mornings. It’s no wonder I fall asleep super early. The most important thing (that I’ve learned from experience) is to rest. So I take at least one full day off and relax/stretch.
How do you stay fit?
I stay fit by working out with people. I’m running with a friend, playing soccer with a team, or leading a group of people in a workout class.
What is your biggest fitness accomplishment?
I think my greatest accomplishment is becoming a fitness instructor. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went for initial training. But years later, it has been the most enriching thing ever. I have pushed myself physically, and also had the chance to meet and impact so many different people. Learning how to communicate to a gym class has taught me a lot about communicating with and understanding people in general. So it has been more than just a physical accomplishment, it has been a great opportunity for growth. One thing I can definitely say I did right!
How will you advice those trying to start their fitness journey?
I will say take your time, fitness is a journey and not a destination. Start slow so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. I also am a strong advocate of finding partners or a group. I have different friends who I do different types of workouts with. I may go running with one person this week, and lift weights with someone else. Another great resource is to join a group exercise class. There is something magical about the energy that a group generates during a workout. The endorphins (feel good hormones released during a workout) are instantly multiplied, and you can really surprise yourself with how far you can go!
Do you have any pictures and workout videos to share with us?
You bet I do! Subscribe to my YouTube channel (Adagurl) for weekly video uploads. You can also follow me on Instagram (@ada_ari) for a picture documentary of my journey to eating well, working out, and living in general.