November 29, 2022

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Taking a leap of faith and booking a personal trainer is a significant step in anyone’s life, but if you think that an hour of sweat, three times per week is the answer to all of your health and fitness prayers, then perhaps you should take some advice from Chiheb Soumer a former martial artist who is righting many of the wellness industry’s wrongs.
This martial artist developed the Fairfax Training Club in Los Angeles as an antidote to the humble gym after realizing that many establishments, personal trainers, and their clients are making mistakes that threaten to detail their potential. M&F talked to the fighter-turned-fitness-guru to find out more.
Having been a student of Judo since the age of 5, Chiheb Soumer has been physically active for as long as he can remember. By the time he reached 8, the young upstart was competing all over his native Germany. At age 12, he joined the German Judo team. It was during this time that a love of fitness magazines piqued Soumer’s interest in bettering himself physically.
“Growing up in the ‘90s and 2000s, I was surrounded by fad diets and crazy workout trends,” he recalls. “It was much harder back then to weed out the nonsense without having the internet. Through resources such as Muscle & Fitness and others, I started educating myself and figured out the importance of nutrition and a good strength routine.”

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When the promising judo star began to see great results from the fitness routines that he followed, the martial artist realized that he could coach others to make positive changes too. So, he started pursuing a career as a personal trainer at age 17. “There are many mistakes that PTs can make, and it usually starts with etiquette, pricing, program structure, and a lack of education,” says Soumer.
While developing himself as an accomplished personal trainer, Chiheb Soumer continued to further his martial arts career as a professional Muay Thai fighter. He amassed an impressive 12-1-1 record before moving to the U.S. At age 25, he found a place with Alliance MMA based in Chula Vista, San Diego. “Alliance had some of the biggest names in the industry, such as former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and I looked up to them all,” says Soumer. “They welcomed me into the team, and I started training there on a consistent basis.”
While a catalog of nagging injuries would eventually force Chiheb Soumer to make the difficult decision to retire, he understood that he could apply some of the lessons that he had learned from those MMA legends in order to better his offering as a personal trainer
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Soumer saw that fighters who made an effort with their appearance were often perceived as being more professional off the mat. “My first purchase as a personal trainer in LA was a black tracksuit and clean sneakers,” he says. “I wanted to look the part. That small investment made me stand out among my PT peers, who came to work in old sweatpants and basketball jerseys.”
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“Whatever your goals, through years of training, I can say one thing: Stick to the fundamentals. Squat, lunge, deadlift, pullup, row, bench, and run,” says Soumer. “Also, implement various agility movements and focus on your mobility. Stick to this, and you’ll cover all the basics for any goal, whether it be martial arts, strength and flexibility gains, weight loss, or simply meeting the demands of regular daily life.”
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Kusmartsev Volodymyr
Soumer saw that gyms didn’t always do a good job educating people about nutrition. “I grew up in a family that wasn’t financially stable. My parents tried their hardest, and I am so grateful to them, but looking back, a lot of the food that we ate was out of pure necessity where the goal was to be full but not always knowing if the food we ate was healthy,” says Soumer. “Little did I know then that the spikes and crashes in my energy levels were a result of my diet. In terms of building muscle, I was able to out-train my diet for a long time, but as I got older, my body responded differently and I couldn’t do that anymore. So, I educated myself on health, fitness, and most importantly: nutrition to fuel myself properly.” These days, educating clients about healthy eating is a must as far as Soumer is concerned.
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Jacob Lund
In an MMA environment where every move counts, Soumer learned that the same respect for time should be displayed in all fitness sessions. “Another downfall is that personal trainers can be very chatty,” says Soumer. “When I started as a personal trainer, I immediately understood; I have a time constraint. Chattiness can lead to clients lacking focus and intensity in their programming and this can directly impact clients, leading to stalling or failing results.”
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Fairfax training club/Chiheb Soumer
Having worked alongside MMA stars such as Cruz, Danny Martinez, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Michael Chandler, and Rafael Dos Anjos, Soumer appreciates that improving your levels of health and fitness is a lifestyle rather than a hobby. He says that fitness is all encompassing. Of course, fitness includes what you do in the gym, and cook in the kitchen, but it is also about how you try to recover physically, and what you can do to benefit yourself mentally.
“When creating my own space with the Fairfax Training Club, the vision was to make fitness holistic wellness accessible to all,” he says. “Drawing inspiration from the Fairfax district, the design elements of the club were very important to me. I wanted to channel the energy and aesthetic to give people a place they looked forward to visiting and were motivated to work out. As we expanded into corporate wellness, we began offering both virtual and in-person programming for top companies like Snap Inc. [Snapchat] and Legendary Entertainment where again, our vibe and approach needed to be clear.
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In recognizing that not everyone feels confident enough to take in-person training lessons, Soumer appreciated the need to offer remote training possibilities. “Through COVID we have learned how important it is to stay connected through the internet,” he says. “This applies to fitness just as much as anything else. Being flexible and having the ability to transition from in-person training and being able to provide the same benefits to clients remotely is huge. Our professional team of coaches can reach more people virtually than we ever imagined. Our virtual programming offers the same lessons as we do in-person.”
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Fairfax training club Chiheb Soumer
“It is essential to look at well-being in a holistic way to ensure you care for both your physical and mental self,” says Soumer. “In days when suicide is at an all-time high or as our country is becoming more obese daily, we as fitness professionals must feature as many proven modalities as possible while educating the masses. I’m a firm believer in the importance of rest and recovery for our bodies, so that we are not constantly over stressing ourselves with high-intensity workouts. I knew we had to offer our clients all aspects of fitness and wellness like Yoga, meditation, Pilates, strength training, boxing, nutrition, and even cooking classes. Having a balanced approach to well-being is our number one priority and is key for every single person we work with.”
Righting wrongs from the ground up, and developing his vision of an all-inclusive ‘training club’ rather than a ‘gym’, was a controlled risk that is paying off for Soumer. Not only are his
clients loving the 360-degree fitness experience, but it looks as though his vision could move beyond Los Angeles. The fitness guru is currently making plans to expand the Fairfax Training Club concept into other major US cities.
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