Trainer, writer and fitness expert Neghar Fonooni’s goal is to teach women about realizing their potential. She aims to educate and motivate women to “eat, lift, and be happy!”
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What prompted you to get into the fitness industry to begin with?
It’s sort of funny, actually. The summer after high school I started working at my local YMCA in the membership office.
It was a great group of people and of course, I got a free membership. I started working out in the gym, meeting the trainers, learning about fitness.
At one point I decided, I like this, I think I’ll make a job out of it! I applied for a position at Bally Total Fitness and started training clients with limited knowledge and a low-level certification.
Eventually, I became the assistant PT manager and was training clients full time. After 9/11, I enlisted in the Air Force, and although I worked as a linguist, I was heavily involved in the PT program with my unit.
When I had my son, I got out of the military and decided to go back to fitness part time while I raised my son. It wasn’t until I became a single mother did I take on a full-time fitness career.
I met some really great trainers and started getting seriously educated. My career has taken some interesting turns over the past 5 years, and now I work almost completely online as a coach and a fitness writer.
I’ve got some exciting things coming down the pipe, but it all started with the YMCA!
How do you incorporate your passion for fitness and nutrition into your family’s lives?
We are a fit family, for sure! My fiance is also a fitness professional, and my little guy has basically grown up in the gym.
When it’s cold out, we stay indoors and practice handstands and headstands; sometimes we even have dance parties or we play on the Wii fit. When it’s warm out, we go for walks or practice tricks on the playground.
We have this really great neighborhood playground with parallettes, pullup bars and monkey bars.
My fiance and I always go to the gym together, which is something that we really enjoy. We never workout together, but just being there at the same time is supportive and helpful.
Nutrition wise, I have always educated my son on real food, and the difference between nourishment and treats. We talk about where our meals come from, go grocery shopping as a family and always cook together.
Don’t get me wrong, we will sometimes go out for pizza in NYC or snuggle up on the couch and watch a flick, but in general, we are an active, balanced family.
Who is a fitness enthusiast that you look up to?
The fitness industry is currently undergoing a major shift. While previously, people like Jillian Michaels and Tracey Anderson were considered “gurus,” there is a crop of female fitness professionals that are beginning to change the face of fitness.
The message that women should lift for strength of body, mind, and character, is starting to permeate an industry that touts light weights and cardio.
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You deal with clients from all walks of life. Of all the different custom plans you make for each individual, what is one thing you tell all of your clients that you want to stick with them?
The main thing I try to teach my clients is to practice loving themselves.
So many people train hard and eat strictly, because they hate their bodies and want to change. I encourage them to treat their bodies with love and respect, and always seek to be better versions of themselves.
As someone who enjoys indulging her sweet tooth every now and then, what is your advice on “falling off the bandwagon” and incorporating cheat days?
My idea of a cheat has evolved significantly over the years. Rather than have cheat days, I keep it clean unless I am attending a special event with friends, and I let go a little while traveling.
At home, I only keep foods in the house that please both my palate AND my physique. When I was doing cheat days, I found that I would often look for junk food to eat, even though I wasn’t hungry.
It was simply because I knew I wouldn’t get another cheat day for at least a week. If you do decide to indulge, I find that it works best if you are in maintenance mode, as opposed to fat loss mode.
I also find that a good 16-24 hour fast post cheat day is a great way to reset your digestion and reaffirm a healthy relationship with food.
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