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Off the Cuff

Soji James: Setting Goals to Look & Feel Good—OFF THE CUFF

Do you find it difficult to sustain your fitness motivation? Are you struggling to move beyond other people’s perceptions of what you should be? Are you stuck in a physical rut? In this inspiring interview, strength and conditioning coach Soji James and personal trainer goes deep with interviewer Larry Sharpe to provide the answers you need to achieve the goals you deserve.

What the Full Interview on YouTube

Soji James Interview Key Points

In this interview, Soji discusses the following topics:

  • His inspiring ‘superhero origin’ story.
  • What prevented him from becoming the ‘heavy loser kid’.
  • His philosophy of ‘you have the pen’ and what it means.
  • The importance of not making fitness everything in your life.
  • How to discover your passion.
  • The role confidence plays in your pursuit of happiness.
  • How to identify your underlying motivations to change physically.
  • The importance of surrounding yourself with people who uplift you.
  • The cyclical nature of motivation and how to go deeper.
  • The importance of making ‘less than perfect’ ok.
  • No action is too small to start.
  • Consistency + time = results.
  • Success is the accumulation of choices.
  • The benefit of using a ‘gratitude jar.’
  • Strength doesn’t have to mean getting big.
  • How to find joy through exercise.
  • How he recharges himself and deals with the challenges of the COVID environment.
  • The importance of mentally recharging. 
  • Realize that your heroes are just people and that you deserve the same success as they do.
  • Ignore the fear and take the step.

About Soji James

Soji James is a strength and conditioning coach, motivator, and teacher. He is the founder and owner of the personal training and online coaching business SojiFit. Soji grew up as an overweight child who used food as a crutch to cope with the many challenges of his formative years. The turning point for Soji came when, on a school trip, he walked in front of his classmates in his bathing suit and was greeted with a chorus of jeers and ridicule at how fat he was.

Soji James' home page photo on his website SojiFit. wearing a dark gray shirt.
Soji James is the Owner of SojiFit

Soji’s introduction to physical activity was the game of basketball. He then attended college at SUNY New Paltz, where he studies biology and was introduced to resistance training. Shortly thereafter he set out to attain his first personal training certificate. He has been a fitness professional for more than 10 years and continues to pursue his mission of helping to make people stronger, both physically and mentally while helping those he works with make their own fitness journey as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.

Find Soji James online:

What the Full Interview on YouTube

  • So I’m so happy that we are here, Off the Cuff, sponsored by 1AND1. And I’m very lucky that I have with me, the owner of Soji James LLC. Soji James, how are you?
  • Let’s go, let’s go. I’m feeling amazing. I’m super excited to be here with you Larry on this… Yeah it’s been a great week. I can’t complain. A lot of good things going on in life that I’m excited about, and I’m passionate about. So life is good. Another day to breathe to, another day get up and take action, and chase after our goals. So I’m happy.
  • Absolutely. Well there’s a funny thing about your story, right? There are a lot of people who are into fitness, right? It’s a common thing, but I think what draws me to you, and a lot of people to you, is your specific story. Of, you were that picked on kid who didn’t know that you were in trouble and all of a sudden you found out you were in trouble.
  • Exactly, exactly, man. That was my, I could say that my superhero origin story. It was fifth grade. I was about 10 years old. And at the time I actually, I honestly thought I was just… My parents, they would compete ’cause they received the situations in the household. Parents were divorced when I was 12. So they were kind of competing essentially for love. So they feed me double time.
  • Sure
  • I thought it was like Carmen, I thought it was just big bone and big boned and sexy, I was feeling good. But I show up at the pool this day. I’m the last kid. it’s like a senior trip in elementary school, right. I got my towel on my shoulders, it’s like Pokemon’s house. ‘Cause I was cool back then. I’m walking out to the ring. I feel like Justin Bieber heading out to a prize fight and up on one side, the guys lineup on one side, I’m ready to do like a Cannonball into the pool and just set it off. Everyone stops and looks at me at the same time. And like, in concept. And they’re just like eew. And as a 10 year old kid, man like-
  • That’s crushing.
  • Yeah, you’re like, you just want everybody to love you at the time. You still trying to figure out who you are in life and just where you fit in and-
  • But I have to go there with this one, right? You here, isn’t the average kid literally gonna collapse into themselves? But you didn’t. Why didn’t you just go, that’s it, I’m the heavy loser kid and that’s who I’m going to accept who I am. And I’m gonna take that narrative that society has given me and I’m gonna keep it for the rest of my life. And you know people do that, but you didn’t
  • 1000%, and I’m not gonna say at first, man, I had a lot of body confidence issues then, back and was like, yo man, like it was a weird realization. Like I hadn’t seen my body in that way before. People kind of exposed me to just a different light, but luckily I just had a mom, from the get-go man. From each of the projects in the Bronx. And I had this awesome mother who was just always like, Soji, you have the pen, right? It’s up to us in general. It’s our choice. And that’s the thing with choice in general.
  • Hold on. Tell me what you have the pen means.
  • You have the pen in general, man. I think it’s our choice. Right choice gives us power. We can choose the ideas, the storylines, the media.
  • So, to write our story, we have the pen.
  • 100%, we have our pens to write our story, and we have decision whether we’re going to let our storylines be dictated from other people, or snatch the pen back. And we’re going to make this a New York Times Bestseller where we come out on something, right? So like there’s a big, big difference.
  • So, we can write ourselves to be the hero of the story.
  • Yeah, and so many times we write ourselves to be the villain and that’s the problem. Like on a day to day basis, we’re so caught up in mistakes we made in the past. We’re so nervous about things that may pass. We have in the future place, that we may possibly fail. But you’ve really, the present. Like right now, take that pen and write the best outcome for yourself. Don’t don’t let these negative thoughts, just jump on the negative train, and let it take you off to, who knows wherever.
  • You know what, there’s something else that you’ve done here which is different, right? If there’s someone, the average person who goes to this and then has the revelation, and decides to write that story, they write their story, and they become in the physical. They either become the believing kid, right? The eating disorder kid, that’s one. Or they become the huge puff guy who’s in the gym, 24/7, right? But you’re not huge, you’re happy. There’s a difference.
  • 100%, man. I think a big piece of that is understanding, like I’ve never made fitness my entire life, right? Like an essential component of your life, but it shouldn’t be everything, right? So, if I stopped spinning wellness consultant, trainer, everything today, I have a lot of other things that and values and principles that define who I am. But the fact that I can take care of my body, it just allows me to take care of this vessel that goes into the world and does all these other things. You know what I’m saying?
  • Yeah, but the image of someone who’s gone through, what you’ve gone through is going to be the Angry Zealot. Like, why aren’t you in the gym? flexible Like that’s the image of that. But you didn’t become the guy who used to smoke, and now all he does is scream at people for smoking.
  • Yeah, I hear that. I didn’t say, I’ve just always been a little bit more… I’m a continuum guy, right? So I don’t have an all or nothing. And I put this to what I preach to the people I work with as well. This is like the impact of what I have on other people. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I’m always something, right? So like, imagine you are, right now you… Let’s use meal planning, for example, maybe right now you put zero idea or thought into what you eat on a daily basis. And the other extreme is, you make in the Instagrammable seven days, everything’s perfectly cut up and put a tupperware. The thing is, we don’t essentially need to get to that other side of see change. This, there’s so much room for growth, right? And it also is so much room when we try to be perfect, man, what do we end up? We end up feeling guilty. We end up feeling anxious. We end up feeling just overwhelmed. And I really think the gradual process of growth and change in the health sphere, and as well as in life in general. It’s taken the gradual steps. It’s not entirely planned, but it’s putting one foot in front of the other and keep hitting the steps. As you’ve gone through positivity too dude.
  • You brought up an important piece though. That is the idea of feeling, right. You speak a lot more than a most about feeling, versus looking good. You care about looking good, but you talk a lot more about the feeling beneath it, than the actual outward appearance. And I got to go deeper here. I feel like that’s what you focused on because I feel, you tell me if I’m wrong here, but this is how we begin to progress. It’s the feeling inside.
  • Oh, I think you’re 100% right. I think a lot of times we live in a world where all the goals that we set are our legals, right? And a lot of times, a lot of us, we actually take on other people’s goals and we think it’s ours. So it could be, I want to have the six pack. I want, you have the super buff biceps. And I tell people who’s like the 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds. And they get to that point, and they’re still looking around like, is this it? Always if we take a step back, and we understand that all the actions that we take in life, we do to feel a certain way, right? And all of us, we want different things. Like some of us may want to feel more confident, or some of us may want to feel just to do, just gratitude. Some people may want to feel adventurous, right? So these are the core feelings that are at the… You strip back these goals, right? These are the core feelings that are at the base of these things. And if we have, when we align on goals with these core feelings, we’re in a good place.
  • How do I… If I come to you and I say, hey, I want to lose 20 pounds or whatever it might be. Or hey, I want to get my summer body on, whatever am saying, I wanna do that. How do you know what that feeling is? How can you strip that away? I probably don’t know it, right? I am thinking, once I lose 20 pounds, then life will be perfect. That’s what I’m thinking, right? How do you get to me to get that feeling out of me, so that not only can you recognize it to help me, but I think more importantly, how do I recognize it? That it isn’t the 20 pounds, that it’s something else.
  • I think it starts with you taking a step back and then it’s me, It’s getting very introspective. Right, so, I’m with you at Larry and I’d say, and there’s obviously different areas of life. You may be family, maybe hobbies. So, when have you felt your most successful . So who are, maybe there’s certain people around you who make you feel like you can go in like, rip a building in half, right? What are some of the things that you were doing and surrounding yourself with, that lights you up inside? So it’s really taken this introspective look and then go in the opposite way, right? So what are some times in your existence that you felt like just crummy, right? What are some points where, some business failures, or maybe you’re struggling with some people that have your best interests in mind and these people brought you down. So it’s really taking a step back and starting to isolate these situations. And maybe seeing goals in the past that, it really didn’t feel like we’re going after these things. As opposed to other situations where, you woke up and you dreaded flipping sideways, getting up out of bed. Or we can align ourselves with those days and those moments where we’re naturally pulled toward these situations. The easier it’s going to be. And as human beings, man, we naturally, we want to feel happy. We want to feel-
  • sure.
  • That’s the thing, but it’s our choice. We can choose to surround ourselves with a lot of situations-
  • But you had, when you were young, you had that mom who was giving you the power, who was saying, you got the pen. Who was saying, you could do this. A lot of us don’t have that person in our life. The person in our life is going, you’re not good enough. Who the hell do you think you are? We’ve got that person, right? Are you saying you’re going to help me find that person? You’re going to be that person? I mean, you brought up the idea of an epiphany. Is your goal to give me an epiphany?
  • Yeah, I’d say, its my goal just to help you understand that you have the power, right? So you said that the people, if you’re currently surrounded with, maybe a couple of people, maybe you tell your best friend, you tell them your big dream, and he looks at you and he says, dude, you, that’s not happening. You need to get a different group of friends. You know what I’m saying? I’m in business groups where these are people who I want to be like, right? I want to reach their level of success. They’re thinking the same thoughts I’m thinking. So I surround myself with people who uplift me, who just like, Soji, that’s not too big. Go out and grab that, go on and get that. You know what am saying? Even research shows, if you are a person who’s looking to lose weight or are you looking to get healthier, you surround yourself with healthier people. You’re probably going to take some of their habits on as well. So we don’t have to stick around. We don’t have to consume media that tells us we’re not enough, right? We don’t have to consume the ideas and thoughts of other people who tell us, we can go out and do. Instead, .
  • But I gotta give you two parts here, right? There’s a problem here, in that, internally it matters obviously. But at the same time, if I look good, I want to feel good. Is the looking part kind of shallow? Or is it important because it gives me the confidence to do something better? Or is it really before the confidence? Is it chicken before the egg? This doesn’t seem clear to me, help me out.
  • I think, man, I’ll never tell somebody, like somebody whose goal was to jump out and have the six to eight pack, and that makes them feel amazing, then that is awesome. Who am I to tell you that your goal doesn’t matter? You know what I’m saying? But I also even understand that it’s just changing your body and transforming your body. It’s a journey. It’s not that easy. And motivation is very sickly, motivation. Right, so, you see it every year in January, you see gyms are packed
  • oh yeah.
  • And then by first week of February, nice and empty, right? So the thing is, what is, how are you going to go deeper? How are you going to get through the moments and the situations where you just don’t want to get up and show up at the gym or workout? How are you going to get to the points where you don’t want to take the 10 minutes to plan your meals out? We have to seek something deeper.
  • So let me go to someone. Tell me about someone who you thought was in a horrible place. I mean a bad place, right? The kind of person where, they think everyone else got the pen, not them, right? How did you get through to that person? What did you have to do? What worked?
  • I think I have something about one woman I was working with, she ended up losing 50 pounds. So this is like, she was about 56 years old. So in her mindset, she was like, dude, I’m just, I’m a mom, am not an athlete. I can’t, even bending over to play with my kids, I’m in pain. And it’s something that I’ve just had to get used to. You know what I’m saying? And, you sell the vision. So we automatically start talking about, to her. What does… When did she remember feeling at her best, right? Aligning quote unquote looked like for her, what’s the ideal situation? And if you don’t know what that is, sometimes maybe even getting a role model of how you want to be, an emulator on a day-to-day basis, is very helpful. There’s a lot of people just like, I don’t even know where to start. So in your opinion, if you wanted a healthier version of Larry, how would that person operate? And we started there. And well, not only do you have this vision that you create inside your head, in order to really firmly believe this, we have to start to back it up with action. If you’re an individual, you’re like, man, like you don’t want to get up earlier. You jump up early in the morning, you set the clock, and every time you get up early and go into that workout, you reinforce this belief in your head. That you’re capable of making this happen. So with this woman, it was just about, it’s not seeing the whole path laid out, but it’s holding her hand, it’s like wrap my arm on her shoulder. Like, we got this and we take gradual steps. We took gradual steps. And it’s the first time off, and she’s like, oh, I can do this.
  • Well, I see how you do that, right. There’s something that you do is, you literally talk to the people, and them walk through in scrap.
  • Yeah.
  • But I’ve seen that you do something too. I’ve seen that when you do something, say, here is the way to do it, but if that’s too much and you go to the… you could try this instead. you make less than perfect in the way you talk.
  • 1000%
  • Which a lot of people don’t. it’s always that, get perfect. Get perfect. Get perfect. But I’ve seen you, you don’t do that. You go, here’s good. But hey, if you could go here, let’s go here first.
  • 100%, man. I’m big on telling people that no action is too small to start. You know what I’m saying? And that’s… A lot of times we get so overwhelmed. We don’t start because the angle seems so instrumental.
  • Right, it seems impossible.
  • It seems impossible.
  • But the same thing. Like you always see Abe Lincoln chopping down the tree, right? It’s not the one broad stroke that brings the bad boy down. It’s the gradual, it’s what can you do consistently. Like big formula, man. It’s consistency, plus time, equals results. What small action can you show up and continually do. So if you’re a person like, man, I don’t have 60 to 90 minutes right now to get into the gym, but I’m sure you can find 10 to 15 minutes in your busy block. And, you know what I’m saying? If you get three of these 15-minute sessions a week, you go into next week, you build some confidence. You start to stretch those blocks out a little bit. And maybe it’s two 15-minute blocks in a day. ’cause that’s what you can find. That adds up over time. It’s just like investing, it’s compound interest. own up the bank, You’re making a deposit for your wealth and your home.
  • you’re basically talking about serious habit change.
  • Yeah, that’s it, that’s it, man. ‘Cause it starts with your thoughts, right? So what we think, that’s the actions we go out and do. The actions we go on and do continuously, those become our habits. The habits we do continuously, they become our reality, right?
  • So with this woman, who’s 56 years old. She had the fall down and failed at one point . I’m assuming she didn’t just immediately go, I’m perfect, and everything’s wonderful. So, what happens when she fails, what’s now to your point, validates her feeling of being unworthy. I can’t do it, see? Soji, you were wrong. I failed, right? So how do you deal with that?
  • 100% Larry. So, when you get to those moments, you also take a step back. You understand that when I fail, look around, right, left or right. Did the world implode, right? If you set out and you decided I had this week, I’m not going to have any sweets and you have one sweet, the world’s still, everything’s still turning. Everything’s still . And what people need to understand is, it’s the cumulative effect of our actions that lead to certain direction. It’s never one meal. It’s never one miss workout. It’s never one mistake, that does you in. It’s the continual right accumulation of these mistakes. Not say same mistakes, its choices. There’s no good and bad. It’s either you make a choice that gets you closer to where you want to go, or it gets you further away from where you want to go. It’s accumulation of these choices that gets us, that lands us in the spot that we do. So when people mess up, it’s so important to understand that it’s not just that one moment. And that’s what I really got through in her head. And surely every… And then I’d use other little tricks, right? So, I’m really big on using like a brag book or a gratitude jar with clients, for example. So initially-
  • Tell me what that is.
  • Yeah so, a gratitude jar, for instance, right? It takes time to see change, right? As we are geared towards instant gratification, we want to yesterday, right?
  • We want the magic pill.
  • Exactly. They want that, but it doesn’t last. And a lot of people on that magic pill and they fall in and off the same night, they end up in the same place. But this lifestyle change is habit building. This is longterm success. So for this gratitude jar for example, with this woman, I would have her say, she gets a compliment or it was around Christmas time at this one particular point, when I introduced it. She was like Soji, I was able to carry gifts by myself. I was able to climb a ladder, put a star on a tree by myself, without pain. These a little things. You crumble them up. You put them inside the gratitude jar. terrible, you walk past the shots of physical manifestation of all your wins. You go into the jar, like, all right, maybe I missed my, I ate a cookie yesterday. But if i uncrumple this, yo, I deadlifted 150 pounds for the first time. You feel powerful, right? And once again, as I said, you have the choice, like which thoughts, and which storylines do you want to hold on to? So I’d rather go to that jar, grab something powerful to hold on to. As opposed to focusing on the thoughts and in the old ideals that continually drag me down. And the thing, what happens to man, like, you don’t just erase a habit. A habit doesn’t just stop, right? There’s a vacuum, that’s built. And the wiring for that old habits still exists. So every time the excuse pop up, we still have to actively introduce this new action, right? So there’s always going to be that old storyline. But when it comes around, when it arises, are you going to hold onto it? Are you going to grab for something different? That’s it.
  • Can you think of one regret with a cost customer client you had, that it just couldn’t get them there. And can you look back, and now look and go, yeah, I see what happened.
  • Yeah, no, definitely, definitely, man. Like I actually, when I take on clients, man, and I’m working with customers where we want to call them, they become like family. They become . I take a lot of this stuff to heart. Like, hey, I’ve lost sleep a lot of times at night. And maybe at particular points in my journey, I wasn’t fully equipped to mentally… because I think the showing up, the eating, the nutrition pieces, a lot of it, all of it is up here, right? So early on in my career, I didn’t have all these habit-based. And I maybe kind of went along with yo, you can do it, you can do it, without having a way to rope and bring people, got it. You know what I’m saying? But that was definitely, yeah. From the beginning, but with anything like-
  • Yeah, but that had to make you even be more dedicated, right. Once we looked back and said, If I had had this tool at this moment, I might’ve made something better here. I mean, it must have… ‘Cause I guess in this case you’re actually learning from your own failures, like everyone else, right? You’re doing the same thing, right?
  • 100% man and like every time I had a situation, and this is another thing Sharpe, it’s two fold. So I’ve also learned, there’s areas where I can improve, And then the areas where certain people weren’t ready to hear certain storylines. ‘Cause it’s all about empowerment too. So it isn’t… It’s a partnership when you start up this stuff with clients, right? So you’re not letting me down like by any means. So I try to really get that across to people ’cause it isn’t about me. I’m just like the Jimmy Cricket and the one-on-one shirt on your shoulder, right? But it’s really, this journey is about you.
  • So there’s actually a point where somebody can’t hear, you could be the rock, right? Somebody can hear that. And you’ve got to know which person can hear that. And which person can’t hear that.
  • Exactly, and there’s times in people’s story where maybe they’re just not ready for big change, right? Maybe things right now haven’t gotten as Jasick or they haven’t had that setback moment. Like yo, this has to change, and that’s okay. That’s okay, and then sometimes for some people, man, they need a different style. the gradual bring you along. Like we’re going to make this happen together, Kind-of-guy. Some people like the drill sergeant.
  • So Let me draw it back to you when you were a kid. You got a rocky kind of relationship with your mom and dad at that time, right?
  • Yeah. But your mom is a rock at this point.
  • Yes
  • Right. She helps you to kind of get past this, but you were 10, 11 years old. You had the struggle, no?
  • Yeah 100% man, but it’s like I grew up in a group of the projects in The Bronx. There’s a lot of uncertainty around you. There’s a lot of economic turmoil, there’s a lot of violence and gang activity. And once again, my mom, just really, my parents were on top of me, man. They’re just like, no, you can’t be outside. They dictated a part of my storyline and made sure I ended up and showed up at different places, but also continually equipped me with the tools and the mindset, right? I believe in luck, but they kind of prepared me to fall into a lot more of these opportunities than maybe somebody else may have so to speak.
  • So now did you go to high school in The Bronx or some part else?
  • Yeah, I went to high shool for the Bronx, so I went to a American Studies High School at Lehman College.
  • Sure, so you’re in the Bronx in high school, who’s your hero then? Are you already in decent physical shape or no? Are you playing ball are you not? What are you doing in high school?
  • So high school man, after I had through the initial pool incident, I was like, y’all gotta start moving, I started doing something. My older brother at the time was playing ball a lot of basketball and I just kind of became a shadow and just found him back up and just started bawling out. And it was something that helped me lose weight and start to really kind of look at my diet and nutrition, a little different. So I had to speak to so, but I just started to look at the process differently and in high school. Then in high school as well, like I went to a pretty yo supposed to go to my zone school, which is like Truman high school, top high school for The Bronx. But I locked out and got you trial this developmental score at American studies. And they started taking us to coral nail wireless talks and like just opening my mind and my vision to see successful people. ‘Cause where I was from with the successful person, it was different. It was just a different kind of… they were moving a little bit different. And it was something that you probably get involved in this. You’re not around for too long. You’re either in a box or in the ground, like that’s just what the case was. And they just kinda allow me to surround myself with different kinds of people who-
  • So most, most kids, if at 15, 16, and 17, they’re looking at the cool pop star of the day, whoever that person is, or the movie star or the in today’s the YouTuber or whoever that person is, right? Who were looking at when you were a teenager like that? Who were you looking up to?
  • I was looking up to, I would say honestly, my mother. My mother was big. She was a massive influence for me, man, like And my dad, my dad worked hard too. They were both working like they had split, as I said by 12, and there were two people working like two to three jobs to make things happen, you know what I’m saying? Just make sure I was set up to go to college and graduate and be okay.
  • So was it the hard work you looked up, what was it?
  • The hard work and the resiliency, like the-
  • The resilience, okay.
  • Yes, just like things are tough, but you can look at this and just say sync into it, you’ll see. You can look into it with enthusiasm. Right, so they just taught me to attack adversity with honestly let’s go, you know what I mean? Like that’s just the mindset they ingrained in me.
  • So the resilience piece was key for you.
  • Oh, massive, massive, like no matter how bad you think your story is, there’s always someone who’s got it worse. And there’s always someone who’s one with less deck of cards. Like the less with the worst hand, so to speak. So you get out of high school, you go to college, what did you do after college?
  • I’m ready for the college Sharpe, I finished with my Bachelor’s in Biology and I was going to go to Physical Therapy School, but I started training at a Velocity Sports Performance in Westchester. So I was able to like go shadow some NFL guys, some Trenton, D1, D2 guys. And the fast pace of it was, it was a Loren to me. I just loved, playing a role. I guess I’m still athlete at heart. You know what I’m saying? I’m still playing and still moving around. And it was cool way to stick around sports at that stage in my life.
  • So you’re thinking about going to get a master’s degree I’m assuming, you were considering that?
  • Doctor of physical therapy. So I was working as a PTA, PTA aid as well. And I had been in a facility for years, done some odd hours in hospitals, but it’s slow, right? It’s a little slow pace, and I’m like a firecracker, man. So the athletic training, the speed work, to getting kids stronger, just the excitement, seeing somebody to hit like a PR, and they jump off and we chest bump up into the air. It was me, that was my zone. I was like, this is where i need to be.
  • So you found yourself pretty early.
  • Yeah man, definitely. But, and even at college, right? So I hadn’t lifted it until I got to college. So I had a cool shrink coach at Newpaltz who introduced me to the weight room and it really helped me find a newfound confidence in general.
  • Wait a minute, so you were athletic, but you weren’t a lifter?
  • Yeah, I dint even lift. I didn’t touch on weight in high school at all. I was just like, I was nice and springy man. I was, natural gifts.
  • No, no, no, that answers a lot. That does, that explains why you’re about fitness, not about being big. Because that wasn’t you. You were fit. You were the rock.
  • Nah, I was not. And I’m like, and now in post, right? Like now I definitely do emphasize getting stronger, when it comes to clients, come to me, man, you clean up your diet, you get strong. There’s not much that that doesn’t solve. Like if you’re trying to get more explosive, you’re trying to like drop inches, getting stronger. It’s very helpful.
  • But a lot of people don’t understand what you’re saying. That strength doesn’t have to mean big. It can-
  • Yeah, exactly.
  • but it’s not required.
  • Exactly, 100%. You don’t need to walk around looking like, with the 20-inch pythons, you don’t have to do it, but like getting stronger, just testing your physical abilities and understanding that. I think a lot of times, we don’t really respect just how amazing our bodies are, and the things that they are capable of. So in addition, when I have somebody come to me like, hey, I want to lose 20 pounds to lose that. You’re already kind of framing your process and the take away, as opposed to like recognizing the greatness that you already have. So I’m really big on having people take a step back and like, yo, just go on and really do some amazing feats that are blowing your mind. ‘Cause I said the weight loss process takes time. So it’s really important to give yourself these bits of greatness just in that moment. It’s you leading up to where you’re trying to go.
  • Well, there’s another piece I see, is you talk a lot about smiling.
  • Yeah, .
  • Yes. And what I thought was funny is, it reminded me of a documentary I saw on bodybuilding. And bodybuilders say you always want to smile when you’re flexing, right? You want to smile the judges, you want to smile at them. Even though you’re doing something that is physically taxing your body, right? We want to smile to the judges. And I always thought, but when you’re trying to off, you don’t have smile up and intimidate you. I got a growl yell or something, right? But they’re like, no, no, you got to smile when you’re stretching your body out, whatever.
  • 100%
  • And it made me think that, the logic is, they want the judge to feel like they’re having a good time. Like it is easy and it’s fun and it’s not just hard work. And I think that’s something new, try to put onto people that this isn’t, I mean, it’s hard work, but it’s not hard work. It’s enjoyable, hard work. Do it and enjoy. And you said it just five minutes ago, you said, we’re doing this hard work, but I’m enjoying it. And I found myself and I think you’re trying to get others to find themselves here too.
  • 100%, Larry. I just definitely think that we don’t have to, the process doesn’t have to be miserable, right? Like I think sometimes people feel like they need to be in the trenches and like-
  • Yes.
  • You can enjoy yourself.
  • And if I’m not hurting, I’m not doing it right.
  • No, that’s not even it, I get-
  • Right?
  • We get that all that time but if I’m not sorry to have a good workout culture now where that high intensity interval training is all the way. It just sells, you’re going to gym, beating yourself up, man. They killed me today, and you don’t need to. You necessarily don’t need to. And I’m not saying don’t go and test your extremes, and push yourself at times. But you don’t need to be crushing yourself every day to get results. Find what you enjoy doing and double down, right? I think you should enjoy your process. If You’re finding something that you’d like to do. You’re probably much more likely to be consistent and to show up with it, right?
  • I feel like you’re staying almost the opposite of what the market is saying. The market is kind of staying this process, insert process here. This is the way to success. Follow these three things. And you’re successful. What I hear you saying is, no, we got, to use your phrase. We’ve got to step back for a second, and we got to see what you want, and we gotta make a customized plan for you. That’s not what the market’s saying. The market’s saying buy my CD or they don’t do CDs anymore. Buy my book, or whatever. Am old , I don’t know these things anymore. And magically you’ll be great in three weeks or something. You’re not saying that.
  • No, ’cause we all have a different processing. It’s not one size fits all. You know what I’m saying? And not what works for that bodybuilder when you’re grabbing their workout out of the magazine, that necessarily won’t work for you. You know what I’m saying? You really have to find what you can consistently do. What allows you to show up. What makes you feel great? What makes you feel whole? And you chase that. You double down and chase that like a cheetah, like get on it.
  • So, what do your mom and dad think of you now? So no, my mother is super proud of me. I’m a super bae. I’m a big mother’s boy, man. A big mom and I always check on her, especially though this whole situation, we’re all going through now.
  • Sure.
  • And my father passed away. He passed away like six years ago, 52 years old, random heart attack.
  • Wow.
  • So that again, maybe double down on this health thing and just going after what? Going after and what it is that you want, man. This life is not, nothing’s guaranteed. Nothing’s guaranteed for us. If you have an opportunity, chase after the opportunity. If you have a dream, you want to go and be present tomorrow. You want to go out and start a company tomorrow. You want to go out and lose 50 pounds. There’s no better time to start than today.
  • So when you lost your father, at that young age, was it fast? Did you know he had heart disease or was it a surprise?
  • Honestly, man. So, he was going to Nigeria and I’m stuck here in The Bronx, all of a sudden I left my mother’s house. There were a bunch of his friends outside. It just was a place they would never be. Then literally, I was going to leave with my… She’s now my wife, but I was just started dating her at the time, we’re going to walk off, and they’re like, you should come upstairs. We have to tell you about something. So it was a complete shock. It was completely-
  • Wow.
  • And this was a dude even before I met, I was… He’d see, he’d always kind of pushed me and he’s an immigrant dad. And he’s just like, man, you gotta be a doctor, you gotta be a lawyer. Like entrepreneurship was something that was a little bit foreign to him in that aspect. So he would talk to me and tell me what he thought would lead me to success. And I respected the understanding behind that process. And as I knew, he just wanted the best for me. But I would ignore calls at times and like, oh, he’s going to say the same stuff again. I’m just going to prove him wrong, and just establish my business. And I was just ignoring the calls and like you just don’t know. And that was another big regret I have, just not picking up and not being present. No, but it makes you, more present now.
  • Yeah, it definitely does. It makes me value everything in my life. I’m about to have my first kid in like 23 days and like-
  • congratulations.
  • Thank you so much. And it’s just, these things are… There’s a lot more to life than just getting to the gym and throwing heavyweight around.
  • So then, I have to ask two questions. The first one is, how in the world do you not take every success and every failure that the people you’re working with, personally?
  • One second, I’m sorry . There we go. Should be good to go, perfect, perfect. Repeat that one more time, Larry. I’m so sorry.
  • No worries.
  • So how in the world can you, not take every success and failure of your clients personally?
  • Got you. So, this is the thing I get, it definitely hits home, right? But I also have to relinquish some ownership. Like I’m really big on ownership over orders, right? So when you come to me, it’s not just about, right. I’m not going to just, oh, you need to eat this, you need to eat that. You’re an active part in this process as well, in order for us to be successful. ‘Cause if you win, I win, right? In order for both of us to be successful, it has to be two people walking in concert, right? So I have to also understand that there’s certain times I’ve definitely have messed up, but there’s other times where people just, maybe not, this wasn’t the best time for them. And they ended up situation. And if I take everything personally, like if I just drive myself in the ground, I don’t show up in the best way for the people who are ready.
  • Yeah, so you gotta take care of yourself, so you can take care of them.
  • 100%, you fill your cup up, you can easily pour more cup. You could pour into a couple of others, just more actively.
  • Absolutely. So how do you charge yourself?
  • I’m like, even in this point, I’m just trying to read a ton. I’m trying to surround myself with people like, getting to interview with you and just hearing you talk and seeing your energy. I love to surround myself with people who just go getters, who are just hyped and they are passionate about something.
  • So hold on, you said reading.
  • I love reading, love reading.
  • So, you’re telling me, that you are a trainer, a physical trainer, you deal with all this stuff, but then when you recharge, it’s learning.
  • 100%, when we stop learning, I truly think we’re dead, at that point. Like I read at least 52 books a year. You know what I’m saying? If I want to continue to show up in my best way, like, I want to get to a point for me personally, where I’m like a Tony Robbins of fitness, and I’m speaking to crowds of thousands of people and I’m just lighting fires on the people. In order to do that, I need to constantly evolve. So the person who’s going to get onto that stage, maybe I’m Soji 3.5 right now, that person has to be Soji 7.0, right? And keep upgrading, keep upgrading, keep taking new knowledge. keep moving the things to the side that don’t serve me. And that’s just what reading does. That’s what reading does.
  • Then, how does someone like you, not only try to get the super cool clients? How do you still have the regular everyday 56-year-old mom who needs some help from a guy like you? How do you do that, and still get the cool simple good clients.
  • You treat, people are people, right? And at the end of the day, you strip back all the cool, fancy IG titles. Like whatever the case may be. And you understand that we are chasing the exact same things with fulfillment in our lives, right? And if you look at it with that aspect, every single person that you help and change is important. It doesn’t matter what the title is. You know what I mean?
  • So what are you chasing?
  • What am I chasing? I want to impact the world, man. And I want to help people regain their autonomy through wellness. And I just want to be a dude who not just trains, but consultants creates products, gives talks and just moves people. I want to move people to understand that it’s choice and the power is in their hand to go out and make a massive change. No matter what that looks like .
  • So how does someone measure that? In other words, if you now, all of a sudden, you’re looking at your own mortality, right? Now, you’re 92 years old. You’re laying on your death bed, and your family comes you and says, Soji, what are we going to put on the tombstone?
  • I hope when that day comes, I already told my wife, I said, I want a party bus. I don’t want people mourning. I want people to-
  • Okay.
  • So what’s on the side of the bus then?
  • what’s on the side?
  • they got the party bus, Soji , what’s on the side of the bus?
  • On the side of the bus, man. You only live once, go for it. Soji, he went for it. You know what I mean? Like I want, and I would hope there’d be like thousands of people there just turn-up dance with me because we shared laughs, we shared smiles. And I was able to leave something to my next generation. That’s another big thing for me. Generational wealth is a big thing I’m chasing as well. Like I want to, whatever my kid wants to do, whatever my funeral… So I’m gonna have a son, I will hope to have more kids after that as well, whatever they want to do out in this world. I want them number one, to understand that anything is possible. If you have the pen, to go back full circle. But also have the resources and the funds to go out and execute.
  • There’s apart of me that thinks, that what you’re actually chasing, is not anything actually for you, but you’re chasing a legacy.
  • That’s it, that’s it for me. ‘Cause I’m gonna leave when it’s all said and done. And my story is closed and hopefully it’s the New York Times Bestseller, like I was saying before, but-
  • Maybe it’s multiple.
  • Exactly, maybe it’s multiple, but I hope like the residual income from these books of life have passed on something. Not just to my kids personally, but to my family, to my close friends, to my community, right? As they say, I want to go out and just do… It’s about, it’s bigger than me. And I think that’s another big piece in terms of motivating yourself. You’re latching onto something that, an idea that is bigger than yourself. Like a purpose or serving that it goes beyond what you are.
  • what I keep seeing here, and what I’m hearing here is, you’re talking about, we have to think about what that big future is. What does that future look like? You work with, and you say, hey, what’s good like? And then, create some small steps to get there.
  • 100%, and its-
  • I think.
  • Yeah.
  • You’re doing the same thing.
  • Yeah, 100%. And even when my clients do it, it starts out with the physical. But just like I said in college, when I first hit the weight room, I just took a newfound confidence into everything I did. So now I’m getting my clients to take a step back and oh, you’re in a job that you really don’t like, what are you passionate about? Like, let’s go. Another client just started LSE last week. Just, it starts here. But then with this confidence, with this help, with this wellness, get out into the world, and do what you are destined to do.
  • So, is confidence the key to happiness?
  • Confidence, I mean, it plays a big role. I won’t say it’s the exact key. ‘Cause there’s some people who aren’t confident. I really feel like when your confident-
  • well, I’m making a difference between happiness and success. Because you talked about the 56-year-old woman. So success wasn’t necessarily, making a bunch of money. It was happiness. It has been her time with her family, and having a good Christmas. That’s what she saw for happiness. I don’t think he was looking at financial success, right?
  • No, not at all. And I think the success for everyone is going to be different. And that goes back to, it circles right back to the core desired feelings and things we talked about earlier. Like what are those feelings that make you feel alive? For some people, it may be money. For some people, up and down off the ground and play with their grandkids. With other people, maybe taking this confidence and going on excursion and like South Africa. That they may never have done before. Right? So it’s really chasing these feelings and exploring just what you’re capable of, right? Exploring those inner workings of what make you feel the best.
  • So if you had to give one generic but critical piece of advice, that you’d hope somebody would hold on to, off from this entire interview, about how to make that, as you said, the first step, right? Not necessarily the whole journey, but to make that first step to start to rebuild those habits. What would you say? I would say, man, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And no one, even the person that you look up to, and you’re like, it could be the celebrity, whatever the case may be and admire. They don’t have it all together. and their figure . You know what I’m saying? A lot of times we look at people and we’re just like, oh, that can’t be me. But they’re going through the exact same process that you’re going through. You know what I’m saying? So why can’t it be you? you know what I’m saying? why don’t you deserve the best version of your life that you have written on your head.
  • So what you’ve just said is, look at those heroes and realize they’re just people.
  • That’s it, look at the-
  • Is that what you just said, realize they’re just people.
  • 100%, 100% understand that, they breathe the same air that you breathe. They probably put the shoes on, the same way you put them on, right? And they look in the mirror and they have the same insecurities that you have. But the difference is that, they go either way, they go anyway, right? Like same thing we talked about the motivation. Like some people, they wait until they feel their best to go and take steps. Some people put the habits and systems in place that regardless of how they’re feeling that day, they know to strap the boots on and just go to work, right? So I need you, if you’re watching this, just strap those boots on, and take the first step. Ignore the fear, ignore the anxiety, ignore… Just take a step. You’re going to feel better that you did. And that’s where motivation comes from. It comes from us taking action.
  • So just understand that your are heroes are just humans and you deserve the same success that they deserve.
  • 1000%.
  • How can I end an interview on something better than that?
  • Soji, i want to say thank you so much for coming today on Off the Cuff. I really appreciate it. I hope we’ll be talking very soon.
  • Me too, Larry. I appreciate your energy and thank you so much for having me. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate you brother.
  • Excellent, excellent, thank you.
  • Thank you brother.

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