1. How did you get into Crossfit and how did you find out about Academy of Lions?
Once my daughter was born, I tried really hard to quit smoking cigarettes. I started running 5 days a week and started going the gym, but I started to get bored very easily so one of my friends suggested Crossfit. Lusine Crossfit Montreal was my first box I joined back on May 20, 2014. Once I moved to Toronto, I started browsing almost all the boxes in the area. I started with the Academy and I really loved the tour that Nathan gave me but there was one thing that I didn't like at the time. I did not like that I have to pay for parking every time I need to work out. So I started checking out 4 other boxes, but after 2 weeks I visited the Academy again and met Soha (the miracle maker) who showed me the secret free parking spot and from that moment I’ve been coming to the Academy 5 days a weeks 3 hours per day :) smoke FREE.
2. What brought you and your family over to Canada from Kuwait?
Back home, I am a Captain/Engineer in the Kuwait Fire Service Directorate and I also played basketball at the Kuwait Sport club as a professional. My wife Eman Alsayegh is a Doctor and she was granted a seven year scholarship to do a five year residency in Montreal and a fellowship in Toronto for two years. I was lucky enough that my job allowed me to continue my studies so I can be with my wife during her career. I managed to finish my Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Concordia University in Montreal and now I have two more years left in my Phd.
3. You played pro basketball for most of your life back home in Kuwait. Could you tell us more?
I was always into sports. In high school I played in almost every type of sport that my school provided (soccer, volleyball, handball, basketball and track and field) except gymnastics which I tried and bumped my head in the first day and left. A sport club scout used to always ask me to join their club which I really wanted to, but my dad never wanted me to do so at the time. Even though he was a well known track and field (high jump) player back in the day. He was always worried that I would lose focus on my studies, so every time a scouter met my dad, he would say right away, “if its about Taher and sports forget about it, but if you want to drink coffee have a seat”… It was only when a new sports club opened 10 minutes walking distance from my house that I begged my dad "I swear I will just practice and come back home and I will always keep my scores high. He finally agreed and I started playing basketball and track and field from the age of fourteen until I finished high school and got accepted in the University of Colorado in Denver for Mechanical Engineering. So I left the national team for five years to finish my studies and come back to Kuwait. I was lucky enough that I still had some skills left in me and managed to re-join the basketball team. Keep in mind playing basketball professionally in Kuwait is not something that you can only do for a living as it doesn’t pay much but it was a lot of fun and you got to fly all over the world and meet a lot of people while you played the sport that you loved, but it will always be considered a hobby in a way so that is why when it came to choose between sports or a degree it was a very easy choice to make. My basketball journey came to a complete end in 2009 when my wife decided to come to Canada.
4. What other sorts of physical exercise did you get into prior to CrossFit training?
Basketball was always my first love and with it I needed to be in very good shape to keep up with the young ones. So I started lifting weights at the age of sixteen under the supervision of my basketball coach. He wouldn't give me the work outs that would make me get bulky. They always wanted me to stick with the leaner work outs, but I remember that I used to sneak up to the gym after my basketball practice was over and do another hour of heavy lifting. I kind of liked the bodybuilding phase of my life and I kept on lifting weights during my university years. I got married at the age of 27 (2007) and that was when my life got a little bit busy. I started to have a lot of responsibility and ended up just playing basketball for only a couple more years. I paused my athletic life until I joined Crossfit back in 2014.
5. Do you encourage your daughter to be physically active?
During this year's CF open, I brought my four year old daughter to see Leann and the L5 team do their open workout and she loved how the gym is full of people and loud music playing in the back ground, she even cheered for the athletes. Every time she says she wants to do stretching she manages to do burpees which is so cute.
My daughter always likes to be active and run and play super hero fighting with me. She is actually currently enrolled in a summer camp with junior multi sport activities, is in love with hockey and soccer.
I think for her to be in a sport and a healthy community will make her more focused towards her goals. I hope that she can be more into sports like me because I really think that physical activities helped me grow up away from the drugs and the bad life.
6. As family is very important to you and takes up most of your social time, Do you feel that the Academy of Lions makes up for the rest of your social life?
My life changed completely after my daughter was born. My wife's work schedule is very tough and long she even works 24hrs on the weekend. A lot of times my wife has come back home from work, my daughter would already be asleep. My daughter is taking my entire time, we go to bed almost at the same time so no night life for me, and the only free time I have to work out or even socialize is when she is at her school and I am in the Academy where I try my best to work out more than talking and bother the other athletes. :)
In my opinion, what really makes me come to the Academy of Lions everyday, and if I could I would in the weekend too, is the amazing people a person can meet there. You feel like you can stay there forever.
7. What was one of you biggest accomplishments and what goal do you have set for the future?
One goal that I’m very proud of is I quit smoking which happened the day I started doing Crossfit and I’m so in love my new healthy life. My future goal would me to be more consistent in cardio workouts and get better at running. At the moment I’m really bad at running and it is my main weakness. I would really love to achieve ten unbroken muscle ups as well.
8.Do you plan to continue Crossfit training when you return to Kuwait?
Of course I do! My dream is to get my wife to join me too, once we are back in Kuwait. We will both be working but my wife will have a much less and easier work hours, which will make it much easier for both of us to work out in the same time. All I have to do is make her love CrossFit like I do and if I am lucky enough to find a box in Kuwait with the same type of community that I’m in now here in the Academy, I won’t have a problem making her fall in love with CrossFit too.
9.Could you tell us something about you that we may not know?
I taught my self how to program apps and games for apple products as a hobby and I was never afraid of learning a new Coding language… but I did spend 5 years in Montreal and I still didn't learn French :(
10. What sort of advice would you give to someone that wants to get into Crossfit?
Introduce yourself and don’t be shy or afraid to ask questions, make the box your hangout spot plus your workout ground. Listen and focus to the coaches when they demonstrate the movements of the workout, and getting into the habit of coming to the box especially at the beginning. I used to come to the Academy even when I was injured just to hang out and drink my super Coffee (butter coffee with everything in it), ask Nat Niddam.