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Source: Ngo Okafor

Exclusive: Fitness Trainer Ngo Okafor Inspires His Clients to 'See the Best in Themselves': 'It's Never Too Late to Turn It Around!'

Mar. 25 2024, Published 5:34 p.m. ET

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Ngo Okafor had no idea he would become such a positive and influential person in people's lives. At 14 years old, the fitness guru fell in love with working out, but growing up in Nigeria, he was sick most of his childhood.

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Source: Ngo Okafor

Ngo Okafor loves to inspire his clients.

"I was very skinny and felt weak. I wanted to change my life, get stronger and feel better about myself. My uncle took my older brother and I to a gym in town, and I fell in love with working out immediately and have never stopped! Working out has given me so much in my life. For 35 years, working out made me strong and healthy. I reconnected with my wife in a gym, and I’m going to be the healthiest version of myself at 50 because of the gym!" Okafor exclusively tells Morning Honey.

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Okafor came to the U.S. at 18 years old and went to college, going on to work in IT for many years while having a side gig a a model. Since people would ask him how he achieved his fit physique, he decided to embark into the fitness world and began boxing. He later went on to open his gym, Iconoclast Fitness, in 2018.

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Source: Ngo Okafor

The fitness coach opened his own gym in 2018.

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"When I was working to open Iconoclast Fitness, I wanted it to be a space where clients and trainers felt supported. A space with a family vibe, where everyone cheered for each other, and didn’t have a toxic competitive energy, like most other gyms. I chose the name Iconoclast, which means rebel, because I always wanted to do things differently from everyone else, and I wanted to give the clients and trainers the freedom to be themselves, without fear of judgment or bullying. I believe that I have achieved that," he explains of the concept.

Over the years, Okafor has gotten the opportunities to train some A-listers — from Brooke Shields to Chanel Iman to Jennifer Lopez — in addition to a roster of clients who feel better than ever due to his amazing program.

"The biggest difference between myself and other trainers is that I go the extra mile to ensure that my clients make lasting lifestyle changes, which helps them achieve their goals. For some of my clients, I go to their homes, go through their kitchen cabinets, get rid of unhealthy foods and help them make better food choices," he says. "To make sure that they recover properly, I set them up with the best recovery professionals for soft tissue therapy, massage therapists and infrared sauna."

He adds, "My clients also have access to me beyond the gym. They can reach out to me if they’re experiencing intense cravings, or if they’re at a restaurant and need help making ordering choices. Beyond the hour we spend together training, they have a true partner and accountability coach. I’m also a confidence coach for my clients. I see this a lot with my female clients who put themselves on the back burner because they’re making sure that their spouses, their kids, their bosses, and everyone else around them is OK first. They forget themselves. It’s empowering to help them choose themselves first."

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Source: Ngo Okafor

The fitness guru wants his clients to focus on feeling good about their body.

Okafor offers a few different options: 7-day, 14-day and 28-day transformation programs which come in handy when preparing for a big event or just for people who want to look and feel good.

"I also have programs for clients interested in training two to three times a week and aren’t seeking quick results," he says. "My workouts are High Intensity Circuit Training in nature. The intensity is higher because I include four to five exercises, performed one after the other, with short rest times between exercises. I utilize lighter weights and high repetitions which makes the workouts more cardiovascular in nature, which burns more calories while building muscle. The exercises that I use in my program are tried and true and not complicated. This way clients can perform all of the exercises either one-on-one, in-person, or virtually (over Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp video) or they can download my training program and do it on their own. Core work, cardio, and nutrition guidance are also important components of my training program."

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"One of my favorite ways to change people’s bodies is to combine strength training with boxing. As a two-time Golden Gloves Boxing Champion, I know how effective boxing can be in the transformation of bodies. It changes people, not just physically, but mentally as well. It pushes outside their comfort zone and can transform both inside and out. A lot of people are intimidated by boxing, or excited about it, but not sure how to get started. My love and passion for the sport gives me the ability to give clients a sample of it — and most clients love it and feel powerful from doing it," Okafor shares, adding that he focuses heavily on "core strengthening work for all my clients."

From leg lifts, mountain climbers, skull crushers, tricep kickbacks and dips, Okafor likes to "incorporate exercises that build lean muscle in areas where women generally store fat such as back of the legs, the back of the arms, the lower abs and the upper back," he says. "The more lean muscle we build in these areas, the better equipped we are to fight the buildup of cellulite and body fat."

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Source: Ngo Okafor

Ngo Okafor trains Brooke Shields.

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After being in the fitness world for quite some time, Okafor admits it's "fun" for him to see clients get the results they've been craving.

"For the client, it’s very exciting to see all of the hard work pay off when they see those first set of results. Maybe the jeans fit better, or they have more energy. Something clicks inside of each client where they can say, 'I’ve got this and I’m gonna keep going!'" he notes. "Another favorite part of my job is seeing clients walk into the gym to meet me for the first time with broken spirits and bodies, and then after working with me for a few short weeks their confidence grows and they walk with their chest held up high and their bodies are stronger and leaner."

"I’ve been fortunate to train many great and successful people, and it’s been absolutely amazing! The opportunity to teach people who are at the top of their game and to watch how they learn is rewarding and enriching. They push me to work even harder and to continue to inspire and motivate them to reach for greatness in all aspects of their lives," he continues. "My motivation to workout all the time is because I want to be an inspiration for my clients to push to be the best version of themselves. My love for fitness and my desire to find ways to continue to improve and get better as I get older — I’m going to be 50 in December — also drives me. I believe that if done right, we should be able to improve physically as we get older."

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Ultimately, Okafor wants to inspire others to "live their best lives right now and not defer their happiness."

"I encourage my female clients to fight for themselves and make time for themselves," he declares. "In addition to adults, I also work with kids as a confidence coach. I inspire them to see the best in themselves and to love themselves. I speak at different schools and organizations to teach them that through hard work and mental toughness we can make our dreams come true. I also teach kids and their parents that the sooner they adapt certain work ethics, lifestyle goals, and healthy habits, the better everyone’s overall quality of life can and will be."

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Source: Ngo Okafor

Ngo Okafor hopes to open more Iconoclast Fitness locations.

Okafor is booked and busy, as he has a bunch of things left to complete.

"In 5-10 years I see myself continuing to grow as a global leader in the fitness and wellness space with multiple Iconoclast Fitness locations. I also intend to revamp corporate wellness and empower companies to adopt a healthier culture," he shares.

"It has always been important to me to empower women who feel that they don't matter anymore and no longer have anything to offer society. They feel that they can't build muscle or achieve their aesthetic goals. I have proven to many clients who are over 50 and close to their 60s that not only can you build muscle and get stronger, but they can look the way they desire. Through hard work and mental toughness and not listening to naysayers, they can do anything! I’m here to disrupt that thought pattern and show that it’s never too late to turn it around!" he concludes.

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