Meet AK Okubs, a Senior Product Manager at the world’s largest e-commerce company, a CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant), CA (Chartered Accountant) and CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) by NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine).
A few years ago, AK made a choice to be the best version of himself. Countless morning workouts, late night meal prep sessions and numerous trips to the office fridge later, he can honestly say he has no regrets about the decision he made in September 2012. While it has been far from easy, AK said it had been very much worth it.
Check out my interview with AK below:
Hey AK! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is AK (full name “Akintunde”) and I am a husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. I work full-time as a senior product manager at a large tech company in of Seattle, WA. In addition to my career, I also own a company called “Sidehustlefit”.
The purpose of my company is to motivate other working professionals (and anyone else who considers themselves “too busy”) to live a healthier lifestyle, regardless of how “busy” they may think they are. I take a “practice what you preach” approach to life, by showing people that even though I have numerous responsibilities & obligations, I am still able to create time for my personal health on a daily basis.
Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
During the workweek, my day starts bright and early at 3:30AM. Every day starts with a workout. I get to the gym around 4:30AM and train until 6AM. After my workout, I head back home and take my daughter to daycare (Side bar: Getting my daughter ready is both the most rewarding and frustrating part of my day. Any parent can relate to this!)
After dropping off baby girl, I catch an 8AM bus to work. I work at a fast-paced tech company so my days tend to vary but come hell or high water, I like to be out the door by 5PM because spending time with my daughter & wife in the evening is very important to me. If I’m working on something that isn’t complete by 5PM, I take it home with me and get back online once my daughter goes to bed at 8PM.
Once I get home (usually around 6:30PM), I have dinner with my wife and daughter (most of my time is spent trying to decipher what my daughter is trying to tell me) before heading to bed around 9PM, to repeat the whole process all over again the next day.
What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?
I got my bachelor of commerce from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Although born in Nigeria, I have lived in 4 different countries on 3 different continents. The majority of my life (15 years) was spent in Canada though.
You are a certified chartered professional accountant (CPA), What other certifications do you hold?
My CPA is the only professional designation I own. I no longer work as an accountant though as I transitioned to a product manager role at my company over a year ago. Although not a professional certification, I am also a CPT (Certified Personal Trainer) with NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) which is the highest accredited PT certification in the world
Why did you decide to become a personal trainer?
Choosing to become a certified personal trainer was a logical step for me because I’ve always spent a lot of my time giving people fitness advice. I started my fitness journey in 2006 but didn’t really figure out what I was doing wrong until 2012 (Yes, it took that long!).
What will you say motivated/inspired you to go into fitness and stay dedicated in it?
Fitness is an industry filled with misinformation and fads. 2006 was the first time I ever picked up a dumbbell. Between 2006 and 2012, I went to the gym but I had no clear goal of what I wanted to achieve except that I knew I wanted “big arms” and “abs”. In 2012, I had a paradigm shift. I wasn’t seeing the kind of results I thought I should be seeing so I asked myself, “What am I doing wrong?”
As I set out on my journey to pinpoint what I was doing wrong, it slowly became evident to me that I had been focusing on the wrong things. There is a clear path to success in the gym but most people do not want to put in the time to figure out what that is. Another thing…once I realized the positive impact my gym habit was having on my personal and professional life, it gave me all the evidence I needed to stick with this lifestyle.
Share with our readers some of the obstacles you encountered along the way and how he overcame them?
The biggest obstacle as a working professional and father is something we can all relate to: TIME. However, I realized something a long time ago. There is no such thing as “too busy”; there are only different priority levels. Whether consciously or unconsciously, every adult (emphasis on the word “adult”) decides how he or she spends their time, and that decision is based on priorities.
Fitness is not a high priority item for a lot of people and there is nothing wrong with that. I just want people to know that they do have enough time in the day for their health; they just have to make it a priority. Once you make something a priority, you quickly realize there is enough time in your schedule for it.
How will you rate the fitness industry in the United States and do you feel it’s doing well in keeping Americans fit?
The fitness industry in the US (and the global fitness community) is mostly marketing and false information. Additionally, we live in an age where people are used to getting things instantly and that has created a world where if anything takes time and effort, people want no part of it. The fitness companies know that people want a quick fix so they capitalize on this by creating the illusion that you can get maximum effort with minimum effort and sadly, this is what people buy. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. People want a quick fix, so that’s what they are sold.
Looking at your photos from 2012 till now, there as been massive transformation and improvements?
As I said, I started working out in 2006 but 2012 was the first year I truly figured out how to get real results in the gym. For those wondering what I figured out, it can be broken down into 2 simple elements. The first being “consistency” and the second being “controlling what you put into your body (i.e. your diet)”. Without these 2 things, no matter how much time you spend in the gym, you will not achieve your full genetic potential.
Now, having said that, once you have mastered consistency, it then becomes more about what you are doing in the gym, and that is what I help my clients with. Contrary to what many people may expect, simply walking into a gym and spending time there does not guarantee you results. You need to have a plan each time you walk into the gym and I ensure that every one of my clients has that.
As a fitness trainer, what will you say are your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to fitness and health?
I’m not sure I can break it down into 3 but here are 3 Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to fitness:
- Take ownership of what you put into your body. Get in the habit of meal prepping
- Try to exercise at the same time every day. This is the easiest way to build a habit
- Track your workouts. A plan without a tracking mechanism, is a plan guaranteed to fail
- Never walk into the gym without a clear idea of what you intend to accomplish that day
- Stop doing the same things in the gym if it is not yielding results
- Don’t confuse your lack of results in the gym for “bad genetics”. Genetics dictate what your “genetic potential” is but smart (and hard) work dictates what you get out of the gym.
Do you think we are taking our health and wellbeing seriously?
As human beings, we have a hard time planning for the long term. Not enough people understand the link between today’s decisions, and tomorrow’s outcomes. Obesity, diabetes, cardiac arrest – to name a few – are more prevalent in our global community than ever before. In my country, people say, “Chop life, before life chop you”. But I disagree with this saying. I believe that you can have fun in life, while also living a healthy life.
Talking about fitness, how many times do you go to the gym to workout?
I train 6 times a week.
For someone trying to start out eating healthy, what meal plans will you recommend?
I get this question a lot. When it comes to meals, it depends on a few variables, how many calories you expend during the day, and your natural metabolism. In my case, I eat a LOT of food. But that’s because of my high intensity workouts. If I didn’t replenish the calories I burn, I wouldn’t be able to function. But back to the question, you should not think of foods as good or bad, because if you eat too much of a “good” food and you end up in a caloric surplus, you will gain weight.
You work 14 hours as chartered professional accountant and also being a father and husband, How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Well I no longer work as an accountant but my days are still long! Balancing responsibilities is something all human beings have to deal with. Whether we are aware of it or not, we live life based on our priorities. This is what dictates what we spend our time on. I am able to balance my family, professional and business life because all 3 are priorities to me.
What do you consider the most common public stereotype about the fitness trainers?
I think the most common stereotype is that people who look like I do cannot possibly do what I do for a living. I’ve had thousands of conversations in the gym and people are always SHOCKED when they realize what I do for a living. People often think I work in the army or work full time as a personal trainer.
My mission has always been clear, and that is to show that you don’t have to be a fitness model to look like one. I’m just a regular guy who understands the benefits of consistency and forming good habits.
What aspect surprised you the most once you started as a chartered professional accountant?
The first thing that surprised me about joining the professional world was how much of a façade the whole thing really is. There are many inefficiencies that are part of the corporate world that people just perpetuate because no one really questions the status quo. I was also hugely surprised at how similar the work place is to high school.
Working in the corporate world for over 10 years has led me down the path of “self-improvement”, which has resulted in somewhat of an obsession with reading books about human behavioral psychology.
A few years ago you made a choice to be the best version of yourself and I noticed you haven’t looked back since. So my question is, will there be anything you would like to change looking back?
No. Absolutely not. I made the decision to be the best version of myself and I don’t think this journey ever stops. I believe in life, we should all strive to be better tomorrow, than we are today. But in other to be better tomorrow, we unfortunately have to be “worse” today. So it really is all about perspective. Take everything in life as a learning opportunity and try not to make the same mistakes twice.
Which brands, clients, photographers, etc, have you worked with?
This is something I am still trying to be more deliberate about. I have worked with some local photographers and videographers in Seattle but I am yet to work with a fitness “brand” but that shouldn’t be all that surprising given that fitness is a side hustle for me and not my main source of income. If I needed this income stream to feed my family, it would be a lot different. I am in a different lane from your regular “IG fitness guy”.
What do you consider your biggest professional success so far?
I would say getting job at Amazon has likely been my biggest professional success to date. Not many people can say they work for the richest man in the world. Becoming designated as a CPA (in Canada) would be a close second.
Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
I don’t really consider myself a part of the fitness industry so there is no one in the fitness industry that I aspire to work with. My sole aim with my platform is to show working professionals that with a little bit of discipline, you too can get the results you want in the gym.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge – from a fitness perspective – has been convincing other people that I am not some freak of nature. That the things I do are not abnormal and that they can do them too. People always tell me, “you’re not normal. People can’t do what you do”. But I always remind them that I haven’t always been the man they see in front of them today. This has taken years of deliberate and consistent practice.
Tell us two things people don’t know about you?
Hmm…2 things you may not know about me.
- I grew up in the only country in the world that starts with “O”…Oman. Not many people can say that!
- I’ve never had a sip of coffee in my life.
Do you think its important to be active on social media and if so why?
I think being active on social media should be dependent on what you hope to get out of it. With social media, you get out, what you put in. There is a lot to learn about using social media and it’s a very powerful tool. Personally, because of my corporate job, I am a bit more risk averse in what I post about. I post 95% of the time about fitness, because I don’t want to dilute my overall message.
You now currently reside in Seattle, Washington state. How as the city been working out for you?
Seattle is a great city, once you get used to the rain. The biggest shock for me when I first move to Seattle was realizing how many different companies have their HQ here. There are so many large tech companies that are based out of Seattle (Amazon and Microsoft for example) that I think a lot of people may not be aware of.
What are your must visit travel destinations?
There aren’t a lot of places that I actually WANT to go to that I haven’t been to. So I’m not sure that I have one. I would like to visit more countries in Africa though, growing up in Nigeria, I never travelled around in Africa. Kenya is the only other African country I have been to so I think I would like to explore my continent a lot more.
What is your favourite dish?
My favorite dish is fried rice (Nigerian style). I know a lot of Nigerians love jollof rice but I’m a fried rice guy any day of the week!
What songs are currently on your music playlist?
I actually have a gym playlist that I listen to every day when I work out. I created it years ago and I have been adding to it over the last 8 years. It’s mostly rap and Naija music, but not new school rap, more early and late 2000’s rap. The only “new” music I tend to listen to these days is afro beats. I’m not a big fan of new school rap.
Apart from fitness, business, what other projects are you currently working on?
My family! Between my full time corporate gig, my fitness business and my family, I don’t have a lot of time for much else.
Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams?
I would say that the most important thing in life is happiness. Nothing in life is worth more than your happiness. And in order to be happy, you have to be able to identify the things that make you happy. So I encourage people to actually identify what makes them happy. For me, I love working out every day and I love being able to help people achieve their fitness goals. But I don’t think I would ever leave my corporate gig for fitness, not because I’m not passionate enough about it, but because the whole point of what I do, is to show people that even with a corporate gig, you can still achieve your health goals.
Any specific plans for the future?
Continue to stay happy!
Any final words?
Yes. As I always say: “Easy work is worthless” and “Consistency OVER everything”.
Where can we follow you online and on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram. My handle is @sidehustlefit