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Senada Greca on the benefits on challenging yourself on your fitness journey

When it comes to online fitness, Senada Greca is the go-to-girl. The workout guru has traveled the world teaching her workout philosophies and helping millions of people get in their best shape yet.

The celebrity trainer - who has stayed busy during the lockdown period personally training superstar singer Bebe Rexha - has endless knowledge about the importance of physical activity, and creating long-lasting healthy habits.

From Albania to India, Senada has spent years immersing herself in different fitness ventures internationally, and has truly found her passion in helping others achieve their health and wellness goals. “

“I am a sincere believer that fitness and movement should be an inseparable part of someone’s life. We were born to be active, born to be mobile,” Senada exclusively tells GLAMOUR South Africa of her fitness philosophy. “Thus, I encourage people to make movement fun and interesting, and in turn sustainable.”

The social media fitness sensation opened up to GLAMOUR about all of her workout programs, game-changing tricks for toning your body, and revealed why you should never stop pushing yourself to reach and achieve your goals.

What sparked your passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle? Was this always important to you, or did a certain instance in your life inspire it?

I have always been active. I loved to climb trees as a child in Albania, and played soccer, tennis and basketball after moving to the US. In college, I played rugby.

As an adult, I have run marathons, spent time in India, where I received my yoga instructor training, and competed in bodybuilding competitions.

My passion for health and fitness really became central to my life when I started strength training. It was then when I realized I had control over how my body developed, but most importantly, when I saw the positive impact a life inclusive of health and fitness had on my mental health.

I had long suffered from anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Learning to utilize food as fuel and working out as therapy, solidified my commitment to a healthy and active life.

What is your current fitness regimen, and your nutrition plan you use to stay in shape?

Due to the quarantine situation, my workouts have mostly shifted to dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and bodyweight. Pre-Corona Virus I used free-weights with a combination of home workouts.

I like to focus on legs 2-3 days per week, on upper body 2 days, and 1 full body workout per week. Sunday I work abs and throw in some fun active-rest work, like bicycling or a long walk.

I’m a flexible eater. My main focus is getting enough protein daily; carbs and fats fill the rest of my macros, which I intuitively track. I suggest that most people do track their macros, especially in the beginning of their fitness journey, so as to learn what the proper way of feeding ones’ self looks like.

What one thing do you never skip in your workout?

I am always mindful of proper form. Never NOT think about form during a workout. Whether the exercise has started or you are setting yourself up for the exercise, always remember proper form.

I also never overlook being present with the workout and employing Mind Muscle Connection, which is key in maximizing results, and regarding which I will talk more about, below.

How would you describe your philosophy on health and fitness, and how has it evolved?

I am a sincere believer that fitness and movement should be an inseparable part of someone’s life. We were born to be active, born to be mobile.

Thus I encourage people to make movement fun and interesting, and in turn sustainable. All someone needs to do is take a digital stroll through my Instagram to see loads of novelty and get excited to try out new effective exercises.

I think many people fall off the proverbial wagon because exercise and nutrition become boring and monotonous. I believe we need to constantly seek growth.

This means doing things like trying new movements that push us out of our comfort zone, finding a new recipe that is not typical to what we normally eat, and changing our routine.

I understand that more traditional fitness experts prefer the same exercises we all grow up with, and for many that consistency is what they prefer.

However, I think there are a lot of people that would have an easier time making health and fitness a lifelong habit if they leveraged novelty. At the end of the day, I truly believe that novelty is a human need that leads to sustainability.

Who or what gives you the most inspiration and motivation to achieve your fitness goals?

I have been successful in achieving my goals in large part due to the focus on creating the habit of movement. Motivation is a great tool but often unreliable.

I try to concentrate on the mechanical act of moving each day, even when I don’t feel like it, which we all end up experiencing at one point or another.

I also know the impact that movement has on my daily mood and mental health, so I always think of what I would be giving up if I didn’t incorporate daily movement.

This consistency over the years has led to movement and working out becoming an inseparable part of my day. I simply don’t feel I’m the best version of myself if I don’t incorporate some form of movement.

However, on those days that I need to dig deep, I think about life at 60, 70, and even 80 years old. What will my quality of life look like if I don’t continue treating my body with respect and gratitude.

This earthly vessel is all we have, our one true home. We need to cherish it and take care of it the best we can starting today.

What specific fitness goal are you currently focused on?

To be honest, I haven’t set a fitness goal for myself in quite a while in the sense of looking a certain way. The last time was when I competed in a bodybuilding, bikini category competition.

I personally do better when I don’t focus on a certain look as a goal. Fitness goals, for myself personally, are more about maintaining fitness as an inseparable part of my life.

They tend to be about improving athleticism and longevity of my fitness capabilities for as long as possible.

What's the best way for someone to motivate herself to get fit?

I tell my Crush It Crew to focus on one day at a time, tackle today, the set that’s right in front of you. I am a big believer in being present.

What often gets in our way is thinking about the past or future. If we stay present, focus on the first step, which is lacing up our shoes, placing one foot in front of the other, and staying the course patiently, the rest takes care of itself.

Concentrate on the mechanics of moving and not on the mountain ahead that we make the workout to be. Once the habit gets created, then one can enjoy being in cruise control for fitness will seem as important and inseparable from your daily activities as brushing your teeth.

For someone that is completely new to working out and desires to get fit, I always recommend thinking about the “WHY” behind the desire to get fit.

Making it about something bigger than wanting to be a certain size. If you find your WHY, keep it at the forefront and let that push you to achieve our goals.

For me, my WHY is my long term health, body and mind and wanting to be healthy and reliable on my physical and mental capacities for as long as possible.

Most of us take care of our homes. Why not take care of the only true home we have. Our bodies.

One of the key elements for staying consistent with working out is accountability. Who keeps you accountable for working out consistently?

That little voice in my head that says things like “you’re going to regret it if you don’t get to the gym”.

I know where I have been mentally and physically when fitness wasn’t a part of my life, so wanting to keep the monsters of anxiety and depression away keeps me motivated and accountable.

I know for many, self-talk is an inhibitor, but for me it is the most persuasive and consistent accountability partner I could ever have. One just needs to change that self talk into being positive and encouraging.

What tips would you give to someone wanting to live a healthier lifestyle?

I like to keep it simple, because we often over-complicate things. I urge others not to go too big, too soon. Small sustainable steps can add up to significant change.

You have two training programs, Crush It and CrusHIIT, which one has been your favourite to teach so far, and what inspired you to use these methods to help people get in shape?

I love both programs for different reasons. The Crush It programs were designed to help people progress over an extended period of time.

A beginner can advance to Intermediate, then Advanced, and finally to Expert. This series provides members with up to 44 weeks of formal exercise programming that includes meal plans.

I get so much fulfillment from seeing the Crew feel better both physically and mentally and so many of them stay the course of not just one program but several.

The CrusHIIT workout series is an excellent way to complement strength training, such as my Crush It Programs, thus I can’t choose one over the other.

While the Crush It Programs are strength training based, CrusHIIT is bodyweight only, with 12 sessions and three levels of difficulty. It is 38 minutes of sweat and calorie burning, but most of all, it is fun.

I love any type of movement, especially dancing, and it almost feels like I’m on the dance floor when doing many of the moves.

Can you explain what the Mind-Muscle Connection (MMC) is and how it’s helpful in achieving one’s fitness goals?

MMC is all about slowing down the movements, focusing on the working muscle, not lifting more than we are able to but rather focusing on correct form, thinking about and actually feeling that muscle contract.

The more “present” we are with the muscle(s) being worked, the more we maximize results, and the better we are at sculpting the physique we desire.

I attribute my ability to maintain my physique throughout the pandemic, 5 months outside of the gym, to my intense focus on form and the Mind-Muscle Connection.

The brain signals the brain to move a particular weight or move a certain way, so it’s easy to see that if we place our full attention, connecting the mind to muscle, we maximize the benefits of whatever movement we are performing.

I utilise MMC, focusing on the working muscles, also as a form of meditation, which in itself has benefits.

I am removed from the daily concerns of stresses of work, what will I have for lunch later, etc.

What's something most people may not know about you?

I received my Bachelor’s degree in 3 years, and MBA in 1 year with Suma Cum Laude honors.

I played Rugby in University, ran 3 marathons improving my time significantly from one to the other. I love numbers… I’m a super geek when it comes to building formulas and solving equations.

I have spent some time in India to receive me Yoga Teacher Certification and in Peru working with plant medicines.

I train Bebe Rexha daily via Facetime. We connected through Instagram during quarantine, on some common ground between us, i.e. we’re both Albanian and of the same birthday, but have never physically met. The pandemic has led to some interesting outcomes in general.

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