Marios Iacovou
How I Stopped Eating Meat and Became a Vegan Personal Trainer in London


We talked with Marios Iacovou in October, 2019
Country:
United Kingdom
Age:
32 years
Weight:
86 kg
(190 lbs)
Height:
185 cm
(6')


Instagram, @mkdfitnessphotography - photo by Malachy Donnelly

Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training

Hi, I’m Marios, a 32 year old Vegan Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher and Nutritionist, based in North London, UK. Personal Training is my full time work, where I offer sessions to clients from a private studio.

I became interested in health and well-being from a young age. I was eager to be in a position where I could know about my health, giving me a sense of control over my own body – after all knowledge is power.

A healthy body and mind means the capacity to live life to its fullest and to make the most of life’s experiences.

With 12 years experience behind me, in Personal Training, naturally I had a desire to expand my learning and I was strongly drawn to Yoga.

I felt that Yoga could incorporate strength of mind as well as strength of body, which are closely linked. Yoga provided a base to experience movement in a different way and to look at pushing the limits in a whole different way.

I am very proud of being about to bring these two very different paths, weight training and Yoga together.

Many people who enjoy the gym are still so resistance to drawing on the benefits that yoga can bring, and still have very outdated and false ideas of what yoga is about, due to what their friends have said or a bad experience in a yoga class.

Men often think Yoga is easy – it’s not. It will challenge you, strengthen you, improve your balance, focus and coordination.

Alongside Personal Training and Yoga, I love learning about Vegan nutrition and sharing my findings. Vegan bodybuilding is the future of the industry and thankfully many people are waking up to this.

All biometrics of my health quickly improved after going vegan 4 years ago. I now have more energy, my recovery time is faster and my food experiences are so much better, in that they are more varied. Before becoming Vegan, I had not tried tofu, tempeh or seitan. I now explore more fruits and vegetables, cook with a greater variety of beans.

I am more interested in the source of my food, not only its environmental impact, but also what is used to produce the foods, the preservatives and additives. Many vegan companies typically feel more responsible to look at the whole chain line, making sure its more ethically sourced when viable to do so.

When you order a vegan dish at the restaurant they can not hide behind a slab of meat and two veg. They usually work to bring colour, flavour and fun into the mix.

I also felt very uncomfortable with the number of animals which I believed had to die to fill my gut after a workout.

A typical human eats 10,000 animals in their lifetime, and that’s the average, not for the average male gym goer. Its cruel and unnecessary and I love it when people are open to changing their habits and get even better results by doing so. These are the clients I love working with.

I’m always a big fan of swimming. It’s a fantastic cardio alternative to running or the cross trainer, low impact and to me, its fun, so my workout program becomes a bit of a leisure activity too.

This is what I love the most about fitness. There’s no one best way to do it and you can find the methods that suit you and then you can explore other avenues as you develop and change and work out the way that’s best for you.


Instagram, @mkdfitnessphotography - photo by Malachy Donnelly

Describe a typical day of training


If you are in a position where you have a reliable workout buddy, then I strongly recommend it.

My training involves a 5 day routine. Typically this would look like:

  • Monday – Push Day – involving shoulder presses, chest press and flies etc.
  • Tuesday – Pull Day – involving weighted pull-ups, seated rows and bicep curls.
  • Wednesday – Rest Day.
  • Thursday – 5K and swim.
  • Friday – Rest Day.
  • Saturday – Legs, involving squats, deadlifts, extensions and curls etc.
  • Sunday – Yoga.

This provides a great variation, and keeps the body and mind stimulated. Each session would last an hour. I do typically work within the 3-4 sets and 8-12 rep range.

I tend to train alone as it is quite hard to depend on other people to show and to manage schedules.

In my experience when I’ve tried working with people they can often be less dedicated than you’d hope, though if you are in a position where you have a reliable workout buddy, then I strongly recommend it. It can really help up your game, especially if they can offer some value to your workout and technique and form.

Nonetheless even though I train alone, I do love swapping ideas and having a friend down at the gym just adds a fun element to the workout and possibly even a competitive edge. Its also great for on the days when motivation is running low.

How do you keep going and push harder?

To maintain the consistency, I look to go to the gym at the same time each day. Usually in the morning as this is the time of day when there is less chance for things to get in the way. Also evenings are usually busy with my personal training clients and after a number of training sessions I often want to rest and not head to the gym myself.

I also prefer going at off-peak times so I can focus on my training with less distractions and get to the equipment I prefer. I work my clients and my social events around the gym to not let the gym routine slip.

Ultimately, if it gets to a couple of days of not making it to the gym, I feel frustrated, so I do my best to rarely let it get to that stage, as fit simply doesn’t feel good. I’m a creature of habit.

Off course, life changes pattern sometimes, such as when you have a holiday, work trip or event and you have to do your best and draw a line under it. I try not to beat myself up too much if there are short periods when my routine slips.


Instagram, @mkdfitnessphotography - photo by Malachy Donnelly

How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?


I’m a big fan of the brand Huel. They offer a meal replacement powder, which has everything you need for a balanced diet.

Fortunately, I’ve not had any serious injuries to hamper my training.

Sometimes, I can get bouts of low energy. Thankfully this is much less the case with my Vegan nutrition than it was when I was eating animal products.

I try to ensure my energy stays high by taking various simple supplements. Each morning I take a multi-vitamin, to cover any gaps in my nutrition that day. Holland and Barrett’s offer great Vegan supplements, at competitive prices.

I also take a pro-biotic, as I’m amazed by the science developing around gut health. I’m currently using Probio7 with 7 live strains.

I also often have a coffee before I hit the gym for the extra energy boost. Ideally Organic and FairTrade. I’m currently enjoying one by brand CRU Kafe but when in a rush, a good old instant coffee gets the job done too.

I also take a vitamin D supplement, especially in the winter months. I currently take a 1 a day Mushroom Vitamin D Supplement from Holland & Barrett.

I’m a big fan of the brand Huel. They offer a meal replacement powder, which has everything you need for a balanced diet.

It tastes great, coming in a range of flavours and gives any meals you add it to, a massive nutrient boost. It has a respectable protein content and the macros are well balanced. I often add this is my porridge or makes shakes and smoothies with it.

How is your diet and what supplements do you use?

With a Vegan diet, I can easily get my protein intake and all the nutrients I require from my food, with the exception of B12.

With many products such as plant-based milks – I typically drink Alpro Oat Milk – fortify their products with B12 as well as other nutrients such as Calcium, so this is not so much of an issue.

Most people whether Vegan or not are B12 deficient. Animals kept on farms are supplemented with B12, so where people who eat animals get their B12 from the supplements the animals get, Vegans supplement directly.

As mentioned, protein is not an issue with a vegan diet. If you eat a healthy balanced diet and get the calories, then you’ll get the protein.

My best protein sources are tofu, lentils, nuts, beans and I use powders such as hemp (Naturya Organic Hemp Powder) or pea protein powder (Pulsin Pea Protein Powder). Also check out My Protein for great Vegan alternatives to Whey powder.

Whey powder is not easily digestible due to the lactose and also not as nutrient dense as many whole sources. It’s also a bi-product of the cheese industry and therefore contributes to this industry which does not align with Vegan values.

Alternative meat products such as vegan sausages and vegan burgers are also handy, improving in taste and texture all the time and very high in protein, often higher than their animal product counterparts.

The bad news about all the amazing Vegan substitutes from burgers, pizzas, sausages and chocolates is that its now so available, I need to exert more discipline to not over do my intake of processed foods.

In London I can typically find Vegan options on all menus and have yet to have an issue with asking if an option could be modified without the animal products. None the less, I do let myself enjoy the unhealthy bits too – it’s all OK in moderation.

What has inspired and motivated you?


Many of the top athletes are now plant based

I feel that I have opened my mind to so many amazing new foods and experiences and people in the Vegan community.

When you see the footage and documentaries on Netflix and watch things such as Dominion, Cowspiracy and Earthlings, you simply would not go back to eating animals.

I have not seen it yet but there is a documentary just out called ‘The Game Changers ’ and it’s about inspiring athletes who have turned to a plant-based diet.

Many of the top athletes are now plant based, including Premiership football players, Lewis Hamilton, tennis players including Venus and Serena Williams and Djokovic and many more.

This is inspiring, showing that things are changing and people are realizing that meat and dairy are not only totally unnecessary but maybe even hampering their game – ask Arnie, he’s now a big advocate for a plant based diet.

If I could go back in time with a whole new approach to my fitness, I’d explore the options available to me, at a much earlier stage. I’d understand that pushing weights in the gym is a fantastic foundation but does not need to make the whole body of my program.

Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?

Going back in time, I’d have gone Vegan as soon as possible. Eating so many animal products in the past is my biggest regret.

If only I would have been open to simple changes like changing the milk in my tea and cereal to plant based, this would have given me a whole new lease of life.

I’d recommend to everyone to look outside the box a little and to experiment with different ideas and approaches. The worse that can happen is you decide to go back down another path instead.

I’d recommend that everyone sees fitness as a journey to enjoy, without definite ideas of the right way and wrong way, as everyone is different.


Instagram, @mkdfitnessphotography - photo by Malachy Donnelly

Are you taking on clients right now?

I’m currently taking on clients who can train with me in North London and open to a plant-based way of life. If you have any questions about training and Vegan nutrition, please contact me by email; [email protected]

Where can we learn more about you?

If you’d like to find out more then contact me on my website mariosiacovou.co.uk.

Here you will also find my blog.


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