Ngo Okafor is a Jack of a trades: He's an actor, a model, a retired boxer, and currently an accomplished fitness expert who trains the likes of Chanel Iman and Naomi Campbell. So when we got the chance to tap Okafor for his best fitness tips, we jumped at the opportunity with our sneakers laced up and ready to go.
Below, Okafor sounds off on how to stay motivated, how to tone and define your body, and which foods to avoid if you want to see the best results. Take a look for yourself below.
The first step is getting there
"My advice for people who can't get motivated to go to the gym is to lean on friends or family for motivation," says Okafor. "There are also apps such as my new app, FitMatch, that can help people connect with workout buddies and training partners who can help pick us up and motivate us when we are low on motivation.
"For people who simply don't have enough time in their schedule to work out, it's important to note that every little bit of exercise helps and adds up. Some of my clients are extremely busy, running some of the largest companies in the world, and don't always have a lot of time to work out. For these clients, I create 7- to 10-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which are very efficient and burn a lot of calories in a very short time."
What if you don't have a gym membership?
"When it comes to toning up quickly at home, I recommend using circuit training exercise programs, which incorporate bodyweight resistance exercises for building lean muscle mass with short bouts of cardio mixed in," explains Okafor.
What does a typical day's workout look like for celebrity clients?
"A typical day's workout for my celebrity clients usually varies depending on whether they have a project coming up or not," Okafor tells us. "When they have a project coming up where they have to be in insane shape, I would have them do two workouts a day. The first would be a weight-training circuit with cardio bursts mixed in. Workout number two would be cardio such as boxing, running, cycling, and jumping rope for an hour. I also recommend lots of stretching and foam rolling in order to improve circulation and prevent injury.
"I advise my celebrity clients to train for at least an hour or more, six days a week. The entertainment business is a visual business, and the way you look oftentimes determines whether you get that starring role, so it's important to stay sharp at all times. The only way for this to happen is to train at least six days a week. Rest is also very important for recovery, so I have them rest or do yoga on their day off."
How long does it take to see results?
"If a person follows my recommended workout program [Ed. note: like doing Okafor's at-home workout five days a week], they should begin to see results in about six weeks," says Ngo.
But if you only work out once a week (guilty), Okafor can't promise model-like definition. "Anything is better than nothing—I would never say that [working out once a week] is pointless because as far as health goes, one hour is better than none. However, it will be very difficult to get results if you only work out one hour, once a week. If you're trying to learn a language or how to play an instrument, it will be difficult to make progress if you only practice for one hour, once a week. The same goes for working out."
Which foods should you avoid if you want to get in shape?
Diet is key for optimal fitness results, and sadly, there are some (delicious) items we should steer clear of if we want to make major strides. Below, Okafor outlines these fitness inhibitors.
White bread: White bread is high on the glycemic index, which means that its effect on blood sugar levels is very high.
Ice cream: Ice cream’s high calorie, sugar, and fat content make it an undesirable dessert choice when your objective is to get fit and toned. The use of synthetic sugars like high-fructose corn syrup is even worse.
Pizza: When you combine the ingredients in pizza such as tomatoes, cheese, flour, and yeast and add saturated oil and salt, the calories pile up. The average slice of pizza is about 250 calories. Adding toppings like meat can spike it up to as much as 390 calories per slice.
Fried foods: Deep-frying foods may enhance the taste, but the added calories can also eliminate that flat midsection that you worked so hard for.
Dried fruits: Fresh fruit contains vitamins and minerals and is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Dried or dehydrated fruit sometimes contain added sugar and sulfur to extend its shelf life. Due to the fact that dehydrated fruit is smaller due to the removal of water, it can lead to overeating.
Pre-made salads: Store-bought salads can quickly turn a potentially healthy meal into a calorie bomb when the add-ons and dressing are applied. Read the label to see how many calories are in the salad, and then look at the calories with the dressing that’s provided. It’s significantly elevated.
Diet soda: Even though it says diet on the soda label, the artificial sweetener used to enhance its taste isn’t better for your diet than the sugar it replaced.
Alcohol: The calories come from the alcohol and sugar and are considered empty calories because of the lack of the other essential nutrients. Alcohol consumption may also lead to poor judgment when it comes to nutritional choices.
Up next, check out the workout that delivers the fastest results.