From fat to fab, personal trainer Sheldon Xavier aspires to make Malaysians fitter

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him now, but Sheldon Xavier wasn’t always as fit as a fiddle.

He was the complete opposite and ballooned to 105kg about 15 years ago, no thanks to unhealthy eating habits as he worked long hours as a brand director with Leo Burnett.

“Back then, I didn’t pay much attention to my health. I ate and drank whatever I wanted and didn’t think about the consequences,” said Xavier.

“I had a hectic job and I never really had much time to exercise.

“However, a visit to my doctor for a regular check-up changed my life when I got my results back.

“The readings for my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were high. It was a wake-up call.

“Having two young children – a boy who was 10 and a girl who was two years younger – made me realise I needed to get healthy or I might end up with a heart attack and not be around to see them grow up.”

He quit his job, went into the sports industry and is now one of the most sought-after personal trainers.

The 50-year-old works with children and adults – groups or one-on-one – at his private gym/training centre at Pantai Hillpark Phase 3.

But nowadays, he trains them via Zoom to adhere to the strict standard operating procedures due to Covid-19.

The diehard Liverpool fan admitted the early years were a struggle but as he started losing weight and gaining energy, he was more determined about helping others get fit.

“I use my story to help motivate my trainees. If I could do it, so can they,” said Xavier, who now weighs 72kg.

The old (left) and new Xavier.

“It is not a one-way street. There is only so much I can do. Training contributes about 30 per cent. The main thing is watching your diet.

“What goes into your body – your food and drinks – will determine how far you can go to build your strength and endurance, help with fat-burning and controlling your cholesterol level.

“There is no point working out then going to eat nasi lemak and drinking teh tarik or beers every day.

“You have to commit to making a better you.”

He cited a client who he has been training online since March as the perfect example of commitment.

Although he has never met John Deho, who is based in Sibu, Sarawak, Xavier revealed his client had dropped from 115kg to 77kg.

“It was a struggle at first but after four classes a week for the past 10 months, he has lost so much weight and can do burpees with ease.

“A word of warning – your body needs to be ready. Work on your diet – you don’t have to give up on your favourite food and drinks completely but sacrifices must be made if you want to be healthy.”