By Mahika Panditha
The thing about Sundays is that we always seem to have some of the most lovely people on the planet featured in our cover stories. Now, you may have come across him on some Instagram Live streams or maybe you took part in his online fitness coaching programmes. But if you do not know him, this is Kevin Nilesh (@kev_fighter).
He is currently a student at Deakin University and is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a known online body transformation coach and you can see some of the amazing transformations of his clients on his page. I was shook, and amazed. His passion is working out and inspiring others to do the same (he sure inspired me!)
His goals in life include making his parents and sister proud, as well as giving back to them. “I'm very grateful for everything they have done for me,” he said (YOU’RE CRYING, WE AREN’T CRYING). Kevin also wants to become the first Sri Lankan Gymshark-sponsored Athlete. Later in the future, he also wants to become the best online body transformation coach and also open the best gym in Sri Lanka! His guilty pleasure is getting more haircuts than he should (same, can relate!)
I feel like I’ve already noted too much before you see what he has to say, but just one more thing, he is also a huge fan of Dragonball Z; he has a full collection of Dragonball Z t-shirts and tank tops! So if you are ever looking to buy a birthday present for him, you now know what to get. Anyways, let’s get into it and hear what he had to say!
Talk to us about your fitness journey. What inspired you?
Fitness saved my life. In 2009, after my parent’s divorce, I was lost and hopeless; I was emotionally drained. My sister and I had to move from Italy to Sri Lanka and live with our grandmother and aunts. As the years went by, I experienced moments of depression and the status of my mental health was not good. My dad, who lived in Italy at the time, would exercise on a daily basis to motivate us, and so he has been one of my main sources of inspiration for my fitness journey.
I began my fitness journey at the age of 15 from my house and I instantly fell in love with it. As years went by, the gym became my getaway from stress and other things that were going on in my life. Every repetition, every breath felt like meditation for me; it was like therapy. So when I say “the gym is my temple” , I mean it. Fitness has been with me through the dark times and the good times, so I have a really strong emotional association with fitness.
How did you get the idea to start online coaching?
I always dreamt of helping people around the world with their fitness journeys, especially because I knew the impact fitness could have on somebody’s life. In 2019, I broke my finger in an accident inside the gym and I had to take a seven-month break from the gym. During this period, I fell into depression but decided that this was the perfect time for me to start online coaching and change lives.
What is your biggest motivation that keeps you going every day?
I have three things that keep me motivated. Firstly, the strong will to make my parents and my sister proud. Secondly, my end goal; I am very passionate about my goals and I cannot imagine how my life would be if I don’t achieve them. Thirdly, I consider myself someone who wants to live life to the fullest, so knowing how much this life is worth and how many things we could be doing with our lives, keeps me motivated.
To stay as motivated as possible, I partake in positive affirmations and visualisations as part of my morning routine. During my visualisations, I focus on what I want to achieve in life and I visualise it. I step into that imagination I have, and I focus entirely on that. This helps me stay focused and motivated.
With that being said, I always preach that we all experience high and low motivation levels. So in terms of fitness, I believe we shouldn’t rely entirely on motivation. We should exercise consistently until it becomes a habit. With this approach, people will exercise habitually rather than relying on motivational levels. This will translate into a continuous fitness journey with no interruptions.
Any tips for people that want to get back into fitness?
I have experienced it myself, so here is my point of view on this. Fitness is not only about body transformations. Fitness could be any physical activity. I believe we should all realise how important fitness is for our physical health as well as our mental health. A good first step could be to start going for a walk once in a while or engaging in a physical activity that one enjoys, even if it’s listening to music inside the room and dancing along to it.
When it comes to body transformations, people should understand that we only live once – at least as far as I know, we only live once. If you’re not happy with what you see in the mirror then you have got to do something about it. But I know it’s easier said than done.
An easy approach would be slowly reducing the frequency of eating less nutritious food. If you used to eat pizza three times a week, reduce it to once per week. If you drank soft drinks every day, reduce that to two times a week. These small adjustments will ease you into getting back in shape. Next, you could start replacing your unhealthy meals with healthier options.
Transforming your physique isn’t as complicated as many assume it to be. There are some easy principles you have to understand. Get a proper understanding about calories. Find out how many calories you need to consume in order to reach your goal and track your calories using an app like MyFitnessPal. As long as you are aware of how many calories you are consuming, you will get closer to your goal.
Dieting doesn’t mean that you have to give up the foods you enjoy eating. Dieting doesn’t mean that you are supposed to eat only rice, chicken, and broccoli for the rest of your life or starve. Dieting has to be done in a way that you can continue doing it every single day. I use something called flexible dieting for all of my clients. My online coaching clients get to eat everything they enjoy, including pancakes, ice cream, dairy products, etc., and still make tremendous progress.
Finally, this is my message: Dieting is 80% of the process, exercising is 20% of the process, lifestyle is 100% of the process.
How do you stay positive during times like these?
As soon as quarantine began, I got very demotivated and I was in a very negative mindset for a few days. One day, while I was self-reflecting, I suddenly remembered what my purpose in life was. I wanted to help so many people out to better their lives and I couldn’t let them down at a time like this. All of my old and new followers were a huge source of inspiration for my positivity during quarantine. The will to help them stay positive translated into my positive mindset. On the other hand, I started incorporating meditation into my morning routine. Meditation helped me become more self-aware. This taught me to observe thoughts and emotions and how to handle them.
What has been your biggest life lesson so far?
My biggest life lesson so far has been realising the importance of self-love. Self-love is one of the most important things that anybody should learn and understand. I learnt that our mental health, our happiness, is what matters the most. So we should always prioritise it. We should never compromise our happiness for anything or anyone. We all deserve to be happy so we should cut off everything that impacts our life in any negative way. You deserve the best, you are amazing, love yourself.
If you could give your followers one message, what would it be?
First of all, I would like to thank all of my followers. I’m so grateful for each and every one of them. I wouldn’t be here without their incredible love and support.
Secondly, it’s to learn the “A,B, Cs” of fitness, everything will seem simpler and easier for you. Fitness changed my life for the better; I want them to experience it too.
Where do you see yourself and your platform in the next few years?
In the next few years, I see myself being a Gymshark Athlete who keeps helping as many people as possible to achieve their fitness goals. I also see myself sharing my experiences and perspectives on various topics related to mental health so that I can help a lot of people in some way. Finally, I see myself doing the same thing I am doing right now, in a bigger and better way, providing as much value as possible to the people. I’m so excited to get there because it is what I have always dreamt about doing.
To wind up, how has quarantine been for you? What has been your favourite and least favourite thing about it?
Quarantine has surprisingly been very productive and a crazy learning experience. The least favourite thing for me was the fact that I couldn’t go to the gym and the fact that I couldn’t meet up and hang out with my friends.
I have a few favourite things about quarantine. Firstly, getting to know so many new people through my Instagram. I had so many deep meaningful conversations with them; we shared perspectives about life and I believe I made many new friends as well. Secondly, going live on Instagram with so many influencers; again, I made so many friendships that I believe will last forever. Another favourite thing about quarantine was finally being able to adapt to a morning routine that will be key to my success.
PHOTOS Vinodh Perera and Dinuka Jayasuriya