Meet Levent. His Freeletics story has become the stuff of legend. Back in 2012, Levent and his Freeletics training group in Munich made some videos about their journey with Freeletics. They filmed themselves during their first 15 weeks of Freeletics training. At the end, they realized that what they had done was pretty incredible, so they decided to put together a series of films. They put them on Youtube and the rest is history. Levent’s video soon went viral - more than six million people have now watched his story and followed him through pain, exhaustion and, ultimately, success. Here is his story in his own words.
It’s time to get personal with Levent. Find out what motivates this Free Athlete…
Levent, millions of people are inspired by your video. How does that make you feel? Was that your intention when you started?
“I don’t know if there should be too much fuss about the video. When I made it, it was really just for fun and to document our progress. After the 15 weeks, my friends and I watched our videos back. Seeing them in a new light, I thought “this could be really helpful to a lot of people.” I took so much from my journey with Freeletics and I felt better than I ever had before.
I wanted other people to feel the same and I really wanted to inspire people with my story. I put my heart and soul into the video because of the way Freeletics changed my life and I wanted others to experience the same thing. But I did not think it would explode and become as popular as it did.
It makes me feel very excited and happy to know that so many people are inspired to start their journeys with Freeletics by my story. But, to be honest, I would be happy even if just one person was inspired. I just want people to understand that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it. If you have a goal, you will succeed in the end. If this guy can do it, you can do it as well.”
It sounds like you were surprised to realize you had become sort of a celebrity…
“Yeah, in the beginning it was very weird. I would be walking down the street sometimes in Munich and I didn’t understand why people were looking at me. I had to ask my friends if I had something on my face or something. People randomly came up to me and started talking. But it’s not like being a movie star of course. I also don’t feel any different than before; I'm just a regular guy. I think thats why other people can relate to me.”
Do you have more stories of interesting encounters?
“Once, I was in the men’s room in a restaurant and this guy came up to me and said, “Hey I know you from somewhere.” But I could tell from his accent that he was probably from the UK, so there was no way that I knew him. Finally he said, “I know you from Freeletics!” I think that was the first time someone from another country came up to me to say hello.
Another time, I was working out at the park and was totally in the zone. I didn’t know that people were watching me until these two guys from Sydney came up to introduce themselves. They were like, “Hey, aren’t you the guy from the Freeletics video?”
Honestly, I'm just happy to know that I inspire people to get off their asses and do something. It’s more like a chain reaction. They're the ones who will be the next to inspire other people. Freeletics is a sport, not just a transformation program. If you put the effort into it, you will get results.”
What do people talk about when they come up to you?
“Most of them ask if I’m still doing Freeletics, and if I still look like I did at the end of the video. People are suspicious. They ask if it was 15 months, not 15 weeks, but it wasn’t, it was 15 weeks. You know Arne? He is one of the guys from our first training group in Munich. His video is on Youtube, too. We used to go to school together and we also trained together every day. At first, there were only five of us. We still do Freeletics together whenever we can and it's very special because of all the pain and trials we went through together.”
Okay, you brought it up, now you have to tell everyone – do you still look like you did in the video?
"Like every person, sometimes I look better than I did at the end of the video, sometimes I look a little less ripped. In general, I stay at about the same level. I'm still doing Freeletics and I think I'll do it for a very long time.”
Obviously you do Freeletics, but you also eat well. Describe your typical daily routine…
“Green tea and fruit for breakfast, salad for lunch, low fat curd with fruit and oats as a snack, Freeletics training after work and dinner after my training.
My diet is very low carb; I eat often, but small portions. Just low carbs and healthy nutrition. People always ask if I use muscle builders, supplements, etc, but I don’t use any supplements whatsoever, not even protein powder and definitely no steroids. You can get all the macro and micro nutrients from healthy food. Some people always try to find the easy way out, but Freeletics has taught me that the easiest way isn't the best way to do things.”
What got you started in Freeletics? What was your first workout? How did you feel?
“Everyone who’s seen my video knows that I was in pretty bad shape when I was young. Finally, I just had enough. I didn't want to see the person I saw in the mirror any more. It was not just about the looks - I felt bad too. I had to change something. A friend told me about Freeletics. My first workout was an old version of Artemis. I couldn't move for 4 days afterwards - I literally lay in bed (thankfully I was on vacation!). At that point, I knew that Freeletics would get me the results I wanted. If it was that difficult, it had to work.”
Describe your training schedule. How many days a week do you train? What's your focus? Build muscle? Lose weight? Or both?
“I typically train 4-6 days a week. My focus is mostly both.”
Free Athletes train anywhere and everywhere. When and where do you train?
“Mostly in the evenings after work. I do Freeletics in several different spots around Munich where I live. I’ve never trained anywhere crazy like on top of a building, but I don’t have to. Training is effective even when you do it in your bedroom. It’s not the place that’s special, it’s the people. I remember when Freeletics was just starting, and one day 50 people showed up to train. That was crazy. Now there are so many different groups, it’s normal to see people training all over the city.”
That brings up community. Freeletics is all about community. Of course, everyone knows you are part of the online community, but what about when you train? Do you train better with friends or by yourself?
“Sometimes I do Freeletics by myself, but I train best with other people. They push me and I push them. When you want to quit, but you see another Free Athlete still going, you push harder! Nobody wants to be the first one to take a break.
When I train with a group, I try to find people I don’t know and maybe improve their form and get to know them. Other times, I just want to train with close friends or be by myself. It just depends on the day, you know? When you find a core group of people who are at your level you can really push each other. But everyone is always welcome. Thats what I love about the community. There is always room for more. I especially love the feeling after a training session when you go around and show your respect to others via the clap clap handshake, both in real life and digitally.”
It sounds like you are very inclusive…
“YES! That’s the most important thing! Freeletics isn't just strangers working out together. We're a big family and we welcome anyone. I'm always looking to hook people up with others who will make them better. I want people to make new friends. Free Athletes do not laugh at new people, because everyone was new at some point. I've never seen a Free Athlete insult another Free Athlete. Instead, everyone welcomes new athletes and tries to help them. It doesn’t matter how old you are, if you are a woman or a man… everyone trains together and everyone is welcome.
Freeletics is something special. I know a lot of people who became very good friends through training together. It’s more than a sport, it's a platform for connecting people who think and feel alike. Here's a story: I went to Vienna, Austria recently. I told the Vienna Facebook group that I was coming - they have a big group over there. They were really nice and I didn’t even have to pay for a hotel. Someone invited me to stay at his house, he showed me the city, and introduced me to other Free Athletes. Freeletics is more than a sport, it’s a big family.”
Did you experience any difficulties when you started? How did you overcome them?
“Of course – I overcame them by telling myself that I will achieve anything I set my mind up to. When my body wanted to give up, my mind said keep going.”
Do you still experience difficulties?
“Every damn time! It never gets easier. You just become stronger and faster.”
What is your favorite workout?
“Zeus and Metis.”
What workout do you absolutely hate?
“I don’t know why, but I always end up hating Dione. Especially the leg levers. But you know, the coach knows. So I’m doing it! If you avoid the things you are not good at, you will never improve. I try to push my hardest where my body is the weakest.”
What advice do you have to people just starting Freeletics? Give 3 common pitfalls to avoid…
“Just stick to it and you will see results. I promise! Now for the pitfalls…
- Overpacing at the beginning of a workout
- Forgetting about proper form because of workout times
- Giving up because you think you are too weak – it does not matter how long it takes – the only important thing is to finish your workout”
And 3 things you tell yourself to keep going?
- “I remind myself what it is going to feel like when I finish my workout
- Giving up is not an option – it is like a pest that will spread into other areas of your life
- I often look at other athletes around me and make a game plan. I tell myself to finish the repetitions of a specific exercise during a workout before the other athlete finishes theirs.”
What’s on your training schedule for today?
“Dione…but hey, #CoachKnows. 😉 “
What sort of change has Freeletics brought into the rest of your life that were totally unexpected?
“As soon as you know that you can achieve your Freeletics goal, you understand that you can also achieve all other goals. I'm a more positive person that truly believes in the phrase “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” My whole life is so good right now, I’m not looking for anything more. Freeletics has helped me become content with my life. But I always want to become a better Free Athlete.”
Can people get in contact with you or leave you encouraging messages?
“I get a lot of messages from people, and unfortunately I can’t keep up with all of them. In the beginning I used to answer all of them but now it is impossible. If I haven’t answered you, I’m sorry. Heiko was actually one of the people who wrote me early on and we trained together. He made a very impressive transformation video that I also put on my youtube channel. Clap Clap to Heiko. But I want everyone to know that I would love to respond to everyone, I just don’t have time. But hey, I am following this blog, so if people comment I will probably see it.”
Levent went from average to Athlete. Now it’s your turn. Push your limits. Inspire the Freeletics community. There is no success without hard work.