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Meet Aroosha Alkhafaji of Aroosha’s Army in Claremont

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aroosha Alkhafaji.

Aroosha, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Pakistan and spent the first 10ish years of my life there. I was raised by a single mom who always strived to give us (me and my brother) the best possible life, part of which led her to get a better job in Kuwait (Middle East) and so we moved there. I attended middle and high school in Kuwait and then decided to move to England for university.

I grew up in a society where everyone went to school, got a job, worked 9-5 and then worked their way up. I didn’t know anyone that owned their own business or did something ‘different’. It was almost like my life was decided for me. Where I grew up, kids didn’t just take years out to find their true passions or figure things out. Everyone was doing the same thing and so I fell into that. Graduated early at 16 and the day I turned 17, I was already enrolled in university for accounting and finance.

I was okay at it but I wasn’t passionate about it. I didn’t however know what it meant to be passionate about anything either. It wasn’t until I was in my last year of university when I had to drop out and move with my family to America (because of immigration reasons I couldn’t stay and finish my degree, I only had a few months to move to the US or my visa would expire). That’s when everything took a turn for me.

Here I was thinking I graduate in a year, get hired and work my way up like my mom did. The Universe/God, however, had something different planned.

When I moved to the US, I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me, I didn’t have any friends, no job didn’t even know how to drive to get myself places and to top it off my living situation/things at home were extremely bad. Not materialistically, we actually had ‘everything’ but emotionally and mentally, it was the worst place I had ever been, it was like a prison. I fell into a deep, dark depression. And well, that depression and everything leading up to it might have been the worst thing that ever happened to me, it was also the BEST because it led me straight to my passion, fitness. Since I couldn’t do much or go anywhere, the only place I could go was the gym with my brother, since it was close. So it became my only escape from reality. Something about putting on hardcore music and lifting heavy weights brought me peace. I got more and more into the fitness. I spent hours and hours in the gym, teaching myself things and then I would go home and research more to try out the next day. It kept my mind occupied and every time something bad happened, I just went to the gym and took it out on the weights.

Anyway, spending hours at the gym meant I made contacts which lead me to my first job at the smoothie bar at the same gym. So there I was making protein smoothies and working out, didn’t know exactly what I wanted in life but I knew it was going to be in fitness. I fell in love with how the gym made me feel and found a passion to share that. I helped anyone that wanted it. Online on social media and in person. That’s when my best friend came into my life. I pushed her in the gym and she pushed me in life, she encouraged me to pursue fitness as a career and live out my dreams. I got a job at the front desk of the gym and worked there for a few months. I then got certified and applied to be a trainer, I got it and then got promoted to Master trainer of the facility. While the experience was great, I learnt everything I needed to and there was no more room for growth. I knew in my heart that it was time for a change.

And so the opportunity presented itself for me to rent a gym and start my own training business. I had no idea how I was going to do it but I took their offer right there and then. It was a huge risk but my gut told me it was time and I listened. I quit my job the same day and left with ZERO clients. I started promoting myself and slowly (very slowly) got a few clients. It took eight months for me to stop using my savings and make a decent amount to be able to pay my bills and be kinda comfortable. And from there, I started getting more referrals and worked my way to an amazing clientele. A couple of months ago, I hosted a one year celebration event for all my clients. It was a workout followed by home-cooked food by my mom for all of them, such an amazing day!

But yes, to end the story, I went from having my life planned as an accountant to a major change that leads me into some dark times to now living out my passion of helping people and having an impact. I’m so grateful for the hard times because without them, I wouldn’t be who I am or be doing what I do.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all! Starting with 0 clients meant I had little to no income coming in, it was hard at first using up my savings to work on a dream that felt so far fetched. I think my biggest struggle was and still is promoting myself. I never want to come off sale-sy or like I’m forcing something on people, even though I believe in what I offer 100% I still struggle to be able to talk about it and tell my audience why my services are great and how they’d benefit from them. I’m slowly learning to be better though!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Aroosha’s Army – what should we know?
I’m a certified personal trainer and I offer one on one as well as group training. My expertise are in strength training/building muscle and fat loss. I help people reach their fitness goals in a healthy way without giving up carbs/other foods completely. I also do occasional booty workout classes where I teach girls how to properly work on glutes and isolate them for maximum growth.

The thing I’m most proud of is the progress my clients have been able to make. I’m not talking just physical progress but I take pride in knowing that anyone that works with me mentally transforms too, they become more confident, have more self-esteem and most importantly, grow to love themselves in every form. I never allow any negative self talk around me.

I think what sets me apart from others is the relationships I build with my clients. Yes, they pay me but it’s not about the money for me. I genuinely care about my people and their well being and anyone that works with me will attest to that. For me, the relationship with a client will always come before the money. I’m still friends with clients that I worked with years ago and they still come to get a session in with me every now and then, not because they need to but because they want to and I think that’s pretty rare!

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I truly believe no successful person gets there all on their own, it’s the support system they have that gets them there. I didn’t really have mentors but I do have amazing people in my life that made this possible. I have to give a huge shout out to my best friend, Simone. She’s always pushed me to strive for more and been there to encourage me on the days that I was having doubts. My hubby who’s been so supportive, if I’m working 12-14 hour days, he’ll never complain, just support me and send me ‘you got this’ type texts throughout the day, it’s the little things but they add up! And of course, my mom, without her I’d be nothing. From the constant moral support, down to having my food on the table when I get home after a long day, all of that helps me keep going.

I also can’t leave my amazing clients out, I’ve been so blessed to have such genuine and kind people be a part of my team. Some days they’ll bring me coffee or a snack if they know I’ve had a long day and I swear those little things just make life so much easier.

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