When it comes to achieving personal goals, each one of us has our own motivations, born of our unique life experiences. In the case of Samreth Sodh, it was the malicious taunts of bullies, who mercilessly poked fun at his weight, that inspired his decision to embark on a transformation. In late 2014, he kicked off an exercise routine – and he hasn’t looked back since. Mr. Sodh has not only reaped the physical rewards of this strong personal commitment to getting in shape, but he has also become an inspiration to others who, hobbled by shame of their bodies, haven’t dared set foot inside a gym.
These life-changing events occurred while Mr. Sodh was studying in South Korea as part of an exchange program in 2014 and 2015. While in the country, Mr. Sodh also learned the value of dressing well, something Koreans put great store in.
At first, he barely had the strength do one push-up. One day, a Filipino friend told him a story that left him shaken. “When he was young, he was unable to carry his mother, who had collapsed due to high blood pressure, down from the first floor because he was too weak.” This story got Mr. Sodh thinking: If something similar happened to his mother, would he even have the strength to help her?
When he was a student at the Institute of Foreign Languages, Mr Sodh recalled, he was really into football. However, he was rejected at tryouts for the school football team for lack of fitness. “I wanted to join the team, but they did not accept me. I was too fat.”
Mr. Sodh’s weight drew more than just a rejection from the football coach; personal insults were common. But the sting of mockery over his appearance would eventually become the force that motivated Mr. Sodh to make a new year’s resolution to shed the excess kilos. “People used to call me ‘fat boy,’ but there’s no point getting mad. Now I’m thankful to those who mocked me; their insults gave me the inspiration to better myself.”
The benefits of exercising do not appear overnight. After a year-and-a-half of persevering with his workouts and eating sensibly, Mr. Sodh slimmed down from a hulking 90 kg to a lean 69 kg.
“I felt really skinny, my own mother didn’t recognize me when I visited her. I tossed out the clothes I’d brought from Cambodia and bought new ones.”
Initially Mr. Sodh didn’t have a personal trainer, he just showed up at the gym and started watching people, asking for the occasional pointer. He would also look around on YouTube. “After I started going to the gym regularly, I felt less stressed out, I slept better and my health improved. More importantly, I rarely got sick.”
To be truly effective, according to Mr. Sodh, when adopting an exercise routine, “We should try our best to be with active people, and those who share common interests. Try to find a partner to go to the gym with. During your free time, you can learn together by looking at YouTube videos or Googling stuff.”
Nowadays, this born-again gym-lover not only motivates himself, but also inspires people around him to love their bodies and take better care of their health.
“Some people are afraid of going to the gym because they’re ashamed of their bodies. To this I would just say that we all start from zero. Personally, [when I started] I could barely lift a pair of 3kg dumbbells. If you take it step by step, you’ll get the results you’re after.”
In the future, Mr. Sodh wants to establish a “Man Blog,” where boys and men can access articles and advice on fitness, style, and the like. He also wants to start a personal training service and get into the image consultancy business.