Interview with Attila Katus
This interview is prepared for a Workshop seminar at ELTE, my interviewee was Attila Katus, personal trainer, aerobics trainer, and lifestyle consultant who won world championship in aerobics six times, European championship twice. He is also a winner of Világjátékok.
Thank you, Attila for accepting my request. What kind of project are you preparing for?
I have a lot to do. First, I am leading a large spring transformative program where I am working with 50-60 people. After this interview I am going to give training at quarter past five, half past six, and quarter to eight where 3-4 people come and I gave them trainings. We form a small team, created a Facebook group where participants know each other. There are outdoor trainings, as well. This program has several elements and we achieve a large amount of success. Furthermore, my team and I make a Road Show (http://katusattila.hu/hirek/), it will begin this Sunday which is a spring Road Show that has ten or twelve stations. The essence of this Road Show is that I organize the event where we rent a room and exhibit. We hope that it will be profitable. There we could introduce ourselves more thoroughly, talk about ourselves, and show us professionally. In my opinion, a personal meeting means much more than presenting yourself via the media. On the one hand, I have longer time and it is only about me, my thoughts, my trainings, and my aerobics lessons. That is why I think that it is important. Besides, I have many performances and I deal with clothing and healthy food. I should write a book but I have no time for that, namely there is a book that I should finish, I think I could only do this in summer. This is my second book. (First book: https://www.katusbody.hu/akciok/kiad-formald-magad-konyv) And furthermore, my team and I are planning a camp that will be on 23-25 June at Lake Balaton. We use social media because there is always a lot to do to keep it alive. This is it for the spring. For the future, I have many ideas for everything but we will see it later. I would like to step further in food, in one or two week time I will negotiate with investors about this topic.
What do you do in your freetime of course if you have any?
Surprisingly, I have a little spare time when I sleep and do some sport. It counts when you can do something alone because it is quite different when I train someone or I pay attention only to myself and do what fits for me and I go through it. I love nature, fresh air, and peace. I love travelling, going somewhere else from Budapest, and I like having personal conversations. I make up leeway that I could not do on weekdays. I search for human things, my life is so hectic and I am always in the centre of the attention, thus I am glad if I am not rather than I just contemplate and regenerate. Thus, I fill up and I am with my close environment in peace. I love the atmosphere of Lake Balaton, the sunshine, walking barefoot. There I love being not Attila Katus just an ordinary citizen.
What inspired you to become a trainer for living?
First, the only thing I knew as a child that I loved doing sports. In primary school I was specialised for Physical Education. I swam, played football and handball. I wanted to become a professional sportsman and managed to do this but not in the specific sport that I wanted. At the end of my 20s I succeed in aerobics. After secondary school I did not know what to become, I liked many school subjects but I felt that what I really like and I am good at are PE and English. Then, I study these two subjects in the university to become a teacher. After that came the professional sportsman program because I wanted to earn money, as well. I participated in a personal training course, I was among the first aerobics course participants and then I started to go in this way, the way of a trainer. After I had more practice people began to know me but it was later on, because I started my training career in 1993 (but when I was a professional sportsman with the Eagle of Pécs many people knew us that time) and in 2007 or 2008 I gain more popularity in the country; since then I have been working on keeping it alive. It is also a task, so I have to work on this. I do not do that because it is good for my ego, what is more, I am sorry about the time but it is a part of my job to reach people and keep up my name. And then, I found out that I am where I should be, so I am among the lucky people who found their strength, in which field they are good and I could be myself. I worked with children, elderly, women, and men in many segments as mass sport and professional sport. I learnt a lot about sports, theoretical and psychological facts; and my communication skills developed, as well. I still improve myself even today. I can do a job with which I help people. I introduce people health, those who come to me do this with pleasure and they see this place as their home and these people become friends. There were many lonely people who lost their feminity carrying lots of problems but they stand up and I put together their lives. There was a woman who weighted 130 kilograms with zero self esteem and now she is a happy and smiley person with smaller size and there will be time when she will reach an average size. These awake very good feelings, that is why I love my job. When I go to my aerobics trainings or performances, maybe I am so tired but when I see the effects of the trainings and when I put together someone this is the reason why I love to do this and manage to work a lot. It is a beautiful career, not easy but I hear several times that “ugris-bugri” …etc. This can be due to jealousy or they have no idea about it and they make opinions like that. I think that I was born to be what I am now and I do not look at it as a job and if I have training and the 60 minutes is over I do not say good bye and leave in the 61st minute without a word. I make human relationships and owing to that fact it is more than a training program. For me it not the minus five kilograms count, it is a very little segment, rather than to make them happy and help to maintain this new way, teach them and to do for their health not just make them lose weight with different kind of stuffs. Thus, there are many aspects of a training job. A good trainer shows a good example not just give a training program. It is such a profession and it makes me feel great.
What are the keystones of a lifestyle changing that is essential to accomplish?
Changing your attitude towards things is the most important. Despite all of this, I made a program, called KatusAktív which has eight points, I list all of them but I left out the last two of the list from my program. Exercise, eating, sleeping (that is very important to sleep and regenerate), then there are the questions of health (screening tests). There is also one’s mindset, how we think, the events that happen with you and me how we see it. I can mention the effects of the outer environments including the air, the sunshine, and different sort of radiation which influence us. The sexuality (not part of my program) is a taboo topic but an important part of life, thus it controls almost everything, and it has to work properly in one’s life. And of course, the hygiene (not part of my program), especially the preventing which belongs to the health. This is the eight segments. It is vital to reach a lifestyle change rather than a lifestyle shift. It has to be built up and between the two there is a large difference. The latter is a slow progress, built up step by step and it can be received more easily. If I say that you did something till now and at this point you are not allowed to do that anymore and we go towards prohibitions, 95% of the people would not be able to follow it. If we want to do many things at the same time we may fail. I do not expect 100% from people, only 80%. For instance, if I go four times from five to training or four times I do not go. There is a large difference between them. I expect from nobody to go five times from five to training, we are not robots, we have weaker moments and we can make mistakes. This is my philosophy, and I also think that not only women with six pack is the most beautiful but there is something beautiful in every woman that has to be emphasised.
A bit specifically about trainings. Where is your boundary in connection with trainings?
It happens that I do not want to do anything and it is hard to make myself do it. Sometimes I cheat a little bit or I have to have a rest because it is important. However, at Easter I trained three and a half hours because at last I had time for it. I could also sleep. On the other day, I trained two hours to catch up with myself because I find it hard to do it after half past nine at night as I have only time then. It is not easy and sometimes I just do a broadly exercise to move my body which is better than doing nothing. I fight for my health as everybody. In summer I can train more, pay more attention to doing this, move to Lake Balaton, and work less. I am in better shape then. I think I will always do this, fight for it, not as those people who give it up or do not start it either. The way I feel myself is much better if I train consistently. If I skip two or three days I fall apart and I am not at a good level. Thus I will do it and I will not lose my love towards sport, it will be always present in my life. As I can do some sport, it has impact on everything, such as my relationships.
What do you think about the new system in schools that the children have five PE lessons a week?
Honestly, I am very glad. Every child has to move at least an hour a day. Everybody needs exercises. As for the circumstances, it cannot be an excuse; it is the job of a teacher to solve this problem. They have to make children love doing sport. Teachers have to do everything for making people love it. Everyone has to cook from the given ingredients. It is not a solution if a large stadium or proper circumstances are not given then leaving the whole situation. With those children whom we do not make exercise, we commit sin. Children have to do sports to grow up healthy. Which children can sit down and concentrate who are full of energy? Teachers, who do not understand it, do not understand the whole child. I do not know why they are teachers. I have this sort of opinion about it. They are not in such a situation where they have to compete with each other that is why they do what they want for twenty years with children. I really would like to create a situation where they have to compete, being under control to make their work properly. The level would be higher.
I read on your website that you were studying to become a teacher. Why do not you work as a school teacher?
I have a pedagogical diploma. I thought in a university for years but I think as a male and breadwinner, I could only do this if I have another job besides teaching. If I was a teacher and had another job I would not have any time for my own children. Truly, I really like working with children as I visit schools and give trainings for several people but that is why I am not a school teacher. I did not like correcting tests and the administrative issues but when I was among children and felt that they did not want to go out for the break, instead they wanted to listen to my presentation; it was a great feeling. When you feel that you can awake their attention and give such a knowledge that counts as a useful one; that is the importance of being a teacher.
What is the difference between giving training for a famous person or an ordinary one?
I prefer giving training for ordinary people to giving for a famous people who only do it for a post or a media presence. It is not a large experience for me; I have to be more adaptable with them than with a person who really wants my help. These people can do more things and mobilize more energy for a smile or hug. It is easier with those people who really want to do it and it is a greater happiness for me, thus I work with a few celebrities nowadays. If somebody needs my help, I will help but I am totally fine with civilians.
More and more people want to become a personal trainer. How could you manage to maintain the competitiveness?
You know, every profession is like this, the oversupply is large in every career. Thus, you have to mark out. If I look at that what does a successful aerobics trainer like, their common characteristic is not that they are very good at their profession. The only point is that they have a skill which motivates people who can join them. Thus, a person who has a wide knowledge but has not good communication skills and sense for marketing cannot reach too much success. Many factors are given in connection with choosing a trainer or a person that you can follow. Unfortunately, people do not follow a trainer according to their knowledge but other factors, for instance a style or motivation. They choose a person and they want to look like him or her, who is cool or only do that from snobbism. Thus, not the knowledge counts that always hurts me. The essence of my success is that I have my heart in my job and I think people feel it. I am not materialistic, knowledge is the first, then comes the money or later in the list. I am available, friendly, humorous, and a loose guy. Many people think that I am inflexible but later on when they know me it turns out that I am a social person who can lead a community and have a good didactic and tutorial ability. The name is important for me, as well as the appearance. Maybe this is one of the keys of my achievements; and so much work in the background which is not visible outwardly, so people think that everything is easy and comes naturally. The fact that they do not see is that I worked till 1 a.m. last night. It happens often that I arrive home at half past ten at night, then open my e-mails, and go to sleep at midnight or later. I also work at weekends which is normal for me; not an ordinary life what I live. These are the keys to success: lots of work, love towards job, love towards people.
What is your favourite memory in connection with your job?
I have thousands of beautiful memories; it is hard to pick one out of them. Maybe I can mention a recent one just not coming back so far in the past. As for my trainer career, I would emphasis this spring training program, the group which came together is amazing. These people are family now. We organize programs together; this weekend we will go to a running competition and later on we will ride a bicycle together. It is not just about trainings, it is about those people who come and I am not the only source of the effects affecting them but the unit of the community surrounding them. I am capable of lots of things but it is different when someone who is 130 kilograms has an impact on another one who is in the same weight. The atmosphere is so great. Ten centimetres lose and people, who were on the floor, now live the happiest terms of their lives. I am the conductor who organizes the whole group, creates opportunities and shows where to go. This group later on will be able to work on their own or do it together and it is fantastic to watch. This is the most recent for me that I really enjoy, thus I spend a lot of time with them. We do not leave anybody, I would love to help everybody and it is a fantastic feeling.