Lina: Hi Jiyan. I am so excited to do this interview with you! I feel it’s important with the new year around the corner to chat with someone who is in the fitness world. I would love to get to know you, so tell us about you! Who is Jiyan? Where are you from and how did you get your start in the fitness industry?
Jiyan: My name is Jiyan Hasan. I was born in Duhok, Iraq to two amazing and courageous individuals along with six siblings. From the age of 2 to 6 my family and I escaped the war on feet for miles and lived in a refugee camp in Istanbul, Turkey along with 800 other refugee families who were forced to leave their comfort and all behind.
I was raised in Nashville, TN but I now reside in Atlanta, GA. I moved to Atlanta September 2013 to pursue my dream and passion in fitness and health. This is where Pretty Fit Girls Club, LLC was born, now known as Pretty Fit Academy.
My passion in health and fitness grew while I was on my own weight loss journey. When I started at 16 years old I weighed 195 pounds. I realized that losing weight took a lot more mental and emotional strength than physical strength. After years of struggling with weight loss, dieting and failing, and bulimia, something had to change. With no knowledge of weight loss, I took drastic measures in the hopes of losing weight and increasing my confidence. I turned to exercise as a stress reliever and began a new journey after becoming fed up with being overweight.
I started to find my own internal strength in the gym and that’s when I fell in love. I now say that, “Fitness saved my life!” Over time, I lost 60 pounds and discovered a new life for myself. I started sharing my journey on Instagram like it was my daily journal/blog and realized I was inspiring thousands of women and some men around the world.
Lina: Wow! That is an amazing story and I am so happy that you and your family are doing well. Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and what it stands for?
Jiyan: I now have an Online Coaching platform called Pretty Fit Academy where I help women create a confident relationship with themselves by overcoming unhealthy habits, self-doubt and insecurity while using fitness as a tool. We use exercise to transform their mindset and body all in one stop.
Lina: I love that! I feel it’s important to be aware of our own unhealthy habits in order to develop better habits. I am interested in knowing how you reached this level of success. Was there ever a time you wanted to quit and how did you overcome that? What motivates and inspires you to keep moving forward?
Jiyan: I can’t remember an exact moment in my journey that I wanted to quit, but I definitely had moments where it got challenging and I had thoughts of quitting. I had come too far and I quickly became obsessed with working out and going to the gym as an escape. I used fitness as a tool to help me fight the battles that I was fighting internally. So that was my only way of escape and the only place I found control. I stopped measuring my progress on how I looked and focused on how I felt more importantly.
Lina: It’ so interesting that you say that because we live in a world where people have become so conscious about their appearance. I’m curious, what is a common misconception about personal trainers and what advice would you give to anyone trying to start off in the fitness industry?
Jiyan: A common misconception about personal trainers is that we were fit our whole lives and working out as well as eating healthy comes easy for us, but that’s not true. We are human, and there’s women like myself that still like to snack and eat good food, so we struggle sometimes too. The only difference is that we have built discipline throughout the years and have found balance. The best advice I can give anyone starting off in the fitness industry is to be yourself and do not try to be like anyone else in the industry. Because your story is unique. Everyone relates to one another differently. You may have an entirely different audience that may relate to you and your style of coaching more than the next trainer. So stay in your own lane.
Lina: Well said. So, I feel like we have a lot in common. We both help women look and feel their absolute best. What is your most inspirational client transformation story?
Jiyan: Honestly, I can’t say that I have a favorite inspirational client transformation story because they are all unique to me. For me, it’s always been more than transforming my clients aesthetically. My main goal and purpose working with these women has and will always be to make sure that I have made an impact in their lives from the inside out. So there’s many stories that I can share where these women have gone from being depressed and living life with no purpose, to now accomplishing goals beyond what they had originally set for themselves in the beginning. Many of them come in with a goal to change their bodies and they start to conquer daily challenges at home and in their workplace.
Lina: So the holiday season is amongst us and I for one get so tempted at holiday parties to eat and drink outside of my “diet”. What are some tips for people to stay consistent with their fitness/health goals during the holiday season? Are there any semi-healthy drinks/desserts that you might enjoy and can recommend?
Jiyan: Some tips for people to stay consistent with their fitness and health goals during the holiday season is to just be conscious and intentional when you visit family and friends. You know that there is going to be food and drinks. I say live life intentionally and eat whatever you want in moderation. Only you know your habits and what you can and cannot control when it comes to food. My favorite semi-healthy drink, which I also view as dessert, is eggnog. You can make that with almond milk instead of whole milk, and instead of regular sugar I use maple syrup, then sprinkle it with cinnamon for more taste.
Lina: Those all sound delicious! Well thank you for taking the time to chat with me. What else can we expect from Jiyan in the next few years? Do you have any plans for you and your brand that you can share with us?
Jiyan: What you can expect for me in the future is starting a career in life coaching and motivational speaking. I do that already in my business, but I would like to expand that and be known for that more than fitness. I’m adding onto Pretty Fit Academy by bringing on a Psychotherapist, Yoga Instructor, and a couple of other elements to bring in a more holistic approach to changing lives.