At 3’ 5”, 11-year-old Goku from Kennington, was the shortest kid in school. In the face of ridicule, he used sport and Calisthenics to channel his anger. Now 18, the FTA Nike student and international competitor aspires to become a Personal Trainer and is adored by over 3,000 fans…
Fitness is freedom
“When I was young, I was really, really short. I was bullied throughout my whole primary school years because of my height. When I reached Year 7, I was the shortest person in the whole school. I was 3’ 5”, but everyone else was 5’ 3”. I felt like I was in a group of really tall people and I didn’t feel like myself.
I was bullied so much, I stayed quiet - I didn’t want to interact with other people. I always felt they were judging me. When you’re around people who take the mick, it doesn’t help you mentally - it makes you beat yourself up. I used to think, ‘Why did I have to be so short? Why me?’ Although I was picked on in the classroom, PE was my escape. I developed a passion for rugby, karate and gymnastics.
When we played ‘bulldog’ outside, I ran away from everyone. It was my way of letting out my anger. I had two hours of freedom every week to be myself and release my emotions. It was my break from this world.
When I got to secondary school, I didn’t want to be bullied again - that was the only thing on my mind. From the age of 12, I started doing sport where I could build muscle. I wanted to make myself less of a target. Although I was short, I could at least become muscular.
My Spanish Teacher introduced me to Calisthenics, which is similar to gymnastics. You basically train with your own body weight using pull ups, dips and push ups, etc, rather than using external weights. I was afraid of using free weights in case they stunted my growth.
As my training continued, I managed to avoid being bullied in secondary school and became more popular. Calisthenics saved me from being someone I didn’t want to be. My Spanish teacher gave me hope that no matter what, there is always something that I can do to change the situation I’m in. Now I’m 5’4” and known as the kid who can do ‘cool bar stuff.’
Finding the Fitness Training Academy - Powered by Nike
I’ve always had a passion for sport and science - I love everything about the human body. I didn’t do A Levels, I did a medical course at college instead - a Level 3 BTEC in Science. I thought I’d be an Orthopaedic Surgeon, but I didn’t enjoy the course. The harder I worked, the more I realised it just wasn’t for me.
My mum didn’t want me to leave the course, but I was thinking more about other people rather than what I wanted to do. When I did leave, my only income was from a part time cleaning job. I didn’t have any qualifications or a proper job. I told my mum that I really wanted to be a Personal Trainer and do something around sports, because that’s where I can really be myself. I needed to be a PT not just for money, but for me.
My mum looked for PT courses, but they were like £2,000, £3,000 and I simply didn’t have the money. Then she saw the Fitness Training Academy - powered by Nike online – a free two year PT course for 16 to 18 year olds. I was the first person to turn up for my interview! I couldn’t wait to start!
“My two passions have converged into one”
"The FTA course is just as good as I expected it to be. I enjoy everything about it. We recently studied anatomy – it’s like sports and science coming together. I love it! My two passions have converged into one. It’s amazing! Ula is a really good teacher. I can’t wait to get through all of the material."
"I’m even enjoying the free weights now! It’s a new opportunity. If I’m going to be short, so be it. Playing sports, learning sports and training people with sports is my passion, so there’s no point worrying about free weights. I’m happy with my height now regardless, but if I grow, I grow."
Be true to yourself
"When I started the course, I thought I would be back in a school environment where I would be anxious and everyone would start judging me, but it’s really not like that. The FTA is a very welcoming community and I’ve really grown as a person.
If sport is your passion and you’ve got the opportunity to do a free government funded course, powered by Nike, do it! You will enjoy it. If you’re sitting at home not doing anything, find some motivation, get up and do something. There’s more to life than Fortnite!”
Goku Nsudoh-Parish is a first year Fitness Training Academy student.
In Oct 2019, Goku won first place in the Calisthenics SK BARS Championships in Madrid.
Next Course – September 2022
We’re currently recruiting for our next YMCA Fitness Training Academy – Powered by Nike, which will run in London, Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster, Norwich and Ipswich.
If you’re aged 16 to 18 and want to kick-start your fitness career with a free two-year government-funded, Ofsted regulated course, you can find out more here.