WORKout Ethic

You know you’ve made it as a physical trainer when you find yourself featured in the pages of the guys’ fitness bible, Men’s Health. George Bamfo Jr. joined those ranks two years ago for his work with rapper and actor Ludacris. The magazine spotlighted Ludacris’ hardcore workouts under the guidance of the Ghana-born trainer dubbed “the man with abs of steel.” Those chiseled features are often on display in the routines a usually shirtless Bamfo shares with his 1.7 million Instagram followers (who include comedian and actor Kevin Hart).

In addition to helping Ludacris prep for his recurring role as Tej Parker in the Fast & Furious action series, Bamfo offers fitness and nutritional coaching through Heuristic Lifestyle, the business he launched with his cousin, Kwadwo Jeshurun Bedihene.

Fitness has always been a part of Bamfo’s life. Discovering an aptitude for sports at an early age, he decided around seventh grade that he wanted to excel, so he started training— situps and pushups. “That’s kind of where the passion started,” he says. Playing football in high school, he earned a scholarship to the University of Houston.

Securing a job in sales on graduating, Bamfo realized that wasn’t where his heart lay and decided to take a risk and pursue fitness full-time. The jump was catalyzed by a chance meeting with Ludacris when Bamfo was working out in a hotel gym while visiting Miami.

The star liked what he saw in Bamfo’s workout ethic, and one thing led to another. “He asked me to become his personal trainer, so that’s kind of how I pivoted.” Bamfo has high praise for his client’s commitment.
“He works hard,” he says. “I see why he’s so successful, because he is very hardworking, he’s disciplined, he shows up on time. I’ve been around other celebrities, but with him, he’s just dedicated to his craft… so credit to him. Together, we try to get him in the best shape possible so he could look good on screen.”

Working with Ludacris—and the doors that connection has opened—has been “a dream come true for me,” Bamfo says. But it has required tenacity and creativity on both their parts.

“What’s tough about it is he just has such a busy schedule, and sometimes he has to travel and do shows and Fast & Furious promo and all of that stuff,” Bamfo explains. “So, sometimes we’re consistent for a month or two, and then he has to be gone for three weeks, which kind of messes with our consistency.”

For me, the most important part [of fitness] is the emotional part and what it does for you mentally.

Bamfo practices what he preaches—and then some. He’s up at 4:15 a.m. to be at Madhouse Gym near where he lives in the Atlanta area and working out with a group of bodybuilders at 5 o’clock. “You train heavy,” he says. It’s an hour of heavy exercises, starting with two or three warmup sets and then going into the hardcore sets, which can be 85% of maximum capacity. “Then you go in for as many reps as possible” (for him, usually 25 to 30).

Bamfo’s clients have it a little easier. He creates a personal program based on their goals—are they looking to shed pounds or tone up or trim down? “If it’s to lose weight, we do high-intensity-style training and make sure the nutrition and everything is on point, and then we move from there.”

It’s essential not just to keep in mind what clients would like to achieve but what’s realistic, given that people have different body types. “I like to tell them, ‘Just focus on your own journey,’” he says. “If you are really trying to measure yourself up to somebody else, you may miss the point. We all have our individual journeys; we have different body types, so what might take me three weeks to get might take you six months.”

The most important factor is consistency, he says, keeping at it. “Once a week is definitely not enough. Obviously, you need days off, but [I recommend] training a minimum four to five times a week. Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, an hour and a half, depending on what sort of level you are at.”

Bamfo has some words of challenge and encouragement for those who find it hard to keep going. “If you’ve already tried to take a step to become better, kudos to you, man. You are on the right path,” he says. But decide that fitness isn’t something you will only pursue for a few weeks. “Make it a lifestyle. Understand what fitness could do for you, understand the benefits physically, mentally, emotionally, and then just have a plan. Be consistent… if you are in it for the long haul, that’s when you are really going to see the benefits.”

Everything has to be at another level if you want to separate yourself and get the attention that you want.

Standing out For Bamfo, while looking and feeling good is important, physical fitness is only part of the equation. “You should definitely take the 360-approach when it comes to fitness,” he advises. “Obviously, we know what fitness can do for you physically, coupled with the right nutrition. But for me, the most important part is the emotional part and what it does for you mentally.”

It can help with depression and anxiety, for example. “There are just so many different things that you could get out of fitness that… most people don’t talk about, but to me, that’s the most beneficial part, what it does for you mentally and emotionally.”

Bamfo has taken his health message back to his homeland. Last year, he and Bedihene traveled to Ghana to visit family and host a special workout event. “It was on my heart to bring [the boot camp I run in the States] back home and to bring awareness and to hopefully get my people to be more conscious about fitness,” he says in a recent short YouTube documentary about their trip.

In a crowded fitness field, it can be difficult to stand out, business-wise. “With the social media world and everybody having access to it, you have to be very creative in the way that you market because everybody’s in it,” says Bamfo.

“So, how do you separate yourself? The creativity has to step up… Everything has to be at another level if you want to separate yourself and get the attention that you want.”Bamfo’s response has been to broaden out a little while retaining the solid core of his training. “I’m speaking more, not just doing intense exercises, and just hoping to inspire people,” he says.

“So now not only are you getting the exercises that you could replicate, now I’m giving you a message, something motivating, something that’s going to help you push through and get to the next level.”

I’ll start with my football coaches, who sowed a seed, helping me get a scholarship to be able to go to college and have the opportunity to get a degree. That’s where everything started. Next would be my cousin and also my business partner [Kwadwo Jeshurun Bedihene], who helped me make the transition to becoming my own brand, my own business, a possibility. He’s the one that pushed me toward the whole content-creating and building your own brand idea. And the third would be Ludacris. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to transition from the corporate world to becoming a full time personal trainer.