By Tessa Clarke
With 17 years Martial Arts experience under her belt BODYCOMBAT® Trainer and Presenter Natasha (Tash) Ekmekjian has been appointed Les Mills Asia Pacific's new Head Program Coach for BODYCOMBAT®.
Tash always had a love for sports and staying active. As a kid, Tash was an avid basketballer, gymnast and participated in numerous athletic events, but it was the 1984 movie ‘The Karate Kid’ that ignited her interest in Martial Arts. At the age of 12 this young Grasshopper, started learning the art of Viet Quyen Dao Karate, a martial art which Tash would go on to master and become the first female to achieve a Black Belt at the Viet Quyen Dao Karate school. Martial Arts not only taught Tash the skills needed to protect herself, but also the strength to pick her battles and how to stay calm. “Learning Marital Arts taught me that having the skills isn’t about trying to hurt someone; it is about knowing how to stop someone from hurting you. It’s about having confidence that you could protect yourself and your loved ones” Tash shares.
Tash holds a Black belt in Tae Kwon Do, another Martial Art she is very accomplished in. Leading up to the Athens 2004 Olympics, Tash was busy training in order to try out for the Australian team. One day she paused and realised she wasn’t enjoying it like she use to; it had gotten too serious, so she made the decision to pull back. Tash explains “it’s important to love what you are doing.”
In 2005 Tash’s husband Michael started talking about returning to study in order to get into the radio industry. Tash saw his motivation and excitement grow and taking a leaf out of his book, decided to focus on what she loved. It was shortly after that she became a Group Fitness Instructor.
Tash attended her first LES MILLS™ class in the middle of studying her Certificate III in Fitness. Although, finding her first class a little challenging, she completed BODYPUMP® remembering her enjoyment of the class and the energy from the Instructor. For most people this would be the moment when you congratulated yourself for trying a new class, stretched out your muscles and headed home feeling proud of yourself. Not Tash, she went for it and took part in a BODYCOMBAT® class immediately following BODYPUMP®. I know, I thought the same; she is going to be sore tomorrow! But Tash said “It was exactly what I knew, and what my body knew how to do. Without the bumps and bruises!” Tash was hooked.
In mid 2005 Tash became a BODYPUMP® instructor and true to form immediately followed it up by becoming a BODYCOMBAT® instructor. We are glad she doesn’t do things in halves though as now Tash’s impressive resume includes; Trainer in SH’BAM and Certified Instructor in BODYPUMP®, BODYJAM®, CXWORX® and GRIT™.
As Tash steps up from BODYCOMBAT® Trainer to BODYCOMBAT® Head Program Coach I asked her what the highlights are of being a Trainer. Tash explains “The thing that gets me most -especially when I first started as a Trainer – is being able to instil the same passion for the program I have, in a fellow instructor. When someone contacts me especially to thank me, it overwhelms me. Group Fitness is a powerful thing. And being with others who feel the same way makes it all the more enjoyable.”
And finally I asked the question our Trainers and Presenter both love and fear, what is your favourite track? Tash did not disappoint and met me with a, “You’re killing me, I can’t choose one!” before launching into an enthusiastic explanation of her fav BODYCOMBAT® tracks. “Fire (track 4, release 47). It’s my fall back when I need to pick a track quickly. I know it so well. I also love Excalibur (track 7, release 47). It’s a Muay Thai track. I tend to gravitate towards the technical tracks, because of my fighting background. So usually the track 2s,4s and 6s are my favourites”
It’s with a passion for the program like Tash has and her years of experience that we know she will take BODYCOMBAT® in the right direction.
Tessa has recently moved into the Marketing Coordinator position at Les Mills Asia Pacific after falling in love with the LES MILLS World. Tessa continues to add LES MILLS™ programs to her favourites list, now including CXWORX®, BODYBALANCE®, BODYPUMP® AND BODYSTEP®.