There is nothing like an early morning workout on the beach in Carpinteria, but this was a little different. I found trainer Muhammed Mehai leading a handful of Fat Club (FC) devotees cradling, pounding and hoisting 40- to 50-pound sandbags across a deserted, pre-sunrise beach.

Fat Club isn’t anything new in Santa Barbara, but it’s just taking shape in Carpinteria, with only one eight-week session under its belt, Mehai is leading the way for those who are striving for something more than the routine gym workout.

“It is absolutely a big commitment to make,” said Mehai, who graduated from Carpinteria High School in 2012 and Westmont College in 2016. “I am asking people to make a drastic lifestyle change. Fat Club is not another gym or fitness program. It is a unique experience that leads people to take complete control of their health for the rest of their lives. There really isn’t anything fancy about what we do. Rather, we focus on the basics and make sure we do them really well. And this is why our participants experience the incredible change that has given this program its reputation.”

The eight-week sessions are one hour every day, Monday to Friday. Much of the workout involves the use of a weighty sandbag, and the effort put into each workout is in soft sand.

“We set that timeframe to achieve maximum results as well as strengthen a group of individuals to inspire one another and become committed to themselves and each other,” said Mehai, a beach lifeguard in Carpinteria and an Emergency Medical Technician. “Because the program is so focused on results, we wanted a window that was long enough to hit individual goals, but short enough to feel achievable.”

At the end of each workout Mehai hands out healthy meals to each participant prepared by FC’s personal chef.

Although Fat Club was born and bred in Santa Barbara and has been operating for years, it’s only just evolving in Carpinteria. Mehai is tweaking things daily to match the fitness levels and needs of participants. He wants that one hour to be a full immersion, a time for participants to focus on themselves before starting the grind of another busy day.

FC systematically designs the workouts daily to keep things fresh while also ensuring the necessary programming to achieve the results that participants want. As a kinesiology major, Mehai played soccer at Westmont College and was a senior captain as well as named to the All-GSAC team his junior and senior years. With both an athletic background and interest in sports medicine, he focused on being an athletic trainer at Westmont—leading athletes through rehab protocols, etc. Once he graduated, Mehai went to work as a physical therapy aid at Hayashida and Associates before moving over to Variant Training Lab. That experience honed his knowledge in human movement and a love for the outdoors, which eventually led him to Fat Club.

“I had been working for Fat Club in Santa Barbara for over a year and was able to see first-hand the immensely positive changes it had on everyone involved,” said Mehai. “Starting FC in Carp started over coffee during a casual conversation between the founder of FC (Andy Schmiess) and me. It was very straightforward, and the framework of FC encompassed everything that has driven me in my life so far, in that it was authentic, required hard work and was focused on building community. It was clear to me that I needed to bring FC to the town that I grew up in and train on the beach that had already given me so much.”

For more information on Fat Club, visit fcvitality.com.

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