Urban Athlete's Michael Tsigolis shares his tips on keeping fit

Michael Tsigolis
Michael Tsigolis
Michael Tsigolis kettle bells


Greek-Australian Michael Tsigolis is his own best advertisement. Fit, strong and defined, the founder of Urban Athlete has always been interested in fitness and is a former footballer and keen martial artist. Having over 10 years experience working in the fitness industry he knows exactly what it takes to get results and loves motivating his clients to understand their purpose and achieve their goals.

GCT had a chat to Michael about keeping fit, tips to avoid weight gain ahead of the holiday season, the increased role of technology in fitness and the importance of getting children to put down their devices and get active.

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Has fitness interested you from a young age?

Yes definitely, I’ve never really stopped training, playing football from 9 years old through to being a semi-pro football player in my 20s, weight training since I was 17 years old, martial arts like Kickboxing, Kung Fu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu throughout. It made sense to step into the fitness industry.

Tell us about Urban Athlete?

By 2005 I was tired of working in a job that fulfilled me only in the way of being paid every week. I wanted to pursue something that I was more passionate about and start serving a purpose.

In 2007 after two years of study, I stepped into the fitness industry full time and have enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a real blessing to be able to help people feel better about themselves and their lives and being that positive voice and influence for them.

What is the biggest misconception about keeping fit?

That you need to spend hours upon hours in the gym.

You can begin a training regime today, simply by walking around your neighbourhood.

Training and fitness is a lifestyle choice, not a quick fix, so choose something that will fit into your lifestyle that you enjoy and that you can sustain.

What are the current trends in fitness?

Wearable technology is massive at the moment. What I’m seeing more and more of is people enjoying being able to monitor and track their progress. Products like Garmin, FitBit and Apple Watch are great tools for training.

Social media is also a massive driver at the moment and a great resource for people who are time poor because it provides great accessibility for all aspects of training. It’s also created, to some extent, sub-cultures where people can specifically follow trainers that they resonate with, and the type of training they may be interested in, for example, weight training, CrossFit, yoga, pilates, resistance band training etc.

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What does your day on a plate look like?

I have a realistic approach and relationship with food. I definitely try to eat lean and clean and have become more conscious of gut health.

Recently I have integrated into my diet food rich in probiotics, like good yoghurts, Kefir, filmjolk, and also apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut.

My diet mainly consists of high protein, good fats and enough carbs throughout the day, so that I can enjoy a good home cooked Greek meal in the evenings.

How do you keep fit?

I’ve always been a fan of weight training, and depending on my own schedule I can train between 3-5 days a week. I also still enjoy playing football more for fun these days amongst friends.

What are some tips you can give for people wanting to lose a bit of weight in the lead up to the holiday season?

You have to be realistic and do the basics well. Food is meant to be enjoyed and in particular during the festive season.

1. Like my Yiayia has always said, everything in moderation.

2. Watching your portion sizes would be the main tip. Always stay in a calorie deficit and in doing this you can still enjoy your food by planning your day. If you know you have a massive family feast on, eat leaner before or after it so that you haven’t exceeded your daily calorie intake.

3. Cut out all refined sugars.

4. Learn to swap soft drinks with water, Stevia for sugar, vodka soda instead of wine, dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, a macchiato or short black instead of a latte or flat white

5. And above all, get moving!

What advice can you give to people who say they can't find the time to work out?

Simple, it’s a matter of value. If it’s important for you-you'll get it done all the time.

There is no such thing as ‘I don’t have time to train,’ rather it’s ‘I’m going to make time for it.’

What do you think achieves the greatest results?

After 11 years in the industry, my observation has been that the best success stories have come from consistency, dedication and no fads or trends.

What are some tips you can give parents who are struggling to get their kids off social media and into physical activity?

This problem is far too common, I suppose firstly going back to basics and asking the question ‘who is in charge here?’

The reality is that social media is a massive part of the world they have been born into. Setting healthy boundaries though is imperative. There are some great apps that allow parents to control the content on their child’s device and the time they can be on it. One, in particular, is OurPact.

Set time aside for your children to be more physically active the same way time is set aside for homework, dinner social media, and TV.

They’ll thank you for it one day.

Incorporating fitness into family time is also a great idea.

What advice do you give your clients to keep them motivated?

This is possibly my favourite aspect of my work.

I love to help people have clarity, purpose, and direction. This often supersedes training and fitness. Outside of counting repetitions and correcting form and technique, I like to touch on the bigger picture, asking them:

-What is your purpose?

-What is your life goal?

-What do you want to be remembered for?

-What legacy do you want to leave behind?

These sort of questions that I ask my clients reflect my own philosophy on health and well being, that fitness and body image are just an extension of what is truly going on within.

Gina Mamouzelos

Gina Mamouzelos is a second generation Greek Australian who grew up immersed in her Greek heritage, including the language, traditions, culture and listening to her grandparent’ mesmerising tales about life in Greece. Passionate about ensuring the Greek language is not forgotten among the younger generations, in 2002 she became a panel member on the SBS Greek radio show ‘Let’s Talk Openly.' She graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Sydney and has put her lifelong passion for writing to use working in social media, public relations and advertising. Gina now joins GCT's team as a writer.