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US expat revamping Istanbul´s health and fitness sector
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 01 May 2011 Sun 10:46 am

US expat revamping Istanbul´s health and fitness sector


Having met her Turkish wife Karen in the United States, Tony Hill moved his family to Turkey. Hill and wife aim to teach individuals to eat according to their body´s activities.

Having met her Turkish wife Karen in the United States, Tony Hill moved his family to Turkey. Hill and wife aim to teach individuals to eat according to their body´s activities.

With 14 years of experience in law enforcement as a weaponless self-defense instructor for the state of California, Tony Hill is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. Yet that´s not where his list of credentials ends. As a member of an adult contemporary pop group that has performed in Las Vegas and Turkey, an American TV personality, member of the Grammy´s Association in Los Angeles and a fitness consultant to the likes of Miss California, professional athletes and the cheerleading team for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Hill has a wealth of experience in a diverse number of fields. 

His latest mission, however, is bringing a culture of fitness to Turkey. With over 20 years of experience in the sector, Hill and his wife, Karen Hill, are now focusing on a series of outdoor events in Nişantaşı Park to be held in May, comprising of hip hop events and choreography workshops. Also in store for the coming months are summer boot camps, fitness work shops and special programs for children´s fitness and nutrition.

The husband and wife team established The Burn, a health and fitness center in Istanbul, in 2003. 

  A diet fit for your lifestyle  

With most people leading hectic lifestyles in the city, it seems like healthy eating and regular exercise often slip to the bottom of our priorities, yet Hill´s answer is to find a diet and exercise regime perfectly tailored to each individual´s lifestyle. When asked about his thoughts on the current state of health and nutrition in Turkey, Hill said Turks tended to place too much trust in what dieticians recommended.

People trust what dieticians say and in America dieticians work for doctors so they are associated more with the clinical and medical sphere. If you´re healthy and everything´s working you don´t need a dietician because the very word diet means a reduction in calories, which means a change in eating habits. What my wife does is holistic nutrition – instead of reducing your calories and changing your diet, we change your diet to fit your lifestyle and teach you how to eat and exercise according to your body´s activities,” said Hill, who co-founded the entertainment consultancy company The Composer Group in 1991 with hip hop artist Prodigal Sun.

Istanbul is now home to a host of new and upmarket health and gym clubs and Hill said that while the centers were often run by young trainers and former athletes, there was often a lack of soul in such complexes. 

“In Europe and Turkey, people have adopted a system that doesn´t belong to them. In other words, if you adopted a child, it would be yours legally, but really not yours, and that´s what they´ve done to fitness,” Hill said.

Stressing the importance of learning to listen to what your body needs, the Hills aim to teach individuals what to eat according to their body´s activities. 

Individuals should detox with natural holistic food and follow an eating plan that does not push them to the verge of insanity because they are so hungry, he said. 

Not just another American  

Discussing the importance of learning and adhering to the values crucial to maintaining one´s fitness, Hill said he had pride in the way he looked and added that he took and gave back encouragement to the people who came to him seeking help.

“I kind of get help from the people who come to me seeking help, so it´s a win-win situation on both parts. They say, ‘Tony I´m so glad you´re here,’ and I say, ‘Well I´m glad you´re here, too,’ and then we work together. I believe in serving people and with the projects that my wife and I do,” he said. “A percentage of the money raised will go to our favorite charities in Turkey. One of them is help for the elderly, the handicapped and the orphans. We had the honor of working with some orphans at the beginning and we felt the loneliness that they feel.”

Adamant at not turning into the cliché of a “profit-generating American,” Hill said his aim was not to make large of sums of money before returning to the United States, but to give something back to Turkey instead.

In addition, Hill emphasized that his family was always most important in his life. “My family is actually my priority, so when my family wants to spend time with me, everything stops, I don´t even think of it. I can always get work but I can´t always have another family. The time that I have to spend with my family is important, they are my strength.”

Preparing to embrace bigger projects

As well as showing people in Istanbul what it really takes to stay fit and healthy, the Hills are preparing to organize the World European health and fitness conference in 2012.

“Life fitness has been one of the leading equipment fitness organizations in Europe since 1985. They are one of our primary sponsors and with them we´re going to focus on changing this thing called health and fitness as we prepare for the world European health and fitness conference 2012 – this is our passion and we´re going to be bigger than the IDEA [World Fitness] Convention,” he said.

As well as organizing a fitness convention, the Hills are also working on putting together a curriculum for healthcare professionals in Turkey.

“This program that we´re putting together is something new which has never been done in Turkey before. It´s going to be a program that we´re going to give to all the universities. At the moment, there are a lot of athletes in Turkey with nowhere to go, the only place they go is the gym – they don´t understand the value of being an independent business owner. Our course will have four components: business and marketing, applied science, exercise and nutrition,” Hill said. 

Bridging the gap between America and Turkey 

A start in the Turkish sitcom “Akasya Taksi,” Hill has also gained some hands-on experience in acting in the Turkish television industry and has plans to make his own fitness program starring his co-actor in the show, Max Bendo. 

He also spoke of his plans to work with an American scriptwriter and producer to film the latter´s adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes novel in Istanbul. Stating that there was still a lot of room for improvement in the Turkish film and television industry, Hill spoke of bridging the gap between America and Turkey in the areas of entertainment, film and television and health and fitness.

“What I´m doing right now is facilitating deals as there are some investors here that are interested in breaking into the American film industry,” he said.

As well as standing in as the middle-man between Turkey and the U.S., Hill also spoke of organizing some shows and concerts for the “Shakiras” and “Estelles” of Turkey which he had discovered in his outdoor events in May 2010.

“I´m bringing the top choreographers to teach outside in the park, I´m going to have boot camp training, stretching, workshops and classes. It seems like the municipality is building up Nişantaşı – it´s like Beverly Hills or a Mini New York, this is going to be the first year that I have the opportunity to work with them. I´m going to do a hip hop festival and concerts, so it´s all going to be a lot of fun from May right through to August,” he said.

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