The gym is where the heart is

The gym is a place of intense sweat and tears, but for Coach RJ Sabug, it’s his haven.

Russel Joseph M. Sabug’s life was all about ramps and glitter before discovering his true calling in a fitness gym. Since then, he has shown the potential to embody sophistication in brand representation.

His natural attributes led friends in the modelling industry to encourage him to try his hand at modelling. Known among friends as Rush, he capitalized on his strengths and participated in memorable projects like Fashion Week, Mossimo and Bench.

However, as a newcomer in the industry without established connections or resources, he faced a decline in morale. Known for critically examining his own motivations, he ended his modelling career early, feeling more growth potential outside the extravagant fashion shows.

“The moment I decided to do transition is when I realized that I don’t see myself in the long-term run and I’m further away in establishing my name. So, I decided to learn more about fitness since I always felt satisfied after a workout — like everything falls into the right places and my mind is at ease. I consider the gym my sacred ground, a sanctuary,” he said.

Having found his true passion, he embraced the stress-relieving and rejuvenating effects of the gym.

“I’m fascinated by the workout routines of the golden era’s icons like Arnold Schwarzenegger and the physique-building tips in Men’s Health Magazine, like how to build a body like Brad Pitt,” he shared.

Fitness runs in his family, as his brothers are personal trainers at Fitness First. Their support, along with his dedication to mastering his craft, has led to many achievements. He studied for his ACE Personal Trainer certification and completed a CPT program, furthering his knowledge with seminars on injury prevention and physique improvement.

Walk the talk

His nine years in the industry, including six as a trainer, have seen him work in both regular and high-end gyms, encountering notable personalities, such as Lovi Poe-Blencowe, Gino Quillamor, Nina Dizon, Yanee Alvarez and entrepreneurs like Angelo Madrid, president of PayMaya.

“Being able to establish and make them acknowledge your ‘brand’ is so important whether you are in a regular or high-end gym since at the end of the day, it’s the ‘walk it as they talk it’ and living that energy that you always want. And one more thing, being presentable is also a big plus!,” he said.

A firm believer in consistent improvement, he aims to elevate his knowledge and adaptability to help and inspire others.

“What makes my career enjoyable? The best I can think of is because I get to know a lot of people. I learn from them and they also learn from me. And what makes it ‘promising’ is because a lot of people nowadays are conscious about their health. They focus more on longevity, anti-aging and what have you… And fitness has a lot of things to offer in those aspects.”