As a star player for the Carlton Football Club for 16 years, Anthony Koutoufides solidified his place in AFL history as one of the best players of all time. Since his first game in 1992, right through to his retirement from the game in 2007, he played in almost every position and contributed greatly to Carlton’s success with his strong mark, powerful kick and fighting fitness.
During his AFL career, Anthony learned a lot about fitness and nutrition, but the real lessons came after his retirement when for the first time, he began to struggle with his health and went looking for answers. Now, he’s dedicated to helping others achieve great health and fitness as a health coach for his innovative business, Kouta Fit Club.
We chat to Kouta about his secrets to eating well, keeping fit, and finding work-life balance.
How did the concept for Kouta Fit Club come about?
I struggled with my health around four years ago. I spent about a year trying to find out what it was – I was sleeping eleven hours a night and literally could get out of bed. I was seeing doctors, getting blood tests and eliminating foods. Then I got onto a product called Herbalife, which changed my life within six days of being on the program – and now I’ve never felt better.
From there, I felt the need to get myself out there and try to help as many people as I possibly can, and now I’m doing that. At Kouta Fit Club we train people and educate them about nutrition. We’ve got a lot of people from all different levels of health and fitness coming in, having fun and getting the most amazing results, from weight loss to increasing of energy to help with all these things people are suffering from, like irritable bowel syndrome.
What makes it different to other fitness clubs?
We’re all about helping the normal person who is struggling with their health and may not have been into sport in the past. We have a lot of health coaches there so we can help people achieve their health goals. It’s not just about personal training, where you come in and train for an hour and then we say, ‘See you later.’ Our coaches are actually there to help people and guide them. We’re a community, like one big happy family – we’re all there to help each other.
What are the key lessons you’ve learned about health?
80 per cent of it is about providing the body with the right nutrition. Nutrition helps the body heal everything. A lot of people aren’t educated when it comes to nutrition, so we make it very simple for the everyday person. For my entire life I’ve been in the fitness game, so it’s been my life and my love for a long time.
Looking back on your AFL career, what are some of your favourite memories?
My first AFL game was an incredible experience for me to finally make it into the senior team. The greatest day of my life was in 1995 when we won the premiership, and got through the whole season with only losing two games. I got to play with some of the greats.
You must have some great friendships from that time…
Yeah, 100 per cent. No one better than Ang Christou really. We were like brothers when we played, we came from similar backgrounds and we just hit it off as real good mates. He’s been the stand out, but also many of the players I’ve played with throughout my 16 years in the game.
How do you achieve a balance between work life, family life and taking care of your health?
The way I see it, you only get once chance at life and you can’t turn back the clock, so you’ve got to pick a vision, have a few goals and go for it. That balance of everything – spending time with the family, doing your work and looking after your health – is all important. Everyone’s number one value in my opinion should be your own health. I experienced that clearly when I lost my father 16 years ago – I could see with him as soon as he was ill, how important the value of being healthy is.
Do you think being a father has influenced your ideas about health?
I think it’s important for my kids to see me still at the age of 41 still doing things I was able to do when I was younger, and not using my age as an excuse. I don’t believe that you have to put on weight as you get older. I’m probably in better shape now than I was when I was younger and playing footy.
What do you do to relax?
I love hanging out with my family and friends. But the Kouta Fit Club is a relaxing thing for me too. I love the community we’re building there. By being there I feel like I’m at home. I look at people’s faces and the joy that comes out of them gives me a lot of excitement inside myself.
What are some everyday steps people can take towards better health?
Make time for yourself to be active, even if it’s only five or ten minutes. I know there are days when you just can’t be bothered – so just do an activity that’s not too hard. There will be other days when you feel really good and you can train hard. Go by the way your body feels and don’t find an excuse not to exercise; just do a little bit and then it’s done.