Back in 2010, about a decade after he first began to train intensely and seriously, Simeon Panda decided that he wanted to share his insights and experiences with the masses. The now-34-year-old wrote a blog post in which he dispelled myths about fitness and shared it on Twitter, not expecting it to garner much (if any) attention or reactions. Much to his disbelief, users actively engaged with the content, which led to more blog posts and tweets. Realizing that he had a wealth of additional information to disperse, and understanding that he had an audience that craved his advice and suggestions, the Englishman began to publish e-books. With his newfound success, he quit his 9-to-5 job and went all in as a bona fide fitness influencer.
The Man: A Fitness Media Mogul
Fast forward another 10 years, and Panda is the unquestioned king of his own digital fitness empire. With 6.6 million followers on Instagram, 5.6 million fans on Facebook, and another 2 million subscribers on YouTube, Panda has used his tremendous platforms to motivate, inspire, and educate millions of people who are looking to better themselves. In addition to his robust following — Forbes named him one of the top 10 fitness influencers on social media — he also owns Just Lift, a sportswear brand.
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The latest guest on Don't Break With C.T. Fletcher, airing exclusively on Spartan's YouTube channel, Panda was challenged by C.T. and his son, co-host Samson Fletcher, to the Compton Circle. (Compton, it's worth noting, is C.T.'s hometown.)
The Workout: Compton Circle — Curls
The Compton Circle is as follows: Get two partners and stand in a circle. Perform 10 reps of an agreed-upon weight — in this workout, the Fletchers and Panda are doing 80 pounds — and, when finished, simply pass the bar to your partner. Repeat, without stopping, until someone breaks. The last man standing wins.
Unlike in episodes 1 and 2, C.T. and Samson did the challenge alongside their guest — they had no choice this time around — and went set for set, round for round.
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After 11 rounds, C.T. bailed and let the "youngsters" continue. Seventeen rounds and 170 reps later, Panda and Samson were still standing.
The Conversation: Eating Ice Cream, Training on Vacation, and Passion vs. Obsession
After the workout concluded, Panda sat down with the Fletchers for a candid conversation about what keeps him motivated, how he handles the inevitable haters, his genuine love for training, and the guilty pleasures that he allows himself to indulge in. As for why he got into training in the first place, his reasoning differed from that of C.T., who admitted that he began working out hard to look good for the ladies. (Panda maintains that he never had any issues in that department.)
"I’ve always been more about enjoying the lifting than necessarily the physique," he says. "The physique came after ... Obsession, normally, is not a good thing. It's more passion. I'm methodical with it. It's not just a mindless obsession. There's a method to what I'm doing."
That commitment and "passion" carries over into Panda's holiday and vacation schedules. Regardless of where he is and what the circumstances are, he makes time for his training — no questions asked, no excuses accepted.
"A holiday is about having a good time," he says. "I will have a good time as long as I can train."