Pelumi Olanrewaju: The strength and conditioning visionary breeding a tougher calibre of world-class athletes

Pelumi Olanrewaju
Pelumi ‘Lumi’ Olanrewaju – CEO, Speed N’ Sweat

‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in times of war…’

The fanfare around sports focuses mostly on the player and the gameplay but, there is indeed an entire cast of heroes who work behind the scenes to make sure our favorite sportspeople are sticking to the script. Olanrewaju Pelumi is one of these heroes and he plays the role of a certified expert and coach in the multi-faceted area of strength and conditioning. He is also the founding director of Speed N’ Sweat– a private outfit dedicated (but not limited) to strength and conditioning, osteopathy, exercise specialization, consultation and biomechanics.

Just to be certain mine wasn’t a case of plain dumbo, I tapped my most sports savvy colleague to know if he had ever heard of this strength and conditioning term and when he cluelessly threw the question back, I felt some relief.
Specifically asking Pelumi to break the term down in regular sports fan language, he described it as a means of increasing and improving athletes’ speed, strength and power, and also to design regimes to strengthen the body parts that are prone to injury. This treatment is however not exclusive to only sports players as the process can range from complicated exercise and nutrition prescriptions, to the familiar routines that make up the general perception of fitness and wellness.

In accordance with global standards, becoming a strength and conditioning coach requires strict and specific training. Not only does Lumi meet this requirement, his military background and general backstory almost instantly qualify him for the job. Having experienced various sports including basketball and kickboxing on a professional scale, Pelumi’s upper hand stems from his deep understanding of his clients’ needs, both from the athlete’s and the coach’s point of view.

‘…There is actually a program we’re designing at the moment called Relentless. Some of the Super Eagles players have experienced it on a one to one basis. Just imagine if the whole squad participated, they would be utterly unstoppable!’

Speaking of backstories, the interest for bespoke fitness grew for the Speed N’ Sweat CEO when a friend of his struggled with a back problem. Witnessing the pain his friend had to go through first hand, and how he looked forward to seeing his osteopath for some relief contributed significantly to Pelumi securing a diploma in osteopathy and strength and conditioning himself. (Just in case, Wiki describes osteopathy as a type of alternative medicine that emphasizes manual readjustments and other physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones.)
In essence, he clearly knows and can tell the right routines and application measures that an athlete needs for better functionality, he knows what to do to strengthen the areas of their bodies that could easily get hurt during a game, he understands how what they ingest can affect how they perform, he can prescribe exercise combinations that can revert skeletal problems and he can even develop regimes for the pure sake of physical aesthetics and healthy living.

Speed N’ Sweat is currently based in the football capital of the world (London, UK) and it is no surprise that its clientele features very high profile athletes such as…

  • Dominic Samuel- (Blackburn Rovers, England)

  • Emmanuel Adebowale – (Dover Athletic, England)

  • Przemysław Płacheta -(Pogoń Siedlce, Poland)

  • Alex Teniola – (Aveley FC, England)

  • Chuba Akpom – (Arsenal FC, England)

  • Corey Wilkie -(UK sprinter)

  • Augustine Loof- (FC Eindhoven, Holland)

  • Mikael Antoine Currier- (FC Mullhouse, France)

…to mention a few.

Pelumi withheld some names and the details of their training from me due to confidentiality, but he recounted one of his memorable highlights on the job as being the feedback he got from a client who plays for a championship team. I was made to understand that when the player went back for his preseason, he performed better than all his teammates during the test practice. Results.

‘…When you speed you will sweat and when you sweat you will get results.’

In a matter of weeks, the focus of the entire world will shift to Russia for the 21st FIFA World Cup and the application of strength and conditioning on teams and individual players will play a pivotal role in determining who lifts the trophy. Curious to know if his magic could help the Super Eagles win, he confirmed that he had previously worked with some of them on a newly designed program which he calls “Relentless”. In Pelumi’s opinion, if everyone on the squad participates in the program, the team will be unstoppable.
Here’s hoping that this type of synergy will be adopted in the near future, seeing as the entirety of the sports industry here in Nigeria is still in its developmental stages. Thankfully, Pelumi is very positive about the possibilities of duplicating the excellence of his philosophy on the Nigerian homefront.

Learning that Speed N’ Sweat caters to an impressive array of female clients left me a tad ashamed because Lord knows that a bootleg copy of Jillian Michaels’ 30 -day-shred is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to fitness. However, what I truly appreciate about Pelumi’s craft goes deeper than the complex science of strength and conditioning which he has mastered so well. It is really in his investment in the various careers and lives he’s daily shaping, and how it transcends just raking in big bucks. It’s in the honest way which he guides, nurtures and cheers his trainees on (even with the little messages on Instagram…). It’s in his quest to continuously better himself academically and otherwise for the quest and betterment of others. It’s in the way he applies his faith to his work, all of these which give his venture such profound purpose.

The rest of my E-chat with Pelumi contains details of the unbelievable way he got the Speed N’ Sweat name, how the process of his job works, what alternative job he would rather be doing and much more. You can read them in his own words, below.


Vibe: Who is Olanrewaju Pelumi when he is not being the CEO of Speed N’ Sweat? 

Lumi: Lumi is a reserved guy, reads a lot of books. I’m actually reading a book called 11 Ring by Phil Jackson (The former Chicago Bulls and LA Lakers Coach). I Also spend time with the family and like to hang out once in a while.

What differentiates strength and conditioning from what fitness is generally perceived to be? Great question and one that certainly attracts a lot of attention. I guess in a nutshell S & C is the practical application of sport science.

What is the most vital role that strength and conditioning plays in the bigger picture of sports in general? – It’s changing the game and teaching us how to play it better from Muscle Hypertrophy(Growth), to Endurance Phase (Aerobics), Basic Strength Phase (Movement), Strength and Power phase (Explosive Ability).

What part of this job has given you cause to ever consider quitting? – None actually, rather you are constantly challenged to make sure you produce the desired result within agreed time frames.

How does the process work? Do you personally do all training or do you work with a special team? – I oversee all the training while working with a group of specialists ranging from Physio, Osteopathy, Biomechanics, Sport Massage.

What is the biggest risk in this business? – I wouldn’t call it a risk, rather a challenge. It is the need to bridge the gap between the development of basic underlying physical qualities and the sport specific tasks required to compete at the highest level.

How would you rate the awareness of strength and conditioning on a global scale? – The awareness is pretty encouraging on a global scale. I believe this will only get better through science and technology.

Any plans to popularize strength and conditioning in Nigeria? – That’s definitely the plan. I believe it will happen in due course.

Would you like to share the most challenging training routine you have conquered? – Training routines can’t actually be conquered but they can be improved on. In terms of challenge, I think the most challenging routine I have ever done or created, was with a Barclays premiership player during the 2017 off-season.

Apart from the obvious, any other special reasons why you chose to go with the brand name Speed N’ Sweat? – I get asked this question a lot. Actually when I was trying to get a name a friend of mine – Paul told me when you least expect the name one will come. I was pretty frustrated over lack of a name but he encouraged me not to force it. I started with the name Sweat but I knew something was missing. I actually got the word Speed, while in church. In 1 Kings 18:46, the only way Elijah was able to outrun the chariot of Ahab was through God’s Speed. That gave birth to Speed N’ Sweat. Basically when you Speed, you will Sweat and when you Sweat you will get results.

This area of interest looks like it involves a very high level of discipline. What has helped you keep up with this demand? – I come from a military background and also my dad was a farmer, so I understand the discipline of being a soldier, and the endurance that comes from being a farmer. The dedication I put into being an athlete whilst growing up has really helped me to understand that in order to be in demand you have to create demand. I’ve committed myself to constantly learning, improving and honing my craft.

If you weren’t playing in this career field, what would you be getting interviewed about right now? – That’s a tough one. I would say Maritime security & Underwater

If you were to work on the Nigerian team going for the World Cup, how would Speed N’ Sweat put them at an advantage? – Preparation is the key to gaining an advantage in any area of life. Practice they say makes perfect but my philosophy is that practice actually leads to improvement. You never attain perfection. You just keep striving to be better. Through this philosophy I believe a team like the Super Eagles could go really far and achieve whatever they set their minds to. There is actually a program we’re designing at the moment called Relentless. Some of the Super Eagles players have experienced it on a one to one basis. Just imagine if the whole squad participated, they would be utterly unstoppable!

What do you think of the new Nigerian Jersey and what are your wishes for the team at Russia 2018? –  I think the new jersey looks good. Interesting design. As for my wishes for the team, I wish them well and I would advise them by sharing the old adage that the more you sweat in times of peace, the less you bleed in time of war.

Connect with Lumi through his Speed N Sweat Platforms!

Instagram: SpeedNSweat

Facebook: SpeedNSweat

Snapchat: SpeedNSweat

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