Chico Time: Is the X Factor really improving inclusivity in the fitness world? – by Mark Laws
Simon Cowell is a difficult man to impress. Back in 2005 when a goat-herding, former stripper of Moroccan descent stood before him, the music mogul walked out as a sign of his disapproval that the comedy act had been voted through to the second round of the X Factor competition.
A clear lack of support from the most powerful man in the music industry was not enough to stop Yousseph Slimani from thinking big. Too many people take no for an answer and give up on their passion, but not this guy. He ignored the fact that he was being mocked by the media for his lack of singing prowess in a singing competition, and he turned it into his greatest asset.
Inclusivity is key within any industry and every single person, no matter what their ability level, has to feel like they can at least give something a try. Even if they are not brilliant in someone else’s eyes, that is irrelevant if they are performing with a smile on their face.
Needless to say, our Moroccan friend broke the mould when it comes to inclusivity in the mainstream music industry, and now he is doing the same within the fitness industry.
Firstly he jumped into a swimming pool with a live microphone impressing Sharon Osbourne enough to make it onto the live X Factor shows, then he made history as the first contestant on a Simon Cowell TV show to sing an original song, soon after Cowell was forced to refer to him as a ‘born entertainer’, and finally he knocked Madonna off the Number 1 spot with his song, ‘Chico Time’.
Not bad for someone who was seen as a comedy act that had no place on the TV show.
If Chico had listened to the naysayers, then none of that would have happened. He would have disappeared back to his previous life as quickly as his clothes used to come off in seedy nightclubs.
Fifteen years on and he is bringing the same passion, energy and quest for inclusivity into the fitness world, combining all of his favourite things – singing, dancing and making people smile.
I was pleased to have been asked to present at Chico’s event at a holiday park near Weston-Super-Mare recently and I must admit that I was a tad apprehensive. I don’t sing. I don’t dance. Rarely do I make people smile. I felt like I was going to be out of my comfort zone but how could I say ‘no’ to one of the nicest, friendliest and interesting men I have ever met?
I arrived to see hundreds of people taking part in a group class led by Chico’s team. Chico himself, with his trademark slanted trilby, was weaving in and out of the crowd, singing, dancing with people, and making them all smile.
People from different ethnicities and backgrounds, people of all different shapes and sizes, and people with a wide range of abilities. All grinning from ear to ear, even if they had two left feet and didn’t get one lyric correct as they sang along in a tone-deaf fashion to the accompanying cheesy pop.
I used to worry that other people were watching and mocking me when I was learning to swing a golf club but my Dad gave me two great pieces of advice – “Wherever and whenever you play golf there will ALWAYS be someone on the course who has been playing longer than you who is not as good as you, and everyone is worrying about their own game too much to care about yours”.
Here lies the beauty of the inclusivity that Chico is bringing to the group exercise world.
Get them singing. Get them dancing. And get them smiling so much that they couldn’t care less whether they are any good or not because they are having so much fun.
Chico time is certainly no joke and long may it continue.
Get ready for Chico’s Block Fit Party Time! Head to 48 Hour Party to book your tickets. The inclusive package of 2 nights with priority accommodation and wristband is £89, but using the code BESTFIT you can get it at £49pp. The event will be covered by BESTFIT TV and will be broadcast during Series 3 on Sky, Virgin and Freeview.