‘Xtremely’ motivated

Personal trainer Perry Sugarman brought his high intensity to Israel.

Perry Sugarman (photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
Perry Sugarman
(photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
Keeping fit and healthy is as popular as ever, and every so often a new exercise idea reaches the sports clubs around Israel.
The newest workout is the high-intensity Xtreme, brought to Israel by new immigrant Perry Sugarman – who made aliya with his wife, Joanne, and three children, Talia, Noah and Zachary, this past July.
Xtreme, which Perry created, is based on the principles of H.I.I.T. (High Intensity Interval Training), involving short periods of maximum intensity followed by shorter, incomplete rest periods.
“During an Xtreme workout, clients are working to 95 percent of their maximum intensity for short periods, something like 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest, and these patterns are repeated with different exercises for varying lengths of time,” he explains.
“The exercises can be regressed or progressed by the instructors to make them easier or harder, so that everyone can take part in an Xtreme session.”
Sugarman prepared extensively for settling in Israel by coming over for several weeks at a time to study the fitness industry here.
“The workout I planned to introduce is performed to music tracks, with the exercise directions given on the tracks,” he says.
“Before I made aliya, I did market research here over several months to discover what language I should use on the background tapes,” says Sugarman. “I came to the conclusion that it was important to keep the workout in English, and that it should be in an American rather than an English accent; I felt the American voice was easier for Israelis to understand.”
He also spent a large amount of time planning the right music.
“The music is critical to what we do,” he says. “It has to be very motivational, with a strong beat, but it’s not meant to be music you remember or sing along to. The music follows a formula that our in-house composer uses to create all our own tracks.”
When Sugarman lived in England he ran an import/ export business, but sport and fitness were always an important part of his life.
“I started competing in marathons about 25 years ago,” he recalls. “At school I’d done gymnastics and trampolining, but got very serious about running after I left school at 16 and went into business.”
Although in the early days he was not a qualified trainer, people started to come to him for advice – and he found himself being consulted on things like run techniques, general training and all-around fitness.
“I began to feel I needed some professional qualification to become a personal trainer, so I took an intensive course at British Athletics [an official sports organization] on coaching, leading running groups and how to inspire people to run. I then went on to qualify as a personal trainer and specialist fitness coach.”
After gaining his qualification, he competed in triathlons and Ironman contests in England and around the world, even coming to Israel to participate in Israman in Eilat.
“Every year Israel holds an Israman contest, and I used to come over every January to compete,” he recounts.
“You get better with distance as you get older; 70% of long-distance running is mental fitness.”
Gradually, the running became more a part of his life than the business – and it was clear that when he eventually did settle in Israel, he would be doing something connected to the fitness industry.
Today, through his Intafit business, Sugarman trains other instructors how to use the Xtreme workout system; they take an intensive course to learn the H.I.I.T.
principles and qualify as Xtreme instructors.
“They don’t have to plan their sessions,” he explains. “I plan and write every workout, so they work as professional trainers, motivating their clients, checking technique and form, and regressing or progressing the exercises.”
Since arriving in Ra’anana, he and Joanne have joined a synagogue and the children have all settled into their schools; the couple chose the city for the Orthodox schools available there. Joanne, whose parents live in Zichron Ya’acov, works as a fund-raising consultant.
Sugarman decided to postpone ulpan in order to start his business right away, but has some background in the language.
“I’ve maintained my primary-school Hebrew,” he notes with a smile. He went to Yavneh Primary School in Wembley and later the Jewish Free School, and says he can get by.
To expand his horizons, he also approached the Wingate Institute’s Academic College and spoke to the principal, who loved the Xtreme system and wanted to introduce it into his syllabus. Today, it a continuing education course recognized by Wingate; anyone completing it will receive a certificate from the academic college – an achievement of which Sugarman is justifiably proud.
Living in Israel is the fulfillment of a life-long attachment to the country for Sugarman.
“Ever since I was a small child, I would come to visit Israel on a regular basis with my parents and was always very Zionist in my outlook,” he says.
“We lived in Radlett and led a very comfortable life in England, but always felt more at home when we came to Israel,” he says. “Joanne and I used to visit many times, to see my in-laws or just be on holiday here. Every time we left, we both felt we were going in the wrong direction.”