Message Received

Workouts help kids build self-esteem

By Jessica Laskey
June 2021

If Sami Kader feels down or overwhelmed, he takes his own advice: “Never give up—you got this.”

It’s a message Kader spreads to more than 50,000 young people each year through his motivational movement program, Sami’s Circuit. It’s also a message kids in more than 100 schools throughout the state receive remotely through his weekly video series, “Sami’s Circuit On Demand.”

“It’s a lifelong battle to love yourself,” says Kader, a Roseville native who uses his personal health journey as a foundation for his social-emotional learning program. “It took 10 years for me to work through to a place where I thought I could make a difference and share my story to help kids have self-esteem at a young age. Which means that any day when I’ve wanted to quit, I’ve thought of what I tell the kids and take my own advice.”

As a teenager, Kader struggled with weight and was constantly bullied. He was “at the end of the road” when a family friend convinced him to join a gym—not just for exercise, but mentoring.

Through hard work and the help of his friend, Kader lost 100 pounds. While he was “OK on the outside, the inside was still just as bad,” filled with negative thoughts, he recalls.

To win the internal battle, Kader began working at a Roseville gym. He found the negative voice diminished with each new accomplishment, whether tackling a tough workout or connecting with fitness clients who relied on his can-do attitude.

Kader’s wife noticed how her husband excelled at motivational speaking through movement. She signed him up as a volunteer at a local school, where he taught kids the power of positive thinking and accomplishment through physical activity. The program was so popular the principal offered to pay him. Sami’s Circuit was born.

Over the next eight years, Kader brought his attitude, fitness experience and unique training circuit to thousands of kids from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Parents received free family workouts at a Roseville gym.

The pandemic brought everything to a stop. With school closures and bans on in-person gatherings, Kader could no longer deliver his programming. “I lost 100 contracts in one day in February,” he says.

But Kader took his own advice. He didn’t give up. Instead, he turned to YouTube and created a virtual version of Sami’s Circuit that attracted 12,000 viewers its first day.

Clearly onto something, Kader developed a virtual version of Sami’s Circuit called “On Demand,” with weekly videos produced in his home studio (formerly his mom’s living room). The videos are sent to teachers, who share them with students.

Kader hosts monthly live virtual family events to keep parents and other family members involved in their kids’ education. And because he’s not on the road 15 hours a day anymore, Kader spends more time with his growing family (he and his wife welcomed their fourth child in January). He’s also marketing his illustrated children’s book, “Sami vs. The Negative Voice,” published in 2016.

“I don’t want anything to stop this content from getting to the kids,” Kader says. He has contracted with 100 schools in districts that include Sacramento City Unified, San Juan, Natomas, Center, Twin Rivers and Robla, plus schools in Southern California.

“Sami’s Circuit On Demand reaches kids because it’s delivered in the way social-emotional content is supposed to be—with movement and laugher,” he says. “It’s a tangible way they can learn. Kids don’t understand just words. My life didn’t change until someone put those words into action.”

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Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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