If you're a regular at Gymbox Stratford, you'll know Dino Portelli for his fire energy in class, his killer workouts guaranteed to make you walk in and crawl out, wicked DJ sets, or you may see him in full combat-mode - throwing some major hands and legs and just generally living up to his fight name "King" when he's in the ring. Either way, it's safe to say he has made a bit of a name for himself, whether it's quenching your fitness-thirst in our creative class "Bar Crawl" or helping you to level up in 1-1 sessions. If "Work hard, Play Harder" could be personified, it would probably look like Dino... our blogger Kat caught up with the man himself to find out what he's been up to, his go-to ring walk song, what's coming up for him in 2022.
Dino, not only do you teach and PT at Gymbox, you also DJ with us every week. When did you start your Gymbox journey and how did you get to where you are now?
It all started five years ago when I decided to pack up my life as an office drone and joined the coolest brand in the whole of London (if not the world!) I always had Gymbox down as a company I would like to work with, so when the opportunity arose for me to take on the VPT role, I jumped at the chance!
I built my business as a VPT from the ground up, quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the gym floor alongside my early bodybuilding career. During this time, James Dawkins (a previous Gymbox Master Trainer) and I were good friends. He was definitely a massive influence and somewhat of a mentor to begin with and he suggested I audition to teach classes.
The freedom to plan my classes and playlists and interact with new members on a daily basis, as well as break up my day with a different energy, is what drew me to the classes initially.
After teaching everything from the Strength to the Sweat categories (Badass, Metcon, HardCore) to Ride, functional and everything in between, I realised I had a bit of a passion for putting together the sickest playlist and creating a vibe. So at the same time as bodybuilding and teaching classes and clients, my DJ career started picking up.
I’ve played at some of the U.K.’s biggest festivals and nightclubs including Egg nightclub, We Are festival and overseas festivals such as Hideout. It was only right that I bring this same energy to my Gymbox Stratford family every Monday evening [with a set there]. I definitely live and breathe the ethos “work hard and play harder!”
What classes are you currently teaching at Gymbox?
These days, the classes I teach and the way I train has shifted more towards strength and conditioning. This is geared towards combat athletes and also those who compete competitively in team sports, such as some of our Team Tieu fights. Class-wise, I teach a lot more of the functional classes such as WOD Squad, Strongman, Battlebells and I occasionally cover spin.
Given that you're such a busy guy, can you give me a summary of what you've been up to so far this year?
So far this year, my focus has been on upping my fighting game. If I’m not training 2-5 hours a day in either Muay Thai, BJJ, MMA or S&C, I’m running with my squaddie mates or I’m recovering. I’m no stranger to a bit of hard graft in competing elsewhere and once I have a goal I’m a hungry lion with tunnel vision and an empty stomach!
Earlier this month, I competed with Team Tieu at the interclub Muay Thai comp, and I’ve got another couple of interclub competitions coming up. I’ve also managed to fit in climbing a couple of peaks in the Peak District and across wales!
Can you tell me more about your involvement with the White Collar Fight Club? How many times have you competed and what made you decide to get involved?
Last year was my first competitive Muay Thai competition with White Collar Fight Club. During lockdown, I decided to reignite my passion for kickboxing, partly to get me out of my own mental downward spiral I was experiencing - which I’m sure a lot of us (especially in the fitness industry) had experienced at some point over lockdown - and partly because…well, what else was there to do!
So I started training with a local coach and one of the other trainers at Gymbox as well, and then decided to join some of the Team Tieu classes. I got chatting to one of the organisers who’d had a cheeky look in during one session. He told me that TWCFC was partnered with the charity Mind and were raising money for mental health. He suggested I put my name down and the rest is history!
I have to say, they’re a really well put together event. The training is first class! I’d highly recommend giving it a go and I’m very much looking forward to fighting again with them in April.
As well as Muay Thai, you train in Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. If you had to pick a favourite, what would it be and why?
That’s like asking who your favourite child is man, come on!
I mean, it does really depend on who I’m going up against…But if I had to pick, I’d probably say Thai boxing as that's where I have more experience.
It's awesome that you DJ at Gymbox too. When and where do you DJ and what can people expect from your sets?
I DJ at Stratford Gymbox, every Monday from 6:30-8pm, bringing you a bucket load of energy in the form of house, tech house, and melodic tech to assist you in sweating out those weekend toxins…with the occasional cheeky garage mix for all my rewind selectas!
You're psyching yourself up before a fight, what song do you want playing as you walk into the ring?
Well, I guess it’d have to be a heavy old school grime sound, something like Kano ‘Ps & Qs’ or any Ghetts/P Money tune from the same era. But saying that, there’s a lot of new drill I’m listening to. I’m also partial to a bit of heavy rock.
Although, if my last entrance song (which got mixed up due to a last minute dropout) was anything to go by, then 80s disco is also a vibe!
What can people expect from you as a PT and a class instructor?
Lots of energy, a nerd-like passion for fitness knowledge, some hit and miss one-liners and motivation by the bucket load! My sessions are guaranteed to leave your heart rate higher than it was walking in the gym and leave your legs unable to carry you back out!
What's coming up next for you this year?
This year, my main focus is fully back on my fitness goals. I’m currently working on the road to the Muay Thai Grand Prix stage. I’m sure with my Muay Thai coach, David at Team Tieu, we’ll hit that no sweat! I’m also making my debut amateur MMA appearance very soon.
As a Level 4 strength and conditioning coach, I am also constantly looking at ways to expand my knowledge so I can deliver the best, most effective training to each one of my clients. This will enable me to help progress some of the amazing team I have the pleasure of working with.
I’m incredibly grateful for my coaches, classes and peers who (for the most part) all happen to be at the most awesome gym in the world too!