Teejay Momoh laughs a lot when he speaks of exercise — including once working his way out from under a shaky bench press weight that nearly came crashing down on him in a weak moment.

But his workouts are quite serious for him.

“I don’t want to die,” he said.

With severe asthma, he nearly did precisely that twice in his life.

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Now, the fellow who once struggled to run five minutes without serious gasping sometimes run half-marathons, thanks to a disciplined regimen.

Briefly describe your daily/weekly workout routine.

I do a full-body workout each day (with weight training and some element of aerobic activity). I don’t do the targeted workouts for just one body part. For my running for now, I do it outside, because it’s beautiful out, and I don’t want to waste that.

What inspired you to begin a regular fitness routine?

About six years ago, I got big. I got fat. I realized I needed a total lifestyle change. For me, it’s not about getting very big (muscles). It’s simply about staying alive.

What do you do to motivate yourself when you just don’t want to work out?

I go the gym anyway, telling myself that I’ll just walk around a few minutes and then go home.

The truth is, once you get there, you realize you want to do more than just walk around. I’m not the most dedicated person. I still procrastinate a lot.

What kind of obstacles have you overcome in order to exercise?

Before I started working out about six years ago, the people in the emergency room at Columbus Regional Hospital knew me on a first-name basis because of my severe asthma.

How do you make time to work out?

It’s not easy. You have to become committed — not really to the workout, but to your investment in yourself.

Your favorite part of working out?

After I’m done. (Laughter).

Have you lost weight or gained muscle mass through working out? How much?

I don’t pay much attention to weight and all that. I work until I can actually see my body changing.

How do you handle more dull parts of your workout?

Using the treadmill (in the winter) is a whole lot harder than running outdoors. I trick my brain and tell myself over and over that I’ve run only a mile when it’s actually been three. I literally can convince myself. And you learn to exercise your mind on the treadmill. You have to have a really good imagination not to be really bored. I sometimes pretend I’m in Chicago, running along Lake Michigan, because I’ve always wanted to run there.

Do you listen to music during your workout? If so, what’s on your playlist?

I’m off and on about listening, depending upon the day. Since I’m Nigerian, I love soca (a form of Caribbean music). And I also listen to some hip hop and reggae. The soca especially is so hyped, it definitely will get you moving.

Do you follow any special diet or eating plan? If so, describe briefly. Do you “cheat” much?

No, but I love food. I work out partly so I can eat. But I haven’t had a big, fast-food burger in four years. I know that if I did, I would have to run 10 miles to burn it off (in calories). And I don’t want to do that.

What advice would you give someone who wants to begin working out?

You don’t have to begin with any grand plan. Join a gym and begin to do something

.{p style=”text-align: right;”}{strong}–Compiled by staff writer Brian Blair

About Teejay Momoh

Age: 28.

City: Lives in Greenwood. Works in Columbus.

Occupation: A systems engineering solutions architect at a Columbus firm.

Hometown: Warri, Nigeria on the southern tip of the country.

Where you work out: Columbus’ Anytime Fitness and Greenwood’s LA Fitness.

Hours per week: About six. Also includes some soccer.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.