A Syrian refugee has launched a record label fusing music and fitness, inspired by his time facing life imprisonment.
Yazid Eid, 46, who came to the UK in 2006, released the first single of the label Training Tunes accompanied by a video featuring Olympic weightlifting champion Emily Campbell.
The label is aiming to produce music that motivates listeners to exercise, with lyrics and videos focused on sport.
Mr Eid told the PA news agency: “It is fair to say that music was the reason I am where I am today.
“Listening to my favourite songs elevated my spirit in the darkest of hours and gave fuel to exercise daily, which was vital for my emotional and mental health.”
Mr Eid said his loves of exercise and music came together while he was in prison in Syria for blasphemy, after campaigning to modernise the Syrian Sports Federation.
He took up karate at a young age to avoid bullying, later becoming a champion in Muay Thai, however at the time it was a crime in Syria to be taught combat skills.
“Such skills were only taught to members of the secret police and high-ranking officials, it was a crime to be caught training in practical self-defence punishable by jail time,” he explained.
In 2005, while campaigning to modernise Syrian sports and organising a Muay Thai event in Damascus, Mr Eid was arrested.
He said: “Two days before the event, I was arrested on charges that could have got me anything from life imprisonment to a death sentence for conspiracy to overthrow the system and contacting foreign countries without authorisation.”
While in prison, a family member smuggled him in a small MP3 player, which gave him the motivation to begin exercising.
He soon contacted a well-connected lawyer who got him out on bail, and he made his way to the UK where he was granted political asylum in 2006.
Starting his life in the UK, Mr Eid, who now lives in London, set up Training Tunes to explore the relationship between music and athletic performance.
“When you do physical activity it’s not just your body, it’s your spirit, your mind and emotional health that all benefit from it,” he told PA.
“We’ve been making music videos where each video features an athlete who has a story to tell… so when people see the video and listen to the song, they have a more emotional connection to it as opposed to just some generic beat playing in the background.
“The goal is to inspire people to take on a more positive approach to exercising… the most difficult part of exercise is actually deciding to get up and do it.”
The label’s first single Pressure was accompanied by a video featuring Campbell, who became the first British woman to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting with silver at Tokyo 2020.
The video shows Campbell’s training journey at her local gym in Nottingham before her success at the Olympics.
She told PA: “For me the concept of it [Training Tunes] was perfect because it’s my two favourite things put together in one, sport and music.
“Music is paramount within my competitions; that’s the thing that keeps me focused.”
Campbell explained the video was filmed before the Olympics, and a Tokyo banner can be spotted in the background.
“It’s very surreal really, especially when they do pan over to the banner, because we had set it up there for pure motivation while I was training,” she said.
“It’s a beautiful piece of history that I’ve made… I hope I’m the first of many more females in this country to win weightlifting medals.”