X Factor’s Chico: ‘I have changed my life completely after suffering a stroke – I now run wellness retreats’

Yousseph "Chico" Slimani, 52, shot to fame on the X Factor in 2005, entertaining viewers with his very catchy song "It's Chico Time".

The hit took him through to the quarter-finals of the show and made him the first contestant on the Simon Cowell-led series to sing an original song.

After the X Factor, Chico released his tune as a single and continued to enjoy life in the spotlight, releasing more hits and making television appearances.

In 2018, he was thrown a curveball when he suffered a stroke and subsequently decided to completely change his life. Now, in an exclusive interview with OK! he talks about his fitness transformation and why he decided to start running wellness retreats….

"My whole life outlook on life changed completely when I had my stroke because health is your wealth and your wealth is your health.

I set about trying to get myself back to full health through different exercises like Block Fit because when you're not well, all you want to do is to feel well again.

My stroke put things into perspective for me and I knew that the most important thing I could do was heal myself and help be an instrument for healing others.

So during the lockdown, when many people were struggling with their mental health, I decided to start HU Breath classes online, helping people from all over the world.

We decided to start doing them in person at retreats and now we deliver them in many locations, from Portugal to Thailand. It's made me really happy because it's been a life-changing experience for so many people.

You put your phone down for your time away and connect with yourself and do excursions, exercise, and breath work. Every location has slightly different excursions and every day, from about 1pm to 5pm, we have free time so people will sit by the pool or go to the beach.

Then we do something completely different in the evening again after we've all had dinner altogether.

Doing these retreats means that I'm really focused on being the best version of myself, training and eating well.

My mindset and my health and well-being have never been better because I'm now fully aware of all the things that can come up in someone's mind.

I'm helping others and taking care of myself and I know there's no way I'd ever go back to the life I had before. Living this way has helped me to embrace peace, joy and tranquility.

If I were to go back to my old life, it would be a bit like dying because I'm expanding and becoming a better version of myself every day and it's impossible to go back.

But I do tell people that if they fall off the wagon, it's not a problem and they shouldn't beat themselves up too much because every day is a new opportunity to grow and go where you want to go. You just have to be patient, persist and persevere.

Although life is great now and I love helping others, it hasn't always been easy during my career. There were times when my family and I were on the breadline and all my work was cancelled.

I had a mortgage to pay and I was anxious because I wanted to provide for my wife and family and I couldn't.

It's also been a challenge getting the retreats to where they are now because I've had to juggle the spiritual aspect of it with building the business.

Then there was the pandemic, which meant that the last two and a half years have been quite challenging because I'm in travel, music and hospitality.

It's been blood, sweat and tears to get here but the hard work has been so worthwhile because we are now established and have lots of people on the waiting list and interested.

Reflecting on the past, my mental health is much better now and I don't really suffer from depression because I have ways and tools to deal with it. Anxiety and depression is living in fear and I don’t subscribe to that.

My whole journey on the X Factor was crazy but I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. It's the platform that has made all of the opportunities I've had possible.

I look back at it with the fondest memories and with the greatest joy and I’ll be eternally grateful for that.

My life has taken many twists and turns but all the while I've been focused on seeking the truth and have been on a spiritual journey for 27 years.

"Many people only know me as Chico Time but my real name and nature is Yousseph, which is Joseph in Arabic. Now, I'm transitioning from Chico to Yousseph, finding the truth and guiding others to find their truth and happiness."

Check out Chico's retreats here: https://itschicotime.com/hu-breath/retreats/

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