Six Weeks To Fitness (general)

Welcome to Six Weeks to Fitness, I'm your host Vince Ferguson. Thank you so much for joining me today. Now, for those of you who are used to listening to my audio podcast, you can now watch my show on our Six Weeks to Fitness, YouTube channel and joining me today on as my very first video guest is Carmen Carriker. She's a graduate of Fordham University's Alvin Ailey Bachelor of Fine Arts program, She is a professional dancer, a fitness instructor, she's an actress, she's an educator and creator of Crown Soul Yoga. And I am very pleased to have Carmen Carriker on my Six Weeks to Fitness program. Carmen, how are you today?

Carmen Carriker:

I'm great. Thank you so much for introducing me. I'm happy to be here.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's such a pleasure having you. You're so full of energy and vivaciousness it's just a joy to have you here today. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Carmen Carriker:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

But before we get started talking about your illustrious career, let's talk a little bit about your early days. Where did you grow up, Carmen? And what was your childhood like?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I'm originally from Detroit, Michigan, so I'm from the Midwest. And I come from a family, I was raised by my mother, single parent, and she was a musician, a singer and a songwriter. So she had her own band. So I grew up in an environment surrounded by music. So it was a very fun experience having a band, rehearsing in my house as a toddler.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

It was introduction to jazz music, and to instruments. And that was where my love and passion for music began. It was a great experience. Nice growing up somewhere where you have trees and I grew, planted plants and vegetables and fruits with my grandfather who had a garden.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice.

Carmen Carriker:

Because I come from the Motor City, there are lots of engineers in my family, so everyone worked or retired from Ford, GM, Chrysler. So I grew up working on cars. I helped out [in my youth.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Carmen Carriker:

I was a girly-girl, but I was also a youth who dibbled and dabbled in working with machines, engineering and designing things. So I like to work with my hands and put things together and that began my interest in textile design because I'm also a fashion designer. So my love of music came from my mother and my love of engineering and design came from the men in my family.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. A good combination, I would say, huh?

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. So although you came from a single parent home, you did have family around you to help you, male figures, female figures which makes for a well rounded environment? And it made you the person you are today, which is absolutely amazing.

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. You've been teaching dance for about 25 years, I understand, am I correct? Right. Now that would make you about 30 years old because I've met you and you look like you're in 20s actually, but you know what I'm saying? So-

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

... you healthy lifestyle is really paying off, right?

Carmen Carriker:

Starting dance from the age three and continuing on into my 30s, I've been dancing and I've been an athlete nonstop. I started teaching when I was 14 years old assisting ballet classes and helping the studio owner run the studio after she had a baby. So I started early.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, and I believe if you introduce children to activities like the dance and fitness at an early age, they continue as they get older. You are exposed to it, you know?

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

And look what you're doing now, you made a business, a career out of it. Amazing. Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

I tell my student that [crosstalk 00:04:45] what you do in studio, what you're doing in school, when you're assisting teachers and helping out it pays off because you end up being the one that's hire for the job. Having the skills and the information and the knowledge to start your own business based on all of the experience that you've had growing up.

Vincent Ferguson:

Beautiful. Now you studied at the Fordham University's Alvin Ailey Bachelor Fine Arts Program. How was that experience?

Carmen Carriker:

Wow. And it's been a good 17 years since I graduated. I graduated in '04, I think. Something like that so when I was a part of the Alvin Ailey and Alvin Ailey is one of the most or the largest African American modern dance company. We were the Guinea pigs of the program, so I was a part of the first graduating class as far as them having a joint program with Fordham University. So we were the first classes. So it was new to have professional dancers at Fordham taking liberal arts classes and then walking over to Ailey and having a full dance conservatory experience. So I had a very long day. I had like four academic classes and then I'd have four dance classes and then I'd have rehearsal in the evening and then I'd have a job working at the university. So 22 credit hours, a semester, lot of hard work. If we started off with 20 students in our class, by the end of four years, there were 10 of us.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really, really why?

Carmen Carriker:

Because it's very demanding on the body. It's costly to live in New York. So coming from Michigan, moving here not everyone could deal with the transition as well and a lot of dancers found that, oh, this is just too much on my body. Only the strong survive. So if you think, oh, okay. You know, let me go do this BFA program. Yes. Do the BFA program, but research it, make sure that it's something that works with you because it's a very demanding program.

Carmen Carriker:

So I'm glad that I went through it. So many connections, so many performance opportunities. Working with all of the major choreographers and having the opportunity to apprentice, to be a guest performer. I'm so blessed and thankful and to work with some of the company members had been taking class with Alvin Ailey dancers every day. Ballet class, modern class, African dance class, the conditioning classes, yoga, Pilates. They were the first and second company members were living with us. And then you had the PPPS, the afterschool kids were in the building as well. And this was when Alvin Ailey was on 66 and Amsterdam. Now it's the larger building. So the larger building was not there in 2004. In the year 2000 when I joined it wasn't until four years later that that building was finished. So when I graduated the institution that everyone knows of now that huge building, which is called the Joan Weill Building, which is named out to the person that funded it, wasn't there. It wasn't there yet. So all the hard work that all of the students and teachers and everyone, the Ailey family, all the hard work that we did contributed to continuing the legacy of Alvin Ailey having that large institution where people from all over the world are coming to learn.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, amazing.

Carmen Carriker:

[inaudible 00:09:25] experience, but it definitely made me who I am. I'm a stronger dancer, a stronger, a more experienced teacher have a lot of knowledge and information to share. And I have a lot of connections, always have all of those dancers and teachers as support.

Vincent Ferguson:

You can't put a price on that support, you know, those connections. Can't put a price on that. And speaking of dance, what type of dance do you now teach? I know you teach children and adults. What type of dances do you teach?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I teach everything. Well, mainly right now I'm teaching yoga, teaching kids yoga classes from the ages 18 months to like five and six. That's the group that -

Vincent Ferguson:

18 months.

Carmen Carriker:

Yes. The mommy-baby classes, the baby.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. And what else? Okay.

Carmen Carriker:

And then I also teach adult classes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Adults.

Carmen Carriker:

Yeah. All the way up 80.

Vincent Ferguson:

Up to 80. Yeah. There's ton of time for me. Oh, good. But again, so you're teaching yoga, you're teaching ballet. You're teaching... What else?

Carmen Carriker:

Teaching jazz. I'm teaching [inaudible 00:10:45]. I teach swing, wing dance, the Lindy hop.

Vincent Ferguson:

Lindy hop.

Carmen Carriker:

Yes, I teach SoCo fitness, I teach African dance in afterschool programs. And I love to share African history history, so that people know about the culture. That's very important especially when I'm teaching kids that they know where the movement comes from, that they know what instruments are and they know what places that these dances come from, especially in this time when TikTok videos and social media, there's so much information, visuals so everyone sees movement but they may not know where these dances come from. So good that they have the history and they know the knowledge and the culture behind.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now let's talk about yoga because that's where I first met you, when you did a yoga class from my organization, Body Sculpt of New York and with the children. Now, where did you learn yoga?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I started yoga, yoga was a part of my curriculum at Alvin Ailey.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay. But didn't you also learn yoga in Jamaica?

Carmen Carriker:

Yes. By the time I graduated I was condition my body by doing Pilates and bar and gyrokinesis anything like that, that would help keep my body fit.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

It wasn't really a spiritual journey for me until I went to Jamaica and I wanted to learn specifically a style of yoga that was more ancient, more meditative that connected to me as an African American. And that's where I found Kemetic yoga. So I was like, I'm going to go straight to the source. I'm going to go to Jamaica because I had the time and I was available to do the 10 day retreat and training. And I've been doing it ever since and it's my favorite. It's something that I really connect to spiritually. I'm a Kemetic yogini if you want to say that. I practice a Kemetic diet. So Kemetic, all of it, living, according to the laws and principles that the Ancient Egyptians practiced. Learning the history, learning the language and incorporating that in the modern day lifestyle has been easy for me and it has kept me grounded.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? And you say Kemetic, which is Kemet, in Egypt, right? And so when you're training, you're teaching yoga, you're teaching Kemetic yoga are you also teaching the language to your students?

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Carmen Carriker:

There are learning poses in the Metu Neter language.

Vincent Ferguson:

Give me-

Carmen Carriker:

So if we are combining for example, the Sphinx pose or the lion pose is Heru Akhet. So I'll say it in English and I'll also say it in the Metu Neter language as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do you have any space to go to do a pose or two that we can see?

Carmen Carriker:

Sure. So we all know of the monument in DC that's shaped like an obelisk?

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

Okay. So in Egypt of it is called Teken which is spelled T-E-K-E-N.

Vincent Ferguson:

Teken.

Carmen Carriker:

So this is Teken pose so you're standing with your feet together.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

You're connected to earth, and earth, the Egyptian word for earth Geb and then [inaudible 00:14:57] up and you're connecting to the sky, which is Nut

Vincent Ferguson:

Huh. Nice.

Carmen Carriker:

So this pose is called the Teken pose so you're feeling connection to the earth and the sky.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. Wow. That's powerful. That is really, really powerful to see that, you know. And you said the Kemetic lifestyle. Okay. Now, does that involve also nutrition as far as eating healthy? Because you're a vegan.

Carmen Carriker:

Absolutely. I'm vegan. Kemetic diet is a plant-based diet. So if you're choosing a lifestyle and you're choosing to practice Kemetic yoga, you're also choosing a plant-based diet.

Vincent Ferguson:

And why is that important?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, if you look at the hieroglyphic, even the ancient Egyptians, you see lettuce, you'll see greenery around them so those are examples that that was the way that people were living. And that was their source.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay, so they didn't eat the chickens and the cows? They weren't meat eater? No?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I mean, as far as I know, there're of course are going to be people who do different things depending on where they are. But the tradition and the Kemetic practice that I'm practicing and that I've learned from teachers before me we're practicing plant-based.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. I think that is an excellent way to eat, to live. I do believe that. I believe that it also helps you to connect more with spirituality, because you're not weighed down by meat eating, you know?

Carmen Carriker:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

So I applaud you for that and I think it gives you a lot of energy and that's why you're all over the place doing so much. I am so impressed with you. Now you call your company, Crown Soul Yoga. Where'd you get that name from?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, you know, Crown Soul Yoga it came to me in a dream. So a lot of times things that I do artistically, I may have visions. So it came to me and the Crown is your crown and you know, I think of ancestry and the kings and queens before me. So when you take care of your crown you're protecting yourself, protecting your connection to spirit, connection to the higher powers. And then Soul is your heart. So anything that I do, I'm giving from my heart, my soul and I'm giving. So by helping others, I'm feeding my soul. And so [inaudible 00:18:09] and in creations, which was my first, is also my business, Crown Soul Creations. Everything that I make is that connection mind, body, spirit. So whether it's Crown Soul Yoga, which is the business of yoga, Crown Soul Creations, which is the business of jewelry and the knit wear, and the soaps and the products that I make, the t-shirts and the hoodies and all that stuff that I make, those are my creations.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Carmen Carriker:

So the branding.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Branding.

Carmen Carriker:

[inaudible 00:18:44] queen, so I want people to feel royal and to embrace who they all are and to have a lot of soul in whatever they do.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. So you're more than just a professional dancer, a professional fitness instructor or educator. I mean, you are business woman, you're an entrepreneur and how has that journey been for you?

Carmen Carriker:

It's rewarding. It's rewarding to look at the things that I've done. Look at my resume, look at the timeline that Facebook shows me like this happened 10 years ago.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

It's mind blowing to know that so much time has passed and so much I've been able to do and share as far as fashion shows, as far as vendoring and doing different events. And now focusing more on online yoga business and sharing medication and sound healing, Reiki, which is energy work. Even the energy I do holistic health and wellness is based in Kemetic tradition as well. So shout outs to Ra Sekhi Arts Temple, which is where I studied, which is based in Atlanta and the Kemetic Yoga School in Chicago under Yirser Ra Hotep. So YogaSkills Method. And I'm so thankful. I'm thankful to [inaudible 00:20:18], and I'm thankful to Queen Afua and all the Sacred Women who have led the way to healthy living and [crosstalk 00:20:28]

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Most definitely. Definitely. Now I know you live in Brooklyn, New York, right? And that's where my podcast is hosted in Brooklyn, New York. Shout out to Brooklyn. But now prior to the pandemic, most instructors like yourself and dancers, they would train their students in-person but as you know, New York was hit very hard and during the pandemic they shut all that down, so most of you guys had to pivot and start doing online instruction. How has that worked out for you? And are you still doing online?

Carmen Carriker:

I'm still doing online. It's been two years of online teaching. It's hills and valleys. It's been hills and valleys.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

At the beginning I think that there was definitely influx, numbers going up everyone was at home and just needing to have connections so they were Zooming in, however, WhatsApp, whatever people could use to connect with me through private sessions, through small group sessions and group conferences. But as things have opened up in New York, it is slowed down. I also feel like teachers, as well as students, clients have experienced a little bit of Zoom burnout. I'm spending so much time online. I think that people need to take a break from it and do in-person things. So I'm glad that this summer I was able to go into schools so we were able to dance outside the playground areas, or I was able to teach in Central Park or Prospect Park. Do some outdoor or public space events. But it hasn't been easy because now there are a lot of restrictions.

Carmen Carriker:

There are a lot of restrictions in New York and based on your status of vaccination, non-vaxxed, you know, it limits who you're able to access and then who feels comfortable going back into spaces. So even depending on whatever your status is there are people who are just would rather do online. And then there was others who are very happy to be back in all the public spaces. It's a... I guess I'm a person that goes with the flow and I follow my intuition. So if I feel that something is telling me, no, wait a little while longer, and then open up more opportunities then I do that. If I feel like, okay, let me hold back. Maybe we'll do hybrid for a while, maybe we'll come in, do some online, you know?

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, yes.

Carmen Carriker:

And to see how things go until before winter season.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. So I would imagine, well, online will be around for a while.

Carmen Carriker:

I think that it is now a way of life for instructors and it is now a way of life for, I think it's convenient in a lot of ways save a lot of money as far as transportation. I'm someone that boots around a lot and I found that by being a online for two years and not having to ride the Metro and taking public transportation I saved tons of money.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

And the stress of traveling and commuting and coming in contact with so many people because it's a busy city, there's so much going on that can be drained alone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

So I found that I was more at peace, just kind of being in my own space and that I still feel that, but I'm definitely love being connected with nature. So you will find me at the beach teaching or just experiencing yoga meditation for myself out in the open and sharing it online.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Most definitely. And we will also be sharing you online because we are going to be doing some Six Week Fitness programs again. And you'll definitely be one of our preferred instructors, as long as you have the availability we want you.

Carmen Carriker:

I can help with that.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, this is my podcast, my program is called Six Weeks to Fitness. Okay. It's a subsidiary of my Body Sculpt of New York nonprofit organization. But if you had six weeks to get fit, what exercise activities would you do or recommend people do to get in shape in six weeks?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I would say at first, look at your diet and come up with a food plan. You might want to consider fasting diet. Start with a fast, it could be a seven day fast juice just to clean your body out, just to help. We a colon cleanse out everything now, before you start your six week journey, you want to start off fresh and clean. So your body is rejuvenated. So I would suggest do a juice fast. And if that's new to you, you can start easy. Maybe you just cut out your carbs, cut out the heavy foods, the process foods. Only eat lean meats if you're eating lean meats and just gradually increase that. But I think that you should have definitely include healthy eating in your program and which you start the six weeks, have a calendar and then set up, have a meal prep for each week.

Carmen Carriker:

And then analyze, maybe do measurements to see where you are at the beginning of your fitness journey, see where you are and be kind to yourself, but do those measurements. Get a measuring tape measure your arms, measure your weights, measure your thighs and record that and then set up work workouts for each parts of the body. I know that's what I do. So I have a leg day. I have a arm day. I have ab day. I have, you know? Total body workout day, and then I'll have a day of rest. A

Carmen Carriker:

nd then that continues on for the full workout. I'd say it's easy to also have a buddy, have a fitness buddy. Somebody that can hold you accountable. Somebody call and say, "Hey girl, are you still doing your workout? Did you do your 25 minutes today? Or did you do an hour? Did you work out today or I'm about to do these workouts?" All right. Let's do a challenge today. Let's do 10 pushup." You know, whatever. 40 today. Whatever the challenge is, but I think it does help to have someone or have a group. It could be an online group or a group of friends or co-workers that will support you, say, "Hey, this is what I'm doing. I'm going to be working out for six weeks. My goal is to lose five pounds." And maybe even have like a money pot. So for every person in your group that loses the five pounds, they get $10 or something like that, or you do a gift exchange or something in a sense for people to really not only yourself, I know I've done it with my family members like my brother.

Carmen Carriker:

We did it with a group of friends and I found that it helped me and it helped them because we sometimes we were so busy and it's easy to forget, oh, I was supposed to do this today. Oh. Or I forgot like, or, you know, you might have a cheat day. Okay. I really want to eat, I want to have cupcakes today or whatever it is that you love, I'm a sweet lover. So for me vegan treats or something that you might see me eating vegan ice cream. So we all have a day that we might cheat, but just know that if you have a group or you have goals that you set for yourself, you look back at that, look at the calendar, the agenda that you set out for the workout plan that helps you kind of stay on track.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. Awesome advice. I appreciate that. I'm sure my listeners and viewers will take some of that into consideration. I want to touch on very briefly, the fact that in addition to all this, you are also an actress. Have you been in any shows and what's the plan for acting going forward?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, this was the first year that I was invited to the Tribeca Film Festival. And because of the pandemic, the festival was online. I would've loved to been invited to be on the red carpet for my first film festival as a principal dancer. But it was online. It was a Zoom call and wow, it was an amazing experience. Tessa Thompson was the lead actress in the film that I was a part of trying to remember the name of it, that's crazy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, so that happens.

Carmen Carriker:

But it was a great experience just to work, to shoot. We were still filming, of course during the pandemic there's COVID testing and all that they had to be done. It was shot in Bushwick in a church so it was nearby as far as filming and I was a swing dancer in the film and it was a club scene. So the movie took place... It kind of went from, it was based off of a book and it was about the relationship that these two women had, they were black women, but they could pass for white. So it was about the challenges they faced in Harlem, these two women who grew up together, but they separated had two separate lives. They met up again, one chose to marry a black man had kids, the other chose to marry a European and there were race issues. And what ultimately happened at the end is that the truth came out and it was [crosstalk 00:32:41]

Vincent Ferguson:

I can imagine.

Carmen Carriker:

I just thought of the name of the movie. The movie is called Passing. So if you go on, I think Tribeka Film Festivals site information about those movies, I'm not sure because of the pandemic a lot of those movies have not... I don't know if they are going to be released. But during the festival you pay for a ticket, then you can watch all the movies online from your home, which is convenient. But dancing, it was a 14-hour shoot for three days. A lot of dancing, a lot of swing dancing. It was me and the 10 dancers that were featured in the club scene. We're all friends, we all work together here in New York. So it really is about who you know, because the lead choreographer avid dancer someone that I know assists in choreographer, someone that I know is from Ailey as well. Many of the dancers in the cast are former Ailey dancers, or professional actors, black performers in New York.

Carmen Carriker:

It was such a great opportunity. It was a well-paid gig at a time when we didn't have much work at all. Shows and events have been canceled so to have a big job like that happened before things went haywire like they are now I give thanks for that. Yeah had an opportunity to work on the movie Passing before that I was working right before the pandemic, which I guess now it's been two years, I was working on the Mandela musical. So choreographer from South Africa, musicians from South Africa they chose six dancers for the project to just set choreography for the future opening of the musical. Of course, with all of this happening, there have been so many setbacks, but at least I was a part of the creative process. So we were learning Afro beats, a fusion of Afro beat dance, modern dance, house. So it was a fusion, very rhythmic movement. So I worked on that project for, I think it was like three weeks.

Vincent Ferguson:

Three weeks. Nice.

Carmen Carriker:

Yeah. And that was the in-person. That was an in-person project we rehearsed in the studio full band. Everyone was there. It was before all this happened. That was the last project I did that was in-person. Since then I worked on another project this year with a cast, Swing Out, and Swing Out is now at The Joyce. So there was an audition process, they were seeking about 20 or maybe 18 musicians, singers, tap and swing dancers to partner up with a cast member for a residency program. And the residency program was for four weeks and at the end of the residency you'll have learned music or you've learned choreography, and then you're able to present it. And this is something that I normally would be so busy that I wouldn't be able to be a part of the residency because it would mean I would have to take off for my job, but with everything that was going on, my schedule was open and I was able to work and work with really great musicians. Really great choreographers and dancers. So shout out to the cast of Swing Out for those who are going back into theaters and on Broadway.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, Broadway.

Carmen Carriker:

Be [inaudible 00:37:08] so I'm honored that I was able to work with them in an online performance setting.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, yes, yes, yes. But that's okay. You've done so much though, Carmen in your young life and I'm so impressed, but what advice, or what words of encouragement would you give to other aspiring dancers and fitness professionals who's trying to get to where you are? What advice would you give them today?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, I'd say discipline. Discipline, know your craft. There are a lot I would say people who look good on camera and they create all types of online content, but the conditioning it takes to perform and go on tour is a very different beast. So if you're choosing to be a performer, a professional who gets paid for doing what we do, longevity, if you want to still be performing, and have a career and say, "Hey, I've been on stage and I've performed everywhere and it's been 25 years and I'm, knock on wood, injury-free.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Yes.

Carmen Carriker:

That's very important to say that I've danced and had a career this long and I haven't had any injuries. It's conditioned and training and listening to your body. Because we live in an environment where we're being pushed. You'll be pushed to the edge. People are going to push you to use your talents to the last little drop. But what has saved me is knowing my body and knowing my limits, knowing when I need to rest, knowing when I need to take a break and having good rapport communicating properly. Because in this world, in this industry, the connections that you make stay with you. So if you have a good reputation and you're nice to the people that you work with and people know that about you you'll get referred for jobs. If you have a bad rapport, meaning that you don't show up on time you don't have good habits. Maybe you smoke and drink on the job, or you do other types of things and I don't recommend that everyone has their choice of what they do, but when you are in a professional setting, always be professional and be yourself. Don't try to compare yourself to anyone else because there'll be people that have 10 times better than you. Then there'll be people who are still learning. So I say it's easy to look at celebrities and to look at people that you see and like, oh my God, I don't have the best social media content. I need to keep going. I need to look at what's necessary in order for you to reach the goals that you want.

Carmen Carriker:

Look at someone that you admire. I admire Camille Brown she is one of my peers, we're the same age and to see her growth and her development from Ailey dancer to this choreographer who is setting major work on all of the Broadway shows right now, her consistency and her beliefs and her vision and her branding, or her work, having her own and company and not allowing anyone to manipulate or change her work is why she is where she is. Her commitment to sharing the black experience through dance, her commitment to sharing and making sure our voices are heard as people of the diaspora is why she's doing Corey and Best, why she's doing all these different or that she's being called for the job.

Carmen Carriker:

And when you get into a position of power in the industry, keep the people in your life who support you the most with you, because you're going to need that support because if you go into an industry and you become famous and you don't have anyone around you to support you, you are vulnerable to all kinds of stuff, and you don't have people fighting for you. So I would use the people that I admire, who are very successful in the industry. You look at their assistant directors, you look at who their assistant dancers are they are people that they've been working with.

Carmen Carriker:

The same 10 people or five people that they known 10 years ago, or 20 years ago are on their team, on their board of advisors. So keep the people close to you. That's my advice because I know that I don't have a big company like that, but when I do have that kind of business and flow and opportunity, I'm going to definitely reach out to folks like you, of course, who have provided a platform for me to be on and many others that I've worked with so that we can grow and build together. Because that's what it really is about.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, Yes. 100%. Love that. Love it.

Carmen Carriker:

Just live your life.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Live your life. I'm trying.

Carmen Carriker:

Don't be stressed out and if you are stressed out, tell people about it, meditate, pray, have a spiritual, whatever your spiritual beliefs are, stay grounded in that because that also helps you keep a clear mind, a clear focus and knowing what your purpose is in life is also important. If you don't know what it is figure that out. And that could be a lifelong journey. We're all trying to stay on the right track.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, most definitely. This has been so uplifting and rewarding for me. And I'm sure it will be for my listeners and viewers as well, but where can my listeners and viewers find out more about Carmen Carriker?

Carmen Carriker:

Well, you can find out about me, you can go to my website which is crownsoulyoga.com. You can find me I have a YouTube channel at Carmen Kemetic Yoga and I'm on Facebook as Carmen Carriker. I'm on Instagram as crown soul fashionista or Cecil Kemetic Arts. But you can just look up my name, Carmen Carriker and Google Search me. I'm available, you'll see my businesses and you'll see my classes. And I'm open to working with everyone and helping us to live a more healthy, happy life.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, most definitely. Carmen Carriker on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Carmen Carriker:

Thank you so much for having me.

Vincent Ferguson:

And to my listening and viewing audience, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and, inspiring and that you will continue listening in and watching our Six Weeks to Fitness program. And if you have any questions or suggestions for the show, please leave them in the comment section below and don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. And remember, let's Get Ready, Get Set, and let's Get Fit!

Direct download: Episode_175_Carmen_Carriker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm EDT

In this Episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I explore the importance of motivation to help you achieve a healthy mind and body.  Did those extra pounds you lost prior to the pandemic, find you again?  If so, now is not the time to give up or give in.  It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and do what others won’t do in order to get what others won’t get.  Too often we give up right at the doorstep of success, but what if you had that extra motivation from people who have been there before.  What if you were to hear the right words at the right moment from motivational speakers that will help push you towards your goals.

So you failed at your fitness goals, so what? That was yesterday, today is a new day.  Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he found the answer.  Have you tried even twice or three times before giving up?  My father told me many years ago, he said “son, nothing beats a failure but a try,” so each day I get up, I thank God for another day, I start trying, because I know that the race is given to the swift nor the battle to the strong but to the person that endureth to the end, and so today on this podcast, I’m doing something a little different and bringing forth 20 minutes of motivation from various speakers.  We all need a little kick in the rear sometimes to wake us up and keep us moving towards our fitness goals.  You see, life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and I know the importance of finding inspiration and motivation along the way to help keep you focused on your beliefs and goals and these motivational speeches may be just what you need to keep going, so, sit back and enjoy some of my favorite motivational speeches, and if you would like to hear more podcasts like this, just drop a comment and let me know. I would love to hear from you.

Direct download: Episode_174_Best_Motivational_Speech_Compilation.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EDT

Mercedes De La Cruz is a Canadian born actress and model best known for her memorable and charismatic performances in more than two dozen television shows and independent films. After a successful modeling career, De La Cruz made the transition to a versatile supporting actor lauded as a great actress by the likes of Academy Award nominee, Sally Kirkland for her role as Carla, a savvy pregnant prostitute in Ramshackle Blues, De La Cruz was nominated for a best-supporting actress at the 2019 Vancouver Bad-Ass Film Festival. De La Cruz recently wrapped filming a co-lead in the feature Because You're Dead to Me. And also a movie called The Machine where she can talk a little bit more about while we have the interview. And the co-starring role in the Netflix series Made an extensive spiritual journey, led her to overcome an alcohol and drug addiction.

Vincent Ferguson:

Her in-depth study in A Course In Miracles led her to a massive change in her perspective and gave way to her being able to see energy on objects. This new development opened her eyes to energy work and set her on an even deeper mission. Health and fitness have always been a high priority for Mercedes as a classically trained ballerina for well over a decade, she is no stranger to a strict fitness regimen. She lifts weights, does circuit training, Yoga and Pilates, and when it comes to nutrition, Mercedes has always been interested in pushing her boundaries, everything from intermittent fasting to breatherianism or the Paleo diet to being a vegetarian. She is now a firm believer in being in communication with your body, giving it what it needs, and eating a lot less than we are used to. So let's welcome Mercedes De La Cruz to my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. Mercedes how are you?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Hi. Wow. I'm really good. How are you?

Vincent Ferguson:

I'm good. I'm good. Before we talk about fitness and spirituality. Let's talk also about your acting career.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Sure. Yeah, absolutely.

Vincent Ferguson:

You started out as a model, a very successful one, and yet you transitioned to acting what or who inspired you to get into acting?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, I actually, even before modeling, I was a dancer and I started on stage when I was three years old. And I really like performing, ballet was one thing, but performing just being up there and the crowd and the lights and the excitement and all the energy up there. I really, really wanted more of that. And I mean, I was super young, I was three years old. And so I've been on stage kind of ever since. So I wasn't actually inspired by anyone really specific to perform. I just kind of have always done it. And actually my boyfriend asked me this today. We were doing this fitness stretching class a little while ago and I was really flexible. And he's like, "Have you always been so flexible?" And I was like, "Well, yeah, I was a ballerina. And he was like, "Well, but before you were a ballerina?" And I'm like, "Well, there wasn't anything before."

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. You're a toddler.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. I don't have any in-depth memories of what it was like before I was three years old. So it feels that same way with performing as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, so you're actually doing what you believe you were born to do?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah, pretty much. And that's the funny thing, being a dancer... And it wasn't just ballet that I did. I did ballet, jazz, musical theater, song and dance, like whatever my dance school had. I didn't do tap because I heard it was bad for your knees. That was silly. I was always dancing and performing and I realized later on that it wasn't even really dance that I wanted to do. It was more the performing side, but it was my mom who really was like, "Oh, you're such a great dancer." And I wanted to make her happy and we do that as human beings. We want to please the other people around us and get approval. But I think if someone would have really asked me like, what I preferred I probably would have been acting a lot sooner.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? A lot sooner.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. I mean, not sooner than three, but rather than taking all those years of dance, I think I would have liked to get more into acting sooner than I did.

Vincent Ferguson:

But doesn't having that background in dance compliment your acting?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Absolutely. I think there's a lot of major benefits from all the dance classes that I took and in that is discipline. Right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Also, competence and learning about you, about your body as well. I'm not shy by any means, and I don't know if I would've ever been, but all the years of being on stage or being around that many people I think probably contributed to that as well. And then also listening. Right. Like being able to take direction. I think that was cultivated in dance.

Vincent Ferguson:

I know you were born in Edmonton, Canada, but you moved to Vancouver. Why did you move to Vancouver?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

To pursue acting.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. I've always worked really hard and I left home really early when I was about 13 years old was the first time that I left home.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. And I always had lots of jobs. I really wanted to be successful. And so I had part-time jobs and even through school, even when I wasn't living with my family, I always worked. And then I started a bunch of businesses and I had a home decor and painting company, and I had a marketing and promotions company and I was modeling and acting and traveling, and I was doing so many things and I was really spread thin. And I think because of that, and probably because I was drinking a lot as well I just wasn't feeling centered. And I felt quite depressed. And a close friend of mine, Robert Andrews, who had been a photographer actually, who's been taking my pictures since I was 17 years old, he sat me down and he was like, "All right, you're not happy. I can see that. What is it that you need to be doing? Or if you woke up every day and you were going to be doing something that would make you happy, what would it be?"

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And without even thinking, I was like, "Acting." Like, it was like quick.

Vincent Ferguson:

Quick.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Quick answer. And he was like, "Okay, you got to move." And so I thought about two places that I could live in Canada where I would act and it would be either Toronto or Vancouver. And Vancouver was a lot closer.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

To Edmonton.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And I chose Vancouver. And so within I think it was three weeks, I got rid of everything pretty much that I owned and packed up what I could fit in my Volvo and moved to Vancouver. And I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't have an agent. I didn't know anybody. I didn't have an acting class set up, nothing. I had no idea, but I just felt that's where I needed to be. And lo and behold, it worked out perfectly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. Most definitely. Now again, you stepped out on faith.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I did. Oh yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I do that a lot.

Vincent Ferguson:

Faith. And you had no agent. Okay.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Nope.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nope. So did you have to audition for your first show, for your first movie?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

First things first when I got to Vancouver, this was before everybody had computers. Right. So I was going to internet cafes when that was the thing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And I doing up my resume at the internet cafe and I was looking for an agent and I was sending my resume to all these different agencies. And then you would have to audition for your agent. They would want to see what you were like.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And I mean, I was lucky. I'm ethnically ambiguous so I can play a lot of different roles. And that's definitely something that agencies would like to have. I have like a Hispanic look. I'm very mixed, so I can play a lot of different things.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. Versatile.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. Very versatile. And in Vancouver, there's very few Hispanic actors. So I did have a pretty big pick of agencies that I could go with, but still I had to audition for that.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And in the beginning... I mean, I already had acting credits, I had experience. And I had been taking classes and I had already had a resume of work that I had done, but it was different. Like now I'm in a city where there's TV shows. Right. And I've never been on a TV show before. I didn't even know what that looked like. So I started doing backgrounds and for, I think probably two years, I did background work, which was great because it got you or got me to see how that all works.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Right. What everyone's job is in the production, the hours, and also just like the craziness of having to do the scene over and over and over again. And it's like Groundhog day, right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Not only that let's say it's a party scene and you're dancing at a club. Well, you'll have to do a take where you're dancing with music. Then you have to do a take with dancing without music, probably a few times. Then you have to do it again because you have this person's dialogue and then it's the other person's dialogue. And then there's going to be times where you're supposed to talk to the people that are around you. And other times you have to pretend that you're talking to these people because they don't want to have any sound. It's crazy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. So that was really interesting. And then of course, for anything that I was wanting to be part of it, definitely an audition process. I mean, I was new to the city. I didn't know the casting agencies.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I didn't know of casting. I didn't know anybody. Right. So I was going in like completely blind. And I mean, even just to get to these places at the time... I don't think I had a car when I had first, when I first moved down there. Yeah. I don't know what happened there. So I was like taking the bus to weird places and getting lost.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Exactly. By yourself.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. Everything that happens when you move to a brand new city and you're young and naive, but it worked out great.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. It definitely worked out.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Now it's a different beast as you've been in the city longer, you know the people and it's not so scary.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Exactly. Exactly. But it's worked out for you in Vancouver. All right. Most of your success has been there, correct?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

But I understand you're no longer in Vancouver is that a fact? Where are you now? And why did you move from Vancouver to where you are now?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. All right. Well, where I am now is Belgrade, Serbia.

Vincent Ferguson:

Serbia. Oh my goodness.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Serbia. Yeah. It's been a while wild ride.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I didn't even really know much about Serbia until a few years ago. My, partner, my boyfriend, Mario Milanovich, he is Serbian born in Belgrade, but didn't actually live here. He lived in Germany and then Canada and sometime in the U.S. But about five years ago, he came back for some business and we had started to take trips here and we really enjoy it. The people are so welcoming. The food is so fresh. Like GMO, what? They don't have that here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? Nice.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

No, I mean, it's incredible. And the prices are like... Gosh, you go to the farmer's market and you get bags and bags and bags of produce and it's like five bucks. And the tomatoes are the size of like two hands.

Vincent Ferguson:

What?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

It's wild. Yeah. Beautiful.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

So anyways, we had been coming back and forth for some time and really enjoyed it. And then when COVID happened, it was challenging in Vancouver. The prices are really expensive, property's expensive, my bills were really high and I wasn't working. So I found it quite challenging to sustain my regular lifestyle. And my partner really wanted to get out of the west. So he came out to Serbia and he persuaded me to come too.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. Whoa. Yes.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

So yeah, I did kind of what I did in Vancouver I gave all my things away. I also had an energy healing business in Vancouver. I closed the doors of that. I gave everything, I owned away like all my clothes, all my accessories. I used to style shoot too so I had closets full of yeah, full of everything. And I gave everything I owned to friends and whatever else I wasn't able to give away I gave to charity. And I packed two suitcases and moved to Serbia. And I mean, I didn't know the language. I didn't have any friends or family here. I didn't know what I was going to do. I didn't even know if I was going to act. I was just, again, going on faith-

Vincent Ferguson:

Really.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

... Yeah. And I said, "All right, universe. All right, God, I know that everything's always working out for me so let's just dive in and trust that everything that I desire is still going to be accessible." And then I'm just going to do it and so I did. And within like a month, I got acquainted with an amazing acting coach from New York City, Adam Davenport. Yeah. And he's a phenomenal human being. He's now my acting coach and publicist. And he started an acting school out in Serbia, believe it or not because he came to prep for a movie that he was doing and he is a phenomenal acting coach to begin with in New York. He won like to top 10 acting coaches in the region. So when he came out here, he thought, "All right, I'm going to start a school." So I joined his acting school and met friends that way and got acquainted with casting agencies. And lo and behold, I end up working on a Hollywood movie in Serbia.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

A Hollywood movie in Serbia?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. Yes, in Serbia. I've been trying to break into the Hollywood scene for some time and I'd done some small roles here and there or whatever, but I would've never thought that coming to Serbia would land me a role in a legendary picture, feature film.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

But it did.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

I was just going to say, I was going to ask you, well, most actresses if they want to make it big, they'll usually travel to Hollywood. Okay. But you traveled to Serbia and ended up in a Hollywood movie.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

So, how is the film industry out there? Is it booming? A lot of opportunities for you?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. Actually, it's fantastic. They really have a good foundation for productions to come here now. They have tons of crews ready to go there. The government is offering a tax incentive. It's also cheap. Right. The labor is inexpensive.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. I see.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And it's not unionized out here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, it's not.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

No, I know it's very different in Serbia. They didn't even have any agents here up until this past year. So even all the actors, they just represent themselves, which is something that is unheard of in the west.

Vincent Ferguson:

Crazy.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. It's all who you know, right. So you end up knowing casting directors or casting agents and they will find their roles that way. And it's super unusual. But because of that the pay is very low typically for the actors out here. So when a production from, let's say, New York or Los Angeles comes here and they're paying bigger rates, it's a big deal. It's a big deal for the actors here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. I could imagine. Must be fighting to get a role.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. But I mean, we always are anyway.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's so interesting though, because again, wherever you go you seem to land on your feet?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Absolutely.

Vincent Ferguson:

And we're going to talk about that, but I know that you, again, after reading your bio and you've mentioned you are classically trained ballerina. I also understand you are a Miss Hawaiian Tropic as well as being a successful actress, but which tells me that you are someone who pretty much takes care of her body. And yet at one point in your life, you had a drug and alcohol problem. How did that come about and what steps did you take to kick that habit?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, I've always been very good to my body and then also not so good to my body. And I think primarily... Gosh, like how did it start? I don't know. I mean, I think it first starts like, you're just a kid and you're having fun and you're drinking and partying with friends and then you get a little older and you're still drinking and partying with friends and then maybe your friends are getting out of that and you still kind of doing it. It was a progressive thing for me. There wasn't any specific incident where it was super traumatic and I wanted to escape. But I found as the years went on, I did use it for escapism. Like there's beliefs that were going on, maybe beliefs of not being good enough or worthlessness or lack, right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Or fear. And I think rather than having to feel those feelings, it's so much easier to just numb it out. And that's what I did. And I think also another big part of it was my lifestyle. I had all these jobs and some of them were in nightclubs and some of them were in lounges and bars. And some of them were like in party scenes. Like when I had that marketing and promotions company, I was putting on big events, traveling all over with other models. Even like with the Miss Hawaiian Tropic stuff, you're with other gorgeous women at parties and they're offering you whatever, drinks and drugs. And so, it's a party until it's not a party.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Exactly.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah, I think that's really what happened for me. But I think the longer that I drank and did those drugs, the more I felt those feelings of worthlessness. Like the depression would set in the next day. And for five days after, and I hated myself and I hated my life. And it would take for me to get like, "Okay, I got to get up, dress up, show up, get to the gym." Right. And I would do this cycle thing. Okay. So I party all weekend and then come Monday, I'm back at the gym. I got to get my body back and I started feeling better by Friday. And then here we go, party again on the weekend. So I think it was for me, I had to hit a place that was kind of like a rock bottom where I just couldn't do this anymore. And from that, I was able to make some changes, but it wasn't until I put the alcohol down completely that I could make any change.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay. So you did this on your own? No one came to you. You didn't go to a drug rehab program, alcohol anonymous, anything like that?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Oh my God. No, I tried everything.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, you did?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Oh, sure. God, must've been nearly a decade ago now when I chose to quit drinking. I was like, "Okay, there's got to be a better way. Enough is enough." And I was on a spiritual path. I knew that there had to be a better way and I wanted to shift my perspective. And in that I went and stayed at a spiritual retreat center for three months. And I mean, it wasn't a rehab facility, but it was for anybody, anybody who wanted to make a shift in their lives. I started something that I sort of made up called the Yes Experiment where I would say yes to anything that came into my experience.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And so if someone was like, "You should try this course." I would say, "Yes." "You should go to AA." I said, "Yes." "You should get a sponsor." I said, "Yes." So I did absolutely everything I could get my hands on. I've gone for silent meditation retreats. Like the Pasana where you meditate for 10 hours a day, 10 days straight, which is a hundred hours of meditation-

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

... in 10 days. Yeah. And in that you can't talk to anybody. You can't look at anybody, you have to keep your gaze down. Yeah. That was interesting. I've gone and done like Ayahuasca ceremonies, probably 20 of them. I've gone and done like dark room meditations. I've gone for different sort of body work, energy work. Oh my gosh. You know what? I probably have a list of like 40 different things that I've tried.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really. Really. Unbelievable.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I did not do it alone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. I guess I have to wait for the book to come out right, on your life.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Pretty much.

Vincent Ferguson:

Because I also know that you studied a course called A Course in Miracles. That book, that course was written by Marianne Williamson, correct?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

No.

Vincent Ferguson:

This is the original.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. The original is not. The original is actually it was written by Automatic Writing and it was Ellen Schulman. And this was in the seventies and her and her partner, they were psychologists or psychiatrists. No psychiatrist, yeah, at a university. And at the university, it was really having lots of issues and it was going downhill and their faculty was really having a hard time. And her and her partner Bill Thetford, we're like, "Okay, something's got to give." And Ellen started hearing voices in her head. And the voices were saying, "This is a course in miracles, take notes." And at first she thought she was crazy and she didn't want to do anything with it. And she thought, "Oh my gosh, this sounds like schizophrenia." And being a psychologist, this doesn't sound good. So eventually as time went on, she eventually told Bill like, "Look, I got to tell you something. I'm hearing these voices. What do you think I should do?" And he was like, "Did you ever think of taking notes?"

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Because that's what the voices were saying.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's good. Wow.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

[crosstalk 00:26:11] take notes. So she did, she started taking notes and went and showed him the next day. And as he read what she wrote he was like flabbergasted. It was the words of, and this is I mean, it sounds crazy, but Jesus. And specifically, she was an atheist Jew or something like that. So, I mean, this was not something that she was writing herself, but it was very old English, which is not the way that she spoke. But they ended up writing this whole thing. And it was seven years, it took them to write this book. And then there's the Course and there's 365 lessons one per day. And it's all about changing your perspective. And so the Course in Miracles was really transformational for me because, I was stuck in this point of view of believing these ridiculous beliefs about myself and with the shift of perspective you can start seeing how the things that maybe I thought at one time, maybe aren't true. Right. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

So this has changed your life and your whole perspective on life?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Absolutely. I mean, and that's where it started. There's different ways of saying it. There's tons of different books and even like Landmark Personal Development Program was kind of the first step that I had in that direction when I quit drinking. And the same thing, it's about shifting your perspective. And it's like, this is the story and this is what I made up about the story or what the story means about me. Right. And so it's that distinction between this is actually what happened, and this is what I feel happened. And when I can separate the two, I'm not a victim anymore. And when I'm not a victim anymore then I have control and I can choose the kind of reality that I wish to perceive or to have more of or to create.

Vincent Ferguson:

Hm. Very, very deep.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Thanks.

Vincent Ferguson:

And I love it. Do you believe in miracles or do you believe that we create our own miracles?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, I think both. I think a miracle and even in the Course in Miracles, what they talk about is a miracle is just going from fear to love. In our experience we oscillate all day long where we're in love... And when I mean love, I don't mean like romantic love, but just feeling joy, peace, freedom, all of that. And when we're in fear, we're feeling anything either than peace, love, and joy. So it could be annoyance. It could be when I say fear, not just fear of like the dog, but like fear of tomorrow, the future, the path. It could be heartache. It could be loneliness, like all of these emotions are all under the fear category. And so the miracle is being in a state of that and then being able to get out of it right and shift to that love state. And I think that's what we're doing all the time. Right. We want to spend more time over there. And when I'm over there, then I get to create more of that because whatever I'm focused on, I get more of. So it's simple. It's just not easy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely not. But whatever you focus the most of your time and energy on that's what you bring out. Right. That's what you bring about. And it's easy to say, but it's hard to focus on what you really want.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, yeah. We're so imprinted and patterned with this looking for what's wrong rather than looking for what's right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. Do you believe there is a higher power that directs your life?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I definitely believe that there's a higher power. I don't necessarily think that it's directing my life. I believe that it's there if I want to take it. I believe I'm directing my life, but when I let go and relax and I trust then I can go with the flow. But because I have free will I can push away from that flow-

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Easily.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

... anytime I want.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. Yes. Yes. So true. So true. Now at this stage of your acting career and your life, how important is fitness?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Wow. It's very important to me. Fitness and nutrition both are very important, but it's in a different way. I used to be a crazy gym rat, like I would spend three hours a day at the gym. And I'm that girl that like, if I'm supposed to do 10 pushups, like I'll do 50.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Like I pushed myself so hard almost to a detriment because I didn't listen to my body for a really long time. And I didn't know how. I think as human beings, we were raised where our parents said, "Listen to me, I know better." Or the teacher says, "Listen to me, I know better." Or the doctor says, "Listen to me, I know better." Nobody said like Follow your inner guidance system. You know what to do."

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Nobody said that. And because of that, we don't trust ourselves. We don't trust how our body feels. We don't trust these little bits of insight maybe, or intuition that we get. We don't know that we know. And so forever, I kept reading books about what I thought I should do for fitness or reading books about what I thought I should do about nutrition. And now I do the opposite, I do what I can and I do what lights me up. And with food, I eat what I want. And I don't mean it in a way of like, eat donuts all the time. But I used to have this point of view that I'm supposed to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, then three snacks in between. And like don't eat after six and all of these things that we read or we heard, and that's fine and dandy, but like, that's not what my body's asking for.

Vincent Ferguson:

Ah, yes.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Right. So it wasn't until I took food away entirely. I became a breatherian. Which a breatherian is somebody who sustains their life force energy by A changing your mind to what's possible in breathing exercises. And in that you don't have to eat food. I know that sounds wild, but I did that for half a year.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah. And at first I thought, oh my gosh, there's no way that I'm going to be able to have any energy or whatever. And it was actually the opposite.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yep. I had more energy than I had ever had before. I didn't need to sleep as much. And this is why, this is what they say. And I mean, I don't know the facts behind it, but what they say in breatherianism is that we use 80% of our energy to digest our food.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

So if that's the case and you get up in the morning and you eat, and then you eat lunch and then you eat dinner and then you eat before bed well, you're digesting all day long using 80% of your energy. That means that you're working on 20% energy all day.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, how are you supposed to like drive your car, be creative, basic motor function, have conversations, like that's tough. Well, you take all that digestion process away and all of a sudden you have 80% more energy. So you can be more creative. Your body can heal throughout the day, rather than waiting for you to fall asleep when you're finally not eating. Things like that. So anyways, long story short, I wanted to throw that in there just to say, when I took all the food away and realized that these points of view that I had around... I mean, we were told no food or water for three days, you'll die. Right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I think of a common "fact". Well, I've gone seven days with no food and no water and I wasn't thirsty or hungry and I could have went longer I was just bored.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh my goodness.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

What I believe will then become my reality. And so that's why it's important to change your mind to what's possible. In doing all of that, I realized like my body will tell me what it needs. And because I took everything away, I could just start implementing what I needed. I wouldn't call myself a breatherian anymore. However, I might go a couple of days without eating and then maybe I'll go a few days with eating a lot. Or maybe I won't have breakfast for a while. Maybe I'll decide, I just want salad. But I just listen to my body and I give it what it desires and I don't have any problems. I feel light. I feel more energetic.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

I have more energy to go out and... I started running. Like, I didn't think I was a runner. I started doing that. And I love working out. I love working out in the gym. I love heavy weights, but I don't go as crazy as I used to. I just do what feels good.

Vincent Ferguson:

And you listen more to your body. Correct?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

That's it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. Now you recently wrapped up filming, as I mentioned, a co-lead and the feature Because You're Dead To Me but you said you also wrapped up a movie called The Machine. Talk about that for a minute.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, yeah. The Because You're Dead To Me is an independent film that we shot in Vancouver. And right now it's being sent to festivals. So we'll see what happens with that. And then The Machine is a Legendary Pictures, feature film from LA. And that movie is about Bert Kreischer. He's a comedian in the U.S. and you can actually watch his special on Netflix. He's hilarious.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah, he's a jolly dude that doesn't like to wear a shirt. So he's usually topless in all of his spandex. He just doesn't like the way it feels, he's so funny. And actually doing the movie, he wasn't wearing clothes for most of that. I mean the top, he had pants on. Anyway. Yeah. So he's a hilarious comedian. And he has a standup routine called The Machine.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And what it's about is him in college taking Russian, which he actually thought was Spanish in the beginning, but is like that good of a student that he didn't realize. He wanted to get out of the class and the teacher was like, "Look, we need X amount of students for this to be a class, just stay in the class and I'll give you a C." And he was like, "Okay."

Vincent Ferguson:

Really. Cool.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

And she's like, "You don't have to do..." Yeah, "You don't have to do anything. Don't worry about like writing tasks. I'll just give you a C." And he was like "Score." So he took it. And after four years of Russian, they went on a class trip to Russia where he got involved with the Russian mob. And it's a hilarious skit that he does all about that. So for the movie it's about that. And then 20 years later, him and his dad get abducted by the Russian mob for things that they believe that he did 20 years prior. So it's Bert Kreischer and Mark Hamill plays his father who was Luke Skywalker.

Vincent Ferguson:

Mark Hamill.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

The original Luke Skywalker. Yep. And yeah, and I'm in that and I play his teacher.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. And you said you wrapped it up. So is it going to be released in a film or Netflix? How is it going to be released?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, it's a feature film. So Legendary Pictures also did like Godzilla, The Hangover, they're a big production company. Yeah. I believe it's going to be a Hollywood blockbuster. I don't know when they're going to release it. I don't know. I don't know what's happening with that now that so many productions were probably put on hold because of COVID and maybe aren't released yet because all the theaters aren't back in running. I don't really know.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Right.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

But I do know that Bert right now is on tour with his standup. So he's probably promoting the movie and hopefully it will be out maybe by next year, I'm hoping.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. I hope so, too. It sounds great. It really does. How can my listeners find out more about you Mercedes?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Well, you can check me out on Instagram. I'm Mercedes De La Cruz one. Also, you can look me up on IMDB and my IMDB link is on my Instagram page, also Facebook. But I post on Instagram a few times a week, at least. And I'm always talking about what I'm up to in my stories. And I make little videos here and there as well. And I post a lot of modeling pictures and people can reach me that way. I've also helped people out, when it comes to getting clean and sober, giving advice, whatever. So if anybody needs a hand with anything like that or just wants some advice, drop me a line.

Vincent Ferguson:

And they can do that via Instagram?

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. Well Mercedes De La Cruz on behalf of body sculpt of New York, that's my nonprofit organization, and Six Weeks of Fitness I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

And to my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.6weekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.

Mercedes De La Cruz:

Bye.

 

Direct download: Episode_173_Mercedes_De_La_Cruz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:24pm EDT

Are you feeling tired and stressed with all that’s going on in the world around you? Well, you're in luck. Joining me today on my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast is Brooke Rozzie, a certified health and wellness coach, nutritionist and personal trainer with over 12 years of experience in the wellness industry. She is also the creator of the Balanced Body program, a program dedicated to supporting women in not only achieving their goals, but to truly transform their relationship with their body. So they could not only have the energy they need to keep up with their busy mom life, but to also feel good in their skin while doing it. Today, Brooke will provide some expert fitness and nutrition tips for you busy moms out there and, show you how to balance your body and your life.

Vince Ferguson:

Brooke, But before we discuss your Balanced Body program, tell my listeners more about Brooke Rozzie. Where did you grow up and what was Brooke's childhood like?

Brooke Rozzie:

Oh gosh. How much time do we have? So I grew up in Michigan. I grew up in a pretty great home. My parents were awesome. We all have our family stuff, right? I grew up with a brother with addictions. I was overweight as a kid, and I think that presented challenges in itself growing up. And I really learned fitness from a younger age. Around sixth grade I lost most of the weight by myself and I didn't know how to do it healthily. And I grew up watching my mom diet a lot of my life, talking poorly about her body. I'm what I call like the SnackWell generation, where everything was fat free.

Brooke Rozzie:

And that's the environment I grew up in. And so I developed some eating disorder tendencies in high school due to a lot of those things. Poor body image, the way I talk to myself and I really started to realize what I was doing as I entered my young twenties. But in your young twenties, like most females, a lot of my approach to nutrition was still like, "Is this making me fat or skinny? How is this making me look in a bathing suit?" It was never, "How is this making me feel when I choose this," and prioritizing my health until I lost my dad about seven years ago and through the trauma of losing him and the stress, I really started to see the wellness side of the industry and see how much other environmental factors in our life were influencing how we feel in our body.

Brooke Rozzie:

My body went a little haywire from it. My hormones went out of control. I developed Hypothyroid, and I was really forced into understanding how much my endocrine system and a lot of those things were playing a role in how I was feeling day to day. So, from personal experience, that truly transformed how I coach people and why I coach people the way I do, because I started to see how much other women were feeling similar ways that I had been feeling in my body. And after becoming a mom, I struggled with postpartum anxiety and I didn't feel like I really had any resources or understanding as to why it was happening. I've always been in the nature to ask why? Why is this happening? Not just accept "Oh, you just have it." But my question was always like, "Well, why do I have this?"

Brooke Rozzie:

It just came out of nowhere. So I really started to ask why and explore a lot of those things and when I started to see that there were so many different moms feeling the same way in their body and not understanding or getting the support, it really led me to truly developing the Balanced Body program that I coach and how I coach to it now because I really, obviously, I want women to feel good in their skin and achieve their goals and feel their best, but I really want you to just feel good when you're there. I tell a lot of my clients I don't care if you lose 20 pounds, if you don't feel good, I want you to feel good when you're there too.

Vince Ferguson:

And you mentioned, explain what that is to my listeners and how you dealt with that.

Brooke Rozzie:

So, Hypothyroid is essentially like, think of your master metabolism controller. Well, essentially if your thyroid is not functioning ideally, then we can pretty much assume that a lot of other parts of your endocrine system, meaning your sex hormone function and your stress responses and your gut health are not functioning the way that they should be either. So it really impacted a lot of areas in my life, my energy during the day, my anxiety, how I was able to sleep at night, foods that I was craving, my digestion. It impacted so many areas. I did go on a medication. I still take one now. I partnered with physicians to truly understanding the nutrition that I needed to be consuming to feel my best.

Brooke Rozzie:

And it really did gear me towards taking more of an individual approach with everything I do because the basic things that I was doing just wasn't working for me and I really had to learn that nutrition and workout were more than just the food that I was eating. It was how I was balancing the stress in my body and how I was moving my body to support the stressors and things that I was experiencing.

Vince Ferguson:

So do you feel that nutrition plays a major part in how you feel?

Brooke Rozzie:

A hundred percent. I try to explain it to people it's, the number one way available for your body to get nutrients is through your food. Our body is designed to receive nutrients through our food. Supplementation and things like that are amazing that we have options like that but we shouldn't have to rely on things like that. So you're your food truly, I always say, your food literally dictates your mood.

Brooke Rozzie:

If we're lacking nutrients, for example, like magnesium, we have 200 enzymatic processes in our body that need efficient magnesium to function. And when we're low, we have 200 enzymatic processes in our body that aren't functioning ideally because of it. So think of one little thing that all of those different nutrients we get through our food contribute to how our body functions day to day.

Vince Ferguson:

Very good. Good point. So when you speak to your clients, you go over, you go over what they're eating every day. I mean, do you provide a meal plan for them?

Brooke Rozzie:

I think of it less as meal plan and more of like foundational habits to build on. I truly start with, I think a few different things. We have our foundations and then we have our details and the details would be meal plans, macros, things like that, which can absolutely be beneficial but I always tell my clients, especially the moms, life is going to happen. And when life happen and your meal plan is not available to follow, what are you going to do?

Brooke Rozzie:

You need to have the foundations instilled so that you always have that place to go back to so that it's not like, I'm on the bathroom off. I'm being detailed or I'm in maintenance. And I think of it that way versus I want you to know what to do. But I always tell my clients, my role when you're done with me is to not need me. I ultimately want to work myself out of a job because I want you to know what you need to do because I cannot be with you for the rest of your life. You need to know why you're choosing the foods you're choosing and those things, and a meal plan is not teaching you that.

Vince Ferguson:

That's very, very true. So do you have free consultations with your clients before you take them on?

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah, absolutely. Everybody I meet with, we start with a decision support call. We walk through, essentially I look at it as where are you at right now, where do you want to be and what are the holes in between that we need to focus on to get you there. And that's really what our decision support call is for. And from there it's, "Okay, here are the options and the things that I see from my experience and education that we need to prioritize with you and then these are the avenues we should go to do it."

Vince Ferguson:

So what does it mean to have a Balanced Body?

Brooke Rozzie:

It really means being in alignment with yourself. Balance is the marketing term. Balance is kind of BS. We're not really going to achieve balance, this ever, ever ending thing that we're always looking for, but we can find alignment. And especially as a mom or a woman, it's the alignment in how you're feeling mentally, the alignment in your mindset and how you're approaching things, your relationships, your relationships with other people and yourself. It's the alignment in what your workouts look like during the week when life happens or when you have an easy week, what does that look like and how do you do it? And it's the alignment with your nutrition choices for your individual body and what you need. And that's truly what gives you that balanced feeling.

Brooke Rozzie:

We have this expectation, that balanced means that we're never going to have struggles, we're never going to take a setback, we're never going to have life step in where we have to pivot. And that's just not the reality, but the alignment means that we're aligned in ourselves and we know how to pivot with it so that we can still feel the way that we need to feel.

Vince Ferguson:

So there's no cookie cutter approach here. Everyone is treated as an individual.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. Even in my group coaching program, I'm giving you the foundations and the general guidelines, but I'm truly guiding you through how to take that and individually implement it too.

Vince Ferguson:

And again, you said that you don't want someone to be dependent upon you, you want to basically have them be free of you after a while once they able to go out on their own and do what they need to do. And once you give them the information that they need, do you want them to be able to be independent of you?

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. I tell my clients, I'm like, "I love you. It's not that I want to not work with you but I haven't done my job if you need me forever, you haven't learned anything."

Vince Ferguson:

What are some of the causes, Brooke, for an unbalanced Body? What can contribute to that?

Brooke Rozzie:

Well it depends on where we're feeling out of alignment, but it could be, a lot of times, especially a mom, when we've had a kid, we try to put this expectation on ourselves that we need to be able to keep up with and do what we used to do before we had kids. And we don't take a step back to see, we all have this capacity in our day. And one, as a mom, like the whole "It takes a village," type of a thing, the village has disappeared in modern motherhood. It's just not there anymore. So we need to remember that we only have a certain capacity and we try to give so much of ourselves to other people. And self-sacrifice is like badge of good motherhood, and it's not. It's not true.

Brooke Rozzie:

But alignment really, truly mean that we recognize our capacity and we know what that is and we prioritize ourselves in that capacity. And let's say before kids you have a cup of water, you have more capacity in that cup of water to add more on your plate, because you don't have a human relying on you for something. But now that you're a mom, it doesn't mean you still can't be effective and good with the things that doing or prioritize yourself. It means that we need to set healthy boundaries on what our capacity is and what we're able to take on because a lot of that capacity has been taken up by the amazing thing that we have in our life, but it is taken up. So we need to, a lot of times, set those healthy boundaries that are taking away from us, being able to show up feeling our best so that when we feel our best, we can show up our best for our kids, for our spouse, for ourselves, because that's really what it feels.

Vince Ferguson:

Do you believe that moms put too much stress on themselves trying to be perfect, trying to be all things, all people?

Brooke Rozzie:

All the time. We have this guilt, this mom guilt of, if "I don't do this and I'm failing," or, "That person needs me, I should be able to give more of myself to them." Like, "Oh, my kids needed this, it's just easier. If I do it." We're putting way too much on ourselves. One of the best things that I learned was don't do for your kid what they're capable of doing for themselves. And we try to instill that with our kids. And a lot of it is not because I'm not going to be here for you to do things but I want you to learn to be self-sufficient. And as a mom, we try to take that over a lot, not just with our kids, but with a lot of people. We want to be needed, we want to help people. It feels good to help people. And there's nothing wrong with that, but we can't help people when we're not able to help ourselves first.

Brooke Rozzie:

And we overextend because we feel this guilt, but truly, I always ask my moms "Who's story is that? Why are you feeling that guilt?" You need to check back in with yourself of like, "Hey, where is this guilt coming from? If I don't help this person, why am I feeling guilty around that," type of thing. And sometimes it can be other people's expectations of us and our feeling the need to need it. It can be our expectations on ourselves and it can be, like what I said, what we used to be able to do and thinking we should be able to do that and not recognizing, you know what, what my life has shifted. And people sometimes can expect that we're going to be the same person as we were before we had kids and it's okay to acknowledge that you might be the same person, but your priorities have changed. And that's okay.

Vince Ferguson:

What kind of stress does it put on a relationship though, between a husband and a wife, when she realizes that she can't do everything that she used to do, or she has to change her way of doing things?

Brooke Rozzie:

That's so true. It's the boundaries and it can bring resentfulness. It's very common. It can feel like you're the one doing everything. I've gone through this in my own relationship with my husband. Sometimes you feel like you need to be the rescuer, you need to be the one to fix it instead of having the, "What? This was your responsibility, you need to handle this." I think after our first, my husband and I really struggled with that one, and it was more so we really needed to set boundaries and priorities of who was handling what.

Brooke Rozzie:

A lot of times, women, we try to handle everything. We think that certain things in the home should be our responsibility but my husband and I really approach it as, we're a partnership. We both are working inside and outside the home. We're a partnership and how we handle this. We're equally parents in this. One of us has our strengths over the others with certain things and we try to capitalize on that where I am very type A organized. So I handle the bills and the appointments and those kinds of things. I say I handle the mental load of our home, my husband handles the physical load of our home and he handles the laundry and the dishes and those kinds of things.

Brooke Rozzie:

But it really took a learning process to work through that. And it took me setting the boundaries of, "Okay, you know what? The laundry is not done. It's overflowing." Instead of getting resentful and take it on myself. I had to start saying to my husband, "Hey, the laundry is not done, we're not doing this until that's done," type of a thing. And you're not parenting But you're partnering in it.

Vince Ferguson:

Good point. But I wonder how hard is it, when you're speaking to your clients, knowing that they have a partner here, how hard is it to get through to them that now it really is a partnership because I think women have a tendency of taking it all on themselves and the partner is more than willing to let them do that.

Brooke Rozzie:

Well, of course, right. If somebody is going to take on your stuff, we would all be like, sure, take it away. I would not-

Vince Ferguson:

Exactly, take it.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. Who wouldn't take advantage of that. But it's really the communication and it comes down to a lot of times we expect, especially as a woman, we think of things totally different than a man. And we have to be okay with that. A lot of times we think like, "Well, he should think of this the way that I do or he should do this." our brains are just not wired that way at all and we need to like recognize that sometimes guys literally communicate differently in many different ways and we need to acknowledge that our communication to them shouldn't be the expectation that they know what we need but it's the sitting down and having the conversation of, "Hey, I need you to understand when you're not keeping up with this, it's impacting me in this way," and not coming from a place of anger or feeling triggered or anything like that, it's coming from a place of like, "I know you're not intentionally doing this, but this is how it's impacting me."

Brooke Rozzie:

And I think when we understand how our actions are affecting somebody else, we can come from a place of support more than when, it's very common nature and I'm not always my best self either but we all can sometimes show up as like attacking or upset versus the, take the step back and have that true communication. So I always say, whether it's your goal or food in the house or roles around the home or those kinds of things, it's so much better when you can come from, I call it your green, yellow, and red zone, that's one of my coach calls it. When you can come from that green zone to say, "Hey, I need you to understand that eating this way is really important to me because it makes me feel good. And when I feel good, I show up better as a spouse to you as a person to myself, as a mom to our kid," and having those real conversations where we have to be a little vulnerable, because then they can understand where you're truly coming from.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. That's a very intense topic too. I mean, I think we go even further into this.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah, and we want it to be easy, right? We want those transitions to just be easy. And sometimes when we fight it, we create this resistance around it and that's where we get stuck and we stop. But we have to understand that we're changing habit, we're changing narrative, we're changing pathways of how we do stuff. It's not going to be easy for that stuff to happen, but it's going to be so worth it if you can work through those things because ultimately you can either feel uncomfortable where you are or you can feel uncomfortable going through those transitions to get to where you're truly wanting to be.

Vince Ferguson:

Good. Excellent. But now I have an even tougher question for you, but I'm sure you have the answer because you've worked with clients. What if you dealing with a client who does not have a partner, just a single mom who has to do so much and whose mother and father to her kids. What do you tell them?

Brooke Rozzie:

Oh my gosh, I have so much for single moms because you have so much on your plate. And gosh, the days that my husband's gone, I'm like, "Oh, thank God you're back here." But it's really prioritizing. I do have girlfriends that are single moms and they balance a lot and they have partners that are not in the picture at all. And we sit down and it's just, "Okay, what are your non-negotiables?" And be flexible within what that non-negotiable is. So your non-negotiable could be movement, but be flexible about what that movement is. Maybe you can't get a 45 minute strength training workout in that day, but could you put the kids in a stroller and go on a walk? You couldn't do that. But maybe be flexible on what that is, but non-negotiable on the fact that you're getting movement in.

Brooke Rozzie:

It could be a non-negotiable that we eat healthy food in our home, but you know what, I don't have any food prepared so I'm going to be flexible on where the source of that food is coming from. Maybe we're ordering it out or I'm picking a couple of things up from the store instead, instead of grabbing fast food or something, I'm, non-negotiable that I'm eating healthy food, but I'm flexible in the approach that we're taking to do that.

Vince Ferguson:

Now with your clients, I know you talk about nutrition, but you also talk about exercise, correct?

Brooke Rozzie:

I do. All my programs include tailored workout, for you at home or gym, whatever is best. I work with people across the country, so it's more virtual action. So it's all done through an app and it's all tailored to what you individually need and you have access to me through it, coach you through, make pivot all those kinds of things through it.

Vince Ferguson:

Okay. So your business is pretty much via what, Zoom?

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. I'll make coaching appointment with private clients via Zoom. And my group coaching programs, we do Zoom coaching calls. I have a community group with everyone where, in an app, we're all interacting with each other. I made the pivot, one, because of the pandemic, but two, it really gives mom the flexibility that they need to not have another appointment on your plate that you have to get to. It really gives you more flexibility to make it work.

Vince Ferguson:

Oh, definitely. But also you have a wider audience.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

Because I mean, not only in this country, you can meet up with people in other, not only time zones, but other countries as well, like Ireland and Sweden or Poland, whatever, which is amazing. The sky's the limit.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. Some of my clients are in Canada. Some are here. That's where I'm at right now, but it's cool for me to, to like learn how other countries do things too, and have to be flexible with that. It's pretty awesome.

Vince Ferguson:

Definitely. Now, what type of packages does your Balanced Body program offer? Like, six weeks, 10 weeks?

Brooke Rozzie:

It's 24 weeks. It used to be 12 weeks for the Balanced Body program, but I really found that 12 weeks was not enough time for you to leave me truly feeling good and ultimately, I said that's my goal. So 24 weeks is really enough time where we really can prioritize and make sure that these things are instilled as a habit for you. You've gone through life with it, you've gone through a couple of seasons with it so we can make sure that you've had the true support that you need to leave it not needing another program again. Know what you need to do.

Brooke Rozzie:

I do offer a graduate program to my clients when they're done, where like they can keep me at an arms with distance and still have programming done for them if they choose but they don't need to. It's really up to them at that point. The program is 24 weeks. We emphasize hormonal health and how it's impacting how you're feeling, nutrition, you have tailored workouts done for you. I have guest expert coaches that come in from like hormonal health to mindset coaches to maternal mental health that speak through the program as well. And then everybody gets access to me via Voxer or like voice texting throughout the program too, as well as bi-weekly coaching calls with me.

Vince Ferguson:

And you've been doing this now, this program now for how long?

Brooke Rozzie:

A year.

Vince Ferguson:

A year? And it's been doing quite well.

Brooke Rozzie:

It's been doing awesome. I used to only do private coaching and I still do private coaching for select clients, but it's truly my favorite thing to deliver because it's all encompassing. It's the program I really wish was there after I had our first, because I didn't know what I didn't know about being a mom and it's the program made for moms because there wasn't a lot of things out there for that.

Vince Ferguson:

Isn't that something, if you only had this program that you put together for you, yourself, when you had your first kid, it would make all the difference, but obviously there's a need for it, there's a market for it and you, and you're filling it and that's a great thing. How many kids do you have?

Brooke Rozzie:

I have two. We have a three-and-a-half-year old and a one-year-old.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. So you're busy.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. It's a little chaotic in our house.

Vince Ferguson:

Yes, exactly. Now your sessions though, your packages, is it once a week that the client sees you?

Brooke Rozzie:

It depends. If they're in the Balanced Body program, the group coaching program, then they get bi-weekly calls with me and then if they're doing private coaching with me, private coaching is if somebody wants a little bit more accountability, support, a little more hand holding, or they just don't like a group setting, I do have a private coaching option and the private coaching clients do meet with me weekly.

Vince Ferguson:

Okay, great. Now my podcast is Six Weeks To Fitness. So let's say, what would you recommend a busy mom to do if, if she wanted to see results, at least getting to where she wants to be. Let's say if it's a weight loss, she just wants to feel overall better about her body, about her life, what nutrition advice would you give this busy mom for six weeks to see and feel some improvement.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah, that's a really good question. So in six weeks I generally say, "Don't put pressure on yourself but think of the simple things that you can shift that will make a massive difference." The foundation's always not at the most because those are truly what keep us sustained and where we need to be. So I always say like, let's look at the areas that you're like missing the boat right now. And let's prioritize that and each week focus on one to two new things. So one week it could be aiming for half of your body weight in water each day and then the next week it could be prioritizing protein with each of your meals and then the next week it could be moving your body for 30 minutes a day and then we're just building. And then at six weeks you have six different habits that you've implemented and you're in a totally different place in six weeks just from implementing one new thing each week through that time.

Vince Ferguson:

But when it comes to nutrition, are there any types of foods that you recommend that they start eating as opposed to other types of food?

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. I always say one, whole real foods, they're going to keep you the most satiated and deliver you those nutrients that we talked about that you need. So start with assessing, looking at how much of your food is coming from whole food or packaged food and try to aim the first week for 80% of your food to come from whole food sources. And then look in the detail of what that food is. So on your plate, you should have a protein, an adequate protein source palm to maybe a hand size. If you're eating three meals a day, you should have about a fish size serving of good fiber carbs on your plate. Some veggies I generally say should take up like half of our plate and then some fat. We need to have an adequate fat in there, especially as women to support our hormonal functions.

Brooke Rozzie:

So what you can do is week one, look at the whole food. Week two, prioritize that protein with each of your meals. Week three, make sure you have a fibrous carb with each meal. Week four, make sure you have the veggie and fat with each meal. Week five, start to tune in to what sources. Are we eating more organic sources? Where are we getting those from? And then in week six, start to look at, "Okay, how much water am I taking in?" Start to up your water intake a little bit more. They seem so simple, but they can make a massive difference in how you're feeling.

Vince Ferguson:

Most definitely. Brooke, how can my listeners find out more about you about a Balanced Body? And do you have a website? Do you have the social media that they can follow?

Brooke Rozzie:

So Instagram is probably where you're going to see me the most. So it's @Brooke Rozzie, R-O-Z-Z-I-E. And my program is open right now. So the Balanced Body start September 13th. So they can come join. If they have questions, they can come ask me there. Just shoot me a DM and we'll share.

Vince Ferguson:

That's awesome. Now, Brooke, do you also have a podcast?

Brooke Rozzie:

I don't. I had started one. I thought about it and I'm back to the drawing board on what I want it to be. So pretty soon, I might.

Vince Ferguson:

Yeah, I would imagine you will because you articulate your program so well and I think that it would be another benefit, another asset of yours to have that. You'll reach even more people and that's what you want to do. That's what you're doing.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. I love podcasts. I think they're an amazing way to get information. I need to, well, one I'm looking at my capacities, just like I coach my clients of like what I have capacity for, but it will be there. It's just a matter of when.

Vince Ferguson:

That's impressive. You're right. You don't want to put more on you than you can handle right now, right?

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Vince Ferguson:

There you go. I'm sure you tell your clients that we become overwhelmed trying to do everything, be all things, all people and you don't have the capacity for it.

Brooke Rozzie:

I practice what I teach.

Vince Ferguson:

What advice would you give to moms now who are busy, struggling, trying to make it happen and need some encouragement.

Brooke Rozzie:

One, give yourself grace. You have so much that you take in a mental load and a physical load day-to-day. So you have to give yourself grace on what you're actually doing. We always feel like it's not enough. If you sat down and made a list of the things that you were doing day to day, you would be shocked. And then I always say, talk to yourself the way you would talk to your daughter. And if your daughter says that she needs a break or she's feeling exhausted or run down, what would you say? You would tell her to chill but somehow we tell ourselves, we have to push harder, we have to do more. Give yourself a break. It's okay to take a step back and assess and you don't have to be everything to everybody.

Vince Ferguson:

Awesome. Give yourself a break. You don't have to be everything to everybody. Chill.

Brooke Rozzie:

Yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

Love it Brooke. Brooke Rozzie on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York, that's my nonprofit organization and Six Weeks To Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Brooke Rozzie:

Thank you. I love being on here with you. So thank you for having me.

Vince Ferguson:

You a wonderful, and to my list of those, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our six weeks of fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks To Fitness blog at www.6weekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_172_Brooke_Rozzie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:22am EDT

Could our gut bacteria play a major role in the prevention, and treatment of disease? Dr. Christine Bishara has been studying diseases for over 20 years.  She is the founder of “From Within Medical”, a medical wellness practice in New York City, that places emphasis on the mind-body and gut-brain axis to prevent and manage disease.  Dr. Bishara discovered that the connection between these systems plays a significant role in disease prevention and management but it has not been adequately addressed.

COVID-19 and Children

Dr. Bishara recently published an article on the role of gut and probiotics on immunity and COVID-19.  She shared that through research her team discovered that children have healthier guts than adults.  This is due to the level of gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium.  This type of bacteria decreases as we age.  Dr. Bishara believes the reason children were less affected by COVID-19 is because of the levels of Bifidobacterium in their guts.

Although Bifidobacterium levels decline with age, in one particular study she cited, Bifidobacterium levels were found to be higher in Italian and Japanese centenarians than in the younger elderly population.  Upon further research and study of centenarians in other countries, it was found that their diet and lifestyle played a major role.  They were mostly vegetarians and for exercise they would walk over 30 minutes per day on a regular basis.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that the importance of our guts to prevent disease is nothing new.  According to the Greek Physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut”.  He made this statement over 2400 years ago.

Dr. Bishara believes that the Standard American Diet (“SAD”), is what’s destroying our immune system.  In a recently published article on the CNN website titled “Poor diets threaten US national security — and it's serious”, it stated that “46% of adults have poor quality diet and 56% of children and these numbers are highest in the minority, rural and low-income communities.” The article went on to say that “diet-related illnesses are harming the readiness of the US military and the budgets of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy-one percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service, with obesity being the leading medical disqualifier,” citing numbers from a 2018 report. 

Why isn’t there more focus on the Immune System

Dr. Bishara doesn’t know why the media or society as a whole isn’t shining a light on our immune system.  She believes that the focus should be on prevention rather than treatment.  She also believes that people want a quick fix and that we should go back to the basics, which is our food.

She also believes that a good place to start boosting your immune system is by taking a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.  You can find large amounts of Bifidobacterium in probiotics.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that while she recommends we take a probiotic, there is nothing better than prebiotics, which is when we consume more fruits and vegetables, cut back on the high processed foods and eat more organic foods.  If we did all these things, we wouldn’t need a probiotic.

The role of Vitamin D to support the immune system

I recently interviewed Dr. Joel Gould on my show.  Dr. Gould suffered from Sleep Apnea and Crohn’s Disease.  Through his research, he discovered patients with Sleep Apnea usually have low levels of Vitamin D, so he increased his Vitamin D intake and not only did his Sleep Apnea go away but so did his Crohn’s Disease.  He also stated that 96% of the people who died from COVID-19, had low levels of Vitamin D in their bodies (20% or lower). 

Dr. Bishara agrees with Dr. Joel Gould on the importance of Vitamin D to our immune system and how it plays a major role in our intestinal health.

During the early stages of the pandemic, New York City was considered the epicenter.  During that time, Dr. Bishara noticed that the majority of COVID-19 patients had a BMI over 30%, which is considered obese.  Dr. Bishara believes that COVID-19 is a disease that attacks our immune system. 

Dr. Bishara’s advice to parents is to “invest in your health and invest in prevention versus treatment.”  Dr. Bishara’s practice is located in the flatiron District of New York City.  You can contact Dr. Bishara on Instagram and on Facebook @drchristineb or on her website at www.fromwithinmedical.com.

To receive the full impact and insight from this very informative interview with Dr. Bishara, please listen to the entire episode., and if you would like to listen to future episodes like this one, please visit www.6weekstofitness.com and subscribe, so you don’t miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_171_Dr._Christine_Bishara.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:52pm EDT

Moses Sistrunk Jr., also known as Coach Moses is a Harlem born enthusiast of the sport of fencing, since 1991.  His dedication to the sport began at Our Children's Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves the Harlem community with afterschool and summer programs. It was here where he met Coach Witold Rak who was the fencing instructor at the time. Since 2012, Coach Moses has been running his own program called Inner City Fencing, which is a program that uses the sport of fencing to develop lifelong skills in young people from underrepresented and underserved communities, throughout the New York metropolitan area.

At present, he is developing a nonprofit organization called Inner City Fencing Initiative, Inc., that aims to increase the physical and financial accessibility of fencing across the New York City area.  He works with local organizations, such as my nonprofit organization, Body Sculpt of New York and others to help expose more young athletes to the sport of fencing.

Coach Moses goal is to raise the funds, to make programs such as these, consistent and reliable for students in all areas of underserved communities.

This is his way of continuing his passion and giving back to the community through the sport of fencing. And I'm thrilled to have Coach Moses on my Six Weeks of Fitness podcast. Coach, how are you today?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

I'm doing great. How about yourself?

Vince Ferguson:

I'm Good. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming on the show. But before we talk about your program, Inner City fencing, tell my listeners, where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, I actually grew up, since January of 1980, in what you call Grant Housing, right on 125th Street. So, I've been there for over... I would say 30 years right now, that I've been in that area.  I have a younger brother. I had a pretty good childhood. My father was always active. He always had us going out there doing different activities and stuff.

He'd always make sure Saturdays and Sundays, we were out there doing some type of activity. He did not want us sitting around the house. So, I was always active. And my mother basically, around the age of 11, 12 years old, actually 11 years old... I actually remember it. November 5th, 1989, on a Tuesday. Yes, I remember this. I came to Our Children's Foundation and that became a blessing to me because it was right across the street from my house and I did all types activities.

Fencing was just one of the activities I did. I used to do ballet, tap, martial arts, African drum class, sign language. So, I got exposed to all those activities at a very young age and it just exposed me to different things.

So, I was very fortunate that my mother brought me here and I've been here ever since. So, we're talking about nearly 32 years of me being exposed and working for Our Children's Foundation.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. And that's all basically in the community of Harlem, correct?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. So, where did you receive your training to become a fencer? Was it there?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, I learned to do fencing here, but what ended up happening was, back in 2000, I pretty much... Unfortunately, around this time I suffered a tragedy. My girlfriend had just passed away from cancer and I was there when she passed away.

And so, what ended up happening was my coach used to come and visit. And he recognized me. He was like, "Oh, hey, I remember you. You used to be that skinny runt that used to be all around fencing." So, I was like, "Yeah."

So, he remembered me and he literally brought me to his place that he had just remodeled, because he has a fencing club in Queens and he used to let me come by and just practice around.

So, I would come by, do a little fencing. And they actually had fencing here at The Foundation at the time. I was a junior counselor here at The Foundation.

So, the guy that originally was here... I don't remember his name at all... He left. And then, my boss at the time, knew my fencing so he said, "Hey, how would you like to teach fencing?" And I looked at him like, "But I don't know how to." Before I could finish the sentence, he said, "You can make 25 an hour." I will find a way how to teach fencing because I never made 25 an hour in my life.

So, and that's how I got exposed to it. And then my coach, what he would do is he would have to go to coaches conferences. Like this was all like a whole other world of fencing to me, as being an instructor.

So, and this is under the United States Fencing Coaches Association. And so, I was under them since 2006. I had no idea what I was looking at. No idea what they were talking about. He'd just kind of plop me there and he said, "Get to know your.. Get to know..." He promoted me literally. And I'm like, "Why are you promoting me? I have no idea what I'm doing."

But he saw me as a fencing instructor and that's how I got exposed to fencing on that level and teaching it and exposing it and learning more stuff about it.

Vince Ferguson:

Now, you mentioned something about your fencing training. Tell my listeners more about training and certification.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, my certification... I got what they call an Assistant Moniteur in 2010. And this is under the United States Fencing Coach Association. It's a non-profit organization. And basically, what they do is they realized in the past, most fence instructors, we grew up under an instructor.

And so, we were grandfathered in, as far as instruction. Now, what they're doing is they're making sure that you're getting continuing education. You get actual lessons so that you can become a better instructor.

So, they teach us how to do warm up, stretches, just things so that you make sure that you're teaching fencing in a safe environment. And they want to make sure that if you run a club that you know what the ins and outs of running the club are and how to deal with that.

So, you have different training on that. And they also have training on the different disciplines, the different weapons. So, that's what they do. And they do it every year.

Now, since COVID, they've been doing it virtually, but every year we have a training and I'm also a member of the association as well. So, I got my certification as a foil instructor back in 2012 and passed.

So, we do all practical and I would say, multiple choice. So, you do a written multiple choice and you have a practical exam. And they touch on both.

Vince Ferguson:

Which is hands-on?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. Yes.

Vince Ferguson:

You said foil. Exactly what is that?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Foil is just a flexible weapon. The one that I use has a rubber chip. It's a practice one, and it's 110 centimeters long and very flexible. And the target, is what we call a vest target. So, no arms, no legs, just the stomach, chest and back. And the new rule is, part of your neck.

Vince Ferguson:

Oh, really? Wow. Wow. Now it sounds like you're always being upgraded. You're always training. You're getting educated more and more on fencing each year, which is great. And it also sounds like they teach you the business of fencing too.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. Yes. When I last went to the conference in 2018, we was at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, and for seven days, seven straight days, we were training in our discipline. So...

Vince Ferguson:

Wow.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

And yes, that's how they do it. And also for us, you would think, for a person like, you do this from nine in the morning to five in the evening, you would think that's a boring job, but for us, part of it is verbal. And part of it is us getting a group lesson from the instructors, teaching us better ways of teaching fencing to the kids or to our students, whether it be to a younger child or older adult.

Vince Ferguson:

Oh, okay. Excellent. So, you teach kids and adults. And I do know that. Let me just be perfectly honest with the listeners. I know that, because for approximately 12 to 15 years, I've known you and you participated as one of my only fencing instructors for our annual Children's Sports and Fitness expo here in New York.

And I will say, out of the 30 activities that we present at this event, fencing was by far the most popular. But what is it about fencing that makes it so popular, especially with the young people?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

I'm going to be honest with you. First of all, I didn't really know I was the most popular because I know that every time I did your program, I always had to get more equipment.

But I think what it is is, we always like, even as little kids, we like swinging swords. It's the imagination of swinging a sword at somebody. I know I did. My influencers were Star Wars and the television show Highlander. And I loved those shows. So, you're swinging the swords.

So, that's how I got into it. And the kids want to do the same thing. So, and over the years I've gotten better. So, now I've got foam swords because I know when I used to start off, I used to carry like four, five bags of equipment. So now I'm a little lighter. Now I have the foam swords.

I'm trying to invest more in those, so they can get a little taste of it and have the kids wear a mask now instead of just wearing the jackets and everything else. It does get hot when you wear those pants and jackets.

Vince Ferguson:

Yes it does.  Wow. Now, my organization focuses on young people and basically, young people in underserved populations in New York, similar to your focus, but now why have you made it your focus though, when it comes to the children and underserved population?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Because, I was one of those kids, when I learned fencing. And I didn't know. To me, I was just taking an activity. Never did I realize this would become my passion.

Like I said, my tragedy led me to my passion. So, it was a way of coping at the time. Or coping and trying to impress a girl at the same time. That didn't work out, so the fencing part turned out.

Because for me to be different, because I know a lot of people that teach fencing, they've had experience competing on a higher level. I've done sporadic competitions. But I guess, because I could relate to the kids more of, "Hey, this is what fencing is. I definitely know how you feel, because I was there too." I can share my story with them.

I'm from Grant Housing. If I say, Grant Housing, people go, "Yeah, I know what that is." But for people who don't know what Grant is, he was the 18th President of the United States and a civil war general, but that's just me because I'm a presidential fanatic.

But yes. So, I get it. And a lot of parents they cannot afford to do fencing classes. Fencing classes are very expensive. So, that's why I'm doing what I'm doing because I want them to get the opportunity I never had. I never did fencing in high school. I never knew it went to high school and I never really knew it went to college.

So, I thought this out as I was learning how to teach. How to say, "Wait a minute. Maybe I could have had this opportunity." So, I didn't know. I didn't know. So, now, I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to make sure that they get the opportunity that I didn't have.

Vince Ferguson:

Nice. A very good role model you are. I will say that, man, for sure. For sure. Now, I also understand that when it comes to scholarships, it's easier in a sense, to get a scholarship, if you're doing something like fencing, because so many people don't.

Most parents, they enroll their kids in basketball, football, soccer, but it's harder to get scholarships there, because there's so many people. But with fencing is not as many, especially of us, doing it. So, would you say that it's easier to get a scholarship for that reason?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

It is. Because a lot of the other sports are saturated. Think about it. How many basketball players are you going to get? How many football players are you going to get? You know what I mean?

So, with fencing, first of all, I feel like it's a little... I don't want to use the term being in a little mob, because no one knows about it. So, it's like you have your own little secret society. So, very few people know about it.

Because even when I carry my bag, people are like, "Oh, you play guitar?" I'm like, "No. Fence instructor." "What? Fencing?" People hear fencing, they look at me weird because they associate fencing with Caucasian people and Asian. Which they would not be wrong because in certain fencing clubs, that's what I see.

But a lot of us are coming up in the sport. So, but the opportunities are there because every time I go to the coaches conferences, guess who I bump into? Collegiate coaches. And what do they ask for?

Matter of fact, I would think about almost, I would say eight years ago, we went to our last convention. One of the ladies, she was from San Diego and she grabbed me. She's like, "Do you have any fencers? Do you have any fencers? Do you have any fencers?" I was like, "Personal space?"

Like "I don't have any kids here. So, don't hit on me." But yeah, no they're looking and even in 2018... No, no, no, no, no. I'm sorry. 2019, when I went to Notre Dame and I spoke to the coach, Coach Geo, and matter of fact, they just won their NCAAs, Notre Dame.

So, him, he was like, he's trying to find fencers in house and not international. He's trying to get homegrown fencers. So, yeah because what tends to happen is people think when you do fencing you have to go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale. Yes, those are the top. But let's say you fall short for going there. You've got Notre Dame. I would say Columbia, but Columbia is right up there too.

Vince Ferguson:

Princeton?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, I'm talking about the ones that are not those. Like I would say, that's the argument. I know Notre Dame is one of them. Like if you can't go to one of those, go to Notre Dame. Go to Columbia.

I believe... Now, I don't want to assume right now, because I'm trying to think of colleges off the top of my head. Ohio State. We went there because I saw one of the coaches there.

So yeah, they're there. And mainly I would say, "Women, okay, this is the time period for women to get the opportunity if they're looking." Like they are looking. Like this is why I'm trying to push, as girls change and like I said, they were coming at me like, "Do you have any fencers?"

And I know some collegiate coaches. It's not hard for me to say, "Hey, I have a potential student." Now, I have to be careful with that because of the rules of the NCAA. But yeah, they're looking. Oh, I forgot about Temple University. That's another one.

Vince Ferguson:

Oh, Temple, out of Philadelphia.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. Interesting. Interesting. Now, this sounds to me like a perfect opportunity for young people to get involved with fencing right now. And you're giving them that opportunity. But as you said, fencing is not a cheap sport. It costs money.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes.

Vince Ferguson:

So, how are you offsetting the costs of fencing for the inner city children?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

What I'm doing is because I also have a co-founder, Tico Flores-Kyle. He's been my... I call him the mouthpiece of the business because literally, usually I'll have him do what I'm doing right now. I usually don't do this. I do the inner workings of the business. So, only because it's you, I said, I'll do it.

Vince Ferguson:

Thank you, Coach. I appreciate it.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

But he's the one that goes around to different neighborhoods and talks to parents and talks to organizations and let them know about what we're doing. Because we've been in Queens at one time. Now we're back in Harlem. We do want to kind of spread out and just let people know that we're here and there are other fencing programs. But we try to make it affordable. So, we made it $75 a month.

So, that at least, you're not spending all this money for kids to do fencing. Because I've seen parents spend three, $400 for maybe a month or two. And I'm being very conservative, because this is fencing. This is expensive. Like technically, I charge 75 a month. I really should be charging $75, for every 30 minutes.

Vince Ferguson:

Every class?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Every 30 minutes.

Vince Ferguson:

Every 30 minutes?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Like me. Like me, personally giving you a lesson. $75. 30 minutes. That's what I should be charging, but I don't do that because I'm like "No, that's going to take away from the students." You know what I mean?

So, I want them to come in and see if this is something that they like. And then if they like it, then I can go ahead and tap into my resources and find ways of them doing fencing in a very affordable level. Because it's not easy. The equipment alone could cost you 500 to a thousand dollars. Easy.

Vince Ferguson:

I've seen your equipment. I've carried some of your equipment. I've carried it. I know. I know. I see. I've seen it firsthand. Professional.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

And me personally, at least for the last couple of years, I haven't really paid myself. So, I literally put it right back into the business. So, I'm constantly getting the equipment and making sure that kids have what they have. And if I have assistant coaches, I make sure they get paid first, before I do.

Because you see the work I have to do and I'm not getting any younger. So, this is the month of my birthday too. So, when the Olympics start is my birthday. July 23rd. I'll be 43.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow, isn't that something, man, but you're still a young man. Let's make this happen. So, listen, where is your company located in Harlem? Exactly where is it located?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

In the building of Our Children's Foundation, which is at 527 West 125th Street. We're located on the second floor. So yeah, we're on the second floor. So, people just buzz in or just give me a call and I just come down and let you in.

Vince Ferguson:

Okay. And you're looking for more kids right now. Am I correct?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. Yes. Because a lot of people don't know, like the parents, I have 10 clients right now and a lot of them say, "You've been teaching fencing here all this time?" I'm like, "Yes." No one knows I'm in here.

Vince Ferguson:

Yeah. Best kept secret. Isn't that something? What are some of the many benefits that young people can expect to experience while learning fencing at your school?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, I only say this because I could draw from my experience. You really learn about yourself. You learn about your offensive or defensive. I realize now as I'm a little bit older, it depends on the situation. So, when I was younger, I was defensive. So, I would wait for the person to come at me, see what they do and then I would respond. So, that's one. Two, you will definitely learn different languages.

Vince Ferguson:

Languages? Languages? Really?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Because fencing is only two languages, English and French. So, you have to know a little bit of French.

Vince Ferguson:

Nice. I didn't know that.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

So, when I teach the kids, I'll tell them how to say things in English. And then I'll tell them how to say things in French. So, if you don't know what they're talking about, how would you know? And the other thing is you will learn are different measurements. We do the Avoirdupois system, which is pounds and ounces. And of course, with metric system, you have to learn meters, kilometers, kilograms. So, you're going to learn how to do that.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

And you're going to learn some geometry too, because in my class you will learn how to make a fencing strip and use measurements.

Vince Ferguson:

Really?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yep. That's what I teach in my class. They have to learn that. So, that's part of the class. So, what I do is... Because I know other classes teach differently. A lot of them are geared more towards competition. Great. That's what you should do.

I'm more about, "Hey, let's see if you like this first, okay? And if you're serious, then I'll gear you towards competition." Because what happens is they'll go to a club that's in the competition. Kids want to do it. It's expensive. Then they're like, "I don't like this no more." Then they leave.

Vince Ferguson:

Right. Wow.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

So my thing is, "No, I'm going to do the fun part. Come to me. We'll do the fun part. I'm going to break everything up. And then if you feel that you want to do this seriously, then that's a whole nother thing on the side where we can do, and we'll focus on that."

Vince Ferguson:

Sure. Wow. Nice. Nice. Now, there's so much I could ask, but we don't have a lot of time, but let me ask you this. Is fencing a great way to keep fit? Obesity is a major issue today among children.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes, it is. Literally, if it wasn't for fencing, I would have been 300 pounds a long time ago. I would have gotten here quicker, but it is a great way. I also like this. You're not thinking about the workout when you're fencing. You're thinking about, "How can I get my point?" You don't think about it.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

It's a great leg workout, great core workout. Great upper body workout. I would say more of a leg workout because you're doing a lot of lunges.

Vince Ferguson:

A lot of lunges?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. A whole lot of lunges. So, yeah, but it's not just about swinging a sword either, because a lot of kids, when they come in, they think, "Oh, I'll just swing a sword." Nope. That's how you get scored on real quick. So.

Vince Ferguson:

There's a lot to it, yes. Look, I've seen you in action. I've seen how the kids' faces light up and the parents too. And they always want to know where can they go to take their kids to continue fencing? And that's so important that you have a place where they can go. That's so important, but what about nutrition? Do you touch on that? Is that important to a fencer?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes, it is. Even Tim Morehouse, he's one of the premier fencers. And what ended up happening with him was, even as a fencer, he's still eating McDonald's. He's eating junk food and it wasn't until... I think it wasn't until 2012, when I think when he was doing fencing he changed his diet, slendered down and he became better. And I think he became a silver medalist at that time, as a team in Sabre.

And I know me personally, because I know what happened with me and I'll definitely get into this. A lot of people assume because I teach fencing that I always keep in shape. But for years, I really wasn't doing that. I wasn't participating with the kids, but then I had really let myself go. I went from when I first started from 170 to as heavy as 270.

Vince Ferguson:

That's a hundred pounds heavier.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah, I was a hundred pounds heavier. This was a matter of, I would definitely say 15 years. No, actually 17 years and what ended up happening was this was during the pandemic where I ended up going to the hospital and found out that I was a Type II diabetic. I'm walking around being a Type II diabetic and didn't know for three years. They just now told me after I went to the hospital and I didn't take that very well. I really didn't. That just blew my mind. So I said, "Nope." But they did tell me my condition was because of weight.

Vince Ferguson:

Weight?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah, weight. Purely weight. My neurologist told me. He said, "I'm not checking your foot." He said "Lose the weight, then I'll check your foot." He literally really told me that. My dietician said, "It's the weight." And my primary care doctor said, "It's your weight." So, from November to now, I've lost, I would say 44 pounds, because I'm 226 now.

Vince Ferguson:

Congratulations on that. You took action.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah. I was not playing. That scared me. That scared me and I will never be the same now. So, I drink more water now. I definitely incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetables because I didn't do that before. I do eat meat, but I cut down on a lot of the meat consumption.

Vince Ferguson:

So, you changed your eating habits. You changed your nutrition. And would you say that... Do you eat late at night or did you stop doing that, as well?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

If I eat late at night, it would be a smoothie or something very healthy. Like it has to be something very light if I eat at night. But that has been put to a halt because I realize that's why my sugar levels is going up. I was eating late at night.

Vince Ferguson:

I see, just making those subtle changes, makes all the difference. And now, you're doing your fencing, but you're slimmer now and you feel better as a result. And that's what children can look forward to, as well, which is great.

And you are now, you're more of a role model because now you're looking more the part, not just giving instruction, but you're looking more like you're athletic.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes, yes. Like I said, my goal is... And this is what I like about fencing also. It doesn't stop when you're young. I can compete at 40, 50, 60, 70, 80.

Vince Ferguson:

Compete?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. You can compete at those ages.

Vince Ferguson:

Now that, I didn't know. Wow.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. So, yes sir, you can compete in fencing too. So, you're not too old to do it.

Vince Ferguson:

Sign me up.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah. That's what I like about it. I could go out there... Right now, I have an Olympian named Ivan Lee. He's a former Olympian and he's out there competing now. I think he got first place just recently. So, he just hit 40. Just hit 40. Yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

Just hit 40?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

And that's a African-American, right?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yeah, yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

That's so impressive, man. You can do this. Man, this is beautiful. Now, where can parents find out more about Inner City Fencing and how can they contact you?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Well, right now, they can contact me on my website, Inner City Fencing.org, or www.innercityfencing.org. And they can check out the website. Mostly my schedules are there and the pricing and everything.

Or they can come to me directly at Our Children's Foundation. I'm usually there Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Right now, we're doing the summer schedule. So, I'm here from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. So, and that will last until September 10th. So, then the schedule is going to change, but I'm usually here Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Vince Ferguson:

Perfect. Is there anything else that we didn't touch on, that you want to share before I let you go?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

I would say that I do a little bit of this and it's still ongoing, but I am what they call a cosplayer. And I don't know people know what cosplaying is, but you're costume playing.

So, I also go to comic book conventions, upstate New York, and I promote fencing and that, and I do a little bit of amateur stage combat, basically. So, I used to do that with two groups, with dealing with Star Wars for about six years.

So, I'm developing that class right now. It's not something I'm pushing at the moment, but I'm just putting it out there that I do do it, because I tend to meet when I go to these conventions and I tell them I'm a fencer, they're like, "Oh, I want to do fencing."

And then when I go to fencing and I tell them, I do cosplaying, "Oh, I want to be a cosplayer." And I'm just like, "Oh, I've got two different goals that would have come together, but they can't do it because fencers have to compete on the same day that cost players do their stuff at the conventions."

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. Wouldn't you know?

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

So basically, you have to give up one to do it.

Vince Ferguson:

One for the other.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

Yes. So, I kind of gave up, not gave up. I didn't give it up. I'm just not competing right now. So, I'm doing a little bit more cosplaying, but at the same time, I am still instructing. But when I compete, I'm going to have to put it into my schedule. So, yeah.

Vince Ferguson:

Yes. I hear you. You got to do what you got to do. Do this is great. This is great, Coach. Listen, Coach Moses Sistrunk, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks of Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Coach Moses Sistrunk:

No, thank you. It was a pleasure.

Vince Ferguson:

And to my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative and encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks of Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog@www.sixweekstofitness.com or email me at vinceatsixweeks.com. And don't forget to subscribe, so you don't miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_170_Coach_Moses_Sistrunk.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:39pm EDT

Coach O’Neil Brown was born on the beautiful Island of Jamaica 48 years ago. He migrated to the States in 1981. Coach O’Neil grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, and played multiple sports while in high school. Coach O’Neil developed a love for health and wellness by learning from his mother, the late Icilyn Brown. He has been a fitness and lifestyle trainer for over 15 years. He is the founder and CEO of OB-FIT. His greatest desire is to see everyone live in peace and happiness from within. O’Neil encourages everyone he trains to take their health seriously. Two of his many mantras are your health is your wealth and excuses don't get results. And joining me today on my 6 Weeks to Fitness Podcast to discuss his personal journey into health and his fitness philosophy is coach O’Neil Brown. Coach O’Neil, how are you doing today?

Vincent Ferguson:

Thank you for coming on the show.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Hey, thank you for having me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now in your bio, coach, you credit your mom, Icilyn Brown for getting you started in health and wellness. Tell my listeners about your mom and how she helped shape your views on health and wellness.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Well, my mother, was a hardworking woman and first and foremost, she always put God first in everything that she do, she always put God first. She made sure that everything that she does is lined up with the word of God. And the thing about it, the love that she had for us was amazing. I mean, words cannot explain. But one thing my mother took her health very seriously. And the foods that she ate, she made sure she ate foods that were healthy and nutritious. Now, would I tell you that, Hey, she wasn't the most expensive eater no, but she knew what to eat. She made sure she'd take time, cooking her own food and learning from her also set my life up to where, you know what, I use that same lifestyle that my mother taught myself and also my brothers and sisters. And it has helped me tremendously.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, you mentioned your brothers and sisters. How many siblings do you have?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Well, I had four brothers, one passed away and I have 4 Sisters. So it's a total of nine of us. It would've been nine of us total.

Vincent Ferguson:

Man, that's a big family man.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah and the greatest thing about it, one father.

Vincent Ferguson:

You don't hear that too often today, man. So I credit good upbringing for that.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes Sir.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, what was it your mother's influence that inspired you to become a trainer?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes. I love to play sports. I always loved sports. Sports is something that I really loved and I realized that working a nine to five and there's nothing wrong working the nine to five, I love to move. So I realized that you know what, this nine to five thing is not cutting it for me because I don't like to just stay in one place. I like to move around and I had to do something. I had to make a change.

Vincent Ferguson:

Speaking of moving, now I know you were raised in New York, but I understand you currently live in Tallahassee, what attracted you to Tallahassee? Was it the weather?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Well, one thing the weather is something for me, the beautiful scenery, Tallahassee is a tremendous place. Lots of history. You have the University of Florida, A&M you have Florida State, you have Tallahassee Community College. It's a great, small city that has a lot of history and moving here at the present time I was married and my wife had took an assignment. Unfortunately, we are not together anymore, but you know what, life is life. And then a person has to move on and just learn from his or her mistakes and better themselves and hoping that hey, they'll never make that mistake again. So here I am today.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. Life is about learning, right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's about learning, man. And we are all in this life together and we're here to learn and there's nothing wrong with that.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now you and your wife, your ex-wife, you guys still communicate, I would imagine, right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, we do communicate. We have great communication. We still talk to each other and everything. So at the end of the day, I learned from my mistakes. I learned from my mistakes, that's the most important thing. And the funny part about it, it was never infidelity. It was never alcohol. It was never drugs, gambling or money. It was just my ego.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

My ego and lack of communication.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's amazing, man. But to be able to speak to that, that's a beautiful thing. How has your health helped, being in the fitness world, how has that helped you to deal with your relationship with your ex-wife?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

If I wasn't taking care of myself from within, I also would've pointed the finger. I would not own up to my mistakes or own up to my responsibility. So I had to make sure my mental health was right because, in order for me to understand that I made a mistake, I had to own up to it. The only way you can ever, ever move on in life, you have to own up to your responsibility. And when you do own up to your responsibility, you must accept truth and once you accept the truth, change will come. And that's what I did. And it made me a better person today.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. A better, man. Huh?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. That's awesome. That's awesome. Now you and I have a mutual friend, Patrice Rush from Rush Productions.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now Patrice told me about you. And she said, coach O’Neil, he's called THE FITNESS PREACHER. I was like, what? THE FITNESS PREACHER? So how'd you get that name?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I was in Miami. I was going to a wedding and it's a young lady, she knows me and she said, you know what, you just not a person who just talk about health and wellness. You look it and you live it, I have a name for you. You should call yourself THE FITNESS PREACHER. And from that day on, that's what I go by.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, from that day on, it stuck as they say.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It stuck. It stuck, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now that's awesome. Cause when I heard that, right away, I'm thinking about, okay, this is obviously a brother who's talking about the Bible and God, but it can also take on the other connotation where basically you practice what you preach, right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Exactly. Life, life. It's so important when you put God in your entire life, whatever you're doing, he should always come first.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Whatever you're doing, he should come first. If God is not the head of it, then guess what, you're going to lose in battle. Then it's absolutely for the enemy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now out of all the scriptures in the Bible, which one would you say motivates you the most?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I love Matthew 6, verse 33. It says, but “seek ye first, the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added onto you.” So once you seek God first, and once you are following God’s words and once you apply his words, then if you want good health, you are going to get it because now as you seek it, it requires action. So now you're not just talking it, you're also living it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do you share your beliefs with your clients?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes. Yes. When the opportunity comes to share my beliefs, I find ways of plugging them in. I just don't put it on them because, at end of the day, it's not about force. Everyone has a choice. And at the end of the day, it's your choice. Whatever you're doing, life is all about choices.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. I also believe that. You can make good choices or you can make some bad choices, right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, Yes. Absolutely.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Now, how important is faith and fitness to you?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It's everything because you got to understand, this body that we're living in, it does not belong to us. It belongs to God.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It belongs to our creator. We don't own anything. We came into this world with nothing, right?

Vincent Ferguson:

Right.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

So we shall leave with nothing. So naked I am as I came and naked I will leave. So at the end of the day, if I'm not returning back this body to God, then Hey, as I said earlier, I am losing this battle while I'm living on earth. And you got to remember with God, all things are possible.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's Powerful my brother. All things, not some things, all things.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

So if I want to be healthy, I can actually use that as part of my faith. My faith can help me to be healthy, right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

That's right. Because when you look at it, you go back into third, John verse 2, it says “beloved, I wish above all things, that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” So it's just not your finance or just your marriage or in school. God wants us all to prosper in every aspect and area of our lives.

Vincent Ferguson:

And speaking of that, one of your mantras is your health is your wealth.  That's what you're talking about, correct?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Right because good health, you got to understand, health is a treasure. And think about this. Everything that God has given to us is for a purpose and God gave us a perfect word.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

But, he also gave us the choice of how we should live in it.

Vincent Ferguson:

My question is, and I understand, I agree 100% with you, why is it so many of us abuse this body? Why is that?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Because one thing they aren't disciplined. You have to be disciplined and when you're disciplined, it's not saying that you're better than anyone. You're just setting up yourself to be in a better place.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. Now how do you get that discipline?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

The discipline is now you got to acknowledge that, hey, at the end of the day, am I doing right or wrong? You will know when you're doing right or wrong. You know, when you're eating healthy because guess what, the human machinery, this body, it's going to tell you, it's going to always give you signs. Before there's any disruption of the human body, you're always getting a warning. So if we're not taking heed to the things that we're putting in, later on, we're going to just, boom, collapse and there it is, that's the end of it.

Vincent Ferguson:

What you put in is what you get out!

Coach O’Neil Brown:

That's right. If you put junk in, absolutely, you're going to feel like junk. You're going to talk like junk. You're going to walk like junk, you're going to look like junk and you're going to act like junk. It doesn't matter how much money you have, because what's the sense of having a nice, big, luxurious home, nice, beautiful cars having money, which is all good. But you still eating like a pauper.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely. And how long are you going to be able to enjoy those fancy, those fine things, if you're not taking care of your health, correct?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Right and it all starts with what you put inside of your body because at the end of the day, food is something that, what controls the mind, it helps rejuvenate the mind, it stimulates the mind and also the body.

Vincent Ferguson:

And do you talk about, I mean, you talking about it right now, but do you talk about nutrition and prepare healthy meals for your clients?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Absolutely. Because that wouldn't be the fitness preacher, just by preaching it. You have to live it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I am one who loves to show it. I'm not one who will recommend my client, hey, eat kale and then you go on my social media page, you don't see not one salad. You don't see not one healthy meal on there. All you hear, I'm talking. You ever hear of the "Show-Me" State? Hey, I'm from the "Show-Me" State.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I'm not just going to also tell you, but I'm going to show you how it's was done because I'm going to live it. You got to see it. Not just in words, but in also action.

Vincent Ferguson:

In action. So what would you say on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the most important, where would you put nutrition?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

At the top.

Vincent Ferguson:

At the very top.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Because at the end of the day, God is number one. It's two things food can do for us. Food can be our medicine, or it can be poison.

Vincent Ferguson:

So true. And so many of us have poisoned our bodies because of the foods that we eat. Right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Right.

Vincent Ferguson:

And would you say that the biggest contributor now to obesity and heart disease is basically the food that we eat?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Because it's not the air. It's not the sunlight because those things are free. Those are the things that God gave us.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Why would God give us things like those and harm us with it? So when we're not putting anything inside of the body, that's clogging up the human machinery, then it won't happen now. But later on at a certain age. When we get older, we start to find out that you know what our digestive system is not working properly. And it's not, even when you get older, even the young ones are having issues with their digestive system.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. That's true.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

So if you notice its poor lifestyle, I've always said this. We don't have, we don't have a hereditary problem, we have poor eating habits problem

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. So many people want to blame their family history. That it runs in my family. So that's why I'm like this.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It's funny because even a few days ago, I was showing someone that called me and I explained it plain and straight to them. I said the opportunity that my generation and your generation have to better ourselves with health, is 10 times better than what the generation before us had. My great-grandmother, their great-grandmother their great, their great grandmother. Because at the end of the day, you have to look at it like this. Some people never had got opportunity to even read a book because if they did, they would have been killed. And now we have the opportunity to read all the books. We have social media, we have smartphones, but we’re not taking advantage of it.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's so true. How do we get people to think the way you think and take charge of their health like that? How do you get them to realize that their true wealth is their health?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Continue to be an example. Continue to allow God to use you. Continue to live the life of Christ. The only way I could live it is by him. I allow him to abide in me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. You have, and another one of your mantras, another one that I really like, excuses don't get results. Now explain what that means to my listeners.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Now we all have 24 hours in a day, right?

Vincent Ferguson:

That's right.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Every human being has 24 hours in a day. So what I do with my 24 hours, if I'm wasting it then, and I'm not seeing any results out of it. And I'm spending my time on social media and I'm spending my time lollygagging, then you know what, at the end of the day, I won't be progressing. Now, if I take my time and I struck out my morning, my afternoon, and my evening, and I find time for myself, I wake up, I prepare myself in the morning to make sure I'm going to get my workout in. I'm going to eat properly. Then, you know what, I won't have any room for excuses because excuse is of the enemy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely. Definitely. What excuses do you hear from people when it comes to exercise?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Oh, I don't have enough time. Oh, it's too expensive. Oh, you know what, it's too expensive to eat healthy, but it's more expensive when you don't move your body. It's more expensive when you go out to eat, it's more expensive even spending one night in the hospital bed.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh man. Oh, most definitely. If you don't pay now, you're going to pay later. Right?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

I Hear excuses all The time. But meanwhile, that same person making excuses is at home, watching Netflix for four or five hours.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Right. And the funny thing about it, as I said, everything that we need is right in front of us. If we want to know how to eat healthy, guess what? Google it. Even for those who aren't able to read, you could at least, press that Google button and say, how do you eat healthy? Healthy meals, it's right there.

Vincent Ferguson:

That is so true. Now what about goal setting? Do you talk to your clients about setting goals?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Absolutely. Small, realistic and reasonable goals.

Vincent Ferguson:

Have any clients come to you with unrealistic goals? Like I want to lose 50 pounds in two weeks.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And I'm like, hey, I'm unable to do that. I can't do that for you. And I've always let my clients know that, you know what, here's the thing about me. I don't do weight loss because the reason why I let them know that I don't do weight loss, it's more than weight loss. It's more than about losing weight. I want you to understand this is a lifestyle. I want you to feel good from within. How are you going to feel good from within, by making simple changes one day at a time, let's just focus on today. Let's not look at next week, next month. Let's focus on today.

Vincent Ferguson:

You're the first trainer I've had on that said they don't focus on weight loss. That's amazing.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Because when you talk about weight loss, it's a lot of times, it's all about people who want to make money, and don't get me wrong, this is a ministry, but it's never about money for me. I want to see young men, young women, adults, I want them to live and be happy and understand at the end of the day, that someone out there cares about them. And they're not in it for the money because I always said, I always say this, people, before profit.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. People before profit. Awesome. How many people were saying that? That's awesome, man. That's a blessing right there. You put people first before you put making money first.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah, people first. If we put the people first, I'll tell you, the money will come. That's why I never say, hey, I want to make $100 000 this year. No, that's the last thing on my list. If I could touch 100 000 lives and hopefully that 100 000 lives that I touched, they could also plant seeds to touch another 100 000 lives. That's even better than me making $10, $20 million.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. That's awesome. Yes, I like that.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's all about helping people, man, helping people. Can you share a success story from one of your clients?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I have so many, so many and even when people call me that aren't my clients, I give them information. Like, I'm going to give you one, not even a client. Individual call me and they was like having an issue with glaucoma and I've never healed anyone. I don't claim that I heal anyone. Now I can point you to the one that can heal and restore you and I recommended what that individual is supposed to do. And I also made a few drinks and everything and also bought it to them and I said, if you do this, I promise you this, watch how your body reacts. And I can tell you that, hey, in a couple of days you're going to be here. But if you practice this on a daily basis, watch what's going to happen. A week ago, when that individual came back to me, they were like, I have good news. When I went to the doctor, my last visit, my doctor said, I have glaucoma and they went back and all of a sudden the glaucoma is gone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Gone, really?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Gone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now how long did that take?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

About a few months.

Vincent Ferguson:

Was she following your plan that whole time?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And it was just simple, simple, simple, simple foods. Foods that come from the earth.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go. Did you tell her how to prepare juices?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Yes. How to eat? I said, if you really want to get rid of this, I'm not here to soothe whatever symptom you have. Let's get to the head of this. Let's cut the head. The only way you could get rid of the snake, right, is what, cutting the head off?

Vincent Ferguson:

And she stopped feeding that snake.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

That's right, she stopped feeding that snake. So now she doesn't have to worry about that snake biting her.

Vincent Ferguson:

And she wasn't even one of your clients.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

No she wasn't.

Vincent Ferguson:

So she never paid you. She's never paid you for this service at all?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

No. The only thing, I may have requested, charge her for a few of the things that I made, but it wasn't anything weird. Like, Oh my goodness, I have to pay 200, 300, no, nothing like that. Not even, nowhere close to that.

Vincent Ferguson:

So you actually made the juice for her?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's awesome, man. Was she in Tallahassee?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. Yes. And then there are more stories, especially one of my clients, in August, it's about to be two years and she came to me, she had high blood pressure. She was suffering from so many illnesses and I was like, listen, you have to change. You have to change how you eat. I said, the problem is, what you're putting inside of your body.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And I let her know, I'm not here to turn you into a vegan, that's not what it is. That's between you and God. But for us to start, I want you to make simple changes with one specific thing in the morning when you wake up, you have to avoid all of that heavy food that you're eating.

Vincent Ferguson:

Did you give her something to eat?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I said nothing is wrong with having some fresh fruit in the morning. Nothing wrong with having a salad. Nothing is wrong with drinking herbal tea. Nothing is wrong with drinking your spring water with some lime in it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Drink those, take those things. Start your morning off properly.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's the key to jumpstart your metabolism. You are feeding your body properly and I understand, and I believe that your body was meant to heal itself.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Oh yes, absolutely. It can absolutely heal itself.

Vincent Ferguson:

But you have to give it what it needs in order for that to happen.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Awesome. Now, do you train most of your clients in the gym or at home or virtually?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I do it all. I do it all.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. So someone can actually reach out to you from another State and you can actually train them and give them fitness advice as well.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Vincent Ferguson:

Perfect. That's very good to know. What advice would you give people who are sitting on the fence right now and haven't decided to make fitness a part of their lives?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Well, if they don't move it, they're going to lose it.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go. If you don't move it, you're going to lose it. I like that.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And your body was designed to move.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It's not a sedentary lifestyle. We weren't made to be couch potatoes. Yes, we were made to move our bodies and we get a good night's sleep and come back again the next day. But we're not supposed to be sitting down 18 to 20 hours out of the 24 hours all day.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Now from your experience, are people starting to take their health more seriously now because of this pandemic?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Oh, absolutely. I'm going to tell you something. My brother and I, right? My brother and I Vaughn Wilson and I, we started last year when the pandemic hit. He and I decided that, hey, we're going to do this walking group. And it's called the OB-FIT/Mega Ace 45 challenge group and we said, the month of March, we just want people to walk 45 miles. We have over 6,000, participants-

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

In this group. Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

All in Tallahassee?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

From different areas, from around the world.

Vincent Ferguson:

Around the world. Oh, my goodness, 6,000.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

6,000. Started it last year, March. In the pandemic, yes. When they shut down everything, and I'm telling you, we decided that, hey, this is not about us, this is about the people. Because you know people were getting, they were panicking. They didn't know what to do.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

So we came up with that and we removed ourselves. We said this is not about us. This is for people because you got to understand. People are getting COVID. People are losing their jobs. People don't know what to do. So we had to find a way of helping these people to make sure that these people are doing something for themselves. Okay. Don't worry. We got a group for you. We're not asking for any money. We're not asking for you to donate anything. You don't have to send any information to us. All you have to do is focus on putting 45 miles in it for a month by just walking and the amount of testimony that we had. People who were on medication are now off medication.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. That's amazing. Really? Just from walking more?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Just by walking, because one of the greatest exercises is what, walking.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, Yes. I often say that, man. It doesn't cost any money.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

No.

Vincent Ferguson:

And it's no stress on the joints. Just walk.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's amazing. 6,000 people.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

You're making the difference internationally.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. And I take, he and I, we both take no credit and I am just fortunate and blessed that when you can connect with people who have the same positive energy and you can put it together and allow God to take the lead, it's amazing.  On the 30th, he and I will be, we'll be meeting up with the mayor to receive a proclamation.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And we never did it for any rewards or any awards. We did it because we care about the people.

Vincent Ferguson:

Because you care about people. You don't find that today. Unfortunately, not enough. Coach where can my listeners find out more about coach O’Neil Brown, THE FITNESS PREACHER?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

My Facebook page, O’Neil Brown. I don't really have a private page. I keep it right where it is, I'm just one who straight forward, O’Neil Brown. O N E I L B R O W N. And if they type in the word on their Facebook page, #excusesdontgetresults, they'll see me. If they type in boom with three Os and an M, B O O O M they'll find me and on my Instagram, it's O B F I T_THE FITNESS PREACHER.

Vincent Ferguson:

O B F I T_THE FITNESS PREACHER.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

THE FITNESS, that's my Instagram and a beautiful thing that my brother and I, we are doing also, Kelvin Frazier owner of Kingz and Queenz Fitness. We are doing a 30-day fitness challenge. 30 Day Transformation Fitness Challenge. We're starting it up in April and it's only $25 to join. And last month we finished up one that was in February. We gave away $500.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

To the winner.

Vincent Ferguson:

So tell me this fitness challenge starts in April. Do you have a flyer?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes. I have a flyer. Yes, sir.

Vincent Ferguson:

Where can you send that to me?

Coach O’Neil Brown:

I could send it to your messenger. I could email it to you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

With all the Information.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. Send that to me. I like to promote that, maybe even with the interview, that'll come out next week and even separately, because this way people can know about the challenge.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

And here's the thing about it. The exercises are only for 10 to 12 minutes. They could do it in the confines of their home.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice, nice. Which is easier for most people.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Everyone can participate in it and we have modifications, we have advanced.

Vincent Ferguson:

I think people like challenges like that. Something that they can do at home.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Because so many of us have gained weight, during the pandemic, during the shut-down. And you got to get moving to get rid of that extra weight.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

That's right.

Vincent Ferguson:

And having you guys, being accountable to someone or sharing it with one group is sometimes the best way to do it, you know.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

That's right.

Vincent Ferguson:

I'm excited about that.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

It's about helping people and when helping people you don't have to be charging an arm and a leg. You could do it to where everyone is benefiting from it, everyone. So, the beautiful thing about what I do is this. At the end of the day, you know what, if 10 people who were struggling with health and wellness, and a few months later, as they get into your program, and they realize that, you know what, this person, what he or she is bringing to me is absolutely true. And once they start applying it, that's the key they got to believe. And once they believe they just got to apply, and once they apply, they take action. Hey, it's beyond the sky, it's beyond the sky.

Vincent Ferguson:

No limit to what you can do, once you take action.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, this has been great, man. I tell you, this is one of the best 30 minutes I spent in a long time.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

I appreciate it. So coach O’Neil Brown on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and 6 Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Coach O’Neil Brown:

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I appreciate it. And I would like to leave the people with this, one of my favorite motivational speakers says this, Mr. Les Brown, he says, “you must be willing to do the things today that others won't do in order to have the things tomorrow that others won't have.” And “life is a fight for territory. And once you stop fighting for what you want, what you don't want will automatically take over.” And I always say this, my mother always said this to me. She said, “son an ounce prevention is better than a pound of cure when you think right thoughts, you will perform right action.” And I say this to all the listeners out there. I say, embrace the mindset that excuses don't get results. “Boom!”

Vincent Ferguson:

Boom! Awesome. To my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative and encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to my 6 Weeks to Fitness Podcast and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my 6 Weeks to Fitness blog at www.6weektofitness.com or email me at Vince@6weeks.com and don't forget to subscribe. So you don't miss any future episodes like this one.

Direct download: Episode_169_-_Coach_Oneil_Brown.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:20am EDT

Yvette Frith-Raymond is a strong woman of faith who has dedicated her life to service, with an intention to change the life trajectory of those within her sphere who are vulnerable and living beneath their potential in Christ. Yvette possesses more than a set faith. Her willingness to step out into unchartered territory without readily available resources or known end is a prime example of Yvette's audacious spirit and her total dependence on God. Best known for her commitment to excellence and ministry, coupled with a servant's heart, Yvette has worked tirelessly in several capacities at the Rise Church International, formerly known as the Brooklyn Christian Center. She is always willing to share her gifts and talents with those who serve alongside her, mentoring, training and loving the people of God. Equipped with a bachelor of arts in modern languages and literature and a masters of social work from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Yvette has traversed the four walls of the church for over 19 years to advocate for underserved children and families throughout New York City. She is a social worker by profession and is employed by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. And I am pleased to have Yvette Frith-Raymond on my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. Yvette, how are you today?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I am doing well, Vince, thank you very much for having me. How are you?

Vincent Ferguson:

I'm great, thank you. Thank you for coming on the show today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

My pleasure, my pleasure. Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, before we discuss your story and the reason why I asked you to come on the show today, tell my listeners, where did you grow up, Yvette, and what was your childhood like?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I was born and raised in the beautiful Island of Jamaica. I was born in Spanish Town, but raised in Maidstone, Manchester. And Maidstone is one of the very first freed villages and it's in the rural part of Jamaica. I was raised by my grandparents, as my mother worked as a caretaker, she worked and lived outside of our home. My grandparents raised my brother and I, along with some of my cousins. We were raised in a large family, my grandparents had 14 children.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So yes, yes. And I was raised in a village, not just in the family village of my aunts, uncles and cousins, but in a village where people outside of the home took care of each other. My village is a farming community, so we had land to roam and run around and I just remember having a childhood where there were rough days, but as a child, you didn't even know what that meant, because my family gave love.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Every time I think about my childhood, I just think of family and love, even the days when it didn't seem as if you had enough, you had more than enough. Because, again, I was raised in a village, so the village took care of us and my grandparents took care of the village, just because it was just how the community was. So every time I think about home, I think about love and I think about family. My grandmother has since passed, but my grandfather is still alive and he's 102 years old.

Vincent Ferguson:

Whoa, God bless him, 102?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Goodness. Healthy living.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes. Healthy living, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh my goodness.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And that is the longevity I desire to have.

Vincent Ferguson:

Sounds like you're on the right track.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I pray I am, I pray I am.

Vincent Ferguson:

And so when they say it takes a village, it really does take a village doesn't it?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I really do believe it does. And I can say that the foundation of my life started in that village and that's what actually drives me today. My foundational beliefs and values came out of that village.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow, and speaking of which, you are a person of faith and very active in your church, correct?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, I am. Yes, I am.

Vincent Ferguson:

So how important is faith to you and why?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Faith, the truth is, Vince, I don't know of a life outside of one of faith. I was raised in the church. And even though I did not always go to church, but again, the foundational values, it's just a part of who I am. It doesn't mean that I didn't have to learn what that was for myself as an individual. I had to grow. You learn about faith growing up, but you had to grow to experience certain things for yourself.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So as I became an adult and matured I think life experiences kind of forced you to go a little bit deeper to find for yourself. And that is when I know I can say I definitely know that faith helps to get me through life. There's just an inner... Faith is just as important as the air I breathe, right? So I need air to breathe and I need my faith to live, because my faith in God is what guides me daily. I'm not sure if I know how to express it any other way. It nourishes my heart, it really drives my soul to be here, it's just fundamental to my existence.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, most definitely. And like you said, it's like you need air to breathe, you need faith for today. And I think it's more important today than any other time that we have our faith.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

It sure is. You have to have something to stand on, something to believe in, something that's going to propel you to go beyond where you are and help to guide you to that place. Otherwise, you're at a place where you're like, "I'm not sure I can do it. Can I do it? I'm not sure." And that's me relying on my own inadequacies. And when I do that, I'm not sure how successful I could be if I do live and believe that way.

Vincent Ferguson:

I see. I see. And in addition to your faith, you also live a very healthy lifestyle, right? But were you always into health?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

You know what? If I am honest with myself, I can go back to maybe even my childhood with how we were raised. We were raised on things from the farm. It's very rare that my grandparents prepared meals that were not from the farm. It was very rare that there were things from the supermarket, when you go to the supermarket, certain aisles, it was very rare that those things were at the dining table. And so, I guess I would say I was always fed that way. Did it mean that I knew what it was like until I became an adult and kind of matured into expecting a certain lifestyle? But I would have to say that there was a foundational piece to it.

Vincent Ferguson:

When you came to the States, did you notice that most of the people here were not eating as healthy?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I migrated to the States at 15 years old and I have migrated to live with my dad, my stepmom and my other siblings, and my parents also prepared healthy meals, so I just think it's the way my family was and I think culture has a lot to do with that. But I think my changes actually started in college.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I went away to school in Buffalo, University of Buffalo, and it was in my second year in college. No, it's maybe transitioning into the third year that I actually went vegan. I started to eliminate meat within my freshman into sophomore year. And then in my junior year, I actually just started doing total no meat.

Vincent Ferguson:

No meat?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yeah, no meat. I started out doing more vegetarian and then I transitioned into vegan. There was a transitional period, but I would say in college is when I made the total shift to how I actually eat.

Vincent Ferguson:

But something happened, okay, because again, you're living a healthy lifestyle, you're eating vegan, so you're relatively healthy, but something happened that caused you to change the way you eat. Please share that story with my listeners.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I went vegetarian, vegan in college and I did that for most of my adult life. And when I became pregnant with my children in 2008 and my second child in 2010, I maintained more of a vegetarian lifestyle, not a vegan lifestyle, because during my pregnancy, I found that I needed more than I was able to really do being a vegan. Fast forward later in life and I realized that that time that there were things that I was eating that really was not in agreement with my body. Not that it wasn't healthy eating, it just wasn't what my body needed. And so, you grow to learn that as healthy as one can be, is not always the best option for that person. So today, we're in 2020, transitioning into 2021.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I could say in 2017, I had a drastic shift in life. And what that did, I had to be open to understanding that as healthy as I was Vince, I was really also very unhealthy. So the vegan food that I was consuming was not the best option for my body. So what I will say is I am hyperthyroid and my thyroidism is an autoimmune disease. And I had to learn over time that when you have an autoimmune disease, that there are certain foods that's not the best choice for your body. So I became sick in 2017 and I was on a journey that was rather painful, but it was a life altering, painful experience. And so, I had ended up seeing the specialist for my stomach. It was just one point when it really got to the point where I had to stop, I had to pause and I really had to figure out what was going on.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I saw my doctor, because I was not able to eat and digest. There was nothing that was really digesting as I ate. I got sick and I just was not able to eat. And I called my doctor and I said, "You know what? I have an issue and I don't know what it is and I think it's a GI issue." I went in to see her and I explained what was going on, she gave me a referral to a GI doctor, but everything takes time. And during that time that I was waiting to see the doctor, my symptoms and my issues just kept on getting worse. By the time I was able to see the GI doctor and schedule the necessary tests that I needed to get done, the endoscopy, the colonoscopy, et cetera, I learned that I had gastritis and my stomach was so inflamed that I was not able to eat, to digest the food, that was necessary for my body.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

After getting that diagnosis, I was told I could go back to my normal lifestyle, but the truth is, I had not been able to go back to my normal lifestyle and it's been over three years. Yes, and it didn't stop. And so, it took me, I think, a good nine months between going to the GI doctor and having to see another GI doctor and then allergist then, a bunch of just different doctors, because then I realized I had all these food intolerances, food sensitivities, just a lot of stuff. I lost a lot of weight, because I was not able to eat. I was not able to digest the food. And so, when you're not able to digest, you are afraid to eat, because you don't know what is going on.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

In the process, I was very stressed. It was very overwhelming, because there's a lot going on and you don't know what is going on in your body. I can fast forward and say, I'm grateful now, looking back, for the medical team that I worked with, my primary care doctor who gave me the necessary referrals. She never, one day, asked, "What is wrong with you?" Doctors may sometimes think that you're overreacting. She never, one day, said that. She gave me the necessary referrals. And I have to tell you those referrals were always the right referrals. And what I can encourage people to do is to get your diagnosis, know what your diagnosis is, so that you know what you're working with. If you're not armed with the information you need, you're not going to know what your right course of treatment is.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So when I saw the GI doctors, and I'm not one to take medication, I don't like medication and medication somewhat contributed to some of the pain I ended up experiencing, because I have some disc issues in my neck and I have rotator cuff issues. So there was pain there that I was taking some ibuprofen, Advil, and I did not know I was one of those people who cannot take NSAID, because that was horrible for my stomach. So in addition to what was going on with foods that I was eating, then that stuff also contributed to that as well. So the right referrals helped, because the doctors did the tests that they needed to do. And it was in that process I found out that, yes, my stomach was inflamed. I was not able to eat right. Some of the foods that I was eating, I was not able to tolerate. So I had learned that while I don't have celiac, I do have sensitivity to gluten and soy, and as a vegan the alternatives were all gluten or soy.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, I see. Yeah.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yeah, so for years as a vegan, I was consuming those meat alternatives, because they're very high in protein and to be honest with you, they're very tasty. And I love to cook, so I really enjoyed fixing meals, preparing meals and the flexibility that I had to be able to do that. I ate a lot of browns, I hardly ever do anything white. So I did the wheat, I did the different grains, but what I was not understanding is that the browns, which were the gluten grain, was just not the best option for my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

For your body.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Right, and so, as I was consuming those for years and years and years, it was taking a toll on my body. And that's something that I didn't know. And then for some people who have autoimmune diseases, they do have some type of motility issue and I learnt that in the process. So my stomach processes my food a little slower than most people, so yes, so that contributed to some of the challenges that I experienced. And having said all of that, what was important to me was to be armed with the information that was necessary. It was important for me to know my diagnosis so that I could develop a treatment plan for myself. And the beauty about it is, the doctors that I saw, they all knew I was not one for medication. So the options-

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, they knew?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, we had that discussion upfront. So the option was always on the table to find out what are the natural alternatives for whatever that medication is or was that was going to be prescribed, or what are some of the other lifestyle options that I could have actually engaged in to support my health?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And I started doing yoga, something I heard about over the years, but never tried. And that thing about you will do anything to get better. I remember the very first time that I did yoga, I didn't know what I was going into and I ended up doing hot yoga.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, Bikram, yes.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Bikram, oh my goodness, what an experience. And I have not gone back to Bikram, I have done Vinyasa, I've done a bunch of different forms of yoga, but I did not go back to hot yoga.

Vincent Ferguson:

You didn't go back to hot yoga? It's too hot for you.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

No, I did not go back to hot yoga. No, I just couldn't do it. But it was a very great experience, that I will say, because it helped me to start to think differently about my body and bringing my body back into alignment. And I mentioned growing up in Jamaica in a farming village, as a little child, we ran around outside with no shoes. So we were always connected to the earth. And so, we were practicing natural grounding without even knowing it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Interesting, yeah.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, yes. So yoga brought me into a different awareness, managing stress, because I became very stressed, not knowing what was going on in my body, so I was really not in a good place when it came to being stressed. And I had to learn what we call mindful living. So I had to learn to manage my stress. I had to learn to find my breath. I had to learn to become more grounded. I had to learn to give up what I could not control and still managing what the diagnosis was. And the managing the diagnosis was for me, eliminating a lot of the foods that I used to eat that was causing pain in the body, because one thing that people need to know is gluten causes inflammation in the body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Gluten?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, inflammation causes pain. When you feel pain, there's inflammation somewhere. So I had to learn to eliminate the food that I loved, because it didn't love my body or my body didn't love it. So I went back to my foundation. I grew up on a farm where my grandparents planted their own and we ate what was raised on the farm and I had to go back to the root food. I've always shopped at farmer's markets, just, that became what I go to more now, the farmer's markets every weekend. And I go and I get root foods. I get foods that are grown in the soil that is really good for the body. A part of that process included probiotics so that you could get your gut flora in check so that you're developing a healthier GI system, so there were just a lot of different things that helped me to be where I am today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

But one thing I can share with your listeners, is you have to know your body. You have to work with your professionals to get your right diagnosis. And once you get your right diagnosis, you can develop a treatment plan that's best for you. I did a lot of free webinars Vince to learn about natural alternatives. And again, back to the farm, we grew up using a lot of herbs and I always have herbs, I now just have a better understanding of what those herbs actually do for the body. So I do use a lot of herbs and I use spices for healing. I use a lot of essential oils, so my medicine cabinet really is more my essential oils than my herbs. But again, that might not necessarily work for everyone, that works for me, making the necessary adjustments that I needed for my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very nice. So now, are you back to basically a vegetarian lifestyle?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I am back to a vegetarian lifestyle, because I cannot consume the vegan options that I really loved. There are days when I wish I could, but it's just not the best thing for my body. So I have come to terms with it and we have closure on that area of my life, so I do mostly vegetarian now and I'm satisfied with it. For the most part, I don't do dairy, I don't do soy and as best as I can, I don't do gluten, because I need to remain balanced in what I consume and how that affects my body.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. And like you said, the gluten caused a lot of inflammation.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes. Yes it does.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Yes. And again, what's important too, you said you recommend that my listeners know their body, get to know their bodies.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I think it's so important to get to know your body. As much as we think we know our bodies and as much as we accept... There are a lot of fads and there are a lot of things that people tend to gravitate to, because, "This looks good, I think this might work. This sounds great." But the truth is, it might not be what's ideal for you as an individual. And, I mean, I didn't get into vegan and vegetarianism because if it was a fad or…….. I got into it, because that's something that I'm naturally propensed towards, so it's something that I enjoyed. It's just that my body was really not able to manage it. And for years, if I might, for years, as much as I ate that way, I was gaining weight over time and I always liked to work out.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I mean, there were a couple of years in between that I wasn't as active in the gym as I would've liked to, but I was never one of those people who over ate or over consumed certain things and I really started to gain weight that I was really not able to move. And in hindsight, if I was to really look back at when those things started to happen, I would have recognized that something was going on in my body that I needed to pause and really take a look at, but I didn't. In hindsight, I would have, but you learn later.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. They say hindsight is 2020. You look back, you can see clearly.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes, you learn later.

Vincent Ferguson:

So do you do any other types of exercise besides yoga now?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I don't do as much yoga as I used to in 2018 and part of 2019. In 2020, believe it or not, I started running again and I used to do track and field in high school. I used to do volleyball. I was actually an active sports lover and I participated in sports. So in a 2020, this pause has really given me an opportunity for reset as well. I live close enough to Prospect Park and my husband and I would take our children for walks in the park and they actually wanted to start doing trails and just kind of exploring the park a little differently. And we started to do that. But what I realized is when I was taking them out, I really wasn't doing much for me. And so, I decided that I would start going out in the morning when the weather, it was still fairly cool, started changing, and I started to go for walks.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And my brother, he's in the military, one night I was speaking to him and I mentioned, "No, I haven't been running. I really wish I could go back to running." And a part of the reason why I wasn't able to do that, Vince, is because on my journey, I lost so much weight and my muscles became so weak and I was not as strong as I used to be. And I wanted to be healthier, I wanted to feel better, but I was always so weak. If I lifted something that I thought I would have been able to manage in terms of lifting, I would feel pain. That's because my muscles were so weak and I needed to do something to strengthen them. In 2019, I started to go back to the gym, but even then, lifting the weights, it hurts. So I had to start out at bare minimum and I would just go and I would just do the walk on the treadmill, because I couldn't do the running on the treadmill. I just did the basics.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And then in 2020, I remember just speaking to my brother and I said, "Oh, I really wish I could go running." And that morning after I spoke to my brother, I was walking and then I decided to, "Maybe let me just see what I could do." And I think I did half a mile of a jog. And the next morning I did like a mile. And I think by the fourth morning, I just took off when I went in the park and I just started running and I have not stopped.

Vincent Ferguson:

And you haven't stopped?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

I have not stopped, except for now that it's winter, I'm not out running. If the weather is not too bad, I will go out and I'll do a half walk, half jog. But I love it. I truly, truly love it and it has rejuvenated my body and I love it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. Well, I'll tell you, Yvette, this half hour has gone so quickly and I just thank you so much, because I think you're adding a lot of value to my listeners about what you went through and how you were able to get your health back. What advice would you give my listeners when it comes to taking care of their own bodies?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Number one, know your body. And if you don't know how to know your body, work with someone who can help you to get to know your body. And a part of getting to know your body is really listening to what your body is saying to you. When I didn't know what my body was saying, I went to my doctor. When I started to become overwhelmed with anxiety and stress and I thought I was having heart palpitations, my doctor referred me to the cardiologist. Turned out I did not need a cardiologist, but that was the way stress was manifested in my body. So learning your body, working with someone to help you understand what is going on with your body and knowing your diagnosis, if there is one, and developing a treatment plan for that diagnosis for a very favorable outcome.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And it is okay to know the diagnosis. I think one of the things that we have to understand is, we cannot start to treat something we don't know what we're treating. We could try to develop a treatment plan and it's totally off. So you have to know your diagnosis, know what you're working with, develop a treatment plan that works for you, works for your body, develop a network of support who is going to be a great source of encouragement. You need cheerleaders in your life. You need people who understand. When I went to the cardiologist and he sat and he listened to me, he recommended that I read the book Dropping Acid. Never heard of it, did not know what that meant. And you know what was so funny, Vince? When I went to the allergist because of some of the food sensitivity issues I was having, he also recommended reading portions of that book that I was already reading. So there was a network of doctors who could give recommendations and it was like confirmation and it was consistent.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So developing a way of living in a mindful way decreases stress. It reduces anxiety in your life. And once you create a balance in your life, there is harmony. And I can tell you, once you're at that place in your life, there are things that's happening around you, that you will recognize. The things that you used to major in has now become your minor. They're not as bothersome anymore. You're able to become more carefree. You're able to just release a lot of things that you have no control over. And that helps to really bring your body into alignment, because your body can heal itself, but you need to give your body what it needs and your body needs to be at peace. Your body needs to be whole. You need to be well. And that is some of what I would recommend to your listeners.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's a lot, let me tell you. That is awesome recommendations, Yvette. And the name of that book was Dropping Acid?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Dropping Acid, yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Man, that sounds like a powerful book to get, okay? Because your body builds up a lot of acidity.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

I get it. I get it. And tell me, Yvette, about your family and your church. Tell me how important they are to you?

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

So I am an active leader in my church, Rise Church International, where my pastor, Dennis Dillon, is our leader. He is a community activist. He is such a leader who encourages us to really just be the best we can be. And he's really one of the reasons why I even feel as confident as I am speaking to you today, because he recognized something in me when I did not know I had it in me and he pulled that out of me. So I'm as confident speaking with you today, because of what he saw in me. So I want to be able to say thank you to him and the work that he continues to do in Rise Church here in New York, as well as international with our communities in Africa and across the globe.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

And the next question you wanted was to know about my family. Well, I am married. I dated my husband for five years before we got married, so we've been married now for 14 years. September 2020, we've been married for 14 years and we have two beautiful children Malachi and Elaysha Raymond. We serve in ministry together and he's a great source of support to me and the children, they're just growing well and I just thank God for the work they're doing. So, they've been doing school all virtual for this whole time and they actually both made the honor roll for their schools and I'm really proud of them both.

Vincent Ferguson:

Congratulations.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Beautiful, yeah. Yvette Firth-Raymond, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Yvette Frith-Raymond:

Thank you, Vince, this was truly a pleasure.

Vincent Ferguson:

You are a blessing. And to my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast.

Vincent Ferguson:

And if you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.6weekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com. And please don't forget to subscribe, so you don't miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_168_Yvette_Frith_Raymond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37am EDT

Jacqueline Selesky is a professional dancer and choreographer. She graduated from Montclair State University with a BA in dance education. She was the lead soloist in Martha Graham's Daughters of the Night, performed at the Joyce Theater in New York City. Jacqueline appeared on Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have it Netflix series, as well as a dancer on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and Live with Kelly and Ryan. And she also appeared in various television commercials. Jacqueline has recently started her own YouTube channel called “Fit for Faith with Jacqueline,” where she streams praise and worship dance cardio classes, and all things fitness, dance and faith. Jacqueline's experiences have allowed her to not only advance her skills as a dancer, but also as a well-rounded performing artist and educator.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well before we talk about your Fit for Faith with Jacqueline YouTube channel, tell my listeners more about you. Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I grew up in Long Island in a little town called Central Islip. And I actually grew up doing a lot. My mom had me in so many different things. She had me in basketball, Girl Scouts, and I was always doing something after school. And I'm so grateful to my mom for giving me all of these opportunities. Baton twirling too. I'm forgetting things, there's just so much. And then eventually my best friend was doing dance, so my mom allowed me to go with her to dance class. And then from there, dance took over everything. So I stopped basketball, I stopped everything else. And I just fell in love with dancing and performing. And as I grew up in that studio, I was actually afforded the opportunity to perform in Puerto Rico, perform all over the city and in Long Island. So that's my bringing up, is basically dance took over, and it was a blessing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. So it was the exposure to different activities that led you to dance.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yeah, it definitely was. I know that everything that I was exposed to was definitely physical and social. And putting all the physical and social together, dance has made the most sense to me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Did you have any role models in the dance world?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yes. So my dance teacher Jerilyn Diaz, actually. She basically became my sister. She was my role model all throughout my childhood. She basically wanted to be a professional dancer, but she actually ended up being a speech pathologist. So she kind of lived vicariously through me and poured everything into me. And not only did she teach me how to dance, but she taught me how to be confident, how to speak my mind. And yeah, I give a lot to her. Also my mother, she was a single mother. And as I said before, she gave me all the opportunities possible, and just seeing these powerful women in my life just do it, and go for whatever they wanted, and be confident, independent woman, really, really molded me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. Excellent. Excellent. Now has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work as a dancer in regards to employment opportunities?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yeah!

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Any dancers listening will be like, "Oh yes, please. Open back up." But I mean, I'm grateful that everybody is staying safe. But it's definitely been harder. I have an agent and usually I'm sent on auditions, so I'll be running all over the city auditioning for auditions, being virtual now. Which I don't mind, because living in Long Island, I really don't want to travel to the city. But the energy is different. I'm not able to ... you're not able to connect with a casting director via a video, but it is what it is. And it's actually allowed me to pour more into what I want to do for myself with my YouTube channel. So it's been a blessing in disguise kind of thing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, most definitely. And having a YouTube channel really doesn't hurt, because if anything, it increases your exposure, doesn't it?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Oh, yes, by a lot. Reaching people from all over the world, which is amazing, which you can't normally do just from a dance studio. I love the fact that YouTube has been giving me more exposure, especially during COVID, because everybody's on the computer and on their phone right now.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, exactly. Most definitely. And now you call your YouTube channel Fit for Faith with Jacqueline. Now tell my listeners where the name came from and what can they expect to experience participating in your program?

Jacqueline Selesky:

So Fit for Faith came about, it's funny, I wanted to start a YouTube channel six years ago. It's crazy. It's crazy how long we can put something off for, and just dream it up so much. And then the pandemic hit and it was like, well, this is the perfect time to do this. You know? So let me go ahead and just do this channel. And I knew that I wanted to do something about dance. So taking it back six years ago, hold tight. I want to do a YouTube channel about dance. And then over time I was like, well, what would that look like? That's really general. And then I started going to church. I was born again about three years ago.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice.

Jacqueline Selesky:

And then every time I would go to church service on Sundays, I was actually in a Spanish church. I was the only English speaking person, but hey, the Word is the Word, right?

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Jacqueline Selesky:

So I go to church and they would always throw me in the center during worship, and everybody would just follow me. And I felt like it was a Zumba class, like a dance cardio class but worship music. And everybody was following me and it felt amazing. And I'm like, wow, what if I did a YouTube channel that had dance cardio classes catered toward praise and worship music? And it's a little dose of church on YouTube. And then I can also speak about the word, Bible verses, little devotional videos. And help grow my faith while maybe other people need to do the same thing. And this went on, so that's where Fit for Faith came in.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. I love that. Now how important is faith to you, especially in times like these?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Wow. I didn't realize how much I needed to grow in my faith until this pandemic hit. It's like, I mean, we could probably all agree that it feels like it smacked us in the face. And shook us to the core. And it's still doing that. We're trying to navigate and figure out how to live in all of this. And what I realized is that faith is the only constant throughout a pandemic, throughout a breakup, throughout a divorce. Whatever somebody may be going through, that's the only thing that we can really focus on and won't change for us. And what could only happen is it can grow and become even more beautiful. So faith is important.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. I see. I see. And you're able to express it with your YouTube channel. Now, what type of music do you have on the channel?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I try to have a diverse set of music each time I do a dance cardio video, and I call it praise and worship cardio classes. And we'll have gospel, we'll have Kirk Franklin, and we'll put the Bachata and even Merengue and Salsa. It's crazy how many Latin praise and worship songs there are. I'm like, wow, I didn't even know. So many of them. And also what I've been falling in love with is Soca. Soca music for praise and worship songs, I'm like, whoa. They are serious. They're like stomp up in on me. Go to my channel and you'll see what I'm talking about. They are so much fun.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? Now how long has the channel been around?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I literally only started in August. So it's very new.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yeah, I started it on my birthday, I turned... Oh, I'm about to tell my age. I turned 29 on August 27th. And I'm like, you know what? This last year of my 20s I want to hit with a bang, and I want to start this channel and bring more people to the light, to God, to just goodness. You know?

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, and how long are the classes?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I literally do 20 to 25 minute classes. Because I know a lot of people don't have time to get a big workout in. And you know what? It sometimes only takes 20 minutes to get a nice workout. We don't have to do so much to get what we need and what we want. It's really how much you put into it. And I'm crazy. So on the channel, so as soon as the warmup starts I'm like, it's not really a warm up, let's go crazy. So 20 minutes, that's all we need. And honestly, every day I've been having a 90 day faith and fitness challenge. And in those videos, they're five to 10 minutes long. And I start with the Bible verse and then I give people an action step for your day. Like, open the door for somebody, something just nice to keep you in a good spirit and spread the spirit. And then we always end in a plank while praying.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? Very cool, very cool. Are these live fitness classes?

Jacqueline Selesky:

So I've done a couple of lives, but most of them are prerecorded and then I post them up throughout the week. But I've been thinking about doing more live videos. So I'm glad that you said that, because I think the connecting with people is what I miss about teaching live classes. So look out for the live classes coming soon.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well once you go live, do you have a certain day and time you'll do that?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I want to do them on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Those are days that might be tough for people. Monday's are always like, ah, Monday, I got to wake up.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Right, exactly. Exactly.

Jacqueline Selesky:

You’re dragging your feet Wednesdays, and then Friday is like a celebratory, we may it. So Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. Would they be in the morning, afternoon, or evenings?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I would love to do it in the morning to start people's days off. And then hey, if they can't make the live version, it'll stay on there so they can catch it later.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Okay, so that's something that we're going to look forward to with your live classes. But now if I wanted to find your program, can I go to YouTube and just type in Fit for Faith with Jacqueline? That's how I find it?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yes. That's all you got to do, is Fit for Faith with Jacqueline and you will see me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Perfect. Perfect. Now who would you say your target audience is?

Jacqueline Selesky:

That's an interesting question, because when you start a YouTube channel, all the videos, prep you say, make sure you are targeting your target audience. And to me, everyone is my audience. That's how I feel. I feel that anyone can get something positive from this channel, whether you just tune in for the videos and we do the little planks and we pray, or we do wall sits and we pray. Or you come in for the dance cardio classes. It's for everyone because the bible is for everyone, and that's what I'm talking about on my channel. And in general, just talking about living positively, spreading light and spreading love.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. Most definitely. Especially today. Do you see this as like a health ministry and a way to honor God with exercise?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yes, definitely. Definitely a health ministry. And honestly, I'm just grateful to God that he gave me this because it's allowed me to be creative in how I produce content with dance too. You know? So it's definitely a health ministry, but you can go on there for a party too.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. Yes. Now there is a scripture in the Bible about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit, but yet so many people defile the temple don't they?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Yes, so many. And you know what? I was one of them.

 

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay, yeah. There you go.

Jacqueline Selesky:

And I've always been an emotional eater. And I know I'm not only one, but I hid that for so long. I'm like, oh, oh, it's fine. Because nobody can tell because I have a fast metabolism. Let me tell you, when quarantine hits, fast metabolism went out the door.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, yeah. Oh, yes.

Jacqueline Selesky:

So it changed. And God giving me this vision to do this channel has helped me be able to stay healthy. Sometimes even though I want to eat crazy and what not, having to show up for him and be on it and do these videos. And it's not just about looking good, but feeling good while I do it, because that shows. People can see, you know? It's definitely helped me to stop defiling my body because you can put in so many ways.

Vincent Ferguson:

How are you promoting your channel?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I've been on Facebook and Instagram a lot. And I also just started a TikTok. I feel very old on TikTok, I'm not going to lie. Like, how do you do this stuff? But I'm learning. So basically on those  social media platforms, and I'm thinking about going on Twitter because I've heard that's a good spot to be. I sound old I know.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. Yes. I mean the key is promoting on every platform that you possibly can to give yourself a nice little boost. And I think Instagram is hands down one of the best, obviously Instagram. The Facebook, the Twitter, the TikTok. Because again, you may feel like that's a younger audience, but trust me, a lot of the people on there and you want to grab as many people as possible. You know? That's great. That's great, and what we'll do, I'll tag you once this comes out and I'll also promote it in Facebook, on Twitter and Instagram. And I'll put it out there as well, because I like what you're doing-

Jacqueline Selesky:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

... for the people, for everyone. And that's important. Any age can join in with you. Correct?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Any age can join in with me. What's great is that a couple weeks ago my friend wasn't feeling great. Like her back, she's going through something with her back. And she came just to watch the video, because I have a bunch of girls who come and do the dance cardio video with me. And she's like, "Oh, I just came to watch today, my back really hurts." And I was like, hmm, because I'm crazy. "You can sit in the chair and you can do the warmup. And you just do arms." And I said, "I bet there's people out there who can't get up out of their chair and they want to participate, but I'm going all over the place that they feel they can't follow. Now they can follow you in the chair." And what's great is that someone definitely commented and said, "Thank you. This was a blessing that you had the woman in the chair. I followed her along the whole time." So everybody can join in no matter what age.

Vincent Ferguson:

You're right. Just being mindful that everyone, people who are watching you, they may not be as healthy, they may have certain conditions. And like you said, your friend who needed to be in the chair, there are so many other people watching who also are limited in their mobility and needed to see someone like them. That's so important. Awesome.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. And you don't have a lot of time on the channel, do you talk about nutrition at all?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I haven't spoken about it so much, I guess because I've been doing 90 days of faith and fitness challenge. So I've been into these little videos that I do every day. But that's something that I'm going to start doing in January, because I'm going to do a 21 day water fast. And I just want to be on the channel with everybody whoever wants to join me in doing that. But also I want to talk about regular nutrition, because that's not a normal thing to keep up every day, right? So just talking about nutrition and how important that is to couple alongside with fitness and then also faith.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh definitely, because nutrition, believe it or not. And I tell a lot of people this, and as a trainer, that 80% of your health depends on nutrition.

Jacqueline Selesky:

So true.

Vincent Ferguson:

So much. Okay? More than some people realize. Exercise is extremely important, but if you don't have that nutrition component, you're wasting your time.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Exactly. That's exactly how I feel.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. And that's good. And you're leading the way, which is awesome. Now, what would you say if I said to you, try to convince someone who's on the fence who needs to do something, needs a fitness program. They're in the church and they're concerned about their health. What would you say to this person if you wanted to convince them to give it a shot? To join your class, come in and see what you're doing and be a part of the program. What would you say to them?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I would say, because I get not wanting to work out. I get being skeptical if it's something you're new to. Because honestly, though I grew up as a dancer, I didn't workout. You know what I mean? I didn't do anything besides dance. So when quarantine hit I was like, I need to workout. My body is starting to slow down and whatnot. This was a great introduction for me, because it allowed me to have fun and forget that I was working out. Especially for people who already go to church, who already hear the praise and worship songs. It's basically like we are in church at a party.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice.

Jacqueline Selesky:

And we're able to work out and forget that we're working out, until after when you're drenched in sweat. And it's amazing. And my friend said this really good thing one time. She said, "When we dance, we are praising him twice."

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow.

Jacqueline Selesky:

And that just explains it all, because that's what makes you forget about it too. You're in these songs, shouting out, "Amen. Hallelujah." And have fun. Even if you're alone and you forget you're working out.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's like making joyful noise unto the Lord, huh?

Jacqueline Selesky:

Exactly. And honestly, it's one step at a time. Hey, 20 minutes is too much for you, do the first two songs and call it a day. One step at a time.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice, one step at a time. Now I know you focus on the cardio, do you do any strength training? I know you mentioned planks, which is great.

Jacqueline Selesky:

So we've been doing the planks and we've been doing the wall sit while we pray, which is such a challenge. That's why we call it plank challenge, and wall sit challenge. To pray while we do those things because we literally do need to pray. I’m praying oh my God, please help me through these planks. But as of right now we're just doing the dance cardio and those planks and the wall sits. But as the channel develops more, I would love to do more strength training. I would love to even incorporate stretching and cool downs, and things of that nature.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. As you develop your channel you can offer so much more. Amazing. Tell my listeners how we can find out more about Jacqueline Selesky. Do you have a website? Can we follow you on social media?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I'm @Jay2reality, and then my full name for Facebook Jacquelyn Selesky. And I'm new on TikTok, so be kind to me there. But I am at Fit for Faith on TikTok. So everything is basically my name and Fit for Faith. And I'm going to be having a website soon. And I'm also going to be offering private lessons and classes, group classes for anybody who wants to personally meet me and have class one-on-one with me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Love it. Absolutely love it because you are an entrepreneur.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Thank you.

Jacqueline Selesky:

I'm trying out here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, you got to. You're doing that. And you're taking the right steps, you're doing the right thing. You're going to build a following, and people are going to be so into what you have to offer them and they will want to work with you. You'll lead the way Jacqueline. This is great. Any final words for my listeners?

Jacqueline Selesky:

I know it's hard right now out there, whatever you may be personally, in your career and your family, but just know God got you. You're going to be okay. And this is the verse I use every day, and you could use this for a man to just switch it to a he. I say, "She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25. We are going to make it. Let's dance our way through this pandemic, and we'll make it to the other side.

Vincent Ferguson:

Awesome. Love it. I'll take those words to heart myself. Thank you so much. Jacqueline Selesky, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Jacqueline Selesky:

Thank you so, so, so much for having me.

Vincent Ferguson:

And to my readers and listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.sixweekstofitness.com, or email me at Vince@sixweeks.com. And don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. 

Direct download: Episode_167_Jacqueline_Selesky.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29am EDT

Dominic Kennedy is a personal trainer in Hollywood, Beverly Hills. He has certifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine for personal training, weight loss specialist, corrective exercise specialist, and in nutrition. He is also the CEO of the Dominic Effect app, a fitness and wellness app that launched in November of 2020. Dominic is also a luxury realtor with the Compass Aaron Kirman Group.

Vincent Ferguson:

Before we talk about the Dominic Effect App, let's dig a little bit into your personal life and talk about you, Dominic. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Dominic Kennedy:

I grew up outside of Philadelphia, in more of a smaller town so it was about 20 minutes outside of the city. Growing up, I had a great childhood. I wouldn't say it was a cookie cutter, but there were challenges like everyone goes through. But I really enjoyed the area that I grew up in. I enjoyed the city of Philadelphia. Very athletic from a young age. Very involved in sports. Rarely ever would be inside. So very, very active from a very young age.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very nice. Do you come from a big family Dominic?

Dominic Kennedy:

I do. I come from a huge family.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? How many siblings?

Dominic Kennedy:

On the one side, there's four and on the other side, there's eight. So I was surrounded by a lot of people. A lot of different personalities.

Vincent Ferguson:

When did you know that your career path would take you into owning your very own personal training business?

Dominic Kennedy:

It was at my teenage years. I've had a very independent mindset since I was younger. I was always off on my own. I had jobs when I was 11 or 12 years old delivering newspapers, working at restaurants, whatever I could do. I just had this entrepreneurial mindset. I knew that when I first started working in corporate pharmaceutical, this wasn't for me and I quickly after college realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. And here I am.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very interesting. Did you have any role models who were entrepreneurs?

Dominic Kennedy:

I do. I worked at a restaurant when I was younger, his name was Michael. And he started from nothing, grew up very poor. He grew a huge franchise and I really honored, and respected, and looked up to him from a very young age. I was by his side watching his work ethic and it instilled in me because I have a very similar work ethic.

Vincent Ferguson:

So would you say that mentorship is very important for young people?

Dominic Kennedy:

100%, for young people. I'm 35 and I still have mentors. And I will always have a mentor.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. You're not only a personal trainer, but you're also a luxury realtor. How do you mix the two? How does it work out for you?

Dominic Kennedy:

Well, owning a private personal training business, I'm around a ton of different personalities in Los Angeles. Clients have been with me over 10 years in a row. So it's developed a really deep relationship, friendship. It's almost like family. But you get into the luxury real estate, and it is in Beverly Hills, my clients who have... They trust me. I work side by side on their body, mentally, emotionally. So if somebody wants to sell their property or look for a property or start an income property, they know I do this. Not only will they use me, but they'll also refer me to their friends. So I use both interchangeably because in personal training, just like hiring a realtor, you really have to trust the person that you're going to work with.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, most definitely. But why did you choose to become a personal trainer?

Dominic Kennedy:

I love helping people. Like I said, in the beginning of this, I worked in corporate pharmaceutical for two years behind a computer, on a spreadsheet and it does not reflect my personality at all. I have always been a personal trainer on the side throughout college. So when I moved to Los Angeles and decided to make a career out of it. It's so fulfilling to me to be able to watch somebody grow and also achieve their goals. I look at everyone as an individual and whatever they are coming for, that's how I designed their program. It's not my body. I'm just there with them along the physical and emotional process to help and guide them and be there for them.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. You mentioned your body and I've visited your Instagram page, and honestly, you have a phenomenal body. So when someone sees you, they can't help but wonder, "Wow, what does this guy do?" What's the most common question you get when people see you, whether on the beach or your Instagram page, they see you in a social setting, what do they ask?

Dominic Kennedy:

What do you eat and how do you attain a body like that? I get this question a lot at the grocery store. When I'm in line, "Oh, can I ask what's in your basket, what kind of food do you eat? I want to look like that." And I love it because it's a great question.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, most definitely. So what do you tell them when they say, "How can I look like that?" How do you answer that?

Dominic Kennedy:

That's a good question. It really depends on the person who stuck to me because I wasn't always... I'm 220 pounds now. So I know if somebody comes up to me and they're around 150 pounds and they're just into this. I really recommend to anyone, no matter what their goals are, to stay consistent and that it does not happen overnight. So many people expect I'm going to do this for four weeks and expect this amazing transformation. If you're a 160 pounds and you want to be 220 pounds of lean muscle, that takes time. If you want to lose weight, that's different. So if someone's looking at my body and they want that type of lean muscle, there's amazing things you can do in four weeks. But if you want a lean, dense quality muscle, and to really pack that on, I always say to stay consistent and focused and keep going, because it's what's going to get you to your goal.

Vincent Ferguson:

But what brought you out to Hollywood, Beverly Hills?

Dominic Kennedy:

I have wanted to move out to California since I was around 12 years old. I'm a huge beach boy. I love going to the ocean. I meditate at the beach all the time. I love sunsets. The energy out here really corresponds with who I am. I'm highly into meditation. I find it very peaceful out here on the hikes that I go on to really re-center myself. And the second I moved here, which was almost 11 years ago, it felt like home to me.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? Do you have any celebrity clientele?

Dominic Kennedy:

I do. I have such a wide variety of clientele from famous professors. Actors is something I can't disclose. Just really incredible top scientists and doctors that work at UCLA. I mean, I have a really amazing range of clientele who I learned from as well all the time.

Vincent Ferguson:

The actual name of your business, Dom, is what?

Dominic Kennedy:

The app is The Dominic Effect. And my business has always been called Dominic Anthony Fitness and Wellness.

Vincent Ferguson:

Dominic Anthony Fitness and Wellness.

Dominic Kennedy:

Correct.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay, excellent. Excellent. And you said you've been in business now for how long? 12 years?

Dominic Kennedy:

Over 12 years, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Over 12 years. Now, this current government shutdown, the pandemic, how has that affected your personal training business?

Dominic Kennedy:

To be honest, I'm very proactive in approaching this or anything in life. I've always been like that. And when this happened, I quickly within two weeks converted most of my clientele onto ZOOM. And for me, I have to find a way around this not being able to physically train in a private gym with the restrictions. I'm so thankful for FaceTime and ZOOM and so are my clients, because it's made all the difference.

Vincent Ferguson:

What would you say makes you stand out as a trainer above the rest?

Dominic Kennedy:

I don't just meet a client and bring them on, and train them, and they leave. This is my life. I live and breathe this. And also when I meet somebody, I want them to feel very, very comfortable with me because it's not just about the physical body. There's so much more that goes into this. Why people have blocks with food, or working out, or emotional eating? There's so many things and fears to tackle. So I incorporate not just the physical aspect, but I really encourage affirmation, meditation. And I'm very hands-on so my clients don't just come in for an hour and then leave. The next day I'm going to text them, "How are you feeling? Did you do your cardio?" I'm very, very responsive and very hands-on. And I really like to keep open communication where they can reach out to me anytime, because I'm so passionate about this industry.

Vincent Ferguson:

So you really add that personal effect that people need to motivate them and to keep them going?

Dominic Kennedy:

I add The Dominic Effect, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go, The Dominic Effect in the house. All right. Now, as a personal trainer, you're limited to the amount of people you can actually personally see and train throughout the course of the day, but you created a fitness and wellness app called The Dominic Effect. Tell my listeners about The Dominic Effect and why it's so special.

Dominic Kennedy:

So the premise behind this is, I want to reach as many people globally as I can. So like you just said, I can only reach a certain amount of people throughout the day that are ongoing or whether it's one-on-one training. However, coming up with this app, it's not just somebody goes on. They create that customized workout plan with video tutorials, there's customized meal plans with shopping lists. All the macro counts, the proteins, the carbs, the fats, how to cook the food. I've made this so user-friendly, which was so important to me because many people who use other apps and it's confusing to them. So this is so user-friendly for anyone of any age group who wants to use it over 17.

Dominic Kennedy:

And I also incorporated a big part of me which is the meditation and wellness. That section is on there. Where we have live meditation. I'm bringing in other people who I really respect, who will lead live guided meditation, yoga workouts. So I really want this to be a community where people feel safe, and where they feel they are benefiting from this app. And not just from the physical standpoint, but from the inside out. So it's really important to me that people feel really center grounded, especially during this pandemic right now.

Vincent Ferguson:

Let's talk about the nutrition because that's very important. So many people, they eat differently. Some are vegans, some are vegetarians. How does your app address those people?

Dominic Kennedy:

It does it for everything. So if a client signs up, they're going to be asked a list of questions. And one of the questions is your preference of eating. So whether you're vegan or vegetarian, you eat meat, paleo, you'll select that. And there's a whole bunch of other questions you're going to answer after that. From there, you'll be generated in 72 hours that much I look at the customized meal plan, where if you eat vegan, then it's just customized to you in that sense. And then it will still come up with all the macros, pictures of the food, how to cook it and a grocery lists.

Vincent Ferguson:

You said how to cook it as well, really?

Dominic Kennedy:

Right. So not only does it come up. It's a beautiful picture of what the food can look like and all of your proteins or carbohydrates, your fats and calories, but then there's a dropdown list and it'll show you the exact ingredients. And then the second list is how to cook step-by-step. So you don't even have to think about it. If you're not a good cook, then you can follow this. And it even has pictures so you know how it should look. You can print or email the grocery list to yourself or just on the app as you go to the store, pull it up and check each item off as you purchase it.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's incredible. This is definitely the type of app you need to explain to people. I don't think most people will get the full gist of it. When you just say The Dominic Effect app, it really encompasses a whole lot more than what the name says, which is great.

Dominic Kennedy:

Correct.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now tell me about the fitness aspect, because sometimes some of these fitness programs can get stale.

Dominic Kennedy:

Right. So it's a personalized workout. So just like the nutrition aspect, where you have a list of questions, the workout portion as well, will come with a list of questions. So you'll answer all of your stats. There's dropdown menus with pictures. So you can pick where your body fat is because no one knows off the top of your head. So I have pictures of 12 different types of bodies with the body fat, and you'll select that. And then what your goals are, how often you work out and injuries. That's very important too. There's an option for that. So that's within the app, it'll pop up. If the exercise... If you have a shoulder injury, that'll let us know for that particular workout. So once that's submitted, then it will generate within 72 hours a workout plan.

Dominic Kennedy:

The workout plan comes with all of your exercises for that day. So you'll just click on it. It's very simple. And then there's eight exercises for that day to complete. You'll click on it. It tells you the muscle group and what it's for. And then you can, if you want to know how to perform the exercise, so it's almost like I'm there with you, you click on the video and it's me performing the exercise. As well as explaining tips and techniques, keep your core tight, watch for this, so that you can follow along with me. And then you just hit complete when you're done.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, and now you said eight exercises. So that's approximately a 30 minute workout?

Dominic Kennedy:

Right. It depends on what the person's goals are. But eight exercises, if they're four sets and then there's cardio at the end too. So it really depends, you can do a half hour or hour. And that's one of the dropdown box question the user will be asked to set. Do they want a 30 minute workout, an hour workout? And you will also select would you like home only workouts or gym workouts. So if you are only able to work out at home that's okay, you can select that. And the exercises pulled in for your plan, are ones that do not need the gym equipment. So it's very intuitive. And then you can also change it. If you decide to go back to the gym a month later, you can select it so that for gym only. And then the exercises pulled in for your plan will then show exercises that you can perform, like a chest press, in the gym.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. And again, with the current situation taking place today, for instance, if gyms are closed again, you still have an opportunity, a way to work out and exercise. Correct?

Dominic Kennedy:

Correct. Yeah. And that's the beauty of this, you do not physically need to be in a gym. You also don't need a ton of equipment because I created a ton of body exercises as well to do at home, or with bands, or dumbbells, or kettlebells. Things that you can order online at Amazon. Pretty easy to get. But then if you want to switch it to the gym, you just do it on the app and then we will convert the exercises to equipment that you see in the gym.

Vincent Ferguson:

And because it's The Dominic Effect app, are you saying that the user will also have the experience of having you with them, doing the exercise? Are you actually demonstrating the exercise? Did you say that?

Dominic Kennedy:

Correct. So once you look at your plan for the week, you can click on day one. And if they are eight to 10 exercises, each exercise will tell you the muscle group and how to perform it. Then you can click on the video that pops up. So if you're at home or at the gym, and it's me performing say a squat. And also explaining how to do it, giving you techniques and things. To be able to keep your core right, exhale on the way up. Things is like that. It’s almost like I'm there with you during the step, because that can be very intimidating for people in the gym when you don't know what you're doing. So it's very user friendly and very easy to follow.

Vincent Ferguson:

It sounds amazing. It really truly does. Now another reason people hire personal trainers is not only because of the experience and the knowledge, but also for motivation or inspiration, does your app provide that as well?

Dominic Kennedy:

It does because that's a huge part of who I am. So if you go, for instance, to my Instagram page, I post affirmations, motivational quotes, things that inspire me throughout the day, throughout the week are all on there. And that is also being generated in the app as well. For instance, I have a meditation and wellness section. So I have a list, like psychologist, on there with how to live a happy life, how to get through a stressful situation. There'll also be meditation 101, things that you can do to really center yourself and live at a higher vibration, which is always the goal for me. So that type of motivation and inspiration is included in the app.

Vincent Ferguson:

Absolutely amazing. And again, when it comes to motivation and inspiration or even positive energy, where do you get yours, Dom? Where do you get your inspiration, motivation, and positive energy from?

Dominic Kennedy:

A really good question. There's definitely people that inspire me. I follow them on social media or whether... For instance, I'm extremely spiritual. And I go to a spiritual center called Agape.

Vincent Ferguson:                                                                                                      

Yes, I've heard of it.

Dominic Kennedy:

Yeah, with Michael Bernard Beckwith, for instance. He's a huge, huge inspiration to me. Before COVID I used to go every Sunday and it's just such a happy, positive place. It's really just full of love. You can feel the energy when you walk in. And now I just live stream it, since we physically can't go. But people like him and there's so many other, they're just at such a high vibration and I aspire to be like them.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. Back to the app. How much does the app cost and where can we download it?

Dominic Kennedy:

So you can go to download it. There's a few different ways, you can go to www.dominiceffect.com. This will bring you to a page that lists all the different programs because there's three different options. You can do a monthly meal plan and workout plan combination, and that's $27.96 a month, or you can do a workout plan only for $19.99 or a nutrition plan only for $19.99. So really it depends on the individual and what they're looking for. For me to have both of the combination is important because the nutrition, along with the workout, it's going to give you the best results. It's also available on the App Store for the iPhone.

Dominic Kennedy:

So you can go and put in The Dominic Effect and it'll come up there. And it's also available on Android, Google Play as well. But the best option is to go to dominiceffect.com. Look at the different options to become familiar with it, or to my Instagram, or any social media pages, and then pick it and then download it from the app.

Vincent Ferguson:

Perfect. Now, where do you see yourself, Dominic, in the next five years?

Dominic Kennedy:

In the next five years... I'm so confident in this app because I have put so much energy and love into it. And I'm really including a lot of other people because I want everyone to benefit from this. So within the next year, we need to grow this app. But I also see myself become a motivational speaker, where I can help others really live a life to their full potential, and realize whatever obstacles that's going on or challenges, your path is already there. It's already carved for you, so just keeping walking your path and trust in yourself. So this is really important for me to be able to reach as many people globally as I can. So I'm hosting seminars, motivational speaking, and continuing to grow the app, as well as of course working in luxury real estate as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah, exactly. I almost forgot about that part of your life.

Dominic Kennedy:

Yeah. There's a few things going on in my life.

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly. So now where can my listeners find out more about Dominic Kennedy?

Dominic Kennedy:

So you can go directly to the website, the dominiceffect.com. And then if they want to find more inspiration, or who I am, or how I live my life, you can go to Dominick Anthony Fitness on Instagram or Facebook. I also have a Dominic Effect App Instagram as well. It shows more of what the inside of the app and everything looks like. So I post everything on my social media is very authentic. If you look at my stories, this is who I am. So it's broadcasted to show how my day to day life is.

Vincent Ferguson:

I've been to your Instagram page, I'm definitely going to recommend it to my listeners. It's full of life, vibrancy, and health, and happiness, and really shows you having a good time living man, which is wonderful.

Dominic Kennedy:

I am. Thank you for saying that.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. So Dominic Kennedy on behalf of Body Sculpt Of New York And Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Dominic Kennedy:

It's been an honor and I really, really appreciate talking to you.

Vincent Ferguson:

It's my pleasure. And to my listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.6weekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com.

Direct download: Episode_166_Dominic_Kennedy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:35pm EDT

Caitlin Jones is a certified personal trainer, fitness coach, health and mindset coach and entrepreneur. She helps busy professionals create lean, toned physiques without cardio or crunches. With nearly a decade in the fitness industry, she has helped hundreds of clients achieve their specific goals. Her online course, Ditch Crunches Forever, helps people to lose weight, tone up and reveal the sexy abs they have always wanted.  Caitlin is also a professional dancer who has expanded her teaching specialties to function and strength, boxing and cycling classes. Whatever the methodology, Caitlin delivers to each class, her highest energy, excellent musicality, and a true love for helping others feel their best.

Vincent Ferguson:

But before we talk about your online course, Ditch Crunches Forever and how you help clients to build lean physiques without doing cardio and crunches... I really want to hear about that... But let's talk about your journey into health and fitness. Where did it all begin for you, Caitlin?

Caitlin Jones:

Almost on accident. I was in college. A bunch of girlfriends of mine, loved Zumba, and there was a group of instructors in the Pittsburgh area who did a class at a bar. But during the day, it was this party atmosphere, this party vibe. It was four different instructors throwing a 90 minute dance party up on stage. Huge dance floor, the lights, the music was so loud, it was awesome.

Caitlin Jones:

And some folks would go on to happy hour or dinner afterward. And it just made the most fun Wednesday night. So I started going to that with some friends. It was contagious. It was seriously a movement. Like the group of us that started loyally going to this class every single week grew to about 10 or 20 women from my sorority, going every week. Like no lie, we'd bring 20 people. It was crazy.

Caitlin Jones:

So it was just a lot of fun and I had grown up dancing. So it wasn't that much longer until the instructors sort of noticed I was doing a good job picking up the choreography. We built a relationship before and after class just chatting. They knew I was a big fan and they were like, "You're not too bad at this yourself. Have you ever thought about getting Zumba certified?

Caitlin Jones:

So I did. I was pretty quickly and easily able to get a job teaching a few classes each week on my college campus. So, it was very organic. I have this dance background. And then my first foray into the fitness world was teaching dance cardio, happened very naturally. From there, I went to New York City and I did start working as a professional dancer. And that's when the teaching dance cardio thing started to become more of a problem.

Caitlin Jones:

It was actually way too much on my feet and way too much on my joints. To be performing all night, Taking dance classes and going to auditions all day and then be jumping around and shaking my hips some more in between, at these dance cardio classes. It was just way too much on my body.

Caitlin Jones:

So, I started to get more interested in weightlifting, being that's lower impact on the joints. Started teaching in a few different studios, more along those lines. And that's when I really felt some incredible changes in my body. Was from lifting weights. So that's really where we focus a lot nowadays.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very interesting. Did you have any weight issues growing up?

Caitlin Jones:

I did not. I know I didn't have any issues managing my weight. Coming from the dance world, it's a little bit the opposite problem. It's more like struggling with body image and feeling like you need to lose weight or be thinner. I definitely had my hardship there when I was 14, 15. I had an eating disorder for pretty much the full year. For reference, I'm about five foot seven now and 145 pounds. And at my lightest, I was 99 pounds, at my sickest.

Caitlin Jones:

So with the help of a therapist and just a more positive outlook on food and exercise, I was luckily able to get out of that really dark place and in a way I'm so grateful that I had that experience when I did, because eight years later in the professional dance world, that's really, when I was getting a lot of feedback about my body.

Caitlin Jones:

I had a lot of other people telling me how I should look. And I had already sort of done a lot of this work of like, I had already gone to that really dark place. I was like, "You know what? No one's ever going to make me feel like that again. Like I am enough! I am worthy! I'm not going to starve myself to reach any insane aesthetic outcome." And so in a way I'm really glad I had that resilience with me in the professional dance world already.

Vincent Ferguson:

And I understand you actually moved to New York in 2014, correct?

Caitlin Jones:

Correct.

Vincent Ferguson:

So where are you originally from?

Caitlin Jones:

I'm from the Pittsburgh area. Born and raised. Went to high school here. Went to college here. Really the only places I've ever lived is Pittsburgh and New York. Even as we speak, this is December, 2020. We're about nine months into this coronavirus journey. And even for the last nine months, it's been bouncing back and forth between my New York apartment and different places in Pittsburgh, to spend more time with family.

Caitlin Jones:

So now that I'm building an online business, it's sort of the first... The light bulb is going off in my head where I'm like, "Oh, I can actually live somewhere other than Pittsburgh and New York City if I would like to." And so I'm starting to look at those options.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. Really? Awesome. And before we talk about the online business, I want to step back for a second because I run a nonprofit organization for kids called Body Sculpt of New York. And one of my community partners are the Brooklyn Nets organization.

Caitlin Jones:

Phenomenal.

Vincent Ferguson:

And I understand that you worked with the Brooklyn Nets.

Caitlin Jones:

Yes. Yes, I did.

Vincent Ferguson:

Tell me about that experience.

Caitlin Jones:

It was phenomenal. I really enjoyed dancing there. I danced as a Brooklyn Net dancer for one year. After my time there, I transitioned to coaching for the Nets kids dance team. They have a very, very talented kids dance team. So for three years I was part of the assistant coaching staff.

Caitlin Jones:

I think the best part of being associated with the Net franchise is dancing for them in particular. Really any New York or L.A. team, when it comes to the NBA or the NFL, obviously these teams are all over the country. But when you're in either New York or L.A. the dance scene there really converges with the professional sports scene.

Caitlin Jones:

So, we are working with famous choreographers to put our routines together for these 90 second halftime routines, t-shirt tosses, whatever it may be. That was really the value in being with a team like the Nets.

Caitlin Jones:

And I mean, the Brooklyn Nets have such a unique style. When I was on the team, it was their second year being in Brooklyn versus New Jersey. So, with their new rebrand and everything, we were on the forefront of some really cool trends in the space. Doing different styles, doing Latin dancing and Caribbean dancing.

Caitlin Jones:

And we would do like a traditional Chinese dance and bring in a traditional Chinese choreographer to do that. Every dance has a theme, a prop, a costume. The production value was just so high in a way that only New York City can do it. In a way that only Brooklyn can do it.

Caitlin Jones:

And it was phenomenal to really be seen as these trendsetters in the space. And to this day, I'm the biggest fan of the Brooklyn Nets. They still put on a show every single time, and it's amazing to watch.

Vincent Ferguson:

I'm glad to hear that. I too am a fan. How did you go from cheerleader to personal trainer?

Caitlin Jones:

Yeah. It really came with the... Going back to dancing, dancing, dancing all the time my first two years in New York. It's just a lot on the joints and I have a history of stress fracturing the ball of my right foot, which has been an ongoing struggle. And also, I'm grateful for it, because it taught me that you can get an incredible full body workout without your feet ever leaving the floor.

Caitlin Jones:

And that, you mentioned in the introduction Vince, about how I sort of promise my clients, "You can get lean and toned without cardio and without crunches." So I really come from this place of when I was in the professional dance world and I'm getting all this feedback, whether it was from my coaches on the Brooklyn Nets or from various casting directors or agents, everyone's kind of saying the same thing, which is like lean is in right now. Abs are a trend right now. We sort of need more abs.

Caitlin Jones:

And it's kind of funny because trends change with time, but it has nothing to do with true health and wellness, right? This is purely an aesthetic. Nowadays, it's sort of like for women, it's all about like the booty and everyone wants to grow the glutes. Right? And we've sort of seen that shift from more of a small waist and defined abs to really your butt being like the thing that everyone wants.

Caitlin Jones:

And yes, strong glutes are important for a healthy, strong body. A strong core is important for a healthy, strong body. But these aesthetic focuses, it's totally based on people's opinion, then it changes with the time. So I really want abs, right. Because everyone's telling me I need them. And I'm thinking, "Okay, well, I'm going to do crunches and sit ups and twists." That's going to help tone the midsection.

Caitlin Jones:

And I'm going to do a ton of cardio to burn a ton of calories, to hopefully shed fat so that you can see all of the definition that I'm creating in my abs. What that did was it caused undue amounts of stress in my body. It was way too much cardio. I think when you count up all of the dance practices, I was going to, all of the dance classes I was taking. The auditions I was going to plus the classes I was teaching. Plus, walking around New York City is a cardio workout in and of itself. I was doing moderate or higher intensity cardio for like 20 hours a week and I wanted to die.

Caitlin Jones:

Something had to give. So sort of, because I was just exhausted and burnt out and I couldn't keep running and I couldn't keep dancing and biking and all the things I was doing. And my foot was acting up. I was starting to have some concerns raised about having another stress fracture in my foot.

Caitlin Jones:

I was like, "Okay, feet need to stay on the ground. What can I do?" And I started getting more into weights and it was just radical, the change I saw in my body after three to six months of three times a week, strength training, full body, functional fitness.

Caitlin Jones:

I wanted to just shout from the rooftops like, "Hello! This is probably the thing a lot of you are neglecting because the cardio and crunches approach seems logical." It would make sense, but now I understand more why the weights work. I got my personal training certification so that I can teach others this methodology.

Vincent Ferguson:

Very interesting. So you created an online program called Ditch Crunches Forever. All right. So now this is what you're talking about. So you don't do as much cardio now. You don't even do crunches.

Caitlin Jones:

Correct. I never do crunches. I never do sit-ups. I never do Russian twists. And my abs are easily the most defined and visible they've ever been in my life. Cardio is an interesting definition. So I teach my clients that cardio is anything which elevates your heart rate above resting, super intensity. So we can focus on doing full body strength training exercises. Think squats, pushups, dead lifts, bent over rows, or pull ups. Something pulling, right?

Caitlin Jones:

We might throw in a few burpees for a few sets of 30 seconds. And by actually just minimizing rest in between these exercises, the client or the person in question performing the exercises is going to experience an elevated heart rate. So it's not that I'm saying there is nothing worthwhile about elevating your heart rate. It's more that I think someone who wants to lose weight is likely, potentially overvaluing cardio, in their entire approach.

Caitlin Jones:

If they're spending a lot of time doing cardio and then not really enough time doing strength training, which I would argue for minimum, minimum, two sessions per week, full body. Then it's going to be really hard to gain any momentum. We need muscle on the body. It looks nice.

Caitlin Jones:

When people say they want to look lean and they want to look toned, they want to build muscle. They want visible muscles. And also, it helps us move through life pain free. It makes everyday activities much easier, such as just simple things. Walking up and down hills, moving your groceries around, picking up your kids or your nieces, or your nephews or whatever it may be.

Caitlin Jones:

And having muscle increases your metabolism. So it's actually going to help you burn more calories at rest. And I think that's what really hits home for most of my clients is, you can research different types of workouts. What's the most effective, what burns the most calories until you're blue in the face. But we're at rest most of the time. We are a sitting society, unfortunately. We're a mostly sedentary society.

Caitlin Jones:

So I'm not really trying... I don't want a client to come to me... I'm not going to tell them, "Hey, you're going to burn more calories with me than you are with the other guy or the other girl or the other trainer. What I'm going to do is I'm going to help you put some really healthy, nice looking, good to have for all sorts of health reasons, muscle on your body. And what that's going to do is it's going to help you burn calories when you're not in the gym. So that you don't get stuck in this endless cycle, this endless loop of more and more and more cardio to lose weight and then even more cardio to sustain it." Because the second I stop running seven days a week, the weight just comes back on. We really want to break that cycle. And I know that strength training is the way to do it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Would you say your training is also partially high-intensity interval training, as well?

Caitlin Jones:

So high intensity interval training has been... How do I put this? There's several different types of workouts out there, that claim to be high intensity interval training. Some of which are Tabata approach. Some of which are just the bootcamp. That's very difficult, very challenging. What is an interval? It's some amount of work interspersed with some amount of rest. So, don't get me wrong. The programs that I write for my clients absolutely do incorporate intervals of various types.

Caitlin Jones:

I would say with regards to intensity, I take a holistic approach at my client's entire life, right? There are all sorts of stressors that goes on in a person's life, of which fitness is one. And also, sleep, and how well someone is sleeping is another. Their work, their relationships, their financial situation. COVID was a huge stressor for a lot of people.

Caitlin Jones:

All of these things affect our cortisol levels. Now, if someone is sleeping eight hours a night, pretty set in their career, in very happy, fulfilling relationships, eating enough and their cortisol is generally low or low to moderate, then they're someone who can handle high intensity movement. Whether we're dubbing it high intensity interval training or not. They can handle a higher intensity, longer bouts of training. And that will work just fine for them. And that will accelerate their results.

Caitlin Jones:

Some folks come into the gym and they hear that high intensity interval training is the best workout, burns the most calories. And it's how they should be spending their time. But if this person is sleeping, six hours a night, on their computer answering emails late into the night. Maybe they're under eating, right? Because they really want to lose weight. And they're really committed. But the lack of sleep is increasing their cortisol. Their boss is increasing their cortisol. Under eating is actually potentially increasing their cortisol.

Caitlin Jones:

And now I haven't even gotten into daily hormonal fluctuations of cortisol. Monthly hormonal fluctuations if this is a woman or a woman identifying person, whose hormones follow 28 day cycle, which also affects cortisol. High intensity is not for everyone. That's another myth I'd really like to bust, because it could be counterproductive if we're not taking a holistic approach to wellness and therefore cortisol. And we're feeling like, "Oh, high intensity every day. More is more." More is not always more. Sometimes less is more. And sometimes less intensity is going to bring you closer to your goals faster, by managing your cortisol.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. Now, do you work out of a gym?

Caitlin Jones:

Currently, oh my gosh. I would love to. Right now what with local guidelines and what not, I work totally digitally. It's really incredible space. It's been a learning experience, an overall positive one, learning how to build and maintain relationships with my clients without the in-person component.

Caitlin Jones:

I miss it, of course. I miss training face-to-face. I miss teaching to a packed room of people. It's just not exactly potentially a safe option right now. So, I think in the future, I'd love to settle on some hybrid of online and in-person, because they both have their advantages.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely. Now, in regards again, to your program, Ditch Crunches Forever, how much of it relies upon diet?

Caitlin Jones:

Hmm. So I actually have two sort of signature programs here. Ditch Crunches Forever is a free mini course. Anyone who's listening to this show right now, if you're interested in any of the methodologies, I just discussed, Why strength training over cardio? Where does cortisol sort of play a part into all of this? I highly recommend taking Ditch Crunches Forever. Like I said, totally free. Can usually be found at the link in my Instagram bio @Caitlin Jones.

Caitlin Jones:

So, Ditch Crunches Forever is just a three part mini series. In the first-video, we go over metabolism, how building muscle affects metabolism. Why don't you need crunches if you want abs and what do we sort of replace them with? So there's a 20 minute instructional video answering all those questions. There's two follow along workouts to pick from. One is entirely body weight. One is with dumbbells.

Caitlin Jones:

So whether you have equipment or not, you can participate. And then the third sort of the last video is really, "How do we take what we learned and how do we apply it to our training in all sorts of environments using these concepts." There's also a downloadable PDF. It's about 30 different exercises that will strengthen your core without doing a single sit up, cardio or crunch. These are effective exercises proven by science and approved by me to work for building a lean toned stomach.

Caitlin Jones:

Now, the more in-depth program that I offer, Fitness Fluency, that's a 12 week total life transformation. And of course, Vince, we do talk about nutrition in Fitness Fluency. I take a very... What's the best way to explain this? For me, nutrition is all about abundance. It's all about the steps that we do take, the foods that we do eat, the foods that we do include.

Caitlin Jones:

And I don't really like to cut out entire food groups or ban any foods for my clients. Because the second I tell someone I'm working with, "Hey, by the way, those cookies... I know you love chocolate chip cookies, but for eight weeks, we're going no cookies." All that client can think of when she walks out of a conversation with me is, "Cookies, cookies, cookies. Darn it, Caitlin said, no cookies for me. I can't do this."

Caitlin Jones:

We sort of start to take this all or nothing mindset. So I really prescribe habits for my clients. We'll do a three-day photo journal. For three days they just take pictures of whatever they eat. They upload it to a shared photo journal that I have access to.

Caitlin Jones:

At the end of three days, we sort of work our way up the health pyramid. I personally believe and prescribe that the foundation of any healthy diet is an abundance of colorful plants. Is someone's diet colorful? Because it's not just macronutrients, fats, proteins and carbohydrates that matter. It's also vitamins minerals, antioxidants, fiber. All of these wonderful micronutrients that keep us young, that prevents us from getting sick. That give us energy. That make our skin and our hair appear healthy. So we start there.

Caitlin Jones:

Now we sort of then move on to protein. The first macronutrients I really check for is, is a client getting enough protein? So usually just with those two sort of big check marks alone will create habits. I might say to a client, "Hey, all I need you to do... The only thing you're going to change for us this week is at your lunch every day, I don't want you to change a thing, except I want you to add two cups of leafy greens."

Caitlin Jones:

This could be on the side of a sandwich. This could be you're having a rice dish or a noodle dish. Whatever it is, it's small enough that you can commit to it. Maybe it's a handful of baby carrots in the afternoon. Maybe it's a few cups of berries with your oatmeal in the morning. If you're having plain oatmeal, I might say, "Hey, I want a cup of berries on there, or maybe an apple, if it's the fall and berries aren't in season. But let's get some fruit going in there."

Caitlin Jones:

So we sort of just layer on these really small changes. Small, but consistent. I need something that my client is confident they can maintain 80 to 90% of the time. Because we are what we repeatedly do. And if we try to change too much all at once, we're in this all or nothing mindset, the second someone slips up, they go, "Oh, I can't do it. I'm a failure. I'm just going to go back to my old way of eating." And then that's really the cycle again, that we're trying to break here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. Now this is part of the 12 week program, correct?

Caitlin Jones:

Correct. Yeah. So Fitness Fluency, we absolutely dive into nutrition because... I'm so glad you asked that, Vince. Fitness isn't really necessarily the place to start, if you're looking to make a radical change to your health and wellness. I actually teach that sleep is where most folks should be starting. If you're not getting at least seven hours a night, we really need to start there. Sleep is just nature's medicine. It's an incredible thing.

Vincent Ferguson:

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your fitness business?

Caitlin Jones:

It's a totally different landscape. Completely different. Prior to COVID, I was spending a lot more time in a group fitness environment. So I worked for someone else. I taught for a cycling company, but in terms of clients, my reach was, no exaggeration, in the thousands.

Caitlin Jones:

Over a month's time, I would have taught to thousands of unique riders just through those classes alone. My personal training business, that wasn't a major focus of mine. I did have a handful of clients on the side, who were just friends or residual from earlier days where personal training was a larger focus of mine. But when COVID hit, everything entirely shut down. Pretty much anyone who was interested in cycling, got on the Peloton platform or on a more equally established platform such as that.

Caitlin Jones:

And my employer didn't really have that same setup. So to be honest, I tried a lot of different things just to see what stuck. I did some bootcamps on Zoom. I did some dance cardio classes on Zoom. At one point, I was sort of teaching cycling class.

Caitlin Jones:

I had bootlegged a cycling methodology together, and you could do it on any bike. You could do it on a recumbent bike. That went on for about a month or two. And it was sort of the same thing. I wasn't necessarily offering personal training at the start. I definitely wasn't offering Ditch Crunches Forever, Fitness Fluency, but it was more people approaching me and really asking for what they wanted and what they needed.

Caitlin Jones:

And when enough people came to me and were like, "I'm looking for personal training." I said, "Okay, I have this package." We sort of arrive at something that they're willing to pay and I'm willing to work with. And we go from there. After about my fifth client approaching me for training, I was like, "Okay, this is it." This was all really effortless up until this point. So I think that this is probably the thing that works for me right now. And that's where I started pouring my focus into.

Vincent Ferguson:

Nice. Nice. And as you said, this is something that you can do.... You don't have to be in New York. You can be anywhere and conduct these online programs, right?

Caitlin Jones:

Yeah. It's so cool. It's honestly really cool. Because in this last year, I have spent more time with family than I've ever been able to do. And I can go to Mom's house for like a week or two and then spend half a week over at my sister's, helping babysit her kids.

Caitlin Jones:

And as long as I just take my computer with me, if I have a space that I can move in... I drive places now. I haven't been flying anywhere. It's all places within driving distance. I can bring a few kettlebells. As long as I have that pretty simple setup, it's like, "I'm the business. I show up. I give the sessions. I program." But so much of it is online. People would be surprised to see how much time I spend at my computer nowadays.

Caitlin Jones:

We're educating on social media. That's a big one. I'm keeping my online community engaged. I send out email blasts and I'm building out my website and I'm working on the backend and even accounting and insurance. There's a lot more that goes into it than people realize. And it's absolutely changed from the days of just show up, keep the class on the bike to a room of 70 people. Go home. That feels like archaic. It's crazy. Crazy to think just nine months ago that that's what I was doing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Where can my listeners find out more about Caitlin Jones and give us your social media handles. Everything we need to know about your programs and how we can reach out to you.

Caitlin Jones:

Absolutely. So my Instagram is just my name, no spaces, no underscores, no nothing. It's Caitlin C-A-I-T-L-I-N Jones, as in keeping up with the Jones's. It's an amazing way to stay in touch. Really, everything that I have to say, everything that I have to share, Instagram gets it first.

Caitlin Jones:

Generally the link in my Instagram bio will lead you to Ditch Crunches Forever, my free mini video series. Oh, please, please message me if you're trying to get access to Ditch Crunches Forever and you can't find it, or you just want to say hi, or you have a specific question about your own nutrition, fitness, whatever it may be. I love expanding my online community and I will voice memo you back and forth until the day is done. Listening to where you're at in your fitness journey and just purely asking how I can help. I would love to know. So please, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. Sounds really good. I'm sure you will hear from somebody. Caitlin Jones, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Caitlin Jones:

Of course, Vince. Thank you for having me. It was really an enjoyable conversation.

Vincent Ferguson:

To my listeners and readers, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.sixweekstofitness.com or email me at Vince@sixweeks.com. Take care. Bye, bye.

Direct download: Episode_165_Caitlin_Jones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm EDT

Dr. Francoise Sidime is a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the College of Staten Island, Helene Fuld School of Nursing and Wagner College. She obtained her PhD in neuroscience at the Graduate Center CUNY in New York. Francoise currently lectures and teaches extensive skills employed in the field of biology and neuroscience. Francoise is also the founder and president of Ekarus Global Science, a program dedicated to providing academic advancements, mentorship, and research opportunities to high school students in the STEM discipline. Dr. Sidime is also the co-founder of a sister company called PreMedPro, a program that offers pre-med high school students training skills in the field of medicine.

Vince Ferguson:

Before we get started discussing your research into autism, tell my listeners what inspired you to go into the medical field and become a neuroscientist.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, there were several reasons, but the one that actually sticks out was my mentor. At the time, when I was trying to pursue a medical career, we were all required to basically do research in labs because that's part of the requirement in order to get into medical school. So, when I went and I worked with my mentor, he did a lot of work in neuroscience and he had extensive knowledge and just really, really well-versed in the subjects. As a result, I admired everything that he was doing and the work he was working on. As a result, I felt that that's where I should be. Of course, when I started to operate on brains, opening them up and seeing all these intricate structures, I knew there was no turning back at that point.

Vince Ferguson:

At that point you were hooked?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Oh, I was hooked after that. Yes, that was it. That was it.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. So, how did you get involved with autism?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So my mentor, that was a field that he was actually working on. So, his mentor prior to that worked with him when he was a PhD and a post-doctoral student. So they worked on different areas, Fragile X. And so he continued working on autism as well. When I came into the lab as his student... This particular mentor, by the way, has a name. His name is Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi. So, when I started working in his laboratory, I found that he was working a lot on autism cases. As a result, I ended up jumping on those topics as well and I realized I liked them a lot, and that's how I got involved in the research as well.

Vince Ferguson:

Okay. Well, did you get involved in any particular area of autism?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yes. So, the particular area that we actually focus on is called the Fragile X. So, because autism has a vast spectrum, as most people know, they particularly worked on a single area, which is on the Fragile X. It's called the Fragile X syndrome. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Fragile X?

Vince Ferguson:

No.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

No. Okay. So, they worked on the Fragile X syndrome and the thing about the Fragile X is that, because autism is very vast and there's so many areas that could be contributing to that particular disorder of autism, one of the things about the Fragile X is that you can actually pinpoint exactly where the issue is, and that issue usually is on the X-chromosome. So, there's an area there that's very fragile and it looks like an arm that's basically broken, and that area has this gene, which is called the FMR1 gene. That gene is basically silent. As a result, when this gene is silent, it means that whatever that gene is responsible for, it will not do. So, that area is going to have issues, of course. So, some of the symptoms you see when this gene is silent, that patients have anxiety, hyperactivity, depression. They have increased sensitivity to epileptic type of seizures.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

As a result, you can really pinpoint that, "Okay, this part is silent so it's missing. This is what we see." So, it made it very easy to pinpoint where the issues are basically happening when you focus on this one particular niche, and that's what we actually did, so we focused on the Fragile X.

Vince Ferguson:

Sounds very interesting to me, as a layman. Wow. It really does. Now, your research has looked at phthalates or plasticizers and how it can cause neural behavioral abnormalities, similar to what is seen in individuals on the autism spectrum. Can you tell my listeners what phthalates are and why are they of concern?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Sure, absolutely. Right now phthalates, they're actually a huge hot topic, especially in the news. So, phthalates are plasticizers, and they're used to basically soften plastics. So, an example of a common phthalate that most people are aware of is bisphenol A, which is normally abbreviated as BPA, and this is the plasticizer that's sometimes used in baby bottles. So, there's a lot of commercials that say, "Oh, we're selling BPA-free bottles for babies." So, the phthalate we worked with, obviously it's in the same family, and this phthalate was called DBP, and that's dibutyl phthalate. This phthalate is an organic solvent, and this phthalate is used basically to mold a lot of plastics. So, plastic bottles like Poland Spring bottles, for example, toys, plastic plates, hospital supplies like catheters and tubing. They tends to use a lot of this DBP to basically help to mold it.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Now, the concern with these phthalates basically, like DBP, is that they're not stable, especially when you subject them to high temperatures. So what do I mean by high temperatures? These would be extreme conditions, like if you leave a plastic bottle with water and it's outside, for example, or if you heat up food on a plastic plate in the microwave. So, what happens is that that DBP becomes destabilized because it's actually in the plastic, so it becomes destabilized, and as a result, it leaches out of the plastic and into the environment. Now, in this case, the environment would be the water that you're consuming or the food that's basically on your plate. So, the reason why we picked DBP over BPA, bisphenol A, because there were a couple of studies that were done in 2000 and they found that there were high levels of DBP that were found in urine of the general population. So, that's why we focused on this particular phthalate.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. That sounds amazing to me, because again, you talked about the microwave. So many of us have used microwave ovens to heat up our food.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yes. Especially because a lot of food is delivered in plastic Tupperware, it's so much easier to throw that food in the microwave and eat immediately as such. Most people feel very lazy taking it out and basically putting it on a glass plate or ceramic plate. So, you could see how this could also be a problem.

Vince Ferguson:

Is it more of a problem for younger people or for adults?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Well, that's a very interesting question. So, what we did when we basically looked at our studies, we wanted to see, does it affect adults? Which generation does it affect more? So, some of the data that we basically got were different because when you become an adult, your brain has already been formed. So, what we found was that DBP would cause individuals to become sterile. So, it created different types of problems compared to a child. Well, maybe I shouldn't use a child. I should use mice because we did the study in mice. So, the offspring of mice basically exhibited behavior alterations that were similar to autism when they were exposed to this DBP. So, if you basically get exposed to it early on in development and your brain hasn't formed, then there's a possibility that you'd have these symptoms that may be related closer to autism.

Vince Ferguson:

And you guys used mice as an example.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

That's right. So, the reason why we use mice it's because their bodies are similar. So, their anatomy is pretty similar to ours. The structures inside their organs are similar to ours. So, of course you won't go ahead and do these studies on humans because I mean, that could be dangerous. So, as a result, we did them on mice. So, what we did was we took pregnant mice and we targeted a particular window. That window was around, I think, gestational day 10 to 20, because that particular window is when the brain of the pups in the womb of the pregnant mouse, their neurons starts to connect.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

As a result, we wanted to make sure that we gave that injection of DBP prior to their neuronal networks being formed so we could see, does this DBP really affect neuronal connections? And when they do get exposed to that DBP, what happens later on when they become grownups when we have to run studies on them? How are they going to behave? What's going to happen to some of the key proteins in their brains? So, that's what we were actually investigating.

Vince Ferguson:

So, what were your findings?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, what we did, of course, as I said, we injected the mice and we waited until they were born. What we did was we looked at their brains at different time points. At first natal day one, when they were just born on day one, day seven, and then also at two months of age, just to see where the changes were occurring. Behavior-wise, what we noticed basically was that their brains, basically, the way the neuro behavior was similar to what we see in autism. So, we did a couple of tests because when you're dealing with mice, you run different types of tests to see, how are they behaving? How do you see hyperactivity and anxiety and so on and so forth? So, what we found was that they had increased locomotive activity. They were extremely hyper. They had anxiety. When we did a learning and memory test, they had decreased in this test.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, in the test, you could teach them a couple of things and later on, they wouldn't remember. Also, they had a reduction in social interaction, meaning that when you presented... So, normally mice are curious. When you give them a new mouse, a stranger mouse, they will play with that mouse because they're trying to figure out who this mouse is. But when they were exposed to DBP early, they weren't really interacting. They would just sit in the corner. They won't socialize. So, the symptoms that we were obviously observing were consistent with the fact that they had this altered inhibitory system in their brain, or what we call the GABAergic system as well was actually affected.  And then what we did also after that... So, we noticed the behavior. So we wanted to see, well, the proteins that are responsible for making sure these behaviors are intact, what's going on with them? So, when we looked at them, we found that they were significantly down-regulated, meaning that the expression of them were less or they were basically affected as well.

Vince Ferguson:

That's amazing. Would you say that genetics play any part when it comes to autism in children?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Absolutely. I think it's basically both of them, environmental factors and genetics as well. Just like the way I've just mentioned, the Fragile X, so that's the particular area on the X chromosome that's affected. That would be genetics. And then obviously environmental, it would be something like dibutyl phthalate being exposed to the pregnant mother, for example, and then the child getting exposed to this DBP or dibutyl phthalate. So, it's definitely an interplay between both genetics and environmental factors.

Vince Ferguson:

Based on this study, you can safely say that humans should also be mindful of what we're putting in the microwave when it comes to heating up our food.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Absolutely. I mean, definitely we haven't run these studies in humans, but as I said, the anatomy of mice is very, very similar to the anatomy of humans. So, I would say one should be mindful of not heating up food on plastic plates. The other point that I would like to bring up while we're in that, because you just brought up a very good point, is that this DBP doesn't only penetrate our bodies orally. It could also go through the skin and inhalation as well. The reasons why we did these studies in low levels, because we wanted to see, because most people are not living by factories where you're making huge amounts of plastics, so how would these individuals get this DBP? So, clearly they have to be off low levels. So, what we also found is that, according to our research, is that DBP is used as a solvent as well.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

It basically helps to make makeup, especially for young women, right? Because young women are using a lot of makeup in their young age bearing childbearing years. So, they use makeup and as a result, if there's DBP in it, it has a potential to cross the skin, cross the placenta, and then target an unborn baby. Because the molecule itself is hydrophobic, and therefore it can cross very, very easily through all these areas and target the baby. So, we did some studies just looking to see, well, if the mother was exposed to DBP, how much of that does the mother get in her brain versus how much the child gets or the pup gets? What we found was that the mother does get significant amounts in her brain, but definitely that DBP did cross the placenta and it does go to the brain itself as well. So, that was proof that it actually does reach the brain of these pups, the mice.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. So, how would someone know that there's DBP in the product that they're using? Is it in their ingredients?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

It should be listed. Right now, I believe by law, they should be listing whether products have DBP in there or not. That's why the baby bottles will say BPA-free. But most of the time, like when I buy my nail polish, for example, I always look for nail polish that says DBP-free so that it doesn't have it in there. The only thing is that I don't know what the rules and regulations are here in the United States, because I know that they're very slow in implementing some of these policies to stop DBP from being used as a solvent. I know in Europe, a lot of them have started to ban DBP as part of a solvent in terms of softening these plastics. But I think the U.S. hasn't quite gotten there yet, but hopefully eventually they will get there where they can ban this DBP from being used, and try and use alternatives that they can, just like what they're doing with the BPA, to see how they can soften plastic in a very different way.

Vince Ferguson:

Most definitely. This is very important. I can stay on this topic for a little longer, but we don't have that much time. Thank you.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Sure.

Vince Ferguson:

But also, I understand you are awarded the Marshall Plan Scholarship to conduct research in Austria at one of the hospitals in a town called Graz. Can you tell my listeners about that experience doing research abroad and also outside of the United States?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yes. That was a phenomenal experience because you do all your research here in the United States, and you're always curious, and you're always wondering, "Well, how are things done elsewhere, abroad? Is it the same? Do they follow the same paradigms?" Because obviously the way that we get to graduate school and the way we apply with our GREs and the process is a little bit different than it is in Europe. So, I was really curious to see how this is actually done abroad. So, I did go to Austria first in 2011 to conduct research. At that time I was working with a team that were collaborating with seven EU countries on a project called biothane. So, they were looking at how food would affect the kidneys, and I was part of that team. And then a year later, I basically secured a scholarship to return back to Austria and work with another team, an amazing team in that same hospital in Graz and what they were working on was the brain.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

They were looking at the brain kidney axis and seeing how contrast media, this is the media that's used when you're doing a scan, like if you want to scan the kidney, for example, you'd use a contrast, so they were looking to see whether that's safe for the kidneys and is the kidney basically excreted that contrast without being harmed. I learned a lot because I moved, it opened me up to other areas instead of just focusing on the brain, but looking at how the brain can work with other areas as well and other organs in the periphery. So, yeah, as a result, I was really impressed with that time when I was over there, that I decided I could come back here and encourage other students in the university to also try and apply for that scholarship so they could have the same experience and opportunity that I had.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. We're going to talk about that a little later on, but how long did you stay in Austria?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, I spent my summers there. So, the first, 2011, I spent about three, three and a half months. And then the following year, I also spent about that time as well, because I was still working on my research work back in the States. So, I couldn't stay out there longer than that.

Vince Ferguson:

Very nice. Good experience though, I would say, right?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Phenomenal. Yes. Really, really phenomenal experience.

Vince Ferguson:

Now, some of your other lab work has looked at the amino acid taurine and how that can reduce plasma glucose levels. Can this be a potential aid for those with diabetes?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, taurine's a great amino acid. Some people heard of it's been added to Red Bull, right?

Vince Ferguson:

Yes.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

People drink Red Bull, but most of the time they don't normally explain what the taurine actually does. But the thing with taurine is that it's a sulfur containing amino acid, and it's one of the most abundant free amino acids in many of our excitable tissues in our brain, skeletal muscles and cardiac muscles. One of the things about taurine, it's actually been important to prevent age-dependent decline of cognitive function. So, as a result, it's been shown and proven that when there's reduced taurine, and they've looked at that in mice that have a knockout for one of the steps that makes taurine, right? Because I'm trying to keep this very much in layman's terms and not use all of these fancy words.

Vince Ferguson:

Please, please, please. Thank you.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, when there's a reduction in taurine in mice, they've been reported to show severe functional histopathology in the visual system, skeletal system, the heart, the pancreas and the brain. But if you increase supplementation that's shown increased benefits acting through the same organs as well. So, what we wanted to do was we wanted to look and see what would happen if we gave our mice taurine. So, we had two groups of mice, one that weren't fed taurine chronically for two months and then the others that were. We wanted to see how would they deal with glucose or diabetes. So, what we did was that we injected both groups of mice, ones that had taurine and the other ones that didn't have taurine, with a glucose shot. It's called a glucose tolerance test.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Basically we wanted to see what the results would be. So, what we found basically was that the mice that were not fed with taurine were not able to handle the glucose very well. So, they started to have huge spikes in their plasma glucose levels about 30 minutes into the test. Where the mice that were fed with taurine, they gradually increased, but not to the level that the mice that were not fed with taurine got to, and they were hypoglycemic, closer to baseline levels through the entire two hours of the test that we conducted. So, these were great findings that we found. So, I'm hoping that at some point this would be work that we could look at in humans and see whether we could get the same findings as well, because again, most of our findings are being conducted in mice.

Vince Ferguson:

Based on these findings, would you advise individuals to take taurine?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, yeah, that's an interesting question. So, there was an individual that I knew that used to take taurine and consume it. He would state that, "You can use me as an example when you present your lab work because I'm living proof that taurine actually works. I'm a walking specimen." He used to have tremors, and he mentioned to me that when he took taurine, basically these tremors were reduced. Now, I think that's amazing. However, I can't give that type of medical advice nor am I allowed to, because we do our studies in mice. Most of these studies that we do in the lab, of course, like in any laboratory there's series of steps that one has to take. You do studies in mice before you move on to humans and you have a board that basically approves these different steps. But I'm hoping that, depending on how far this research goes, that maybe one day we try out human trials. That's something that I'd have to speak with my still current mentor, because I still work with him, Dr. El Idrissi.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

But the exciting thing is that we're part of a taurine society. It's called the Taurine Society, and we're part of a team that, every two years, we meet up to look and see what the benefits of taurine in research, and we share our data. So, we go to different countries around the world every two years, and we share our data. So, hopefully yes, that this one day would take place where we actually do some human trials.

Vince Ferguson:

Yeah. Because I know that taurine is also available in certain foods, right?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yes. So, some foods will actually add taurine into their food because they believe that when you give it, it has benefits. But what we also found with taurine is that when you give it for a short period of time, we see the benefits. But what tends to happen if you give it chronically for too long, then the reverse happens. So, the mechanism changes. So, that's why it's important to investigate this further because chronically the mechanism is different from when you give it acutely for a short period of time. That's why I wouldn't be comfortable to recommend and tell anyone right now, because of the studies that we're running, that this is exactly what one should be doing as a human, and I'm not licensed to do that anyway.

Vince Ferguson:

Right. Right. Okay. So, I won't mention that you recommend this to everybody, so my listeners don't go out there and run out there and get a run on the taurine market. We'll stay away from that.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yeah. For the meantime, until we've ironed out all the kinks, if any.

Vince Ferguson:

Yeah. Well, let me know, okay? Please. I want to know.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Absolutely. Absolutely. For sure.

Vince Ferguson:

Now, you are also the founder and president of Ekarus Global Science and the co-founder of PreMedPro. Are these charitable organizations?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Well, I could call them charitable because I know it's not a nonprofit because I haven't been getting funds for it. So, this is something that I started because I saw the need for programs like this because at the college level, I was part of a minority program. Well, it was a program that was substantially increasing the number of underrepresented individuals in the STEM discipline. This program was called the LSM Program, and this was founded by Louis Stokes. So, it was called the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. What that program did for me was wonders, because it basically paid for my Master's at the time when I was taking my Master's and it made pretty much all of us who were in that program do extensive research, go and publish and not focus on working, but focus on our education.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

As a result, I realized the importance of programs like this. So, I wanted to start something at a high school level because I felt it's always good to grab the students while their minds are still young and we can still mold them. I figured that's the perfect time. I like to work with underrepresented students because sometimes we don't have the mentorships that other groups may be lucky to have. I've used my previous experience and said, "Well, it's important to set up something like this." So Ekarus focuses on exposing students to research at the college level, because it's much more... How can I put it? It's definitely of a higher level than you would do at the high school level, because some of the techniques that we use or we teach the students are very different. As a result, it makes them extremely competitive when they apply to schools out there, like colleges or even prestigious colleges.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Now, I didn't only want to stay within only doing the research component, so I also wanted to help medical students, so that's how PreMedPro came about as well. I was working with my colleague, Dr. Christine Bishara, and we decided that that would be something great, where we could bring in research and medical type of guidance to young students who may be interested. Bottom line is that when you expose students early on to touching the microscope or teaching them how to use a stethoscope or using a blood pressure cuff or machine, students get to feel what it's like to be in these particular fields and then they don't think that they're so far off. Also, when they see individuals like yourself, maybe they see a minority, a female wearing a lab coat, it doesn't look foreign and they could say, "This is something I would like to be, and I know it's possible because if she could do it, so can I."

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Thank you.

Vince Ferguson:

Really, role models are so important. Mentors, mentorship is so important and that's what you're doing.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Absolutely.

Vince Ferguson:

It's great.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

It happened to me. I've had great mentors. The process itself is very vigorous to get into, and that guidance is key because those mentors have walked that journey. They know what it takes. They know when these deadlines are. So, it's important that you also teach the younger generation that's coming about that these are the deadlines, so this is how you have to be vigorous. You have to start off in college with a 4.0 GPA and try and keep it at a 4.0, so you don't ruin your chances of trying to get into medical school, for example.

Vince Ferguson:

Do students working with Ekarus get the opportunity to conduct research abroad?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Yes. So, one of the things that we started with some of my mentors... So, there's one mentor I haven't mentioned who was part of the LSM program, Dr. Claude Brathwaite, who played a huge role as well in my journey in becoming a neuroscientist. So, he started the Global CUNY project that allowed college students to basically go abroad and do research. What we decided was we could expand that and start doing it in different parts of the world, of course. So, I thought that this would be great for Ekarus as well, if the high school students are able to do that, where they can go abroad as well and do research. So, some of the countries... My mentor, Dr. Abdeslem El Idrissi, from Morocco, so we usually send students to Morocco to do research out there.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

We allow them to also experience the culture by going to cities like Casablanca, Fez, Taounate, for example. So, as a result, this is how I decided that high school students also should be given that opportunity to go abroad and start doing the research. Because if they're doing it here in the States, then there's no difference if they can do it abroad as well.

Vince Ferguson:

Wow. That is so amazing. That is so powerful. I really appreciate-

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Thank you.

Vince Ferguson:

Yes. What you're doing is awesome, and I actually have more questions, but I'm not going to ask them because I'll be on here for hours with you, Dr. Sidime.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

No problem.

Vince Ferguson:

But where can my listeners find out more about you and your work?

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

So, I have a website www.ekarus.com. That's spelled E-K-A-R-U-S.com. So if you go there, you'll be able to see information about Ekarus, and also the PreMedPro as well. If you go to www.premedpro.com, that also will lead you to the medical part for the high school students. I'm also on Instagram as well, and the Instagram handle is @ekarusglobalscience. So again, spelled Ekarus the same way, global science, all one word. So, we're on Instagram as well. When they go on, they'll be able to see young high school students like themselves, minorities as well, conducting research in a lab, presenting their research, doing dissections, so that they can get a feel. And also speaking as well because they teach other students what they're doing in the lab as well, so that they can get insights on what's actually happening at Ekarus.

Vince Ferguson:

Dr. Francoise Sidime, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Dr. Francoise Sidime:

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. The honor is really mine. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Vince Ferguson:

To my readers and listeners, I truly hope this program was informative, encouraging, and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.sixweekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com, and please don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes.

Direct download: Episode_164_Dr._Francoise_Sidime.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:47pm EDT

Brett Larkin is the founder of Uplifted Yoga, an online yoga and meditation community, empowering students to personalize their practice and ignite their best life on and off the mat. She's instructed at top studios, companies like Google and Pinterest, and leads the world's most interactive online yoga teacher training programs. She teaches to a social media following of over 400,000 people. Her content on YouTube is streamed for three million minutes each month.  Brett, how are you today?

Brett Larkin:

I'm well, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to be here today. But before we talk about your company, Uplifted Yoga, tell my listeners more about your personal journey into health and wellness. Where did it all begin for Brett Larkin?

Brett Larkin:

I'm someone who has suffered a lot of anxiety, especially in my late teens and early 20s. I felt panicked all the time for no reason. It's hard for me to even really remember back on that period of my life, because I can't even remember how I was functioning, honestly. And for me, yoga ultimately became this doorway that led to a completely different experience of reality, where I was able to be fully present, let go of a lot of the fears and negative predictions, and kind of figure out how my mind had been patterned since I was really young and kind of rewrite a new narrative for myself. So for me, it's been very much both a physical practice, but also something that really changed the way I see the world. There's so much rich philosophy in this practice as well for those who are interested in that.

Vincent Ferguson:

So what was it about yoga that attracted you to that type of training?

Brett Larkin:

Well, it's interesting because I was a big naysayer of yoga, maybe like some of your listeners.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay.

Brett Larkin:

As a child, I was a ballet dancer. I was very into kind of hardcore dance and very intense training. So I always thought yoga was sort of for losers who just wanted to stretch and sing, and I kind of naysay the whole thing, but then I had a dance injury and I started exploring Pilates. And I had a boyfriend at the time who said, "Hey, this is interesting. You are really into Pilates." And he and I have been kind of dabbling in a little bit of meditation. "So, Pilates and meditation, why don't we try yoga? That would be really great for you. It makes a lot of sense." But I was like, "Absolutely not. That's for weak people. I'm super strong, I'm a dancer." But he kind of encouraged me to go.

Brett Larkin:

And so, my first yoga experience was with Bikram yoga, which some of your listeners may be familiar with or have done, it's super hot, I think it's 105 degrees or more room to do a set of postures. There's a mirror so you can really analyze your form and it's a very intense experience. And so, that actually was the yoga that resonated with me the most at first, because it was kind of the most familiar to me in that it felt like a really intense dance or training experience type of class with the mirror and everything. So that was sort of my gateway, my first yoga experience.

Brett Larkin:

So it was very much about the physical and the sweat and everyone's different and is going to find a different style of yoga that meets you where you are in this moment. So I always really encourage people, don't write off yoga like I did until you try a lot of different styles because there's so many flavors out there. More than I think people are even aware of. And of course, that first Bikram journey led to then a much deeper exploration where I ended up eventually trying every style and studying with every school and it spurred a whole exploration from there, but that was my initial starting point.

Vincent Ferguson:

Bikram yoga. Wow.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Every time I hear it, I cringe, because I know it's very hot.

Brett Larkin:

It's so hot. It's funny because I mean, I haven't done Bikram yoga now in probably 10 years, but that was my entry point. So that's another thing I encourage people to be open to is the style of yoga you start with, or that you might be attracted to initially might not be the one you end up sticking with long-term. So it's important to have an open mind and kind of be ready to go on the journey.

Vincent Ferguson:

And I was going to ask you what type of yoga would you recommend for a beginner to try? Because I think if someone exposed me to Bikram yoga right away, that would have turned me off completely.

Brett Larkin:

Right. So my recommendation as strange as it sounds, would be to do a lot of experimentation. I think one of the things I see happen a lot is someone will go to the yoga studio closest to their house, or they'll do one YouTube video routine. And if they don't like it, they kind of just write off yoga as a whole, which would kind of be like writing off speaking when you've only sampled one language. Think about how many languages there are in our world and dialects and things. So I really, really encourage people to kind of approach it like you'd approach finding a mate. You're going to date a bunch of different people and sometimes it's going to work out and sometimes it's not and you just want to have fun. So, to kind of sample a lot of different styles... And I actually have a little challenge on my YouTube, where it's called “Find Your Style.”

Brett Larkin:

And I introduce people to five different styles over five days, because that was one of the things that I saw really prevented people from enjoying this practice. They just kind of have one impression of it and then think that was the whole story. When really, there's Restorative, there's Vinyasa, there's Hatha. Even within that Hatha word, there's Ashtanga, there's gentle yoga. There's Viniyoga. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. So I really believe there's something for everyone. And I think you need to really think about who you are, what your background is.

Brett Larkin:

If you're more that intense athlete person like I was, trying to do yin or gentle yoga, it's probably just going to be too far from where you are right now to maybe appreciate it. So you might want to start with a more athletic style, like Bikram or Ashtanga. If you're someone who has no fitness background whatsoever, those styles are going to be insane, right? You might want to start with yin, or even restorative yoga, or something very beginner gentle hatha, just to kind of gently get your body moving. So it's really like a dating game, I guess. Date all the styles of yoga. Try all the teachers in your area.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like that.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. That's my biggest tip for everyone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Great tip. I like that advice, I truly do. Now, would you say that yoga is a lifestyle or just a way to exercise and meditate?

Brett Larkin:

Oh, that's such a loaded question. It's so interesting because when we look back at a lot of the ancient texts, what we see is that yoga was being written about as a means to achieve enlightenment. Right? Or a means to connect to whatever is beyond this plane of consciousness that we live in. And that the physical postures and the breath are all kind of a tool, a medium for that bigger aim. And then over the years, a lot of the physical piece of yoga got fused with a lot of the aerobics movement that was happening in the 70s and 80s. And there's sort of a modern yoga that's emerged that's in many ways quite different than what we see displayed in the yoga sutras or the hatha yoga pradipika or something like that.

Brett Larkin:

So, it's really what I think, is it's what you want to take out of it. If you just want to use yoga to improve your breathing and just really think of it as a breathing practice or a mindfulness practice that helps with stress reduction, you can view it through that lens by putting on that pair of glasses and looking at the body of work that is yoga through that framework. And there's so many great mindfulness-based programs or anxiety reduction programs, many that have huge scientific studies from major universities behind them now.

Brett Larkin:

For other people, right, you might be actually drawn to yoga because of the spiritual side of it. Right? You're kind of resonating with maybe the chanting or what's called Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. You're looking to connect to something bigger, and that's available too. Then others are more, I just want to use this for cross training. Right? This is something that is going to improve my overall fitness and they're more focused on the postures. So it's kind of this buffet where again, finding the right teacher and the right style is so important because different styles bring in more, like Kundalini yoga, for example, which I do a lot of now is pulling in a ton of the chanting, the spirituality, all those things. So if someone's not interested in that, that's not going to be the right style for them right now. Right?

Brett Larkin:

So it's a buffet. And so I think you can make it a lifestyle, you can make it a religion if you want to, or you can really just see it as something like Pilates or breath work that is helping whether it's cross training or helping with anxiety. Pull out what works for you and try not to label the practice as a whole.

Vincent Ferguson:

So, basically yoga can be mental, spiritual, or physical.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. And I think in its most beautiful form, it's all three, but that's not always... People aren't always either ready or wanting that. In which case you can completely divide it up. And like I said, it's like a buffet. Just take what works for you and leave the rest.

Vincent Ferguson:

Huh. Again, excellent advice. Now, do you associate yoga with Hinduism?

Brett Larkin:

Well, that goes back to a little bit what we talked about earlier, where, when we look at the origins of yoga, it did develop in India, Southeast Asia and these countries later, much, much later than when the yoga texts were written by the Brahmin sages. Much, much later, these are areas of the world that developed into different religions. Right? We see Buddhism, we see Hinduism, but most of the yoga texts, and I'm not as much an expert on this as some people like some of my teachers, but they predate a lot of what these religions look like now in the modern world. So, I think you can practice yoga without dabbling in Hinduism at all. For those that are interested in those connections, there are certain texts and gods and goddesses and chants where you can forge that connection. So again, it's really up to you.

Brett Larkin:

Again, I think the biggest maybe thing that I hope to share is yoga as a word, what does that even mean anymore? Right? It almost... It's like if we took a word like aerobic exercise, I mean, there's so many different forms of how that looks. A long time ago, we probably didn't even need to do it because we were hunter gatherers and running around all the time and then it emerged and it looked like fencing or something. And then it changed. And then it looked like a gym or kind of some of the stuff we see now. It's the same with yoga. Even the way yoga was practiced in the ancient times was so different depending on what region it was practiced in. For example, up in the Himalayas originally, where people were relatively safe, they were up in the mountains, cave dwelling, they practiced a very meditative type of yoga that was focused more on kind of the spiritual aspects and seated meditation.

Brett Larkin:

If we look at people who were living more at the border where the Mongols were at these times, thousands and thousands of years ago, their yoga was much more like what we see as Ashtanga yoga today. Very athletic because the military was actually doing it. It was training for them because they lived in a place where war was constantly breaking out and they needed to defend themselves. So even when we go way back in time, it's not like there's one style or one definition of what these practices are. It was very much variable based on people's kind of lifestyle and what, again, they needed to take out of the practice or what made sense to take out of the practice. I don't know if that's helpful to think about, but-

Vincent Ferguson:

It is, it is.

Brett Larkin:

It's a broad perspective. Keep a broad perspective is what I say.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. Yes. So it's not just one piece, it's a broad potpourri or whatever they call it. You know what I'm saying?

Brett Larkin:

Yeah, exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now in yoga, you often do you often hear the word chakra.

Brett Larkin:

Chakra, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. What are they and how do they affect our daily lives?

Brett Larkin:

So chakra is, I think of them as programs, they're considered energy centers. So, some of your listeners may be familiar with traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, which is really mainstream now. I think most insurance even covers acupuncture. So, the Chinese medicine system, they work with these acupuncture... They call it meridians, right? These lines in the body. And the yogic system, instead of calling those channels meridians, they call them nadis. But it's the same thing. It's basically a pathway of energy in the body. So there's the heart meridian, the liver meridian, all these things. So the systems are the same, just using different words.

Brett Larkin:

And then in the yogic system, a chakra is where we see a lot of these meridians or nadis intersecting. So if you imagine a rotary in a busy street or town, right, where all the cars are coming together, all the roads are coming together in this big rotary. Those areas of the body get pulled out in the yogic philosophy as these energetic hubs. And the word chakra literally translates to wheel or disc. And I think of them as like a program, because each of them resides in a different area along your spine and sort of governs a different... Saying it's an area of your life is an oversimplification, but deals with a different realm of how you interact with the world.

Brett Larkin:

So for example, your root chakra at the very base of your spine is very much associated with your sense of safety. Your security. Are your needs being met? Are you getting enough food? Are you getting enough sleep? Things like that. While something like your throat chakra, which is obviously much higher up, is dealing with how well do you communicate? How well do you listen? Do you have trouble speaking up? Or are you kind of the over-boisterous type who doesn't let other people get a word in edgewise? Right? So each of us have these unique energy centers that are manifesting in different ways, that kind of result in how our life unfolds, right?

Brett Larkin:

So you might just be like, "Well, that's my personality. That's the way I am." But what yoga kind of teaches us is if you want to investigate these energy centers or work with them, you can kind of reprogram them. So just like when you sometimes get an update, I have an iPhone, but I think Android is the same. Every six months, there's a new operating system, right? Download the new system. So, we can be unaware of these energy centers and just operate the way we do. Or we can be like, "Hey, I want to rewrite my programming around safety and getting enough sleep. Or I want to rewrite how I act and give and receive love in relationships by working with my heart chakra."

Brett Larkin:

So it's just an opportunity to bring more awareness into your life. And then the beautiful thing about the chakra is you can work with them physically by doing Athena, you can work with them on a meditative level, on a spiritual level. So kind of like we talked about before, there's a lot of different ways you can tap into them. Or you can say, I'm not interested in the subtle body. This is, we're now in the realm of the subtle body of yoga. I just want to stay focused on the athleticism, the yogic postures. For those who don't resonate, they don't even have to go there. Right? It's kind of just this other layer of the practice that you can tap into if you choose to.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like it. I like it a lot. Can practicing a certain type of yoga, bring abundance into your life or the chakra bring abundance into your life?

Brett Larkin:

Oh, I definitely think so. Yes, yes, yes. I love working with this theme of abundance and abundance comes ultimately from gratitude. They're linked. So in order to attract abundance, we need to shift into feeling grateful and a sense of gratitude. So there's lots of wonderful practices that can help with that. There's classes on that specific theme. One of the biggest things that yoga helps with is just helping slow us down. So we can't be grateful if we're rushing or stressed. Or I don't know, maybe someone out there can be, but I know for me, when I'm rushing and stressed, I'm not in a state of gratitude or reverence. I'm usually not being very kind to my family members who are near me. So, counteracting that rushing and counteracting that stress and anxiety I think is so pivotal as a first step, to even allow someone to slow down. Right? Step into those feelings of, what am I grateful for?

Brett Larkin:

And what really separates yoga from all other forms of exercise is the focus on the breathing, the breath. So, no matter what style you use, if people are feeling overwhelmed listening to this, honestly it kind of doesn't matter because all the styles have this common thread of using the breath to calm the nervous system; to shift into what we call the parasympathetic nervous system, which is more of our rest and digest functions, instead of being always on kind of stressed out, orange alert, which is where we live most of our lives by default, just because of the way our society is set up and functions. So much is being asked of us, especially with technology, and we're bombarded with information.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, we are.

Brett Larkin:

So, that's the biggest thing. Just doing any kind of yoga, really doing the breathing. And if you commit to it, you'll see after most yoga classes you feel calmer. Right? You feel more grounded. You're feeling more in your whole body instead of just living up in your head with all your thoughts spinning. And that's usually how people are like, "Oh, I like this feeling," and how they end up coming back to classes.

Vincent Ferguson:

How do you find a good yoga instructor? What should you look for?

Brett Larkin:

It's a great question. I think someone who's talking a lot about the breath would be really important. I think someone who is constantly kind of challenging you to play, instead of saying the posture has to look just one way, kind of giving you a couple different options. That's what I really like and look for in instructors. So instead of it being really dogmatic and rigid, kind of being more about finding your personal edge, because a lot of these athena, these kind of an alphabet of the yoga postures are going to look different on different people. Right? Depending our height and our weight and our background and our prior athletic experience.

Brett Larkin:

So I think someone who's really encouraging you to explore rather than saying you have to get to this exact thing, is something that I would recommend looking for. Someone who's talking a lot about the breath. And then, honestly, just someone who resonates with you. That's the most important thing. We all are going to have different teachers who resonate with us at different points in our journey. So your job is again, to just kind of do that dating work I talked about and find the one who's going to meet you where you are right now.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, yes. That was really good. Now, Brett, you're not just another yoga teacher or instructor. You are what we call the gold or platinum standard, the creme de la creme of teachers. But from where and from whom did you get your training?

Brett Larkin:

So I studied with Alan Finger, who is such an incredible teacher. He was the original co-founder of Yoga Works, which is a huge yoga chain that some people may be familiar with. So he was the person I originally did my training with in New York, and he has just a wonderful background in Viniyoga, it's called. And he has a lot of knowledge about tantra, which isn't anything... You say tantra and people think like tantric sex and weird stuff. No, it's really a deep knowledge of the ancient yoga texts and philosophies. So I absolutely love his work. And Anodea Judith is another huge teacher of mine and inspiration. So she's kind of the world's authority on the chakra system. And she has a PhD. She's done a lot of work integrating the chakras into her work with patients as a psychotherapist.

Brett Larkin:

So, she is an incredible resource and has lots of books on the chakras for people who are interested. I love... Some of my other teachers Guru Singh, Kia Miller, Elena Brower. Different people again, who resonate with you at different moments. So I think it's really important to find that teacher who resonates with you and then learn as much as you can from them. Embody what they have to share, make it your own, and just keep building your own experience. So yeah, those are some of the people who've been highly influential for me.

Vincent Ferguson:

So everyone had someone to help them get to where they are today. Correct?

Brett Larkin:

Absolutely. And in the teacher training programs I run now, that's a lot of what we work on, right, is helping you find your own unique style, your own unique voice. Figuring out what different parts of this lineage and this practice you want to blend together. Do you want to teach something that's very spiritual or do you want to veer away from that? These are all choices that even as instructors, we end up needing to make. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

I see. Now you call your business Uplifted.

Brett Larkin:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Where did that come from? I don't know. Tell me.

Brett Larkin:

I don't know either. It's when I started my initial... I mean, it just kind of came to me when I was originally starting my own yoga community and kind of my own style. I noticed that one of the things I was really seeing within the community before it had an official name was just people being so encouraging of one another, kind of really lifting each other up. All the programs and everything I do online is extremely interactive. So whether it's through our app or the trainings, you're not practicing alone. It's always very community-based. If you're moving through a program, it's cohort based, meaning you're with the same students going through an experience at the same time, even though we're online. So there's just a huge comradery. And then, obviously Uplifted is how I feel when I do yoga or after I do yoga. So, that's kind of where the name came from. It just kind of came to me one day.

Vincent Ferguson:

You followed your gut, your feelings, and you went with it because now it's extremely successful. And how did you get to this point though, Brett? What inspired you to turn your yoga expertise into a business and make it so successful online?

Brett Larkin:

I think, life is so interesting because I originally started posting videos online because I was too nervous to teach in person. So originally-

Vincent Ferguson:

You, really?

Brett Larkin:

Yes. Yes. So back in 2011, it was almost a cop out because I was still trying to build my confidence to audition for studios and that kind of thing. So I ended up teaching a lot online because for me that felt less scary somehow. I didn't really think anyone would watch any of the videos I put up. Now, the YouTube channel has over 400,000 subscribers.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing.

Brett Larkin:

So it grew madly over the course of time. But I think, kind of how I mentioned before, the community and the connection with the students and seeing how the training, whether it's a training plan they're doing in the Uplifted membership, kind of something smaller that we designed for students, or the full certification program. I think for me, what's most rewarding is really seeing how it affects all areas of their life. I mean, most people who come out of our programs or a part of the community say that the way they're speaking to their kids and their partner is different. The interactions, the relationship, it's a complete shift, not just on the yoga mat, but in kind of how they're experiencing reality, the world.

Brett Larkin:

Like the same thing I experienced as a young person, once I started having some of these breathing techniques and tools to help me cope with a lot of the anxiety and stress I was feeling. So, I think that's what really drove me. I never really set out to be, "Let's make this a business." It was always, how can we just help and serve more people and connect with more people and grow the community? And I think that's part of what ultimately has made the business successful because it was never really about building some corporate thing or the money or anything like that. It was always sort of just a passion of mine. Almost like a side project and then it just kept getting bigger. And now obviously, it's my full project, but that was never my intention. So, I'm just so grateful to the community because I think it's not just me. It's like A, the team; my team that now supports everything we do. And then our entire infrastructure of all our graduates, all our alumni, all our students. I mean, they're just the most incredible people.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do your students come from all across the country or any one particular area?

Brett Larkin:

They come from all over the world. It is so incredible.

Vincent Ferguson:

The world.

Brett Larkin:

Yes. I was in the Facebook group for one of our trainings yesterday and it's like, Poland, Russia. We've shipped our training manuals to Zimbabwe. It's crazy. And then, of course, I mean, we have a lot of people in the United States, but I would say 30-35% international and from everywhere. It's amazing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Unbelievable, Brett.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. I knew you were a rockstar, but wow. That's amazing.

Brett Larkin:

Well, it's really fun because it makes the training experience so incredible because you're getting these perspectives from people all over the world, which is so different than just doing something that's local. I mean, that has a beauty to it too, but I think that's been something. I mean, every time we run a training, I learn so much from the students. I always tell them that. Right? Because they just have such different backgrounds and so many diverse ideas and it's just, really makes it really rich. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

But is there a problem because of the language barrier?

Brett Larkin:

No. One of the things that a lot of our international students appreciate is everything is recorded. So, when you sign up for a training, you get prerecorded content, whether as a student or a teacher, there's a lot of prerecorded content. So they can re-watch, they can slow down. But even everything that we do live is, they also get recordings to all of that. And then they have the manual to follow along. So for a lot of them, they're more comfortable with written English as opposed to spoken. So obviously, you need to know English. I mean, otherwise it's not going to work. They've said it's actually really nice because if something's confusing, they could just rewind. Right? Or listen to it again, which makes it in some ways better than actually a live training where you don't have that option to press pause.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. What an amazing model, business model, that you have going and I can speak for hours about it because it's just very, very exciting to me and interesting how you were able to do this. But at this particular time our country and the world is going through the Coronavirus pandemic, and it's been a very challenging time, mentally, spiritually, physically, and financially for some people. But are more people turning to yoga to help them deal with the stress of these times?

Brett Larkin:

I think so. I mean, just looking at pure data, we saw a huge spike in the interest in yoga, the interest in online yoga, the interest in online yoga trainings during this time of the pandemic. A lot of that is because a lot of people who I think didn't consider studying online suddenly were sort of forced to because there was no other option.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, of course.

Brett Larkin:

But I do think there's a bigger theme of people realizing that we need support structures. We need a home practice more than ever that really supports us during these times of intense stress. And if you look at everything with yoga, from the 1950s until now, it has only grown, it has never dipped. Whether we look at the success of Lulu Lemon or yoga studios or the interest in the keyword online. I mean, it just goes up and up and up because I think it's just becoming more mainstream, and more and more people are figuring out that they can kind of connect with it in whatever way they want. And that it's really the ultimate life hack to deal with uncertainty, anxiety, and coming back to the breathing and all the science that's backing up how important that is. So, I think it's growing because of the pandemic, but it was growing before that, and I think it's just going to keep growing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, I think so, too. And as I shared earlier with you, before we started recording the interview, I run a nonprofit organization whose focus is on obesity prevention for families, especially children. Do you recommend yoga for children as well? And if so, what age should parents introduce yoga to their kids?

Brett Larkin:

I definitely recommend yoga for kids. I do yoga with my own. It's wonderful, wonderful and you can just introduce it simply by inviting... I mean, even when you just invite a child or anyone to take a deep breath, that's yoga. Right? That's a core yoga concept. So for kids, I think what works best is, or for little kids, is to do the different poses that relate to the different animals, like lion's pose or butterfly pose. They absolutely love that, because it's just like you're playing around on the floor and kind of introducing them to the idea of moving their body. And then songs and music are a wonderful, wonderful way. There's so many great yoga kids' albums that again, just get kids moving, acting like animals. And then before bed is always a really nice time.

Brett Larkin:

I always invite my son to do deep breathing with me before bed. He doesn't even know we're doing yoga. Right? We do deep breathing. I put my hand on his belly. I encourage him to breathe into his belly. Something we see with people who have different medical conditions or maybe are struggling with obesity is often that they're a reciprocal inhibited breather. So if you're a reciprocal inhibited breather, what that means is your diaphragm isn't operating in a way that's the most anatomically efficient for your body. And it means that you're not getting as much oxygen, as much breath, as you could be. It's like you're getting 20 or 30% instead of say 80 or 90% each time you breathe in. Which leads to short, shallow, rapid breathing over time, that can just end up feeling normal unless we kind of counteract and try to correct that.

Brett Larkin:

So, people can Google or look up diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, but that's something that I would work on for yourself, but also really with your kids because it calms them down. And it's kind of insuring that they're going to have a breath pattern that... And what's interesting is breathing in this way has actually been linked to reducing obesity.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Brett Larkin:

Yes, and restorative yoga as well. There's been great studies on this. So, I think a big takeaway for the obesity focus is it doesn't have to be hardcore athletic yoga that helps reduce or aids in weight loss, let's say. Actually these restorative, simply lying down, focusing on your breath-based practices, have a huge effect as well in weight loss. Yeah, it's incredible.

Vincent Ferguson:

This was an awesome interview, Brett. Where can my listeners find out more about Brett Larkin?

Brett Larkin:

So you can simply Google my name, Brett Larkin. You'll find YouTube videos, you'll find our website. Or upliftedyoga.com will get you to kind of our members' area. I have over a thousand free videos on YouTube, so you can practice with me any time. And then if you want to go deeper, we have so many courses and designed experiences with a lot of interaction for both students, the student community, and people who are looking to teach. So, that would be the next step. I'd love to practice with some of your listeners on YouTube. So hopefully they can look me up, Brett Larkin, and find a class that works for them. https://www.brettlarkin.com/300-hour-online-yoga-teacher-training/

 

Vincent Ferguson:

And on social media-

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. Mainly YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. So, yeah. And the same, Brett Larkin yoga will get you there.

Vincent Ferguson:

Perfect. Now Brett Larkin, let me just say on behalf of my organization, Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Brett Larkin:

Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Vincent Ferguson:

You are amazing. To my listeners and readers, I truly hope this program was informative and encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks of Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.sixweekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com.

Direct download: Episode_163_Brett_Larkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am EDT

Mike Telem is the co-founder of Kemtai, a digital home fitness company using AI and computer vision to provide a virtual gym with real-time precise feedback. He is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in building and marketing digital products. Mike lives in Israel with his wife and their two teenage sons. He has a Black Belt in martial arts and is a master swimmer. I am pleased to have Mike Telem on my Six Weeks to Fitness Podcast. Mike, how are you?

Mike Telem:

I'm very good. Thanks. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, it's my pleasure to have you on the show. Before we talk about Kemtai, Mike, tell my listeners a little more about you. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Mike Telem:

I grew up in Israel. I'm almost 45 years old, and had a pretty regular and good life here in Israel. I actually moved to the United States for a couple of years when I was in eighth and ninth grade. That was a very nice experience. I lived in New York, so I'm still a Giants fan and follow U.S. sports quite closely, whether it's the NFL now and the NBA a little bit earlier. Then I came back, I studied high school in Israel. Served in the army, as most of us do, and studied psychology in the university.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. What part of Israel do you live in?

Mike Telem:

I live in the central part, close to Tel Aviv, for those of you that know it. My town is called Giv'at Shmuel. Very nice place, about 15 to 20 minutes from the beach. Now the pools are actually closed, but we can still swim in the Mediterranean and the weather in Israel is quite comfortable for swimmers because we hardly get any winter here. Maybe just two or three months.

Vincent Ferguson:

Sounds nice. Well, I'm in New York and right now it's kind of cold and rainy, so we can appreciate the sunny weather you guys have in Israel right about now. Were you interested in fitness as a child? If so, were there any role models in your life that inspired you?

Mike Telem:

Yes. I loved fitness and as a child, I would obviously just call it sports. I played a lot of group sports around school and very early on, started doing competitive sports. I think I was five when I started practicing martial arts and judo specifically at that point.

Mike Telem:

That was together with my grandfather, who's probably that ideal person that I was always looking up to. He was also a Black Belt and we even managed towards ... He was getting older obviously, but we were able to practice a few times together as Black Belts at the same time. That was a very exciting and very emotional time. I also played soccer on a team in my town, and I played professional squash. I was actually the Israeli junior champion at squash. You could say that I was very much into sports.

Mike Telem:

There were a few years where I did all three of these things at the same time. I'm not sure how exactly, but I love doing sports since I was young. At a later age, obviously you start looking at it slightly differently from the fitness perspective, from the health perspective. Maybe you don't do the same things because of your body or because you don't want to go crazy, because if I do judo or play soccer, I might do things that I shouldn't do because you get excited. I definitely love sports and fitness very, very much.

Vincent Ferguson:

When did the entrepreneurial bug hit you?

Mike Telem:

That's an interesting question because as I was getting into high tech, which was kind of a fluke or a mistake, I was never interested in high tech. I didn't like computers, especially when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. I got into it because there were a lot of job openings and I thought, "Well, there's a limit to how many years I should be a waiter." Even though I was a pretty good waiter, but I decided that there are some opportunities there.

Mike Telem:

Even while I was in high tech and the whole startup concept and culture started in Israel following a little bit what happened in Silicon Valley and all the success stories, I always used to say it's better to have a good job, a steady job. I don't necessarily see myself opening up a startup. But after a few years in the market gaining experience, you start to see things that could be better, that could be done differently. I was lucky enough to have my best friends from high school also in high tech.

Mike Telem:

In 2009, without thinking about it too deeply, which is I think something good for an entrepreneur. If you think about it too much, you'll never do it because the chances are against you. The odds are against you. We decided to leave our jobs about five minutes after that 2009 financial crisis where everybody thought that the world was going down.

Mike Telem:

We decided that we're going to go after our idea, which was around personalization of websites. We went ahead and did that and that was the start of my entrepreneurship mentality I would say. Later on, I think I would look back at some of the things that I've done as I was an employee in other organizations and I guess I can see that I was always into trying new things and taking responsibility and being very committed to what I'm doing. I guess it started brewing back then.

Vincent Ferguson:

That sounds really good. Now, what are some of the pros and cons of being an entrepreneur, Mike?

Mike Telem:

Obviously one of the pros, it tends to be very interesting, very challenging in a good way. My father was an entrepreneur in a few companies as well and I saw the times that he succeeded and the times that he failed. You do get a lot of ups and downs and you need to be able to handle them. I don't mean that as it's going down, you don't care or you don't feel anxious or even concerned, but there's something inside you that tells you, "It'll come back up again if I do enough about it." But being able to take those times.

Mike Telem:

When you care about something, you feel very bad when it doesn't work well. In any business of your own, it doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a high-tech startup, you care a lot. Then you have a lot of good times and a lot of bad times. I like to say that it's very similar to being a professional athlete I think because if you think about most professional athletes, most of the time they lose. They get to the semi-finals, they get to the finals. Maybe sometimes they don't even get there. They lose and they lose and they lose at a certain point, right?

Mike Telem:

Once in a while they win the whole thing. Even you look at the Lakers that have just won the NBA title and specifically LeBron James. Yeah. He has a lot of titles, but he lost a bunch of times. You look at people who have won gold medals in the Olympics. You'll remember that, but they also lost many times. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to lose or not succeed a lot of times and keep on going. That's possibly one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur. If you can do that, then you can do the rest.

Vincent Ferguson:

I think a lot of entrepreneurs who listen to this podcast would benefit from that advice. You know what I mean? Excellent.

Mike Telem:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, most of your work has been, as you said, in the high-tech space. Was there an aha moment that motivated you to move into the fitness space and create Kemtai?

Mike Telem:

It was a combination between the fact that both I and my two co-founders, Mor Amitai and Naomi Keren, are very much into fitness and sports. Naomi is a Pilates instructor as a hobby, Mor loves running and working out at home. I had times where I used to work out in front of YouTube videos. The second piece of this equation is that Mor and Naomi have been dealing in computer vision for around 15 years. They actually had a previous startup that dealt with computer vision.

Mike Telem:

Now you have a group of three people that like sports, that like fitness, that know what can be done with computer vision and know what it takes to create a product, to create a company. We very quickly got to the idea of leveraging computer vision to see what you're actually doing and giving you feedback. As an amateur athlete, I've always been very aware of the importance of guidance and feedback. I always ask whatever trainer is around, "Look at what I'm doing. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Don't tell me that I'm doing great. Just tell me what I'm doing wrong, how I can get better."

Mike Telem:

I like to get that advice, even if it's sometimes hard to follow. We thought, "Well, why can't we use computer vision to give that type of advice?" That is Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

What does Kemtai actually mean? Where did the name come from?

Mike Telem:

The name itself doesn't have a specific meaning, but more of a feel. We hope that a feeling of something dynamic, an action that you can take, but also something that sounds calming and sounds connected to the whole concept of wellness. To some people, it sounds a little bit Eastern or Asian perhaps, but it doesn't have any specific meaning. We just really liked the sound of it. We spent some time looking for various names. It's actually not that easy to find a name that nobody else has used.

Mike Telem:

We were able to do that. We also always reminded ourselves that just like with children, products also make the name.

Vincent Ferguson:

True. The product, the name is very important. Now, explain, what can a user expect to experience from Kemtai and what makes it more effective than other fitness apps on the market today?

Mike Telem:

That's a great question. In terms of what makes Kemtai more effective, Kemtai actually sees you as you work out and can see if you're doing things right or wrong and can also give you a score so you understand your actual performance. As you're doing a specific exercise, let's say you're doing squats, something that everybody can relate to, Kemtai notices that your back is not straight and will tell you with audio and visual cues that you should straighten your back or that you shouldn't go so low.

Mike Telem:

As you follow the instructions, you start feeling the engagement, the connection to the technology that is helping you do the exercise in the best way possible so the workout is more effective and also more fun. The first thing that people typically get excited about is, as you just open up Kemtai and start the first workout, it scans your body and identifies all the data points in your body. Your shoulders, your elbows, your arms, your legs.

Mike Telem:

You feel that connection because as you move, you can see that Kemtai is seeing you, and you can see a visual of your skeleton on the screen. You see that Kemtai is following what you're doing and that is a very magical moment because you understand what the software has done and what it can give you.

Vincent Ferguson:

When I heard about Kemtai, I was so blown away by it. It's definitely a game changer. If I'm looking to build muscle or if I'm looking to increase my cardiovascular conditioning, can Kemtai help me with that?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Kemtai has most of the types of exercises and workouts that you would expect to find in other applications. This goes to your question about the difference as well. You'll find things like running in place and jumping jacks and other things for cardio and small or large weights or pushups or other core exercises to build your muscles. The fact that it gives you feedback, the fact that you can see if you're doing it well and how well you're doing it, means that each and every movement, each and every exercise is so much more effective.

Mike Telem:

If you want to build muscles, as we all know, doing the proper movement sometimes even more slowly and doing it correctly and seeing that you're getting a 90 and not a 70, immediately in real time, means that whether you have 10 minutes for a workout or 50 minutes, that time is so much more effective than what it would be if you were just following a video in YouTube or some other apps, or maybe riding a bike at home, which is very, very limited in terms of what you're doing and has practically zero feedback in terms of, are you doing it well?

Mike Telem:

You can practically sit on that bike and have a cup of coffee. Everything else will still continue the same.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's true. That's true. As a trainer, I'm always correcting the form of clients. As you know, technique, form is everything when it comes to performing the activities.

Mike Telem:

Yes. That is typically the most important thing. It also is very important in terms of avoiding injury, doing things the wrong way, or sometimes fooling yourself, thinking that you have improved while in fact, you're just doing more repetitions, but not in the proper way. Being able to be more effective in the same amount of time is so important. Everybody's very busy. Home fitness is great first and foremost because you don't need to spend too much time around it. You don't need to drive anywhere. Now, you can do so much more and be so much more effective in the same time period. That is very, very helpful for the users that are using Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely. What do you need in order to use Kemtai? Do you need a laptop, desktop?

Mike Telem:

All you need is a laptop or a desktop, basically a computer with a camera. You don't need any special computer. You don't need to buy any $2,500 device in order to use Kemtai. Just your laptop and your browser and a decent internet connection. Your videos are not recorded, are not even saved anywhere. The system really looks at you like a human being and gives the feedback in real time. No information is being sent to the cloud about your workouts. The only thing you need is laptop and a little bit of room in your house to work out.

Mike Telem:

If you want to take it out and do it on the porch or in the garden, if there's good weather, you can do that too. It's relatively not sensitive to lighting and the space around you. It's very, very convenient and very, very easy to work out with Kemtai and also very affordable because you don't need to buy anything special.

Vincent Ferguson:

Can you also use Kemtai on mobile phones?

Mike Telem:

Not right now. We've decided not to develop Kemtai for mobile phones, because when you think about it, the user experience for something like Kemtai on a mobile phone is quite problematic. The screen is very small. You'd have to put the phone on the floor and it will be very difficult to interact with the system. If you think about it, it's similar to a Zoom session, right? That everybody's doing nowadays.

Mike Telem:

As much as you can control it, you would prefer having the Zoom session on your laptop. Yes, it can work on a phone, but it's not very convenient and you would never pick that in the first choice. Kemtai will run on mobile devices later on, probably next year, but we think that the better experience would always be on something like a laptop and later on, maybe on smart TV or on a device that's connected to a larger screen just because you can see what's going on a lot better and experience this interactive content. See exactly what the trainer is doing and follow their guidance and get the feedback and really make the most out of your workout.

Vincent Ferguson:

Awesome. How long are the exercise programs and how many exercise programs are in the app?

Mike Telem:

There are a few hundred different workouts. Some of them are 5 to 10-minute workouts with maybe just five to 10 exercises. Some of them are as long as an hour. You can do a few workouts one after the other. There are various trainers in Kemtai. These are not just Kemtai trainers, but external personal trainers can also upload their content to Kemtai and then Kemtai runs its processing and learns those movements to enable you as a user to pick a trainer of your choice. We have trainers from Japan, from Singapore, from Brazil, from New York, from Israel. From various places.

Mike Telem:

The idea is also to be a platform that enables trainers to bring forth their style of exercise, their types of workout. Just like in YouTube, you can choose, who you want to watch. In Kemtai, you can choose who would train you and you would get feedback based on their way of doing a squat. Not necessarily Mike's way of doing a squat. You can choose the trainer that you prefer.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now that again, is a game changer when it comes to personal training, because I do know some trainers who would be interested in learning about Kemtai. How do trainers get paid for their experience or their expertise?

Mike Telem:

Right now these are relatively early days with Kemtai but the idea is that trainers would get paid a percentage of the revenue that comes from people working out with their sessions. Similar to what music apps are doing, where if a lot of people subscribe and listen to your music, then you'll get a specific percentage of that. If maybe less people listen to someone else then that singer or songwriter will get a little bit less. The idea is to share a percentage of that revenue with them and also enable them to get to so many more customers.

Mike Telem:

If you're a great personal trainer, why should you be limited to the people that live around you specifically? If you're a great trainer, why not let users from around the world, work out with you? Get your type of feedback. This is really bringing you, the trainer, to life in other people's homes. If you're a very good trainer, not necessarily a celebrity, but a good trainer that provides good workouts and good feedback, a lot of people around the world using Kemtai will enjoy choosing your workouts.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like that concept completely, but you're still in the early stages of this though, as far as building this out, correct?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Because of COVID, we've launched an initial preliminary version quite early, around April. Just wanted people to enjoy it and be able to use what was available then. We're now getting close to a very substantial new version that include these workouts that I mentioned, and also studio workouts, where you can choose, for instance, Pilates for beginners or for advanced or high intensity training or yoga. Also, developing a concept we call the adaptive coach that changes the workout in the middle of the workout based on your actual performance at that moment.

Mike Telem:

If I see that something is too difficult for you, I might lower the level or the intensity in the next exercise. If I see you're doing very well, I might increase the intensity in the next exercise. This is even taking this whole concept of real-time feedback another step forward. Those things are coming out pretty soon. We would probably be announcing it in a couple of weeks. I guess you got a sneak peek here to these concepts.

Mike Telem:

We think that now in terms of having enough content, various types of workouts and exercises, the product has made a lot of progress and we're seeing users enjoy it more and work out with it on a regular basis.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do you think Kemtai will inspire more of us to actually work out at home?

Mike Telem:

I think so. Home fitness was huge before COVID. Home fitness was actually huge 30 or 40 years ago with Jane Fonda and DVDs and people buying bikes for their houses. Home fitness has always been a big market. People have always seen the advantages. What I think COVID has done, apart from a lot of bad things, is give people an opportunity to realize just how much progress was done in home fitness and the fact that in many aspects, you can do things at home today that are as good and in some aspects, even better than what you can find outside or in a gym.

Mike Telem:

For instance, Peloton is a great example. You can get a great experience, some would argue even better than a spinning class, and you can do it at the convenience of your home and even do a class with a thousand people. Kemtai provides you the experience of having a personal trainer at your home, providing real-time feedback, personalized perfectly to you. Most people can't afford that, not even once a week, not to mention a few times a week. Logistically it's typically an issue. COVID pushed people to explore home fitness and to realize what advances were made in the past five/seven years in this market.

Mike Telem:

Now they're enjoying it and I think they will continue to enjoy home fitness even after COVID ends, which I hope happens very soon. People will have a hybrid approach where maybe a couple of times a week I go to the gym, another time maybe I go outside running, a couple more times I work out at home with Kemtai or any other technology that I find interesting and relevant for me. That's what you're going to see I think in the next few years.

Vincent Ferguson:

I agree. I'm totally sold on Kemtai and I'm sure a lot of my listeners will be as well. What is the financial investment? What does it cost?

Mike Telem:

It's actually quite affordable in my opinion. It's $19 a month. You even get a discount if you take an annual subscription, you get all the workouts, all the trainers, all the exercise. You can use it as much as you want. Other people in your household can use it. I guess for a year, you would still pay less than one personal training session and you can use Kemtai as much as you want. One day you can do Pilates, the other you can do high intensity or weights, anything you want.

Vincent Ferguson:

How are you guys getting the word out about Kemtai? I know you're doing podcasts, but what other advertising and marketing are you doing?

Mike Telem:

We have some social media campaigns that you can expect, but to be honest, we really believe in word of mouth. We think that as the product is getting better and better, more people are simply going to talk about it. I can see that more and more people are getting to us via simple search in Google because someone told them about Kemtai. We're now releasing a concept that we call a challenge where I can imagine that the challenge is maybe three simple exercises, two minutes long altogether. I do the challenge and I can see that I got a 75 and I can see my rank in the global leaderboard or how I rank with my country.

Mike Telem:

I can share the challenge with you and say, "Hey, you talk a lot about fitness. Let's see how much you can get. Let's see what you're going to score in the challenge." Those are the types of things that we prefer, where people simply enjoy it and share it with others. Strategically, that is the type of marketing that we want to do. You might call it more product-oriented marketing, where I just want people to get a chance to try Kemtai. Use it and if they're happy, tell their friends about it and that's going to be enough.

Vincent Ferguson:

I agree. I think that will be enough because Kemtai is going to sell itself. I really believe that.

Mike Telem:

Well, I hope you're right. I think you're right. We still have a lot of work to make sure that you're right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Exactly. Now, Mike, I run a nonprofit organization for children, right? A health organization, but can kids use the Kemtai program?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Technically, at least from a certain age Kemtai picks up the body just as well and kids can use it. It hasn't been our focus right now, just because it's important to be a little more sensitive with things that you provide kids, but we love helping these types of causes. We want more kids to be active and keep their health and get good habits from a young age. I was actually not aware that you have something like that so I would love to learn more. We would love to provide access somehow to your audience so they'll be able to work out with Kemtai free of charge, of course, and enjoy home fitness.

Vincent Ferguson:

Great, we're looking to do some stuff for the children, because all the kids are home now and childhood obesity is a major issue. That's what we're trying to combat. I will send you some information through Margie about what we do and this way, perhaps we can work together on helping children to become more healthy.

Mike Telem:

That would be wonderful.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, where do you see Kemtai in the next five years?

Mike Telem:

I think we will make a lot of progress on the technology on additional ways of adapting the workouts to your goals and to your performance, making it more effective, but also working on making it more fun. Adding more ways of really bringing to life the different trainers and the different styles. Supporting more types or categories of workouts, whether it's Pilates and yoga already, but later on, maybe some shadowboxing and some other types. A lot of people have asked us, can we help their golf swing?

Mike Telem:

Again, technologically, it's definitely possible, but every different category takes some attention. We're hoping to cover more and more of the ... Martial arts is something that's close to heart for me obviously. I would love to train karate via the application. Again, I don't see it replacing going to the dojo and working out, but it can definitely help and increase your proficiency in those categories

Vincent Ferguson:

I can see that as well. Kemtai is definitely a game changer. I'll stand by that.

Mike Telem:

I appreciate that.

Vincent Ferguson:

How can my listeners learn more about Kemtai?

Mike Telem:

The best thing would be to go to app.kemtai.com. That's A-P-P.K-E-M-T-A-I. com and try it out. There is a sample workout. Everybody can try, see what it feels like. It's a very easy workout. You can do it in your jeans. The whole idea is to get a feel for Kemtai and then decide whether you want to try it out. There's a money-back guarantee. It's very, very easy. It's a lot of fun. Just go to app.kemtai.com or www.kemtai.com and give it a try.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. Can we follow you on social media?

Mike Telem:

Yes. You can follow Kemtai virtual fitness on Instagram. We have a Kemtai user group on Facebook. You can join and follow either one of those. Get information from us and updates, and also connect with peers that are following up and working out with Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Mike Telem, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Mike Telem:

I appreciate. It was a pleasure. I love talking about my job and I love talking about fitness and it's been great talking to you. I appreciate you having me.

Direct download: Episode_162_Mike_Telem.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39am EDT

Kathryn Kelly is the founder and CEO of Taste Buzz Food Tours, a Las Vegas-based food tour company, providing guests with an exclusive local insider's perspective on the absolute best places to eat in the city. Guests can choose between two three-hour walking tour options, the Las Vegas strip option, and an evening option in downtown Las Vegas. Taste Buzz Food Tour guests are treated to five different foodie restaurants, where they can enjoy a mind-blowing sampling of one to four of the venues most popularized must-have dishes. Kathryn Kelly is also a fitness competitor, and she took first place in the Team USA 2020 Junior Masters Fitness competition and is now currently training for Miss Olympia.

Vincent Ferguson:

Before we discuss your amazing company, Taste Buzz Food Tours, let's talk a little about Kathryn Kelly's early years. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Kathryn Kelly:

Las Vegas is my home. I was born here. Born and raised in Las Vegas. I did spend one year of my childhood in the Philippines because my mom is Filipino. So we came back here again. I would have to say that my childhood is probably not like most other children because I grew up in Las Vegas, I did spend a lot of time in the hotels and the casinos running around, playing in the arcades. And then as well, the city isn't like most other cities, it's definitely unique on its own.

Vincent Ferguson:

I've been to Vegas and I can't wait to go back. Now, were you involved with fitness at all when you were a child?

Kathryn Kelly:

I wouldn't say professionally or anything like that. Just like other kids, I enjoyed running around and playing around. This was a little bit different than I guess the way kids grow up now. I think a lot of children play video games and use their cell phones a lot more than I did when I was growing up. I have two brothers and we were very much out for the... We would run around the streets, we would climb walls, we would climb trees. We were always playing catch and shooting hoops. So I was always active and into fitness without actually playing sports or going to the gym or anything like that.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because even though you were not involved in any structured fitness activity, you still got into the fitness world. So how did you become interested in a fitness competition?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, I was always active as a kid.  It was probably when I was in high school or college when I started actually doing classes. So I started getting really into yoga and I started going to this gym. And when I was about 18 years old, I started working at the juice bar inside the LVAC here, which is our local gym. And part of working for the juice bar, I got to use the facility as often as I wanted. So I got to go to any of the classes. I got to use the workout room. I got to use the steam room and the pool, which was really exciting for me because I had never had access to that before. So I started working out. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I would just be in there and using the machines and figuring things out myself.

Kathryn Kelly:

Ever since then, I just continued going to the gym. So after that, I subscribed to a membership at the gym. Actually, I'm still a member of LVAC today and that's where I train and work out. And I just love it. I love working out. I love bodybuilding and my passion for bodybuilding has grown throughout the years. So in the beginning, I was saying that it was more of just like go to the gym and do whatever I deemed fit for the day. It was in the last few years, I've really taken on this passion to where, or interest in how bodybuilding changes the way your body looks and how you can manipulate the shape of your body, and I find that very interesting.

Vincent Ferguson:

You went ahead and participated in a competition. Did someone encourage you to take part in that show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Let's see, it's been about five years now, I went to a different gym, the same gym, but there are five locations here in Las Vegas. So I started going to a different one because I had moved. And one of the trainers was like, "You have a great body to do the bikini competitions." She was telling me about, it took me a little bit to decide whether or not I wanted to do it. And so I said, "You know what? I think I'm going to." One day I was at the gym and I saw this girl and I was never really into really muscular look for a female. I liked more of that soft, feminine look. But once I was at the gym and I saw this girl and she was muscular, but yet she was still feminine and I thought she was gorgeous.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I told the coach, I said, "Yes. Okay, let's do it." So she trained me for a fitness competition and actually, I hated it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? You hated it.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah, I did. I hated the entire process. It was interesting, but I didn't like the entire process. I was starving. I don't think I was at the right place mentally. I was at the gym every day and I was still doing it, but I didn't enjoy the process. And I think a big part as well was the food. I didn't really understand the food concept of it, what I was supposed to be doing. And at this time, while I was training, one of the other coaches at the gym, he approached me and he's like, "What are you doing?" And I was explaining to him that I'm entering in this bikini competition and he was interested and he started talking to me and he let me do my own thing.

Kathryn Kelly:

And after the competition which I didn't do very well in, he was like, "Let me start training you." And for years I was like, "No, it's not my thing." I really didn't like it. And we've become really good friends. My coach is Jerry Anderson, so he's actually a 17 time Mister All Natural Universe title winner, and he's been training since 2001, really. So I look up to him and he took me under his wings and in the past year, I told him, "Okay, let's do this again." And he trained me and I have a new mental approach towards the competitions and fitness and bodybuilding in general. And the process is much more pleasant. I actually really enjoyed every step of the way. And a lot of it has to do with the food since that's such a big part of your life. And I took first for the Miss Bikini Diva National Team USA for Junior Championship.

Vincent Ferguson:

So what's the next step, Miss Olympia?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, there's, yes, there's the Olympia, which will be here in Las Vegas as well. This is the natural competition and I will be entering into the amateur division.

Vincent Ferguson:

What's the date on that? Do you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

That is November 12th through the 15th. They haven't set the actual date for my competition, exactly. But it'll be one of those days.

Vincent Ferguson:

Still Miss Olympia. That's a big deal. You know what I mean?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. I'm really excited to do this. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

You learned about the training aspect of it. And you also know now about the nutrition aspect of it, which is also a pretty big deal, right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. They actually say that the food when you're training is probably like 60 to 70% of your body and the fitness aspect of it.

Vincent Ferguson:

And that's why it's so interesting that you started a food business. So that's what we want to talk about. As you said, nutrition is very important. Do you follow a strict nutrition plan as you prepare for the show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. I do have a strict nutrition plan for the show. Correct. And I think, one of the reasons why I'm able to follow it so strictly, and I don't have these urges to cheat, is because my diet plan is built around the things that I enjoy to eat. So I know when people are asking me about the competition, they're like, the first thing that they say and this must be widely recognized is that if you're doing a competition, you're just eating chicken breasts and broccoli, because that's what everybody says. "Oh, so you're just eating chicken and broccoli, chicken and broccoli." And I have to tell you, I'm not the biggest fan of steamed broccoli and just plain chicken breasts. I probably wouldn't do very well if that's what I was told to eat. So my trainer gave me a lot of room to be able to manipulate my diet by following certain rules, and I created meal plans for myself where I actually enjoy the food.

Vincent Ferguson:

So that has got to be the key to be able to still enjoy yourself, enjoy the foods you eat as you prepare for the show. Correct?

Kathryn Kelly:

I believe so. Yeah. It's definitely, it's a mental thing and it's about balance. And if you're not enjoying the process, it's going to be very, very hard to be able to succeed.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, let's talk a little bit about your business, the Taste Buzz Food Tours, which is awesome. I read about it. It’s amazing.

Kathryn Kelly:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long has the company been around and where did the concept come from?

Kathryn Kelly:

So we started doing food tours back in 2016 and the concept started because I really wanted to show off my city, which is Las Vegas, to visitors. So I love to travel and when I travel, I want to see, and I want to do, and I want to go where all the locals go. I don't love “let me just do sightseeing and let me do all these activities.” I love a more local approach. And I know that when people come to Las Vegas, it's a little bit harder to get that because this is a big city and you're overstimulated with lights and shows and nightclubs. And there's just so much activity. And if you don't know somebody that lives here, it's going to be hard to get that "Where can I really go? Am I getting ripped off?" Like, "Everything is so expensive." One of those kinds of vacations.

Kathryn Kelly:

I wanted people to really appreciate Las Vegas and see the charm that I get to see. So since food is my passion, I decided to show it off in a way that I would really enjoy. And luckily it came at a time when the foodie realm was starting to become really popular and people are exploring different food options. And at a time too, when Las Vegas started changing from a really big chain restaurant city to more of these local holes in the wall, chef-driven restaurants.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because all the time, the many times I've been there; I didn't know anything about that. It was all about going to the big shows, visiting the hotels, all the excitement that comes with it. If I would've known there was something like the Taste Buzz Food Tours, I would have definitely taken advantage of that. But prior to starting your company, did you have any experience working in the restaurant and hospitality industry?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes I did. So I'm going to go way back and I'm going to say that, it's always been a dream of mine to own my own cafe or a little restaurant. I remember when I was really young, before I could even start working as a teenager, I would watch these TV shows and I would see the small-town girl and she was always tomboyish, but cute and she was always a server. It just always looked like a really fun job to me. And so for some reason, I always wanted to be a server in a restaurant. That was my dream when I was a teenager. I was like; I was going to be a server. And I started off as a hostess and then I became a food runner. This was back in the day when you had to have experience working in the food and beverage industry here.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I made my way up and then I became a food server. Then when I became a food server, I was like, "You know what? I want to be a bartender." And then I became a bartender. And then I was like, "You know what? I love bartending, but I think I want to do something different." "I'm going to show people around." And then I became a food tour guide for Taste Buzz Food Tours. I created the concept and it's been great. It really worked out.

Vincent Ferguson:

The response has been great so far then?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. As you were saying earlier, a lot of people come to Las Vegas and they're looking like, "Okay, I'm in Vegas. I have to do this big... I'm going to do the shows. I'm going to do the nightclubs. I'm going to do the pools." And that's all great. I definitely think you should come to Las Vegas, experience that because as a city, I think we're the best place for that. You cannot get this kind of excitement anywhere else in the world. And we have some of the most beautiful hotels and nightclubs that you'll ever see and you have that aspect of the city, but it's also really, really cool to see a different side of the city. In a city that's so big and grand that you can have this small-town feel to it as well, where everybody knows everybody and you walk around and people are like, "Hey, hi Kathy, how you doing?" And, "Hi, welcome to our restaurant." People really enjoy that.

Vincent Ferguson:

It’s a very intimate type of an environment.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Are there other food tour businesses going on right now in Vegas?

Kathryn Kelly:

With the pandemic, I think a lot of places have had to shut down. So I'm not really sure because everybody's kind of reopening and navigating the reopening on their own accord. But we started up right away, as soon as the city reopened. And we were ready to show off our restaurants and help build up the support again, because they really needed it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, definitely. But how has this current pandemic affected your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, restaurants were closed, so we completely shut down. And then the city reopened and business is slower than usual, but I think, in a way it's been good because I've had time to do some restructuring and reorganization, but at the same time, people are coming to Las Vegas and they cannot do the shows and a lot of other tour companies, like let's say Grand Canyon or whatever, they're not running as often. People are having to look to do other activities. And I think, just by searching what to do in Las Vegas, we're coming up and people are like, "What is that?" And we're getting a lot of guests who've never done food tours before, and just trying to experience something different. They go on our tour and they're like, "Wow, I'm so glad that we were able to find you and try something different."

Kathryn Kelly:

So it's been good. I think we're going to have a lot more guests and followers for the future years.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. It sounds like it. And also, it's a good time to market and promote your business too.

Kathryn Kelly:

Oh, for sure. For sure. I love the fact that we're working with a lot of the smaller restaurants and that we're able to promote and help them out at a time like this because we have a very strong food and beverage industry here and it's sad to see a lot of places having to close down because of the situation. And so it's nice to be like, "Let me introduce this restaurant to my guests." And my guests, they'll come back; they'll tell their friends about it. So the next time they come back to Las Vegas, they can say, "Try out this restaurant. We had a really good time on Taste Buzz Food Tours." It's promoting and marketing those restaurants as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Now I've been on many tours, but never a food tour. So explain what we can expect to see and do while on a tour.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. Okay. Well, next time you come to Las Vegas, you're going to have to come check us out.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. I promise.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do a little bit of everything. So I think what makes our food tours very unique is not only do we get to try the local side of Las Vegas, but we get to try the variety of it as well. You'll do something at a hole in the wall. You might do a food truck. We might stop by a coffee shop or a brewery, but you'll also do a nice trendy restaurant all in one tour. And you get to try those signature items. So you really get to see what makes that restaurant special through a local's eyes. You might be able to meet a chef. We're very close with the people that we work with and the restaurants that we work with. So if the chef is on duty, he might come out and say hi, and we could take souvenir photos for you to remember.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do some sightseeing as well. So the routes are walking tours, so you get to see the most out of the city, but we'll walk through some of the top attractions and we'll do some fun facts about the attraction, take more photos and some history.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow, you said it's a walking tour. So you get some exercise in.

Kathryn Kelly:

You get exercise, you get food, you get sightseeing, and you get a little bit of everything. It's a really great concept.

Vincent Ferguson:

Goodness. That is awesome. Now, how much do the tours cost? Are they expensive?

Kathryn Kelly:

I think they're very reasonably priced. Our downtown food tour is $95 per person. And our Las Vegas strip food tour is $99 per person. So for under a hundred dollars, you get a three hour experience, which includes sightseeing, history and a full meal.

Vincent Ferguson:

How many people can you accommodate on each tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

We do small group tours, so usually there are 12 on a daily basis, but right now with the COVID restrictions it's reduced to 10, just so that people feel a little bit more safe.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, I see. Yeah. It's very limited right now. Right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. So there are a lot of restrictions still here in the city. So we're trying to please everybody.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. It's been challenging, but I'm sure we're going to get through this, you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. We will, we will in time. We just need a little bit more time for people to feel safe. And we got to do the right thing and prevent the spread and, eventually, we'll get through, we'll get through this difficult time.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. We'll be looking back on this and saying, "Remember when?"

Kathryn Kelly:

I know, right? Remember that crazy year?

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly, exactly. The key is to keep going, stay focused and we'll get through it. We always do. And we always will.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long are the tours? How much time does it take?

Kathryn Kelly:

They are three hours long. So from the time we meet to the time we say goodbye, everything's about three hours long, which is a perfect time for an experience. You get that intimate feeling with your tour guide and you get to eat for three hours long, a little bit of walking here and there. And then, after the tour, you get to go on and explore more things in Las Vegas.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. How far in advance do you recommend customers’ book a food tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say as soon as you know you're coming to Las Vegas and you've decided, "I'm going to take the food tour." Because, since our groups are small, especially right now, they're only up to eight people, they book out.  So definitely you want to get your tickets as soon as possible.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, this is great! Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to bring a family; your friends, to go out there and make it happen. That sounds to me like a winner.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It's a really nice experience really, for everybody. And we've made it for all ages. So you could bring your family, you could bring your kids. It's a great date night. It's great for bachelorettes. It's great for wedding parties. It's great for friend’s night out. It really is a fun, wholesome activity.

Vincent Ferguson:

But how do you balance getting ready for a show and running your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I won't eat on the food tours while I am getting ready for the competitions. And it is a mental thing. So I made my decision. I'm going to do the competition and you just have to stay focused. And it is hard because I have to meet with new restaurants or I'll be out at an event and there's all this amazing food coming out, and people are asking you to "Please eat," and I'm like, "I cannot. Not this time, but I'll be back."

Kathryn Kelly:

It's only, however long you diet for, so the last competition I dieted for 13 weeks, which is a typical amount of time for a diet, but it's stricter and stricter as the competition goes, so you just have to stay focused. And then I know as well, it's only for this amount of time and then afterwards I can go out and I can enjoy all these restaurants and all of this food once again.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. After it's over, it's on.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly. It's time to celebrate.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go. Exactly, exactly. But if you can say anything else to my listeners, what would it be about your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say, just do it, it's just so much fun. You get to go out, get to meet great people; you get to experience something that only a small group of people get to experience. And it's fun for everyone. You get to try great food; you get to exercise at the same time. Life's all about balance. So while you're here in Las Vegas, you want to be able to enjoy as much as you can.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. So how can we find out more about Taste Buzz Food Tours and you?

Kathryn Kelly:

So visit our website, www.tastebuzzvegas.com and you'll have all the information, all the fun photos for our tours. You can also visit on Facebook and Instagram @tastebuzzfoodtours. And if you wanted to look me up a little bit more, I do have a personal Instagram, it's K_to_the_athy.

Direct download: Episode_161_Kathryn_Kelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12am EDT

Katherine Amato and Natasa Billeci are the Founders of the Katan Klinic, an integrative skin revision and anti-aging sanctuary, where all treatment programs are uniquely tailored to each patient’s needs. Together, they have over 20 years of combined experience in the field of Aesthetic Medicine. Their experiences led them to recognize that aging well was more about developing completely customized regimens for each client and not relying on beauty trends and cookie-cutter treatments. Katan Klinic’s mission is to rebuild beauty from the inside out using a sustainable long-term regimen that keeps the skin evolving and aging gracefully.

Vincent Ferguson :

Before we discuss the Katan Klinic, let's talk a little about the both of you. Where were you born and raised and where did your interest in health come from?

Katherine Amato:

I'm born and raised in Long Island, New York and I have been here ever since. My interest in skincare really started from a young age, definitely with my mom, just her always being into taking care of herself, skin, going to get facials. It really just stemmed from following her, going with her to her little facial appointments. It really just ended up being something that I really felt deeply about.

Natasa Billeci:

I too am a native New Yorker, born and raised. I'm actually first-generation American born. I am a child of immigrant parents that came here in the early 70s. And very early on in life, I was exposed to the beauty and wellness space through my mom, much like with Katherine, but my mom had her own hair salon. And so I grew up around beauty and wellness. Later on in life, I had some of my own health issues that created a much deeper interest in how do we take a more integrative and whole-person approach without having to dip into pharmaceuticals, but doing things a bit more naturally. So that's really where my passion for health started was really through my personal journey with my own issues.

Vincent Ferguson :

Wow. Very nice. Now, how did the two of you meet?

Katherine Amato:

We both worked for a short time together in a skincare clinic and we forged a relationship and that's really how it happened. And then we went our own ways for a little bit, and we reconnected about a year or two later. And that's how we both were like, let's do this together. Let's open up a place and start something new.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. How long have you guys been around?

Natasa Billeci:

We've been in business together as Katan Klinic for about two and a half years now.

Vincent Ferguson :

Two and a half years. But you have combined again, 20 years of experience though.

Natasa Billeci:

Yes, we do. Both Katherine and I have a very deeply rooted background in aesthetic medicine as well as dermatology. I am a nurse and my specialty is dermatology. Katherine is an aesthetician. We really brought together our skills, talents, and experiences to be able to give our clients and patients a very integrative and whole person approach to reviving their skin.

Vincent Ferguson :

In your bio, I read off how you are an integrative skin revision and anti-aging sanctuary. What does that mean? And what type of treatments do you provide at the Katan Klinic?

Natasa Billeci:

That's a great question Vince. Our approach and our philosophy to skin revision and general skin health are a bit different than what's customary in the industry. You're coming into our clinic and we're not looking at you as someone who just needs to get rid of their acne or someone who has pigmentation issues, but we're looking at you as a whole person. And the reason that we've taken this approach to reviving skin is because skin is influenced by everything else that's going on around us, so whether we're talking about your lifestyle choices, that means your nutrition. It means how much you move on a daily basis, what you eat and whether or not that's appropriate for your individual physiological needs.

Natasa Billeci:

We're looking at the skincare ingredients that you need and the dose of these skincare ingredients. It's a little more than just looking at your skin and saying, "hey, we're going to do a couple of fabulous treatments on you and your skin is going to be glowy and dewy for a couple of days." Our approach is really based on creating an individualized treatment program, as well as one that's going to carry you through your lifetime and allow you to age a lot better.

Vincent Ferguson :

You deal with each individual client separately based on their particular needs.

Natasa Billeci:

That's exactly right. The consultation is a really important portion of our visits. When you enter our clinic, we don't allow people to just book a facial or book a Botox treatment. You come into our practice and we spend about an hour or two, really getting to know who you are. And in that process, you're going to be sharing a lot about your medical history, your family history, your lifestyle, your sleeping patterns, and your eating patterns. And we bring all of this information together so that we can really build that customized plan for you.

Katherine Amato:

I think that what separates us so much from other places is when someone comes in, they sit down with both Natasa and I for the most part most of the time, and they're getting two different backgrounds of knowledge. Natasa is so rooted in the medical field and the health and wellness portion. I'm so much in the skincare with skincare ingredients and treatment that tandemly, when we're working together with a client they're leaving with so much education and knowledge before they even get a treatment. And I feel that that's so priceless and it's so important. And I think that's what really sets us apart from other clinics and kind of run it in mill med spas that just let you book your own treatment, go through a menu card and say, "Oh, I want this vitamin C facial or this filler today." We don't really allow you to tell us what you want, we tell you what you need.

Vincent Ferguson :

Now, who are your ideal clients?

Natasa Billeci:

Our ideal clients are those that understand the importance of really integrating skin health into their lifestyle. If we take a look at, especially, many women that are interested in caring for their skin, if they went into their skincare spend budget and looked at how much money is spent on different creams and serums and different tools and equipment, what they would end up seeing is that they're spending a lot of money on products that end up sort of sitting on their shelf. And they don't really cause an effect, right? We see a lot of skincare products that are promoted by celebrities or influencers, and they claim that it changed their skin forever. But the reality is, is that we're all unique individuals.

Natasa Billeci:

If you're able to honor the fact that you may not respond in the same way to a certain treatment or a skincare product or routine, that is where a clinic like ours will come into the mix. Our client is someone who's looking for a little bit more of a sophisticated and personalized experience. Someone who really understands that it's not just about creams, but it's about lifestyle as well. And they're willing to create a budget on an annual basis just to make sure that they're aging well and that they are achieving these individualized skin health goals.

Vincent Ferguson :

How important is nutrition to slowing down the aging process?

Natasa Billeci:

That's a great question, and it's probably a little bit beyond the scope of our conversation here, but it's sort of tapping into the general concept. When we think about nutrition, nutrition is going to drive our skin health in a lot of different ways. the skin is connected to the gut and that's one of the important connections that we see a lot of research on today. There's also a lot of research with regards to biomarkers, things like blood testing, saliva testing, looking at our cortisol levels, the changes in our hormone levels. And those are two of the really important factors that we know influence our skin health and the aging process. And a lot of those things can be mitigated through really good nutrition and personalized nutrition.

Vincent Ferguson :

And do you discuss nutrition with your clients?

Natasa Billeci:

Yes, we do. Both Katherine and I are certified health coaches as well. When we're going through the entire consultation process, we're talking a lot with the patient about their health habits and their nutrition as well. And we make recommendations that are going to be supporting their skin revision journey.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. But how do you determine what facial procedures are best for someone's skin?

Katherine Amato:

We have to discuss their budget. I think that's something that's really important when we're creating this program for a client, also, what their commitment is going to be. If someone is willing to come in two to three times a month for a micro current treatment or let's say, a cleaning every two to three weeks, that's also plays a big role in what treatment they're going to get. Also, what conditions they have. Also, if they're pregnant or if they're breastfeeding, so many different factors play into what treatment they're going to get. Someone that is not ready to stop being in the sun. Sun is such a big environmental factor for so many things such as sun damage, inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I really have to get a sense of their lifestyle before determining what the best treatment is for their skin.

Vincent Ferguson :

What type of equipment do you use in your practice?

Natasa Billeci:

We have a couple of different types of equipment that we rely on. Firstly, we very rarely rely on just eyeballing someone's skin. The first part of the process is using technology to allow us to really see the structure and function of the skin. We use a skin analysis device where the patient actually puts their head in this little unit and the unit changes different lights and what it does is it allows us to see things like pigmentation that hasn't come up to the surface just yet. It allows us to see areas of the skin that are maybe hyperactive with the sebaceous glands. It allows us to see a lot of the stuff that's going to come to the surface down the line. And so with that in mind, we take that information, all of the information that we gather from the health questionnaire, the skin questionnaire, and we bring that together to help guide that treatment routine and that regime. Again, it's going back to that very personalized approach to the person's program.

Vincent Ferguson :

Because I know, I've mentioned that you don't use just a cookie cutter approach. You're giving individualized support, attention, consultation to your clients. Do you have clients who stick with you for the long haul?

Natasa Billeci:

Yeah. And that's one of the big underlying variables in our practice. We are building a lifetime relationship and program for each of our clients. So we're going to age with you. We're going to take you through all of the processes of your life, whether it's menopause, whether it's a terrible divorce, whether it's the stress that was caused by something like COVID 19, we're always there for you, helping you modify and adjust so that you age in the best way that you possibly can. And when we look at what equipment we're going to use or what interventions we're going to use, they're also going to be based on your preferences. As a nurse and an injector, I have clients that come in that are maybe not interested in doing hyaluronic acids or fillers, so that's a client that I would take down a vampire facial route or someone that I would do something called platelet-rich plasma on. Each of these programs is going to be completely individualized to the client, allowing them to age in the best possible way that they can in a way that's appropriate to them.

Vincent Ferguson :

Well, aging is a very important issue as you know. We all get older, but we don't want to necessarily look old.

Natasa Billeci:

That's right.

Katherine Amato:

And I also think a lot of our equipment that we carry and the treatments we do, we really try to focus on increasing cellular health and just strengthening the structural integrity of the skin. I think that's what it comes down to. I think a lot of people forget about working on their actual skin and they focus so much on like, I hate to go off on a tangent, but like Instagram, like everyone's focusing on getting high cheekbones and bigger lips and the different shape of their face. I think it's really focusing on building, optimizing your skin health. And that's what we try to focus on the most first, at least primarily. And then from there, we kind of tweak whatever they want to enhance or make better.

Natasa Billeci:

And to your point, Vince, none of us like the fact that we're aging, but what we can do is have that target that when we're 40, we should look like we're 30 and when we're 50, we should look like we're 40. And that's a reasonable goal to have in terms of the aging process itself. And that's something that we help our clients achieve every day.

Vincent Ferguson :

Awesome. Because the skin is our largest organ, right? The largest organ in our body.

Katherine Amato:

Yes.

Natasa Billeci:

That's right. And it's very much impacted by all of the other organ systems in the body as well. A lot of times people look at the skin as, it's kind of hanging out on an island by itself, but it's really not. It's deeply influenced by everything that's going on within as well. There's a lot of communication there.

Vincent Ferguson :

Most definitely. And earlier you mentioned COVID-19 and I can't let this conversation go without asking you, has this pandemic affected their skin? The stress, the worry that's going on right now?

Natasa Billeci:

Absolutely. It goes back down to the fact that skin is not an island. And so now that we've officially reopened here in New York, it's been a huge challenge. We have a lot of our clients that due to the stress, their inflammatory factors were elevated so much in their skin that we're seeing them developing other conditions that they didn't have previously. Their skin is a lot more reactive. They're getting acne when they never had it before. There's a lot going on in terms of compromised skin health right now that has been a huge challenge. It's definitely impacted our clients significantly. And it's impacted us as a small business in the middle of one of the most highly populated cities in the world that was hit really hard by this pandemic.

Vincent Ferguson :

And that was my next question about how were you being impacted. And you just answered that. Amazing. I know you're located in New York, but actually where exactly in New York are you located?

Katherine Amato:

We're right in midtown on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, right in the heart.

Vincent Ferguson :

That's the heart, but the heart has been affected.

Natasa Billeci:

It has indeed.

Katherine Amato:

It has.

Natasa Billeci:

It's been a very, very challenging time period. We've also seen a change in a lot of our clients’ lifestyle. We have a lot of moms that are clients that are now at home and homeschooling their children, which has been impacting their ability to care for their skin. Coming in for regular treatments has become an issue. We have really shifted our approach and we are providing a lot of support to our clients through virtual conversations and consultations, just helping people stay centered and balanced, keeping them on their skincare routines, modifying their skincare routines, giving them a lot of nutritional recommendations as well. We're being a bit more agile and we're kind of shifting and pivoting a little bit as a business and as a brand. And we've definitely been focusing a lot more on the self-care and wellness element of things since COVID-19 started.

Katherine Amato:

Also, with clients during COVID, we've seen some common beauty mistakes that I feel we've seen very, very much has been them trying to overcompensate for not coming in and not coming in for their treatment. And they're kind of tending to their own skin and their own way and being their own aesthetician. And that's been a big issue because, like how Natasa said before, they're coming in and they're extending their issues and creating a cascade of just problems in their skin now. They're coming in now after months and months of missing their treatments.

Katherine Amato:

And some it's like, "Oh, my God, I saw you six months ago and your skin was amazing. We did so much work on it," and six months go by and it's like, we're back to square one. It's hard too. We're trying to just be their support and guide them the right way with everything. And at home, I feel like at-home tools has been a really big upcoming thing now, buying these self-care device and rollers and all these different devices that they can use at home. Trying to just really optimize as much as possible if they can't come in for their treatments.

Natasa Billeci:

And just providing education too to that point, because some of this equipment like, for example, we're big supporters of medical needling or dermal rolling, which helps to increase skin products penetration. And we've been finding that a lot of people because of this need for self-care buying inferior devices, they're not being trained on how to use the device and they're actually creating a lot more harm than good for their skin. We've been finding ourselves really emphasizing the educational element and talking about things that we don't even sell in the practice, but that we know are out there on the market and that people have been purchasing during this time period. Just teaching them actually how to use these devices safely and effectively.

Vincent Ferguson :

Would you say there's a lot of harmful products out there that if you don't know what you're doing, you can harm your skin?

Katherine Amato:

Oh, yeah.

Natasa Billeci:

Absolutely. Oh, Yeah.

Katherine Amato:

Very much so. I have clients all the time telling me, "Oh, I'm..." They go into Sephora, they go into these beauty stores and they kind of self-prescribe themselves and they rely on maybe the retail people to sell them stuff that may not be right for their skin. And it's getting to a point where it's like, I have clients come in, I just had a few clients last week, she's like, "I don't even know what skin type I have. What skin do I have?" And it's so important because educating is so crucial before you go and start prescribing yourself stuff. You have to know what you have, what you're trying to achieve, what you're trying to correct. And I think self-prescribing is a huge downfall when it comes to going out there and just stocking off your own skin pantry and buying all of these different products.

Katherine Amato:

Clients tend to also, they purchase a lot of stuff that just exfoliates their skin. They have a cleanser that has acid in it. They have a night cream that has acid. They have a scrub that has these little mini, micro beads in it. You're just exfoliating, exfoliating and when they come in, we have to work on kind of bringing their moisture and acid mantle back into play and their skin is so compromised over time. It's definitely a big beauty mistake.

Vincent Ferguson :

When you train, when you consult with your clients virtually, is there a difference in costs from them having to see you in the clinic?

Natasa Billeci:

Typically, it really depends on what they're looking to discuss. If we're doing a full consultation, normally it'll be at about a 75% price difference. It'll be 75% of the normal cost of in-office. If we're doing something that's just focused on skin and nutrition. If we're doing a more comprehensive consultation that will require them sending in photos, and they're looking to do more advanced medical treatments, such as injectables or platelet-rich plasma or vampire facials, then that's going to be typically around the same cost as in-person. And if they are coming in for treatments, there will be a subsequent consultation when they come into the office where we take photos and we really do a full on hands-on assessment.

Vincent Ferguson :

Very nice. But what recommendations would you have for anyone who's listening to this podcast and just want to know how to take care of their skin. What recommendations would you give them?

Katherine Amato:

I would definitely say simple, impactful routine. Something that is going to cause some sort of instant, not really an instant gratification, but something that's impactful such as we have our core four products at Katan and it's definitely consists of a vitamin A serum, sunscreen, a skin supplement like a facial oil or an essential fatty acid supplement and then a great cleanser. And I think those four are really going to cause an impactful routine in the skin.

Natasa Billeci:

And also from another nutritional aspect of some of the new research coming out on the hydrolyzed collagen supplements is really positive. For anyone that's really looking to help heal their skin from within, especially now, I think that a really good hydrolyzed collagen supplement would be excellent to add into their routines. And most people are really deficient in B vitamins and vitamin D, so those would be the two supplements that I would definitely bring into the mix. Of course, especially with vitamin B and any fat-soluble vitamins, you do want to make sure that you're working with a health care provider to make sure that you're taking the appropriate dosage, but these are things that you can absolutely do at home. And those two things will allow you to support your skin health from within.

Natasa Billeci:

Additionally, sleep is one of the biggest issues when it comes to skin health in particular, so getting those seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and if you can't do that, make sure to give yourself some a lot of time for catch up sleep, whether that's on the weekends, whether it's sleeping in a little bit during the week. A lot of current research on sleep deprivation shows us that it accelerates the aging process. We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can on our own to help us age very gracefully and helpfully.

Vincent Ferguson :

Hmm. Very good. Excellent advice. Now, how can my listeners find out more about the Katan Klinic?

Natasa Billeci:

They can visit us on our website at www.katanklinic.com or they can email us directly at concierge@katanklinic.com. And Katherine and I are very much engaged in getting clients set up with the consultation process, even if you want to have a quick introductory call, just to get an idea of whether or not we're the right fit for you. We're happy to do an intro call complimentary for 15 to 20 minutes with anyone that calls and references your podcast.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. Can we follow you on social media?

Katherine Amato:

Absolutely. @Katan Klinic.

Vincent Ferguson :

That's on Instagram and Twitter?

Natasa Billeci:

Instagram, and Facebook right now. Twitter will be down the pike and we're working on Pinterest as well. But right now we're on Instagram and Facebook.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. Excellent. I really appreciate this interview. Do you have any final words for my listeners. You said a lot.

Katherine Amato:

Always wash your face at night and change your pillow case every week for anyone that's suffering from maybe some acne. Drink lots of water every day. I know it's a very kind of a cliché tip, but hydrate, hydrate, hydrate so important.

Natasa Billeci:

And eat your greens, get your sleep and make sure that you incorporate some form of movement into your everyday routine. Whether that's getting up and taking a walk for 10 minutes, doing jumping jacks in place, whatever your fancy is, just make sure that you move your body.

Direct download: Episode_160_-_The_Katan_Klinic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31am EDT

Ron Laikind is the CEO and inventor of the Extreme Mist Personal Cooling System (PCS) and Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System (PSS). He has hiked the globe from the Sahara to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, Siberia, Turkey, the Himalayas, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, South America, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and more. In other words, he is a world traveler and the author of "Drifting Through the Sands of Time: A Saharan Adventure."

Being the world traveler that you are, Ron, where are you right now during this interview?

I am in Scottsdale, Arizona, and at the Extreme Mist headquarters at the office.

Were you born and raised in Scottsdale?

I wasn't, but I lived here for a better part of my life. As a kid, I was raised in Tucson and then moved away and then came back over 30 years ago to Scottsdale and landed here in Scottsdale with thirty years under my belt.

Where did your desire to travel the world and seek adventure come from?

It started as a little kid in Tucson going out to the old Adobe forts that were melting away out in the desert sun and the little bit of rain over the eons looking for arrowheads and artifacts from that era. Then I got into gold mining as a young guy and started dredging up in Northern California. I've always kind of had that desire, so it was just natural for me always to be outdoors, and it just continued throughout my adult life and turned into Trekking the globe.

What was your greatest takeaway from hiking all over the globe?

Well, for one, it was very difficult to get anyone to go with me on these trips. For most people to be able to take off from their families, their job or school, or whatever it is throughout the decades is difficult. At one point, I was a student too and still was taking off and doing these things on my downtime, but it's difficult to get someone to go with you.

It's nice to go by yourself because you're not encumbered by someone else, but at the same time, if I can talk someone foolish enough to go with me, then I end up seeing more, and it enhances the trip even more. There are pluses and minuses to both of those ways, so to answer your question, it's just something that gets into your blood, and you just really got to get out and do these things. If you're into it, just do it.

How were the people you met on your journey hiking across the globe?

People are people, no matter where you go. People always wonder when I go into areas like Pakistan and some of the Middle East places, how dangerous it is. Of course, if I go to downtown Phoenix at night, it can be dangerous too, so you have to be wise, but most people that you meet don't discuss politics. The government and people are totally different. I've had some of my best experiences in what we call enemy territories where the people could not have been nicer to me and more accommodating, so people are just lovely no matter where you go for the most part.

In addition to being a hiker, you're also into extreme sports. What type of sports are you into?

They come and go all the time, whether it's white water rafting or skydiving. I'm not much of an organized sports guy because I tend to do a lot of things alone. I tend not to join in the marathons and things. I do my own trail running. I think I'm just used to going out on these trips by myself that I just end up doing things on my own.

We know the importance of hydration when working out, but what was your "Aha" moment that inspired you to create the Extreme Mist Personal Cooling System and explain to my listeners how it works?

Sure. When I first did this, I went to the hardware store and bought a bunch of parts, and I got a Camelback, which is a hydration system and I installed a pump system into the back, and I shared the reservoir by wiring it off from the drink hose, so I had the drink hose coming over one shoulder, and over the other shoulder I had a smaller quarter inch hose with a Mist nozzle on the end and it ended at my chest and points out directly in front of me so whenever I walk, run, cycle, I always move into a nice, cold Cloud. So that was my intent and the aha moment to design that was in the Sahara trip I did, and that was on a thousand-mile Journey.

I left out of Mali in Africa, and I took with me a Camelier, who owned the camels, so I rented the camels and him and then I found a kid in Timbuktu in Mali, who spoke a little bit of English and talked him into going. After about a week and a half and maybe a couple of hundred miles into this trip, my Camelier, who spoke no English, every day at around 11 or 12 o'clock, we have to take our saddle blankets and drape them over us like a little tent, a little lean-to and just sit there for 3 to 4 hours and wait for the sun to go by; the most boring miserable thing you could ever do, and part of the way into this, all of our water was boiling hot because it was kept in inner tubes that we get from the wells that we have to go to every 3 or 4 days. If we miss a well, we would die.

So luckily, he knew where the wells were, we only got lost a few times, but we would scoop the water out of these wells with our buckets tied to a camel and haul it up and fill up these inner tubes. They were black and absorbed all of the heat, so not only was it blistering hot, but your water was just short of boiling as well, and he showed me a trick, a thousand-year-old Bedouin trick where you take a bowl of water, indent the sand, put it in the sand, tilt it towards any Breeze and towards the sun outside of my shadow from my little lean-to and within about 15 minutes due to the evaporation process, what was left behind was almost ice-cold water, and that was my aha moment. I will never forget that first sip of cold water going down, which changed the whole journey.

I know about mist systems because in Scottsdale and many other places in the south areas, we have misters all over the place, from commercial shopping centers to our own backyards, and it's nothing new to me, but then I thought about the evaporation, the cold, and I thought how about we put this into a hydration system so you have a two-in-one drinking and misting system and that's how the aha moment came to me.

I understand that there was another Aha moment in your life during this current pandemic, which created the Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System (PSS). Explain how that came about?

Well, that's the mother of invention story right there because my gym, as I mentioned earlier in the interview, is in my parking lot about 50 feet away from my office. I went into the gym to work out, and they were having a meeting, and I know all of them because I work in the same Center. So I said what's going on, and they said, "we're going to shut down." This was before the mandatory shutdowns came to the country when COVID had just started up, and I said, really, you're going to shut down now, and they said: "Yeah, people aren't secure in the fact that we are sanitizing and disinfecting the gym properly." They always have the squirt bottles at all the stations as everybody knows with the disinfectant that you're supposed to do it yourself when you leave a station, but they also have to do their job too, and they said people weren't confident, so everyone was dropping out; so I said you know what, before you make that decision give me 10 minutes, I walked back to the office. My system is a delivery system no matter what fluid I put into it, so I took off the drink hose, and I extended the chest-like mist nozzle hose down to arm's length and walked back over. I took the chemicals that they use for disinfecting and put it into a two-liter bag (which is made for runners), gave it to the manager (it's the most comfortable sanitizing backpack in the world because it's a natural runners vest style), and he put that on, walked around the gym started sanitizing on full speed which really itemized the solution which made it last three to four times longer than his squirt bottle. Everyone broke out in applause, and they went ahead and kept the gym open for a couple more weeks until the mandatory shutdown came.

It's not my passion, but we just decided to give some away to some of the COVID centers. We sent some out to Elmhurst Hospital, which was in the news constantly at ground zero in New York and a couple of the other hospitals and some locally, then some of the sanitizing companies saw it and the next thing I knew, 3000 units later within the last five months we've been selling those systems as well, and we've added some accessories.

We are selling the system to everybody. Some people use it for home use, but it's a pretty robust system for that, but people buy them for the house. I have people that buy them when they do have to travel, and they take it with them to the hotels and things to spray them down, so it's an easy, convenient tetherless system. You're not tethered to anything, and you just put in whatever of the two thousand different chemicals that are out there into the system, and you've got an instant COVID killer, hopefully.

Are these products affordable for the average consumer?

Yes, they are. The sanitizing system is under $300.00, and most of the good systems on the market start at $700 to many thousands of dollars for the commercial systems, and our drinking and misting systems are under a couple of hundred dollars.

How can we find out more about the Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System and Sanitizing System?

You can find out more information on my website at www.extrememist.com for the misting and drinking systems, which we call the PCS (Personal Cooling System), and for our Portable Sanitizing System (PSS) at www.portablesanitizingsystem.com.

This was a fascinating interview with an extraordinary inventor. Please listen to the podcast to hear the full story.

Direct download: Episode_159_-_Ron_Laikind.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EDT

Liz Grantham is the founder of TheOptimal.me, an extensive online collection of proprietary Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs) and wellness content developed specifically for people 50 plus who want to make life easier, feel younger, stay active and live with less pain. The Integrated Movement Routines are based on functional movements and take a whole-body, timeless, and natural approach to improve mobility, stability, flexibility, balance, and strength. Liz has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and advertising, providing innovative, integrated, thoughtful solutions for global clients such as Visa, Shell, and Sony Mobile, working on projects including the Olympics.

Before we discuss your App, TheOptimal.me, let's talk about you, Liz; where were you born, and what was young Liz's childhood like growing up?

I was born in a small town in South Africa called Port Elizabeth. I had a fabulous childhood. It was very long ago. I grew up in the days of analog. A telephone was a luxury almost, so a television only arrived when I was in school. We would watch the television at the neighbors' home; not everybody had them. I grew up and went off to Boarding school and ended up working in marketing and advertising as a young person.

So Your Career Path was in Advertising Prior to Starting TheOptimal.me Fitness Program?

I worked in advertising for over 30 years and had my own Agency for more than 20 and what's been wonderful is that during my career, I've really been able to work on some fantastic, big Sports sponsorship properties and worked on Olympic games. I worked on Rugby World Cups and Football World Cups, so I had a keen interest in sports and sports development. We are currently working on women in sports on a fantastic program for one of our clients that involves women in sports, so sports have always been something that's been a part of my career, but it wasn't always part of my personal reaching and my life.

Was there an Aha moment that inspired you to get into the fitness space?

Absolutely, I'm sure Vincent, that you know many stories like mine; I work in advertising, where it is a high-pressure, high-stress career. I do a lot of running around but really just hard work, the clock is ticking all the time, and one of my health advisors said to me that they were concerned that I was going to suffer from adrenal fatigue and as you might know, if adrenal fatigue goes too far and you have adrenal burnout, it's not really something you can fix, and one of the solutions that were put in front of me was that I needed to include exercise in my daily life and I was like I hate exercise, and I'm really not going to be doing that. So they said, well, you have a choice to make, so I did quite an amount of research. I'm a real follower and believer in functional medicine and thankfully found a real functional medicine practitioner, and they started talking to me about finding a different way of exercising, not just running on a treadmill or doing weight circuits. I can't concentrate long enough; I get quite bored. I think our bodies get so full of stress and tension. I use to live on Ibuprofen every afternoon just to get through the day with the headaches and sore neck. I found a fantastic trainer, and well, I took the plunge. I actually heard about him. I heard that what he did was quite different, and I went into a class one Friday evening with massive trepidation into this class that was full of people who all knew each other and were chatting. It was really quite scary almost, and the people were young and old. Anyway, I did this class, and 15 minutes later, I could not believe how my body felt. In 15 minutes, I felt like a completely different human being, and I then started doing three classes a week, and that literally changed my whole life in terms of how my body felt and how I was able to get through my day. People started asking me, what were you doing, what's going on with you, you're in a much better mood, you're full of chirp, you're not moaning and groaning all the time, and I honestly put it down to movement, so it was a really startling change for me, and I have been kind of a disciple ever since. So much so, I started a whole business around it.

What Can Someone Expect to Experience When Trying TheOptimal.me App?

Our vision was to build out a platform where people of midlife, whether that's 45 or 50, 55, 60 or 65, can find a solution that is tailor-made for our stage in life because I think as you get into midlife, our objectives in terms of our bodies and wellness often change. We're keener on being fit for purpose, in terms of Aging well, really being active in order to do the things we want to do, then looking beautiful. I think for many people, that is really a shift from when you were in your 20s or thirties where how you look is often more important than how you feel. So what they will find are our integrated movement routines, our wonderful trainer, whose name is Jennie. He is a highly qualified physical education teacher. He is an accredited trainer. He is really a master in the body and in movement. He actually turned 60 early this year. He is extraordinary. He's always been a dancer and a gymnast. He never suffered any injuries because he believes we should move our body the way we were designed to move, because while our world might have changed, how we move is still the same whether we were cavemen, hunter-gatherer and unfortunately in our daily lives now, what do we do now, our environment and our world is created for efficiency and our time and convenience, not for us to move like we use to. So, our integrated movement routines are all about moving in movement patterns, some of which are very familiar. There are movement patterns to really optimize our ability to be aligned, to be strong, to have good posture, to be able to twist and turn and not be afraid of injury really because we are strong and stable and able to do that. We have hundreds of workouts on our site, and they are all exclusive, and we approached everything we've done not to be flashy but to really give an experience that somebody in midlife whose eyes maybe were not as good as they were in their 30s.

We've focused on the fact that it's not about being fancy and modern. Even our music, we get all of our music tracks composed and commissioned so that even the music experience is joyful and fun and not necessarily hard on the ears. We worked really hard to provide something that works for our age group. It's not competitive. It's very progressive. You start where you start and move along. What you really want to do is get everyone moving. We also have fantastic nutritional information and health information and all specific to midlife and beyond because our bodies go through all sorts of changes, and we don't produce the same enzymes and amino acids. We need to look at things differently as we age, and we don't need to put all of our ailments down to old age. There are other things that can be quickly resolved.

How long are the exercise routines?

We recommend you do the routines at least 15 minutes per day, but you will find 5-minute routines, 15-minute routines, and 30 minutes and there are a beginner and intermediate classes on the site. I think it's difficult to find an excuse not to do 5 minutes or even 15 minutes of movement in a day.

Why is Functional Fitness Important as we age?

Well, think about it; if you are not able to do the 7 or 8 basic functional movements, you know, you squat, lunge, reach, push, pull, you walk. For instance, when you sit down, you're going into a squat, and when you stand up out of your squat, you need to do that to get out of your chair, and if you can't do that, you're going to need someone to help you do those type of things. If you just think about balance as we get older, what people don't know is that you start losing your balance in your 20s. It's not something that goes pop when you get to midlife. I think 1 in 4 people over the age of 55 ends up in the emergency room from a fall. If you're not working on your balance regularly, chances are you're going to roll your ankle; you're going to tumble at some point and trip on the stairs. If you're taking care of yourself, it doesn't have to be that way.

Where do you see TheOptimal.me in the Next 5 Years?

I have big plans, Vincent. I am excited about talking to our age group because I think that this is a program that's built by mid-lifers for mid-lifers. Simone, our consulting physiotherapist, she's also about to turn 60, Jennie's 60, I'm 53, the guy who composes our music is in his 50s. We are not pretending to know something that we don't. We really understand because we live it. We live this midlife time, and we're all excited about life. We want to be healthy, travel, and able to see the world, and if COVID has taught my friends and me one thing, it's how we took getting on a plane and going off somewhere exciting, inspirational, and beautiful for granted. We didn't think twice that we wouldn't be able to travel a couple of times a year, so I think we all want to be ready for when we can and when it's safe for us to get out there when we can. We will be looking at a regenerated planet because I think this might be one of the upsides of COVID. We've given our planet a bit of a rest.

It's been amazing. In South Africa, we have an amazing wildlife and bush life, and when we were in major lockdown, we couldn't do that anymore and often a lot of it was very expensive so we would have a lot of international travelers who go to our wildlife parks and when they lifted some of our restrictions, and we were allowed to cross state boundaries again, all of those beautiful places kind of needed people to visit so that they could keep going and the animals have come out to play, it was quite a remarkable thing. Everyone who came back from Safari is like; we've never seen so many animals, we've never seen animals like this before. I think maybe that's going to be the whole world for us. The animals and the planet will be excited to see us all again, so we need to be ready.

How can we find out more about Liz Grantham and TheOptimal.me?

Well, they can go along to our website at www.theoptimal.me and they can go and have a look around and get a taste of what we do. We have a 30-day free pass. They can take the time to really make sure they like the program, and if they enjoy it and want to commit, they can access all of our articles and written content, they can access it without having to buy a subscription. So there is a lot for them to see and find at TheOptimal.me. I think there is something there for everybody.

Direct download: Episode_158_-_Liz_Grantham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EDT

Rachele Jaegers is the Founder and CEO of VFit Studio, a fresh approach to online, group fitness. She is passionate about functional fitness training and teaching people how to use their bodies in the safest way possible. At VFit Studio, Rachele has pioneered and trailblazed a virtual gym format that weaves together effective live workouts, a positive community, and accessibility to help people from all walks of life reach their fullest potential.

A Bay Area Native, Rachele moved with her husband to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy a more active life in the great outdoors. She is the mother of 3 and has received certifications through NAFC in Personal Training, Group Fitness, and Nutrition Coaching, as well as a certification in Level 2 will Power Method. Rachele lives her life by her favorite quote, "Exercise Because You Love Yourself, Not Because You Hate Yourself."

5 years before the pandemic hit, Rachele has been offering workout classes on Zoom. Many now call her the creator of the Quarantine Workout.

Before we discuss VFit Studio, let's discuss your personal journey into health. Where and when did your interest in fitness and health begin?

I would say I'm like many; I grew up very active in playing sports. I like the structure of being part of a team. I was very competitive with tennis and track. I went on to college, where I became a little bit more sedentary, and when you don't have sports in your life, you lose some of that structure and accountability. I was active. I called myself a weekend warrior. I would go on hikes, walk and do a lot of fun stuff around the campus but fast forward into adulthood. When I went on to my career, I found myself starting to sit at a desk 8, 9 hours a day and get out on the weekends or on a lunch break here and there, but I just wasn't feeling healthy, I wasn't feeling the peak of fitness, and when I really got into fitness it was after we moved to the eastern Sierras. As you mentioned earlier, my husband and I were trying to build a family and it wasn't happening, it was really, really a tough time for me emotionally and physically, trying to get pregnant, and I started to actually hate my body and just dislike it, talk very negatively and one day I had a friend from work say to me, you know what, let's go join a gym. It will help us feel healthy and empowered and you know, I never looked back. The first day we walked into the gym together, we just started on the elliptical machine, and we really had no idea what we were doing. I was not an active gym person. I was definitely more a sports or outdoors person. That was day one, and I look back because that truly transformed who I was. I started to learn to love my body and what it could do for me, and when I honored it and worked on it and put the effort and time on where it can take me, my journey went on from there. We got off of the elliptical machines and took some group fitness classes and just got hooked on the group fitness classes and boot camp classes and just got hooked on the group fitness aspect of being around other people and the energy and your coach calling your name and friends that you know were going to be there with you, and that's the end of the story basically. I just went on and got certified myself, which was the scariest thing I ever did. I'm a Business Major with a degree in Accounting.

I think I was close to 30 years old when I got my first certification, which now feels very young, but at the time, it seemed pretty old in the fitness world. I'm so thankful, though, because with age comes wisdom, and now 3 kids later and a business. I'll never forget that very first class I taught. This is where I was meant to be. This is my passion in life, it's a gift, and it truly is an honor to be able to teach fitness and share my love and passion for fitness. It's one of the best gifts in the world.

I began my group fitness journey probably about 9-10 years ago. My oldest daughter is now 7½, so even before I was pregnant with her, I started teaching at the gym. I started VFit Studio 5 years ago. In fact, this month, October is the 5-year anniversary of VFit Studio, which has now grown into this amazing team and community.

My journey into fitness was 9 years ago, but VFit Studio, 5 years, but before that to really date myself, I started doing one on one personal training through Skype with clients, and that's what led me to realize that this virtual platform really does work, and there are some Merits to working out live online with people, so I started Skype training when my daughter was born, that was one of the ways I was trying to kind of get out of my desk job and more into the mom fitness Balancing Act.

What inspired you to focus on virtual home fitness training?

Like I mentioned, once I found that aspect of group fitness and a community, accountability and motivation, it changed who I was. It changed my relationship with myself and, therefore, my relationship with my family and everybody that I came into contact with. After I had my daughter, I went back to my full-time office job to manage teaching at the gym, still something that I loved and fed my soul. Being a mom and working, there just wasn't enough hours in the day to do it all; something had to give. So I said to myself that there has got to be a way to pursue what I love and still be a mom.

I was so grateful to finally have my daughter, who we have been trying for so long to have. Somebody approached me back when a lot of the multi-level marketing started and wanted to know if I would be interested in being an online coach; I didn't realize she wanted me to sell shakes or something for their company, and that got my wheels turning. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and that's where my business side comes from.

I said, wait, I can coach people online with fitness. So I gave myself a goal, put together a package if I have x amount of clients, I can leave my job. It gave me motivation. I gave myself a timeline, and in about 2 months, I worked it all out. I was waking up 5, 6 in the morning to train clients, then feed the baby and go to work. My husband had started a business and had a good foundation, so that gave me a little bit of wiggle room to take a little leap of faith. When I got to that x amount of clients, it was really from referrals, I started working with one person, and they said it was amazing. They would tell their friends, so it didn't take that long to build to that point, and my husband always said, you love group fitness, you have to figure out a way to do this on a bigger level, but at that time, I didn't know about Zoom. This was Skype. Luckily from day one, 30 minutes was only what I did with my clients. It was the magic number, especially when you're online, it's like it's only 30 minutes, you can't talk yourself out of it and we just really got to work and just started tugging away, and they became your friends fast forward, VFit Studio started when I was with my second of three children, one 7, 5½ and 2. I started VFit Studio when my son was 6 months old, so I had a 2½-year-old and a 6-month-old when I started the group fitness side of VFit Studio. That was crazy, but the more you're challenged, the more you grow.

Has Your business grown during the pandemic?

When COVID first hit in March, that second or third week, my partner and I (Maria) got together and said we're in this position, and we have been training for a year, and we have this opportunity to help and to serve others right now whose world got taken away from them so abruptly, so we literally overnight doubled our schedule and brought on a couple of other trainers whose gyms have been closed down and who have worked with us in the past. We added a bunch of kids programming, cooking, drawing, and we literally went from 65 classes a week to I think at the peak of that month that we opened up to the world, a hundred and thirty classes. It was like starting the business over, but it tested every system we have built from customer service to capacity to, can we still make this a personal experience, because that's what VFit is, a community, we can see you, and you can see us. It passed the test, and from there, we picked up probably about 150 new members that month, which was incredible, but like anything, it ebbs and flows, and then you hit June and Zoom fatigue. No one wanted to look at a Zoom screen. June was something I never seen in the 5 years since starting VFit and was the flip side of people being fatigued by having everything online and not wanting to look at a screen. We had to go back and get creative and discuss what our core values are and how do we keep everyone motivated. This isn't just a meeting you're logging into or something that you need to prepare for, so yeah, it was crazy, it was a big blur, it was a little like starting the business over in a sense, but we're out here now, it's October, I think we've grown in a way that aligns with our values. We're not this huge Peloton, multi-million dollar company. We've built everything from the ground up.

How Important is Functional Fitness in Everyday Life?

Functional fitness should be at the top of everybody's priority list when you are training because whether you're an athlete, and we have athletes, marathon runners or you're on team grandma, we like to call them, or you're just getting off the couch after 20 years, we are all training for life, to enjoy this life that we have to be functionally fit so that if you want to climb that mountain or if you want to paddleboard across the lakes or if you want to kiss your grandkids pick up your groceries, actually get out of a dangerous situation, you want to train your body and your mind to work together, and that's what we call functionally fit. We actually capitalize on the FUN because it also has to be fun.

We built a four-part functional fitness plan that is around 4 key areas, the first being cardio, and HIIT, which is high-intensity interval training, the second quadrant is strength training, the next two I found that most people are missing are balance and mobility, and the fourth, stretching and recovery, so we look at this as a four-part quadrant. This is all live 30-minute classes that you're logging into and taking with the trainer.

Who Are VFit’s Ideal Clients?

Our ideal clients are those who are willing to spend the time and energy, and that doesn't need to be hours a day, but truly believe they are worth taking care of and that they have this one body to live and this one life to live and they want to get the most out of it. We have the most amazing members like I said, every age, every walk of life, every season of life, and you know for any fitness level; you need to want it for yourself. As much as every trainer, I have wants every single person to be healthy and strong and fit, and we hope one day everyone finds that. You have to want it the most for yourself. As long as you can get yourself logged in and dressed, we'll take it from there and motivate you, encourage you and cheer you on, but you have to be at that point where you're willing to say I'm worth it.

Are Your VFit Classes Affordable for the Average Person?

Yes. Most of our clients (90%) are on an unlimited class pass, so each month, they are on an automatic monthly payment. It comes out to less than a couple of dollars per day for unlimited classes. They have the support of our trainers, and we do different add-on programs like those nutritional coaching. So my value is that we have this unlimited membership that most people can buy for an incredible value for unlimited classes, trainer support, a team, and then we offer a handful of add-on programs if you'd like to take your experience further or dive in deeper into different programs like the Reset. We have a fun game going on right now that involves a 21 Day fitness challenge. We just started a mindset coaching group, so we have these options if you would like to take this journey further, but our membership is worth its weight in gold for what we offer. We believe fitness should be for all. With group fitness, we can afford to have the prices a little lower because we can fit more people in my classes as opposed to one-on-one training where you're going to be paying a little bit more, and from that first day, I said try a free week. There are no strings attached to test it out and then decide if this is the right choice, the right fit for them.

You are a wife, a mother to 3 children, and a business owner; how do you manage all three very demanding responsibilities?

All of those are so important to me. You can love everything you do and still get burnt out at times. You don't have to balance everything because then you're just giving a little bit to everything, so I try to swing the pendulum when I'm working, work, be present and do that when I'm with my kids, I'm Mommy. Right now, because of COVID what I need to work the most on is the life category because, with everything that happens sometimes parenting right now, you're trading shifts, trading meetings. My husband has his own business too, so it's kind of like tag you have the kids, I have the kids, so I think it changes season to season. I am so blessed; these are probably the three best dream jobs I could ever have. I love working, I love having a business, that is a part of who I am, and my family knows that about me, and so they have to keep me in check sometimes, but they know that that also fills me to be the best version of myself because I love what I do.

How Can We Learn More About You and VFit Studio?

The free week trial is always available. You can get that on our website at thevfitstudio.com, and you can read a little bit more about our studio, you can see the schedule pop-up subscriptions, read about my trainer team, and learn a little bit more about the program. We throw a lot on social media as well as a lot of fun fitness challenges and little workouts on Instagram and Facebook at thevfitstudio.

This is a condensed transcript of the interview.  You can listen to the interview in its entirety at www.6weekstofitness.com.

Direct download: Episode_157_Rachele_Jaegers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm EDT

Naomi Rotstein is a personal trainer, podcast host, and business coach, as well as the founder of 1FitFuture, her signature 12-week program that helps women ditch the diet culture mindset, food obsession, and calorie counting with individualized coaching and group support. She is also the host of the 1FitFoodie podcast, where she facilitates conversations with other leaders around the struggles and triumphs of the entrepreneurial journey.

Over the past 12 years, Naomi has worked with hundreds of clients to help them heal their relationships with food, feel confident in their bodies, shed fat, and ditch diets for good. A former fitness competitor, who has experienced her own disordered relationship with food and body image, leading to some major health scares, Naomi knows all too well the vicious cycle of bingeing and restricting over-exercising cycle, and how overwhelming and all-consuming that can be.

Naomi holds a BS in Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition from Ithaca College. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a Precision Nutrition Level I Certification.

Naomi, where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

I grew up right outside of Boston in a town called Newton, Massachusetts. My childhood, I don't want to say it was pretty normal, but I have two wonderful parents, I also have an older brother who I was very close with, and I'm still very close with. He also lives currently outside of Boston, I see him often with his kids and wife and my parents are also close by.

So, a pretty tight-knit family always encouraged us to work hard, be independent, and no matter what we wanted to do in life, just to go all-in, really. They always stressed the importance of education so going to college was not really an option, not that I didn't want to go. It was kind of like the ultimate goal after graduating from high school.

I had a wonderful upbringing; it was there that I really got my love for living an active lifestyle through my parents.

When did you become interested in fitness?

I've been active as a child. I played soccer and softball in middle school and then in high school. I played field hockey, and while I loved field hockey, I really didn't fall in love with any other Spring sport, and I still wanted to be active, so I actually started going to Gold's gym with my mom, a super hard-bodied gym at the age of 15 and I fell in love with just being in that atmosphere. I loved strength training; I just kind of followed my mom around. I took some classes, I became friends with the trainers, and it was like a really no-frills bare-bones gym, but I just loved hanging out there; it was kind of my calling, and I started to see at a very early age the effects of exercise and how my body transformed and how I gained so much confidence.

I would have to say that my junior and senior years in high school is when my true love for fitness and learning more about it started, like why is it that we can lose body fat by not running all the time and we can lift weights, really diving deeper into exercise science. When I applied to colleges, I looked for colleges that had some sort of exercise science program because I knew I wanted to go into that field.

I see you are a certified health coach through Integrative Nutrition and you have a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. Why is nutrition important?

I think nutrition is the key to healing all sorts of ailments. When you go to the doctor these days, and you say I have a headache and they say here's a prescription for a pill or I have acid reflux, here's a prescription, but really what I learned through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I knew this before but it was really ingrained, is that nutrition can truly heal you from the inside out and there is a time and place for medication, of course, but choosing certain foods and nutrients and herbs and spices and teas and tonics and all that …. nutrition is so powerful and there are so many ways to utilize it.

You had a disordered relationship with food and body image, leading to some major health scares. Please explain this disordered relationship with food and how it affected your health?

When I was 25, I got immersed in the world of fitness competition. For those who don't know, for women, you put on a bikini, and you get all tan. It's essentially a fitness beauty pageant. I'm sure most people listening have seen pictures. It was when I was at Gold's Gym that I got exposed to this world because there was a trainer there who would coach women to compete so I always looked in at the studio, and these women had these heels on and bikinis. I said in my head, one day, I want to do that, and that looked amazing, and so when I was 25, I was actually in a really not so great relationship at the time, and that relationship prompted me to do something for myself. So, I signed up for a show, and there was no turning back at that time. I signed up for Cathy Savage Fitness, I thought I was going to do one show, and I continued to do six shows over the course of four years. I even became a coach for the team and so I got really, really immersed in this world. At first, my body completely transformed, but it was really the validation I was getting from the outside world, let's say, that really kept me going. I was getting compliments from men and women. I was pretty much terrified of gaining an ounce of fat. I tried to maintain my on-stage body year-round and which for those who have competed is not ideal and is not sustainable, so I did everything I could to just maintain the way I looked, so as you can imagine I had a disordered relationship with food, I had a lot of food anxiety in situations where I was not in control. It affected my social life, it affected my family life, so that's kind of the disordered part and I knew at the end of the day I was not going to do this forever and at the age of 26, I actually suffered from a perforated peptic ulcer.

Perforated means it burst through my intestine. I had emergency surgery and it was there that it was my kind of Ah-Ha moment, when I realized I needed to get my stuff together and begin this journey of just getting to a better place mentally healing my relationship with food and my body.

What are your views on fad diets and Why Don't they work for most people?

We can do another podcast on this topic, Vincent, but I will keep it short. Essentially fad diets are exactly what they say. They are fads. The diet industry is a billion-dollar or more industry, and these days it's super hard because every influencer is being paid to Market some detox tea or waist trainer or quick fix or what have you, and at the end of the day diets are not sustainable. They force you to follow food rules. Any sort of food protocol where you're following a set of rules is not going to be sustainable for life because if you go outside of those rules, you're going to have anxiety and it's going to force you to go down the slippery slope and by that I mean if you're told you can never eat chocolate chip cookies and then you have two chocolate chip cookies, two things are going to happen, you're going to have a lot of guilt around that and that's not going to be great for your mindset, or you're going to say screw it and eat the entire bag of chocolate chips then you're going to feel guilty, you're going to want to wake up and detox, you're going to want to over exercise and it's a vicious cycle that too many women I have seen get caught up in, myself included.

What is Naomi Rotstein's Exercise Philosophy?

I am a big fan of strength training, especially since most of my clients are women. I do work with some men one on one, but the men never have any problems with strength training, that's why they work with me (laughter). It's more the women who need some tough love and a little convincing. Some of my female clients actually love lifting heavy and love how it feels. My philosophy with my clients is strength training, a minimum of 3 days a week. That is a sweet spot for most people who work full time and have a life and a couple of days of cardiovascular and could be an activity that you enjoy whether that is a spin class or bodyweight HIIT workout or kickboxing or a run and then one day of something a little bit more mindful like yoga or a karate class or a long walk and then absolutely a minimum of one day completely off from exercise to rest and recover and continue to rest because your body cannot work overtime if you're not letting it rest. It will constantly be inflamed in a state of stress.

How do you Motivate Your Clients to Want to Work Out?

That's an interesting question. I am going to say that my ideal client is already motivated. In my Instagram bio it states that I help motivated women and I also do train men, lose body fat. I want to work with a motivated group of people, so my ideal client and because I work on my own, I have firsthand pick on who I do work with, so my roster of clients right now, they don't need a ton of motivation to show up and do the work. They might not like some of the exercises I give them to do, but most of my clients want to work out. They just are craving that structure. They are craving some accountability. I help them create workouts for their goals. I help them with their weekly workout schedule, provide accountability and support. My clients are the best!

Do you train your clients in person at a gym or virtually?

As we are recording this during COVID, I would say that most of my clients are virtual. I pivoted in mid-March when this pandemic hit. I contacted my clients to say that I am going to continue working and what time works for you? We will keep your time, etc., and I just pivoted all of my business virtual. There are a couple of clients I am seeing in person but previous to COVID I worked in boutique studios, I do not work in a big box gym anymore. You do not need a gym membership at the gym that I train, you just come to work out with me, I rent the space, and that's that. I am also training a couple of clients in the gyms of their apartment building.

How has this COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?

I'm going to say that my business has skyrocketed, and I also think that's due to a lot of gyms being closed. I get personal training inquiries almost every week. As we are recording this interview, I am not taking on any new clients. Although this always changes, my personal training schedule/roster is full. I am also pivoting my business a little bit, getting into business coaching for personal trainers. I am currently working with a business coach, so I'm bringing another leg to my business. So, I think that COVID for me at least, has been a really big blessing in disguise to access and to also really tap into some other passions that I have and one of which is helping other trainers with their business digitally and that is the next endeavor that I am working on.

Honestly, it's been great for my business. It's also forced me to slow down a little bit and not run around the city like a chicken with its head cut off. If you're a trainer, you know what that feels like.

You have a 12-week program called 1FITFUTURE, where did the name come from and what does it mean?

I started my blog 1 Fit Foodie in 2009 and started my brand's name and everyone started recognizing me and calling me 1 Fit Foodie. I just picked it one day and fell into it. Different legs of my business are called…I used that 1 Fit so and so. I just created a workout program called 1FitBod. In my ID bio if you click the link "About Me", it says 1FitFoodie, so when I created this program, I was still trying to keep it on-brand. You want it to be catchy, you want it to be memorable, so 1FitFuture, that's where the name came from and I'm really proud of that name.

What can clients expect to receive from joining your program?

1FitFuture is my signature program. It's a 90-day course, and I work with motivated, driven, incredible women, all who have a common goal, they really want to stop wasting their time, energy and money and see results. It's a hybrid coaching program, it's built to teach and guide women through a 4, and I actually added a 5th module call the Quarantine Edition, so it actually has 5 modules. It's 12 weeks; it's a hands-on course with group accountability with individual live support. There are zoom calls every week; I have some amazing guest coaches. There is a 24/7 Facebook group for the women and me to connect and talk all day long, and the course is online. You can go at your own pace. It also includes a three-month strength training program, meal prep guides. There are lessons that range in everything from nutrition to binge and restrict cycles to self-sabotage to more mindset to workout recovery. There is a 25 recipe e-book, so there is a lot of content in this course and the women go through it together. And to your question as to what they can expect, at the end of the day I want the women who enroll in this course, to have a better relationship with food. We do not count calories; we do not use the scale. It's all intuitive eating principles.

I want them to have confidence in their food choices. I want them to never be tempted to do another fad diet again because that has gotten them nowhere and because of that, most of them don't lose body fat. This is not a guaranteed weight loss course, though. I'm not guaranteeing anyone is going to lose 10 pounds. That said, most of the women who show up and do the work 100% do lose weight. They lose weight because they do the work of getting out of the diet mindset.

Do You Have Any Success Stories on your Website?

Of course. There are tons of testimonials. There are testimonial videos. I have hundreds, literally hundreds.

Can Anyone Start Your Program at Any time?

Because I am the coach of the program, I actually run this 3 or 4 times per year.

I coach it 100%. It's not the kind of thing where you buy it, and you go through it with no guidance. You are doing it with the other women. Right now I am in the 4th round of it. There are 16 women enrolled. This course will go until around Thanksgiving, and then I will kick off a new class in January. Women can sign up months in advance because they are not locked in that spot. There is never a time you can't fill out the application, chat, and lock in your spot.

What advice would you give someone who is concerned about their health during the upcoming fall and winter months?

I would say the most important thing to me is sleep. Making sure you get adequate sleep is going to set you up for a solid foundation to keep your cortisol levels in check, keep your adrenals in check, not have anxiety and be productive during the day and it's so critical for your health, so I think sleep is number one. Try not looking at your phone before bedtime, keeping your room cool, and then finding ways to move your body and it doesn't have to be some hour-long crazy Cross Fit hip style workout, it could be a 30-minute walk, it could be a 20-minute yoga flow. Find ways to move your body every day, so you're not sitting at a desk all day and feeling cooped up and be sure to get a wide range of nutrients in your diet, so if you're used to always eating zucchini for your vegetables, put a new food item in your cart, try new foods.

How Can We find out more about Naomi Rotstein and 1FitFuture?

You can visit my website at www.naomirotstein.com, and on Instagram you can always shoot me a DM. I am super approachable and would love to hear from you. It's naomi.rotstein.

Direct download: Episode_156_-_Naomi_Rotstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm EDT

Tamika Harden is a personal trainer, life coach, owner of Body By Tamika, and a coronavirus survivor.  Growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, Tamika was no stranger to the harsh realities of inner-city violence and drug abuse.  She credits her loving mother for her strength and perseverance to overcome many of the hardships she faced growing up.  Tamika’s humble beginnings motivated her to strive for excellence, even at a young age.  Her own battles with childhood obesity and overcoming it have set the stage for her own platform of inspiring and helping others to transform and uplift their lives, mind, and body.

When did you know you had the virus and what were the symptoms?

“It started in March; it was right before the lockdown had occurred for the pandemic.  I woke up preparing for work, and I just felt lethargic and tiredness that I never felt before.  I’m used to hustling and bustling, servicing clients all day, morning, and night. Still, this tiredness felt different, so I began to cancel all of my morning clients, which is not like me and if I could just lay down and try to sweat this out or whatever I was feeling, so I rested, took off the weekend, tried to recoup using my regular techniques and tactics; exercise, rest, proper nutrition. I got my strength up, and by Monday, I was back to work, and by that Tuesday, I couldn’t get out of bed if I wanted to. I felt as if I got hit by a truck or something that just knocked me down.  I was fighting through that, taking over the counter meds, taking my vitamins, trying to juice on the days that I had enough strength to want to eat something.  I was fighting through it; I didn’t know what I had.  So, as the symptoms worsened and I wasn’t getting better, I said, let me call the CDC hotline because now I’m home in bed and watching the news and just not understanding what is happening.  I called the CDC, and at that time, I didn’t have all the symptoms. I’m telling them, I have a bad cough, it’s not going away. I was told I would get a call back in 48 hours to get tested.  That call came two weeks later.  This was at the height of the pandemic when we lacked preparedness.  There was a lack of medical supplies.  We saw that more in predominantly minority communities, so the help wasn’t there.  I never got the callback, my symptoms worsened, and then it was brought to my knowledge that somebody that I was with a few days prior had to be admitted to the hospital and have tested positive.”

It was then that Tamika decided she had to get tested.  “I went to my local testing site, and I was denied access that day because they told me, I’m sorry, I understand your concerns, but you have to have an appointment.  I tried to call again, and at that time, the wait time was approximately six hours, so I explained to the attendant, and I’m just pleading with them that I need to get tested, and if it weren’t for me pleading and pretty much begging them to help me, that’s when he said, tomorrow morning there will be a trauma unit set up at a certain site and your chances of getting tested on this site is greater.  He couldn’t promise me that I would be tested, so I went back that next morning very early.

I waited in line, and I was able to get tested and swabbed through a crack in my window.  The exposure is very limited and I was told that I would get a call back in a week if I tested positive, so I went on about my day, and that Friday I had gotten a call back stating that I have tested positive.

This was already ten days in, and if my body wasn’t able to fight it, it could have been a lot worse because of the obstacles I had to go through just to get tested.”

It took Tamika 2 weeks to get through the effects of the virus.  She then quarantined herself for about three weeks instead of the customary two weeks.  She focused on eating healthy, juicing, and exercise to help her get through the sickness. 

Not only was Tamika exposed to the virus, but her children and nanny were exposed as well.  This whole ordeal has made Tamika more determined to focus on her health because she believes that it is because of her health that she was able to fight off the virus.  She is also determined to help others within her community.

Being a trainer in top physical condition, Tamika shared that she was a little surprised that as a trainer, she would contract the virus.  She stated that “at the beginning stages of the pandemic we were told that only a certain group of people or ethnicity or health conditions would get the virus, but after I was able to dig a little deeper and understand what we were up against, I realized that this virus doesn’t discriminate and anybody could be infected.

What advice would you give to someone who is worried about contracting the virus?

“The advice I would give is to continue to wear your mask, continue to wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing, and just to be mindful because some of us think that it’s over, but we still have to take precautionary measures.

We don’t want this thing to reach the level of emergency that it was before.  I think people just need to continue taking precautionary measures as we’ve been told, and I think now is the time to focus on immunity, focus on health, making realistic changes.  I’m not saying go all green or do 5 miles a day like you’re going into the army.”

Coronavirus Pandemic and Body By Tamika

The Coronavirus pandemic seriously impacted Tamika’s business, which she started 3 ½ years ago. Even though she feels like she is restarting her business, she is more determined to see it succeed.  Tamika believes that in adversity, there is an opportunity; you have to reposition yourself.  She transitioned her business so that she can serve her community virtually, and she advises other entrepreneurs to “find other ways to reposition your business and your talent because many of us have several talents.”

What services does Body By Tamika provide?

“I provide in-person training, one on one personal training, small group training, virtual classes. I also have a Medspa, where I offer body contouring services.  We consider that non-invasive weight loss services. I do laser lipo, slimming sculpting, and massages.  We also do aesthetic procedures also non-invasive that can help speed up the weight loss process.  I am also Life Coach Certified with an undergrad in Psychology.”

Who Are Your Ideal Clients?“

“My ideal clients are women age group between the mid-20s to about 60, the working-class women juggling a career and children, the everyday women.  I have a lot of empty nesters whose children are off to college, and now they’re making time for themselves.  I service predominantly African American women, and they are all career-minded professional women who can afford services as to what I provide.”

Where do you see Body By Tamika in the next 5 years?

“A few locations. I want to take my business to different states for starters. I see a larger virtual community. I see all these things because they are more achievable for my business, and I’m more than capable of doing it, so now it’s just manpower and time. I see myself as a household name, and I’m just waiting for the day that all of it is showcased.”

Tamika’s motto is: “If they don’t open the door, kick it down, I’m not promoting violence, but if you got to kick it off the hinges, kick it off the hinges, take what is meant to be yours and just stay diligent, stay on course and God will send you the people that you need in your life. They will start showing up. Just stay positive and not stop despite the obstacles ahead because there are going to be several, but each one you knockdown makes you stronger for the next one, so just stay positive."

For more information on Tamika Harden, you can visit her website at www.bodybytamika, also Instagram: BodybyTamika and Facebook: BodybyTamika.

Direct download: Episode_155_Tamika_Harden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EDT

Eric Rice is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of Quanta (QuantaCBD.com). This company is using a new technology involving quantum mechanics that maximizes the bioenergy in natural products to help people. Their first product out is a CBD muscle rub, made 5x more effective by polarizing the CBD. Eric is also looking at other ways that organic matter can be optimized in areas including agriculture, vitamins, supplements, human cognition, anti-aging, food, and pharmaceuticals. Eric Rice is also a former professional baseball player.

Eric Rice, the Early Years

Eric Rice was born in Chicago and grew up in northwest Indiana, about 15 miles outside of Chicago. From the time Eric was five years old, he recalls being forced to play the shortstop position at baseball practice when he didn't even know what shortstop was. After a few minutes of fielding ground balls, Eric was hooked on the game and wanted to play baseball for the rest of his life.

While playing baseball in college, Eric found himself in constant pain due to an injury he sustained during his sophomore year in high school. He injured his shoulder, which affected his ability to throw the ball. He didn't tell anyone about this injury, so for most of his career, he would take from 12 to 15 Ibuprofen so he could perform without feeling so much pain in his shoulder.

The Birth of QUANTA

While running a venture studio, Eric had a ton of people pitching their companies to him, one of which was a small cannabis company.

Around this time, Eric's doctor told him that he could no longer continue taking Ibuprofen and that he needed to find another way to reduce the pain he was feeling in his body. Eric decided to try cannabis, and although the cannabis was helping, it wasn't helping nearly as much as the Ibuprofen.

A friend of Eric's from the Army's Special Forces told him about a brilliant scientist who has done work with cancer, autoimmune disease, and HIV using various technologies. The doctor also was researching cannabinoids. It was then that Eric saw an opportunity to partner with the scientist and build a business, and that's how Quanta was born.

Why is your Muscle Rub more Effective than other products?

What Quanta is doing to Cannabinoids is what they are doing to hundreds of natural, medicinal compounds. Plants are alive just like humans, and we vibrate at 100% and so do plants, but once you remove plants from the earth, its technically dead, losing 50 to 75% of its energy and every moment that passes, that energy depletes down to 3 or 4 percent. What Quanta has been able to do is take that dead or dying plant matter and apply quantum mechanics or quantum physics into the biological entity. When you are alive, you have a nucleus with electrons rotating very fast and far from the nucleus, high energy. As you age and die, those electrons slow down, and they become closer to the nucleus. Quanta is using electromagnetic frequencies to communicate with the molecules and excite those electrons to push them back out from the nucleus and get them spinning faster. This process increases the anti-inflammatory properties by 572%, making the CBD Muscle Rub much more effective than any other competing product on the market.

Why is Inflammation so Important?

Inflammation is the basis for most pain, just like when you break a bone, it swells up, and you suffer from the pain. Inflammation is the stem root of almost every physical problem, including cancer and depression. Inflammation also plays a crucial role in aging. Aging occurs when inflammation is increasing in the body, and cells reproduce themselves at a slower rate.

What other Products Besides the CBD Muscle Rub Are You working on?

In the CBD space, we have a tincture we just put out. We have a vape product that we sell and is doing very well. We also made an anti-aging cream with and without CBD, which is phenomenal for your skin. Our target for the rest of this quarter is to focus in on the launch of our beauty products, so we're polarizing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, retinol, and all of the common, expensive beauty treatments and creating face masks and Vitamin C serums and all types of beauty products and in the research department, we're putting together a portfolio of 12 natural products that should replace 12 commonly taken harmful medications from the pharmaceutical space launching around late 4th quarter, around Christmas.

What has been the feedback from people who have used your products?

Two or three days out of every work week, I get emotional during the day because we get between 5 and 10 testimonials that are either written, audio or video unsolicited, and about once a week, you will hear one that just opens your eyes to how a tiny little product could help someone's life in every capacity. A neighbor of mine, she has diabetes, and her toes were completely curled up, she couldn't walk or put on shoes. Her daughter came by and asked me for some of the rub and literally watched in a matter of minutes, her curled up toes just relaxed on the ground, and everyone in the room started crying. It was one of the most emotional things I ever experienced.

Everyone calls our muscle rub the Windex because it has all these different usages. The most common is stiffness, joint pain, muscle pain. The most prevalent we see here in Los Angeles is recovery. There are a lot of active people working out really hard. Almost everyone says that their recovery time is quicker. They go to bed and wake up and feel like they never even worked out the day before. Other than that, arthritis is a huge thing for us; neuropathy. Almost all of our retail business is through medical professionals, hospitals and doctors and neuropathy, nerve centers.

That seems to be a pain point for most people. We receive letters or videos from people expressing their joy that they can walk without pain, and these little things improve people's moods. We even had a reflexologist tell us that if you put the rub on your feet and your toes, it acts like a sleeping pill because the vibration in the ointment is actually going into your nervous system up through your feet and legs and relaxes your whole body. So we tried it out because I am a 20 year Ambien user to try to fall asleep. I haven't taken an Ambien since probably February, and I have been sleeping as well as I ever have just by putting muscle rub on my feet.

Even with mosquito bites, you put the muscle rub on it, and the itching will stop in about two minutes, and the next day there are no bumps on the skin, so there are tons of different usages.

Are Your Products Safe for Children To Use?

Absolutely! We have youth hockey teams, my son's baseball team, everyone uses it when their arms get sore. There is no THC in the ingredients. All of the ingredients are 100% natural.

Where do you see your company in the next five years?

In a Utopian world, we will be working with all of the largest nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and beauty companies in the world to help make better products as well as safer pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects using natural ingredients. That's really our focus and goal.

How has the Current Pandemic affected your business?

We actually just did the breakdown of that, and between the first and second quarters of this year, we only lost 1.8% in a market where the retail was down 85%, so we did really well. We didn't outperform the previous quarter, but we only lost $6,000 during the quarter in revenue, and a lot of that came from our ability to see the pandemic coming and shift from focusing from retail and doctors to online sales and partnerships for digital campaigns. I think this coming year will be great, but the pandemic has absolutely affected us.

What do you say to someone who questions the cost of your muscle rub product compared to other topical muscle rub products like Bengay?

We get that all the time. The weird thing is 40% of our business is repeat customers. We always explain it this way, the potency in our muscle rub, it's a $45.00 muscle rub, and we do have designs to drop that price now that we've grown, it has expensive high-end ingredients in it, but to get the same type of relief just with pain, because Bengay only works on pain, it doesn't do inflammation and is terrible for your skin, to get the same type of pain relief, you will have to buy 4 to 7 tubes of Bengay. According to a study we did, the average person who lives in chronic pain, have about a $500 per month pharmaceutical bill for chronic pain prescriptions and they spend approximately $264.00 per month for other alternatives to help with pain.

We say instead of spending $264 on ten different things that don't work, you spend $45 on one that does, and not only do you have more relief, but you're also saving over $200 per month along with other supplements you're taking that's not working.

What is Quanta's Philosophy?

More than anything, we believe in a simple philosophy of taking quantum physics and all that confusing stuff so that our products will help you reduce pain and increase joy in your life. That's our whole premise to relieve pain, make you look good, feel good, so there is more joy in everyone's life.

To find out more about Quanta or purchase products, visit www.buyquanta.com and use the coupon code "6weeks" and get 20% off all the Quanta products.

Direct download: Episode_154_Eric_Rice_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52pm EDT

Shia Joyner is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Licensed Esthetician, Reiki Healer, and Culture Consultant. She is also the founder of Zen & Boujee, a luxury wellness shopping experience featuring brands focused on women and wellness. Shia Joyner's pursuit of empowerment for the "new now woman" has guided her through every incarnation of her career. Shia is an entrepreneur with a passion for coaching "women" to manifest their dreams by sharing simple and gentle ways that inspire them to love, heal, and nurture their bodies by being fully engaged in the power they embody. A fierce advocate of accessible wellness, Shia is also committed to giving back to her community by helping women in underserved areas overcome mental illness and support the needs of domestic violence survivors. Shia's goal is to inspire women to be fully engaged in the power they embody and coach them in manifesting their dreams.

Shia Joyner, the early years

Shia was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shia considers herself a "product of the south." Her role model growing up was and still is her older sister. Shia got the entrepreneur bug from her father, who worked a traditional 9 to 5 and was an entrepreneur at heart. When she was five years old, Shia and her sister started their first business called "Potato Creation," where they would make things out of potatoes and sell them to her father's friends.

Journey to Wellness

Shia was never interested in working out or going to a gym until she moved to Harlem and decided to attend a Yoga class.  While there, she met the most amazing Yoga instructor. That experience inspired her to make changes in her life, which consisted of changing how she eats, drinking more water, and becoming more mindful and meditating. This experience was Shia's introduction to wellness.

Yoga, Fitness, and Being a Domestic Violence Survivor

It wasn't until this year (2020) that Shia Joyner has come to accept that she is a domestic violence survivor. She left that part of her life 13 years ago and wanted to put it behind her, but over time, she realized that part of the healing process is to understand what journey and struggle really are.

Her journey with Yoga was initially for anxiety and depression, but after going through this journey, which included counseling, the underlying factor was that she is a domestic violence survivor. Yoga allowed her to grow and be the fullest version of herself.

Red Flags of Domestic Abuse

Shia believes that women must get to a place where they love themselves enough to leave a domestic violence situation. Shia believes that the following is a list of red flags of domestic abuse:

  • A mate that cannot control their tone (speaking loud and argumentative);
  • Lack of emotional discipline and self-control, which could lead to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse;
  • Economic or financial abuse; withholding financial support so that you are dependent on them.

Domestic Violence during the Pandemic

The number of domestic violence cases has increased significantly during this current pandemic. Shia shared how stress and anger play a significant role in domestic violence, especially if a spouse loses his job and decides to take it out on the person closest to him.

Zen and Boujee

Shia created the name Zen and Boujee while on a Yoga retreat with her mentor in Nicaragua. She recalled just finishing her meditation and looking at a lagoon that was filled with water from a volcano that recently exploded, and the name Zen and Boujee just came to her.

Zen and Boujee Giving Back

Having lived through domestic violence and seeing what women are going through has pushed Shia even more towards her purpose with Zen and Boujee. Although Zen and Boujee make beauty and wellness products, the vehicle that gives her meaning is the social impact company she is developing in her Goddess Box, which focuses on self-love and is a subscription business model. 10% of the proceeds from every box sold are given to nonprofit charities helping victims get away from their abusers.

Zen and Boujee are also partnering with a company called New Safe Start, which has started an amazing campaign that pledged "buy one, get one" where 10% of every box is being donated to New Safe Start to help women to understand how to break free from their abuser and establish themselves to have economic power and freedom. Shia believes that if you love yourself and are economically free, there is nothing you can't do.

Shia received inspiration from actor Chadwick Boseman, who was silently suffering from colon cancer until his death at 43 but continued to walk in his purpose. If he could go through all that he endured and still walk in his purpose, Shia believes she can do it too. Her aim is not just to build a beauty and wellness company, but to help all women find a safe passage to healing from domestic abuse.

All of Zen and Boujee's products are natural and organic. Shia continued to express how she does not want to build a beauty company that sells just cool products. Every product must help or heal someone. The products are plant-based and sourced ethically. Shia believes that plants are all your body needs when it comes to your skin and your gut. The Zen & Boujee products can be found online at www.zenandboujee.com.

Touchless Beauty

To allow the retail experience to come straight to the customers' home, Shia is launching Touchless Beauty. In this program, you take a skincare assessment on their site, and the company will send you the products for you to sample at home, and you can join them online for a Touchless Beauty product party. This pilot program will launch on October 1st, 2020.

Direct download: Episode_153_Shia_Joyner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EDT

Kelly Bryant is the creator and founder of Kelly Bryant Wellness. She is a Yoga instructor, Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), and a Pilate's instructor. Kelly is passionate about helping women through every stage of life, from prenatal to postmenopausal. Before quitting her job to travel the world in 2016, she worked at health & fitness startup, Noom, where she led content and community marketing efforts and soaked up everything she could learn about psychology and behavior change.

Journey into Health

Kelly grew up in Stuart, Florida. She was not an active child. She considered herself more of a book nerd than athletic. Rather than go outside and play, Kelly would go to the library and read books. She credits her being a nerd as the reason why she has been able to help people understand anatomy and the science of why they feel the way they feel.

Kelly attended college in New York City, and after college, she landed a job in Marketing at Noom, a health and fitness startup company. Working at Noom is fine when you are in your 20s, recalled Kelly, "but it is a recipe for burn-out." The stress from working at Noom and the pain she felt in her back, neck, and shoulder from a previous injury she sustained when she broke her collar bone at 16, led her to try yoga. Yoga not only relieved the pain but gave her balance and calmed the nervous system, and helped her to relax.

Expert in Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness

As with most women who become experts in prenatal and postpartum fitness, Kelly had to figure it out herself. She went online to Google and researched "what are safe prenatal exercises", and to her surprise, the information she received on Google was not acceptable. Kelly then went back to studying and listening to doula podcasts, childbirth educators, and to people who are teaching the physiological aspect of childbirth. She studied information on the nervous system, anatomy, and breath, merging this information for herself first and then for her clients.

Kelly's personal experience with pregnancy changed the way she approaches prenatal and postpartum fitness for her clients. "One of the mistakes pregnant people make is to assume that if they train hard when they're pregnant, that type of training will help them recover faster after pregnancy," stated Kelly. Kelly believes that is the opposite of what happens.

Kelly approaches prenatal fitness with "building a foundation from the ground up so you can look at what you need to do to support the easiest birth possible because the easiest birth possible is what is going to help you recover the fastest."

Kelly Bryant Wellness Classes

Kelly trains some of her clients on a one on one basis, but most of her training is self-guided and guided digital programming for prenatal and postpartum. Kelly's postpartum training is usually done in small groups, which Kelly believes is vital, especially now during the pandemic, to provide support.

COVID-19 and Kelly Bryant Wellness

As of December 2019, most of Kelly's business was online, so when the pandemic hit, it did not affect her business. It has been a problem for people looking to purchase online equipment such as webcams and digital microphones. These items are either sold out or purchased at a much higher price due to price gouging.

Kelly doesn't consider herself to be a "life-long trainer." Some of her prenatal clients will work with her for about 9 months during the pregnancy and then 3 to 9 months postpartum before going back to their usual training routine. She also has clients that will stay longer 3 to 9 months, participating in the online yoga and Pilate's program.

Kelly believes that postpartum fitness is similar to aging, where you reach a certain age and potentially lost a lot of muscle, have aches and pains, and bad postural habits that create a lot of pain.

Kelly's Unique Guarantee

On Kelly Bryant's website (www.kellybryantwellness.com), she has the following guarantee: "You will feel better, stronger, and more pain-free after 2 months with me or your money back". Kelly stands by that guarantee and as of this writing, not one client has asked for their money back. Kelly must be doing something right!

Direct download: Episode_152_Interview_with_Kelly_Bryant.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm EDT

DeBlair Tate grew up in a small town in Mississippi with a population of 8,000 – 10,000 people. DeBlair's passion for fitness started when she was very young. She loved playing basketball and softball and remembered being very competitive, whether racing or arm wrestling. She was always ready to compete. After high school, DeBlair attended Mississippi State University, an hour from where she grew up.

DeBlair Joins the Military

DeBlair wanted more than just a college degree. She didn't want to attend college and then go home and try to figure out what to do next. She wanted more opportunities and exposure. She wanted to show people that just because you're from a small town, it doesn't mean you have to do what everyone else is doing.

DeBlair had to figure this out on her own. She came from a loving, single-parent home and knew her mom couldn't afford to give her the opportunities and exposure to the world that she desired.

DeBlair decided to use the military as a stepping stone that would allow her to branch out into the world. She is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

Fitness Competition

After moving to Atlanta, DeBlair worked as a Loan Officer when she got word of a gym opening up in the area. While working part-time in the gym, a trainer approached her and asked if she competes? DeBlair, not knowing much about the female fitness competition world, said: "man, I am not going to walk around here looking like some dude". Later that day, the trainer had some girls stop by the gym to show DeBlair what they looked like competing onstage. DeBlair was very impressed with what the girls looked like, and because of her competitive spirit, she decided to give it a shot.

DeBlair became a professional fitness competitor in only two short years. She has competed for a total of six years. The experience as a competitor was challenging and not always fun because of the strict diet and training regimen. It also affected DeBlair's social life because of the time it takes to prepare for competition.

Fitness Coaching

DeBlair credits the military for instilling discipline in her life, which she lacked growing up in Mississippi. She also believes that serving in the military has made her a more effective trainer. She credits the military for being able to provide support regardless of what problems she was having. The military provided mentors to help her succeed, and that's what she can provide her clients, support, and mentorship to help them along their fitness journey.

DeBlair uses her "military training in a very intentional way." Before she agrees to take on a client, they must have a consultation with her to see "where the client's head is at," so a plan can be designed to help the client meet his or her fitness goals. DeBlair stated, "that she doesn't give her clients what she thinks they need, but rather what they came to her for."

COVID-19 and Fitness Coaching

The current pandemic has forced DeBlair to go to a more virtual platform. DeBlair shared during the interview that she is a shy person when it comes to getting in front of the camera and filming videos. She could easily do a photoshoot, but a video is something she is now getting used to.

8 Figured Brand

DeBlair has created her fitness apparel brand called 8 Figured, www.8figured.com. DeBlair shared that "if you turn the eight around, it means infinity. It also stands for self-confidence, self-acceptance, the ability to engineer yourself and the body God gave you." The 8 Figured brand has been featured on Good Morning America (GMA). The clothing line caters to everyone of all shapes and sizes. The clothes are created and designed by DeBlair and her designer.

DeBlair envisions her brand being in every store and every mall. She believes that the 8 Figured brand will be in the same lane as Nike and Lulu Lemon one day.

Balancing Business and Personal Life

Balancing business and personal life had been a hurdle for DeBlair. She would spend more time on her business and less time with friends and family. Focusing on business all the time became a problem when she noticed people were not giving her time. DeBlair realized that she had to restructure her life and get her priorities straight. DeBlair stated that "it's still a work in progress, but it's much better than before."

Trapping on Thursday

At 7:30 EST on Thursday nights, DeBlair conducts a 30-minute workout segment on Facebook and Instagram called Trapping on Thursday. Following the workout, there is a 30-minute question and answer segment where you can ask questions directly of DeBlair.

Direct download: Episode_151_DeBlair_Tate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44pm EDT

Do you believe that sports can instill confidence, strength, and self-esteem in girls at a young age and that these same attributes can be used on and off the field? Kate T Parker is a mother, wife, professional photographer and New York Times bestselling author of The Heart of a Boy and Strong is the New Pretty; she's an ironman and former collegiate soccer player who has made a living capturing the joy, confidence, focus, and camaraderie that comes from girls playing sports. Her photographs have been praised by Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, and the Spice Girls.

A powerful collection of color and black-and-white photographs, her newest book PLAY LIKE A GIRL captures girls just learning to kick the ball alongside players from the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald. A celebration of the tenacious spirit of female soccer players of all ages, it reveals how sports, and soccer in particular, challenge girls and women to become their best selves, allowing them to test their limits, find power in friendship, appreciate their body’s strength, and learn how to pick themselves up when they’ve been knocked down. 

Kate T. Parker, the Early Years

Kate has played soccer ever since her early years growing up in New Jersey.  She continued playing soccer on the collegiate level for Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  After leaving college, she worked at CNN and then crossed over into advertising, which Kate believes helped her to "make something compelling on the screen." After getting married and having kids, Kate decided to use this skill to take pictures of her kids. 

The Important Role of Confidence and Empowerment in Young Children

As a mom, Kate believes that children should have confidence and self-esteem.  She wants this for her kids and thinks these are qualities all kids should have. Kate wants kids to know who they are should be celebrated and embraced.  Kate found confidence and empowerment while playing soccer.  She remembers being called "loud," "bossy," and “aggressive," all characteristics that made her a good soccer player.  Her coaches encouraged this behavior, and it is these qualities that enabled Kate to pursue a successful career as a photographer. 

Kate believes it's okay for girls to voice their opinion, get dirty, or even angry at times.  Kate believes that it is "more important what you do and who you are than what you look like."  Kate thinks that social media does not portray “girls actively doing things.”  Her book shows girls and women moving and taking action.

The book captures every expression and emotion the girls go through on and off the field, and they have the chance to tell their own story.  “Sometimes their words are funny, but they can also be silly, thoughtful and smart,” according to Kate.

Soccer and Everyday Life

Kate believes you can learn life’s lessons on the soccer field.  “In soccer, you cannot hang your head; you must keep looking forward regardless of what has happened in the past. You must keep moving.  Kate believes it's the same in real life, “if you mess up in life, don't hang your head, if you do that, you will miss the next play or the next opportunity.”

Kate believes that “all girls should find something that they are passionate about; it doesn't have to be soccer or any particular sport.  It could be music or even art, find something you are passionate about, and then your sense of self-worth will come from that passion instead of from any outside forces that are trying to tear you down.”

The importance of role models

Kate believes that all girls should have role models in their lives.  The 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team with women such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald, are role models to young girls and women.  Young girls need to see women who look like them to achieve success; it improves their self-worth.

Kate T. Parker – Charity Work

Kate believes that anyone with a platform should use it for the benefit of others.  Her charities of choice include the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Bully Project, and the Girls on the Run.

Direct download: Episode_150_Kate_T._Parker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EDT

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body and what you put on your skin can significantly affect your health? Heather Marianna is the creator of Beauty Kitchen, a plant-based at-home spa and skincare line with clean ingredients free of chemicals, sulfates, and harsh parabens. Beauty Kitchen started in 2012 as a YouTube channel where Heather would demonstrate DIY beauty treatments using simple, all-natural ingredients found in most kitchens to educate the masses about the importance of knowing what you are putting on your skin.  

The Early Years

Heather grew up in beautiful San Diego, California.  Her grandmother raised her until she was old enough to go to college.  She attended the University of Indianapolis in Indiana.  After graduating from college, she worked in a few businesses until she was offered a job as a Vice President of Marketing for a consulting firm in Las Vegas. 

After quitting her corporate job as VP of Marketing, Heather was out of work for six months, not sure what she was going to do next.  She then called some of her friends seeking guidance.  Her friends told her she needs to make that “skincare stuff.”  Heather then shared how while on vacation in Africa, she noticed one of her friends had a serious acne problem.  Heather told her friend that she could “fix it if you let me”.  The friend agreed, so Heather went down to the kitchen, gathered up all the stuff she was interested in for natural and spiritual healing, applied it to her friends face, and her friend’s face cleared up in 2 days.  Her friends then encouraged her to pursue this line of work professionally.  It was after this encouragement that Heather created the Beauty Kitchen YouTube channel.

Beauty Kitchen YouTube Channel

The channel quickly garnered millions of views, and soon after, the actual product line was born. Heather has appeared on over 85+ national TV news segments demonstrating her all-natural and easy-to-do at-home beauty treatments. She was just recently named “the Nevada Female Leader Making Moves in The West” by The Ladders.com, and she was also named an “Inspirational Female Executive to Follow” by The LuxurySpot.com magazine.

Heather believes her products are better than other so-called “natural” products because she owns the manufacturing of the products and oversees the ingredients that are put into it. Heather has been approached by Target, Wholefoods, and other significant retailers but refused to send her products to a warehouse, where in her words, “they would be sitting for months” at a time. The only way her products could stay on the shelves for that amount of time is to have preservatives in it. Heather refuses to compromise her products or her reputation.

Private Labeling

Heather also shared that her company does private labeling.  You can sell hand sanitizer and other products from the Beauty Kitchen, with your brand’s name attached to it.  

Giving Back

Heather Marianna is very involved in giving back to her community and abroad. She distributes hand sanitizers and other products to the kids in the local schools. She has also traveled to Africa on several occasions for a month to volunteer with the local communities in Kenya and Tanzania. Heather plans on spending more time volunteering in Africa and speaks highly of the experience.

COVID-19 

Long before COVID-19 hit, Heather had been selling natural hand sanitizers. She has donated tons of hand sanitizers. She recently donated 250 essential worker boxes worth at least $200 each with a $100.00 gift card.

Fitness

Heather believes that exercise and eating healthy are also good for your skin, and that’s why she exercises at least five days per week.  She recently placed a kettlebell in her room so she can squat while watching television. Heather wants to put on more weight, so her plan is to take in more healthy calories

If you’re looking for truly safe and natural products that are good for your skin and your health, look no further than Heather Marianna’s Beauty Kitchen.

Direct download: Episode_149_Heather_Marianna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42pm EDT

What if you found out that you’ve been exercising and dieting wrong all these years? Phil Catudal, believes that 70% of Americans are exercising and dieting the wrong way.  According to Phil, we should exercise and diet based on the needs of our specific body types.  Phil Catudal is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.  He is also a Nutrition expert, and celebrity fitness instructor based in Los Angeles, California. He recently celebrated the launch of his first book, JUST YOUR TYPE: The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Training Right for Your Body, a comprehensive and essential plan for matching diet and fitness regimens to different body types to achieve physical wellness. 

Celebrity clients he has worked with include Alan Ruck, Emily Deschanel, Sarah Shahi, Van Jones, and Steve Howey.  In addition, Phil also trains a variety of other professionals, which accounts for about 50% of his business.  Although Phil likes training celebrities, the downside is “once they book a role, you lose them for a few months.” Phil believes that it is always good to have regular clients in addition to the celebrity clientele.

Phil Catudal, the early years

Phil grew up in Montreal, Canada.  As a child, Phil had Leukemia from age three to eight, for a total of 5 years.  He is the youngest of 4 siblings.  Phil’s father was a marathoner and bodybuilder.  He passed away at the age of 45 because of a rare lung cancer.  This tragedy instilled in Phil and his siblings the desire to focus more on their health.  It was fitness that Phil and his family through the pain of dealing with the loss of their father.

During the interview, Phil will discuss the impetus for his book.  He also lists and explains the three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorphs. 

Ectomorphs are long and lean, with little body fat, and little muscle. They have a hard time gaining weight. Fashion models and basketball players fit this category. While most of us love to hate these genetically-blessed individuals, some male ectomorphs may not be thrilled with their narrow-chested frames, and some female ectomorphs long for more womanly curves.

Endomorphs, on the other hand, have lots of body fat, lots of muscle, and gain weight easily. Football lineman tends to be endomorphs -- they're heavier and rounder individuals. And they don't have to necessarily be overweight. Both Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe are classic examples of endomorphs.

Mesomorphs are athletic, solid, and strong. They're not overweight and not underweight, and they can eat what they want without worrying too much about it. They both gain and lose weight without too much effort.

Phil believes that once you begin training and eating according to your body type, you will achieve your fitness goals much faster.  He has real case studies to back up his claims.

I am offering a free copy of Phil’s book to the first 4 people, who after listening to the podcast; share their thoughts about Phil’s message.  Training according to your body type may be just what you need to lose weight, build muscle, and get into the best shape of your life.  You don’t want to miss this interview.

Direct download: Episode_148_Phil_Catudal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55pm EDT

Have you gained a few extra pounds over the past few months? How would you like to lose those extra pounds quickly in the shortest amount of time?  In this interview, Dr. Len Kravitz will tell you how.  Dr. Kravitz is the author of HIIT YOUR LIMIT: High-Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss, Cardio, and Full Body Health.  Dr. Len Kravitz has thirty-seven years of experience as a researcher, writer, and speaker on fitness.  He is the Coordinator of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico. He has published more than 300 articles in dozens of health and fitness publications and regularly travels the country as a speaker on fitness and health.

During the interview, Dr. Kravitz will discuss the reasons why so many Americans are overweight and out of shape.  He will share how and why HIIT is so effective in stimulating fat loss, building muscle, and improving overall health quickly and efficiently.

Why Are Americans Obese and Unhealthy?

Dr. Kravitz believes the reasons why so many Americans are obese, overweight, and out of shape is multi-factorial.  One of the reasons is that technology has taken charge.  Many of the things we use to do physically are being done by technology, even something as simple as washing dishes.  Another reason is highly processed foods with their excessive amounts of sugar and fat.  Dr. Kravitz believes that portion control is one of the best techniques to curb obesity.  Unfortunately, food scientists have made it hard for anyone to stick to small portions.

Dr. Kravitz also believes that inactivity is a major problem today. He would like to see research done on the correlation between inactivity and COVID-19.

Every 30 Get Your 3

Dr. Kravitz believes that every 30 minutes you should try and get 3 minutes of movement.  According to his research, if you have a predisposition to cardiac disease, this will minimize the risk.  It would also minimize the risk to insulin resistance.  Every 30 get your 3.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

HIIT alternates movements that are challenging followed by movements that are less challenging at different intervals.  Research shows that when you alternate challenging with less challenging movements the change in intensity is beneficial to the heart.  There are also several studies that show this increase in movement affects the hormones that stimulate the breakdown of fat.  In addition, research has also shown that HIIT also improves your cognitive thinking skills.

HIIT can be done at home, in a gym, or even outdoors.  Dr. Kravitz gave an example of a very effective HIIT program.  Walk for 30 seconds briskly and then walk comfortably for 60 seconds.  You can do that 5 to 10 times.  His book has 50 different HIIT workouts.

How to ease back into an Exercise Program

According to Dr. Kravitz's research, if you miss 5 days of cardiovascular training, your cardiovascular system starts to become less efficient.  If you haven’t done any resistance training (weight training) in 3 weeks, you start to get physically weaker.  Unfortunately, most people will think they can perform the activity at the same level, but the research shows that is not the case.  Dr. Kravitz recommends that when going back to the gym or wherever you exercise, to start back at 50% capacity and slowly build back up.

I can personally see how this would be the case.  I recently went out to the park to do some pull-ups.  I thought I could knock out 15 or more like I use to do prior to the pandemic.  To my disappointment, I could only do about 10 and that was laborious. I will definitely take Dr. Kravitz's advice and work at 50% until I feel strong enough to increase the activity.

If you want to quickly lose fat, build muscle and get healthy, HIIT just might be the answer.  The book is available on Amazon and I highly recommend it.

Direct download: Episode_147_-_Dr._Len_Kravitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:32pm EDT

Could our gut bacteria play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of disease? Dr. Christine Bishara has been studying disease for over 20 years.  She is the founder of “From Within Medical”, a medical wellness practice that emphasizes the mind-body and gut-brain axis to prevent and manage disease.  Dr. Bishara discovered that the connection between these systems plays a significant role in disease prevention and management.

Dr. Bishara recently published an article on the role of gut and probiotics on immunity and COVID-19.  She shared that through research, her team discovered that children have healthier guts than adults. She believes this is due to the level of gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium.  This type of bacteria decreases as we age.  Dr. Bishara believes the reason children were less affected by COVID-19 is because of the levels of Bifidobacterium in their guts.

Although Bifidobacterium levels decline with age, in one particular study she cited, Bifidobacterium levels were higher in Italian and Japanese centenarians than in the younger elderly population.  Upon further research and study of centenarians in other countries, Dr. Bishara discovered that diet and lifestyle played a significant role.  They were mostly vegetarians, and their exercise of choice was walking.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that the importance of our guts to prevent disease is nothing new.  According to the Greek Physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut”.  He made this statement over 2400 years ago.  He also said, "let food be your medicine and medicine your food."

Dr. Bishara believes that the Standard American Diet (“SAD”), is what’s destroying our immune system.  In a recently written article on the CNN website titled “Poor diets threaten US national security — and it’s serious”. The article stated that “46% of adults have poor quality diet and 56% of children and these numbers are highest in the minority, rural and low-income communities.” The article went on to say that “diet-related illnesses are harming the readiness of the US military and the budgets of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy-one percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service  Obesity is the leading medical disqualifier.”

Dr. Bishara doesn’t know why the media or society as a whole isn’t shining a light on our immune system.  She believes that the focus should be on prevention rather than treatment.  She also believes that people want a quick fix and that we should go back to the basics, which is our food.

She also believes that an excellent place to start boosting your immune system is by taking a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.  You can find large amounts of Bifidobacterium in probiotics.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that while she recommends we take a probiotic, there is nothing better than prebiotics, which is when we consume more fruits and vegetables, cut back on the highly processed foods, and eat more organic foods.  If we did all these things, we wouldn’t need a probiotic.

I recently interviewed Dr. Joel Gould on my show.  Dr. Gould suffered from Sleep Apnea and Crohn’s Disease.  Through his research, he discovered patients with Sleep Apnea usually have low levels of Vitamin D, so he increased his Vitamin D intake, and not only did his Sleep Apnea go away but his Crohn’s Disease.  He also stated that 96% of the people who died from COVID-19, had low levels of Vitamin D in their bodies (20% or lower). 

Dr. Bishara agrees with Dr. Joel Gould on the importance of Vitamin D to our immune system and how it plays a significant role in our intestinal health.

Dr. Bishara’s practice is located in the Flatiron District of New York City.  During the early stages of the pandemic, New York City was considered the epicenter.  During that time, Dr. Bishara noticed that the majority of COVID-19 patients had a BMI of over 30%, which is obese.  Dr. Bishara believes that COVID-19 is a disease that attacks our immune system.

There was so much information shared by Dr. Bishara on the importance of our immune system and the relationship of our gut to our body and mind.  Most people are not aware that 90% of the serotonin in our body is produced in our gut and regulates our mood.

Dr. Bishara’s advice to parents is to “invest in your health and invest in prevention versus treatment.”

Direct download: Episode_146_Dr._Christine_Bishara.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52pm EDT

Cheryl Millington, also known as “Millie” is a self-employed business owner out of Toronto, Canada.  She lives in Toronto with her husband of 30 years and her 27-year-old son.  Millie’s weight loss journey began on September 14, 2019, when she weighed in at a whopping 328 pounds! 

Millie had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thyroid condition.  In addition, she also had three bulging discs on her neck and back.  After being consistently out of breath while climbing one flight of stairs, in her home, Millie had enough!  She realized that she had to do something about her health. 

Millie comes from a family that is predisposed to obesity primarily on her mother’s side of the family.  She shared what her mother went through the last 5 years of her life.  She has other family members heading down that same path.

Millie is determined that this will not happen to her.  She has the support of her husband and son on this journey.  Millie took the initiative and became her own health coach.  She changed her eating habits as well as the eating habits of her family.  She stopped eating out and decided to cook more at home.  She also cut out all fast food and processed foods. Fiber and protein became Millie’s friend.

After losing 50 of the 80 pounds, Millie went back to her doctor for a check-up.  To Millie’s satisfaction, her blood pressure and high cholesterol numbers went down dramatically.  As far as the pain in her neck and back from the bulging discs, Millie stated that she is now pain-free.

Millie calls herself, “healthiermillie” on various social media platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  She is using these platforms to inspire others towards a healthy lifestyle.  Who better to learn from than someone who has lost a lot of weight by eating real food and being more active?

The Six Weeks to Fitness podcast will follow-up with Millie and bring you an updated episode of her journey.  You can visit Millie’s website at healthiermillie.com

Direct download: Episode_145_Cheryl_Millington_Interview_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EDT

If you suffer from insomnia or keep your partner awake with your sleep apnea, there may be a simple cure.  According to Dr. Joel Gould, author of the upcoming book “The Modern Epidemic” and founder of The Modern American Dentistry, most inflammatory diseases are caused by a lack of Vitamin D in the body.

In 2015, Dr. Gould, an expert in sleep apnea and insomnia, had been practicing dentistry for two decades and treating obstructive sleep apnea in Manhattan Beach, California, for several years when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. His research into the underlying cause of this disease led him to create the “Sleep Restoration Program” designed to change the public’s perception of the ever-growing epidemic of insomnia and sleep apnea caused by Vitamin D and nutrient deficiencies. 

Dr. Gould calls Vitamin D the “Human Battery” because we are “solar animals.” We receive our energy from the sun.  Similar to how our phones need recharging when the energy levels decrease to 20%, and it starts to die, our bodies react the same way when our Vitamin D levels reach 20% or lower, we begin to die.  Dr. Gould stated that “96% of the people who died from the coronavirus pandemic had Vitamin D levels of 20% or less, while those who contracted the virus and survived had Vitamin D levels of 30% or higher.”

During the interview, Dr. Gould will explain how to determine your Vitamin D levels and how to raise them to levels that will strengthen your immune system. He strongly feels that sleep disorders are both reversible and preventable, which opposes commonly accepted beliefs in medicine. Educating others about the correlation between the body’s level of Vitamin D, insomnia, and disease has become Dr. Gould’s mission.

If this is your first time hearing about Vitamin D’s vital role in your overall health, you’re not alone.

Medical doctors are not taught this in medical school, but the information is out there, and Dr. Gould experienced it first-hand and is sharing it on my show.

You’ll want to listen to this podcast with a pen and paper in hand.  There is so much information backed by science that is sure to make a serious impact on your life and your children’s lives.  If you think you’re getting enough Vitamin D from taking a multi-vitamin, think again.  According to Dr. Gould, and he backs it up with facts, the amount of Vitamin D you’re receiving in a multi-vitamin has no effects on your body.

Direct download: Episode_144_-_Dr._Joel_Gould_-_Vitamin_D.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

Meet Chris Ackie, an All-Star, All-Canadian Linebacker for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. This former Wilfrid Laurier University athlete was drafted in the first round of the 2015 CFL draft by the Montreal Alouettes, and fourth overall and inducted into the Wilfrid Laurier Hall of Fame in 2019.  During the interview, Chris will discuss what it takes to make it as a professional football player in the CFL, which as Chris explains it, has some similarities to the NFL.  Chris will also share his training routine during the offseason and how yoga and meditation play a major role in his life and how it prepares him for the game of football. 

Growing up in Toronto and then moving to Cambridge, Chris participated in a variety of sports including basketball, track & field, and rugby.  This was a very inspiring interview with a young man who, at the age of 13, was told by one of his coaches that he would never make it on a high school football team or college football team.  To hear his coach, whom he looked up to and respected say this, was disheartening to this young man, but Chris proved this coach wrong by not only making it on the collegiate level but all the way to the pros as well.  In the words of Chris, “keep striving for your dreams and let no one tell you that you can’t do it.”  Chris is doing it!

Direct download: Episode_143_-_Chris_Ackie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15pm EDT

Meet Joe De Sena, Founder and CEO of Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand.  After building a multimillion-dollar pool and construction business in college, and creating a Wall Street trading firm, Joe set his sights on getting people off of their couches by creating the Spartan lifestyle.  With more than one million annual global participants at more than 200 events across more than 30 countries, Spartan offers heats for all fitness levels and ages, from beginner to elite and Kids as young as four-years-old. The brand has transformed more than five million lives since it was founded in 2010. 

During the entire interview, Joe De Sena was climbing up a 1500 to 2000 foot rope, which is a testament to his amazing physical ability and conditioning.  This was a very inspiring and motivating interview with Joe, as he discussed his reasons for creating the Spartan Race, the obstacle courses and the mindset needed to compete in a Spartan race.  When I asked Joe if a person had to be in top physical condition to participate in a Spartan race, he stated: “at the very least, you should be able to run one mile every day for 7 days, do 30 burpees, 30 pull-ups and stretch, if you can do that for 7 days straight, you should be able to compete in a Spartan race, if you can’t then, you might as well stay on the couch”.  Joe is the “real deal” and a true Spartan at heart.

Direct download: Episode_142_Joe_De_Sena.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:07am EDT

Meet PJ Taei, founder and CEO of Uscreen, the #1 Video On Demand platform in the country. If you are a content creator, Uscreen lets you create a library of your video content where people can subscribe to your channel and pay you a monthly subscription fee so you can ultimately monetize your content and build your own personal Netflix style empire and most importantly, there are zero coding skills required.  During the past three years, Uscreen has helped more than 5,000 creators launch their own online VOD platform, grow their brand, and reach more people.  Whether you’re in the entertainment and education field, fitness and nutrition community, Uscreen has got you covered. 

Fitness content creators are doing extremely well on the Uscreen platform and according to PJ, some of them are earning over $7,000 per month.  This is definitely worth looking into.

Direct download: Episode_141_-_PJ_Taei.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:46pm EDT

Meet Mike Diamond, a former reality TV star, motivational speaker, author, director, life coach, interventionist and philanthropist. Mike has appeared on several Inked TV series, such as NY inked, Miami Inked and Bondi Inked.  During the interview, Mike will share what life was like growing up in Perth, Australia, where he was physically abused as a child, thrown out of school, hung out with the wrong crowd and became a drug addict.  Mike’s life began to change when he met a woman who gave him a lottery ticket, which was used as a green card and that green card was his “ticket’ to the United States.  Mike will also share what it was like after being told by doctors just two years ago, that he had to have his colon removed or he would likely develop colon cancer and never walk again (if he even survived).  Mike refused to accept his doctor’s prognosis and decided to take his health into his own hands by changing his diet, juicing regularly, mindful meditation, weight training and running.  Mike recently broke a Guinness World Record by running 30 half marathons. (approximately 13 miles) in 30 days, in support of an LA-based, six-year old girl named Layla Rae, who is suffering from a very rare autoimmune disease.  In 2020 Mike is planning on breaking another Guinness World Record by running the most ultra-marathons (30 miles +) in a month. 

Mike believes that we create our own reality by changing the way we think.  In his latest book “7 Steps to an Unbreakable Mindset”, Mike shares the stories of several well-known people, whose success was dependent on willpower rather than talent, and gives you the secret on how to replicate their success in your own life.  This was an amazing and inspiring interview of one truly awesome human being, who is using his platform to give back to those less fortunate with his work as an interventionist, speaker, philanthropist and his upcoming “Impact Youth” program in May of 2020.

Direct download: Episode_140_-_Mike_Diamond.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:11am EDT

Meet Josef Gotsch, a World Champion handball player, born and raised in Bayside, Queens in New York City.  Josef started his athletic career at the early age of 4 years old.  During the interview, Josef will describe what it was like growing up in a loving, yet highly competitive and athletic family, where his father was a professional skier and rugby player from Austria, and his maternal grandfather was a professional bowler.  Josef will also share why he chose to pursue a professional career playing handball instead of the other traditional sports such as soccer, baseball, swimming, skiing, bowling, tennis, and basketball.  Josef is a firm believer in the importance of practice which he does almost every day (weather permitting).  He also believes in not only being in excellent physical shape in order to compete but mentally strong as well.  Also during the interview, Josef will share his exercise philosophy, which involves stretching, good nutrition and various other techniques.

Josef has become an Ambassador for the sport of handball and strongly believes that handball will soon become an Olympic sport and after this interviewing this young man and feeling his passion for the sport of handball, I believe it too.

Direct download: Episode_139_-_Josef_Gotsch.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:25pm EDT

Meet Reggie Nance, Associate State Director for Multicultural Engagement for AARP New York, overseeing outreach to African-Americans, and Caribbean-Americans across the state.  I recently had a chance to interview Reggie on my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, where he discussed the many benefits AARP offers its members, which is 38 million strong in the United States and 2.6 million strong in New York State.  Did you know that AARP provides free financial advice for its members along with free movie tickets and discounted tickets to Broadway shows, or that people 50 years of age or older are one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial groups in the country?  These facts and much more are shared in this very impactful interview with Reggie Nance.

Reggie believes that age is just a number and that is why on December 14th, AARP will host a panel discussion called “Disrupt Aging in Sports” at the Clyde Frazier restaurant in New York City, from 12 to 2 p.m.  This event will bring out former professional athletes from major league baseball, football, and basketball, to discuss the importance of staying healthy and active while playing sports professionally and after retirement. 

Reggie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Literature from Brown University and credits his upbringing in a small town called Cordele, Georgia as the impetus for his love of community and why he is such a believer in giving back to the community.

Direct download: Episode_138_-_Reggie_Nance_-_AARP.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30pm EDT

Meet Giovonni Thompson, a young, ambitious, entrepreneur, who happens to be the CEO of the Camden Monarchs, the new professional American Basketball Association (ABA) expansion team.  Not only is Giovonni the CEO of the Camden Monarchs, she is also the owner of GioGlobal Management and GioGlobal Sports Agency, which specializes in sports marketing, public relations, merchandising, and event production.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Giovonni on my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast. 

During the interview, Giovonni shared how the opportunity to own the Camden Monarchs came about.  She also laid out her vision for the Camden Monarchs as well as her plans to use her platform to inspire and propel young girls to fearlessly go after their dreams, whether it be in entertainment and music (where Giovonni got her start) or in the sports marketing and management field. 

Giovonni was born in France where her father played in the European basketball league.  Giovonni credits her parents for being a major inspiration in her life.  Her father is an owner of a Perdue Chicken farm on the east coast and her mother is a designer, so basketball and entrepreneurship are in her blood, and she shows no signs of slowing down.

Direct download: Episode_137_-_Giovonni_Thompson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:51pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Constance Jones, a San Diego native, philanthropist, author, and wife.  During her prime fertility years, Constance experienced not one, not two but 5 miscarriages.  During the interview, Constance will take us on a journey detailing her childhood growing up in San Diego as one of 9 children battling the three demons in her household: alcohol, abuse and absenteeism.  She survives the heartbreak of miscarriages, depression and bad relationships to become an influential philanthropist, advocate and loving wife.  As an author, she is releasing her inspirational book titled “Emerging Butterfly: a memoir by Constance Jones” in January, 2020 (www.theemergingbutterfly.com).

This is an inspiring interview about an exceptional woman, who took the lemons she was dealt and turned them into lemonade and with the help of her husband, Claude co-founded Elevate Foundation.  The purpose of Elevate Foundation is to help rebuild communities, uplift individuals, and inspire others to do the same. 

Direct download: Episode_136_-_Constance_Jones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:04pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Actor, Producer Jasper Cole (famously known as Hollywood’s Bad Guy).  Jasper is no stranger to my podcast, having been a guest back in 2014.  Since that time, Jasper has been extremely busy.  He was awarded “Best Screen Villain” by the International Nollywood Film Festival in 2019. He is a veteran character actor who now has over 112 TV and film credits under his belt, some of which include: The Purge: Anarchy; Training Day; ABC-TV series The Rookie; Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Friday the 13th Part VIII and that blockbuster film from back in the day, MacGruber.  Jasper is also the host of the nationally syndicated Radio/TV show....One On One With Jasper.

During the interview, Jasper will provide us with an update on his latest TV and Film projects.  He will also discuss his healthy lifestyle and how he has been able to maintain his very lean, muscular physique through the years as a very successful actor in Hollywood.

Jasper will also provide some keen insights into the acting world and how it has changed through the years.  Although Jasper is a strong believer in taking care of his physical health, he is also an advocate for the importance of taking care of your mental health as well, especially if you are thinking about getting into the acting field, where you have to get use to rejection. 

In addition to acting, producing and writing, Jasper is also the owner of  Newman-Thomas Management, a management and public relations company.  This interview is filled with wisdom and advice for anyone looking to succeed in the world of acting or in the game of life and it all starts with your health. 

Direct download: Episode_135_-_Jasper_Cole_returns.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by DominiQue Williams (famously known as G.I. Jane).  DominiQue is an army veteran, courageous cancer survivor and business woman. DominiQue is forging a major imprint in the industry of entertainment.

In 2018, DominiQue was discovered by the legendary movie producer Will Packer, which led to her starring in the 2019 summer hit film "Shaft”, opposite Samuel L. Jackson.

During the interview Dominique will take us on a journey from her home town of Cincinnati, Ohio to Atlanta, Georgia, where she got her big break in the film industry while working as a bartender.  When the opportunity came to audition for the role in Shaft, DominiQue came down with pneumonia and was told to stay in bed for another two weeks.  Instead of heeding her doctor’s advice, DominiQue took the leap of faith, got out of bed and created an audition tape, and got the part.

 DominiQue will also share how being diagnosed with cancer at such an early age impacted her life and set her on the path towards helping others.  DominiQue believes if she can beat cancer, there is nothing she can’t do or accomplish in life.  This experience has increased her faith and God and given her even more determination to live life to the fullest.  She exercises regularly, drinks plenty of water and watches what she eats. This was another very inspirational interview.

 

Direct download: Episode_134_-_DominiQue_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:02am EDT

In this episode of my six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by mompreneur  Loena B. Rodgers, creator and owner of the Egg-cellent Breakfast company.  Loena combined her culinary and marketing expertise with a deep commitment to making meals more meaningful for children everywhere.  No stranger to the kitchen, Loena learned cooking at an early age from her great-aunt, and grew her passion for preparing quality and nutritious foods through hands-on, professional kitchen experiences with Tender Greens, Chipotle, and the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.  Today she balances business duties with her responsibilities as a mom to two boys who both attend private schools.  Loena knows all too well the great difficulty parents face in getting delicious and healthy breakfast meals to their kids.  She has a heart for helping people learn about food and be mindful about what we put in our bodies and our children’s bodies.  This dedication led her to help moms create breakfast meals that keep their kids focused and energized at school. Loena also has a 30 Day Breakfast calendar that you can download for free on her website at https://eggcellentcompany.com/

Direct download: Episode_133_-_Loena_Rodgers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:36pm EDT

In this very inspiring episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Racquel Bailey, a wife, mother of two and an actress. Since she was a little girl, Racquel knew her calling was to be on the big screen. Having a love for the arts, her mother quickly put her in dance and acting classes so that she could hone in the talents that God had given her.

In 2019, Racquel took the leap of faith with the urgings from her husband and purchased two billboards near Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, with the hopes that the award-winning director would cast her in one of his upcoming TV series…which he DID! 

The New Jersey-based actress was inspired by a scene in the 1999 Halle Berry film, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.” In the movie, a casting director said Dandridge was irrelevant if he didn’t walk outside and see billboards of the actress around town. Later in the movie, he walked outside to see billboards of Dandridge plastered near his home.

This is the second time Racquel purchased billboards to grab Perry’s attention and during the interview, Racquel will share this career altering experience.  Racquel will also discuss the importance of family and how their belief and support helped her to take the leap of faith and “bet on herself” to land a role in Tyler Perry’s upcoming TV series, “Sistas”.  Racquel is quick to share that although the billboards may have gotten Tyler Perry’s attention, she still had to do the work and audition a few times prior to landing that role.  Racquel believes that you should “believe in yourself and in your ability and not second guess it, and whatever wakes you up in the morning, whatever that dream is, you should go for it.”

Direct download: Episode_132_Racquel_Bailey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:45pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dr. Candice Jones, a board-certified physician practicing as a general pediatrician in the Pine Hills Community of Orlando, FL. She earned her Medical Doctorate at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. She is also a Spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of its’ Council on Communications and Media.  During the interview, Dr. Candice will discuss the various causes of the childhood obesity epidemic plaguing our youth and the steps that parents can take to address this growing problem.  Dr. Candice is committed to the health and well-being of underserved children and adolescents in areas that are affected the greatest by health inequalities.

If you are interested in raising healthy kids, and I believe you are, even with a limited budget, Dr. Candice has the answer.  This is one of the most informative interviews I’ve had to date on childhood obesity.  If you have an overweight child and don’t know what to do to get your child away from the video games, off the couch and into a healthy lifestyle, just tune into this very informative episode and you will be sure to come away with a plan of action.

You can find out more about Dr. Candice by visiting her website at www.drcandicemd.com and listening to her podcast called “KIDing Around with Dr. Candice.”

Direct download: Episode_131_Dr._Candace_Jones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dr. Dora Gray, an author and former New York City elementary/middle school teacher with a passion for the arts.  Along with teaching academics and music appreciation for grades K – 8 in both the public and private sectors, she was charged with initiating and conducting an after- school violin program.  Dora holds the conviction that music education is essential to enhance the academic ability of children.  During the interview, Dora will discuss her newly released book, “A Stringy Situation”, a fantasy tale where the main characters being string instruments come to life.  This book will pull at your heartstrings and take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride with the characters.  I enjoyed reading this book not once but twice and recommend it for young and adult readers alike.

In addition, Dora will discuss her work as a Life Coach and her strong belief in taking control of your health.   Dora will also share how she successfully reversed diabetes naturally.  Dora and her husband Baba Wesley live in Brooklyn where both are Interfaith Ministers and practitioners of holistic healing arts.  This is a very informative and inspiring interview.

Direct download: Episode__130_Dr._Dora_Gray.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:53pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Actor and Fitness Model, Adam Lindo, known to audiences from his appearances on Blindspot, The Blacklist, Power, and Deception.  During the interview, Adam will discuss his recurring role in multiple episodes of the upcoming seventh and final season of "Orange is the New Black," where he is being cast as Carlos Litvack.  The final season of Orange Is the New Black can be seen on Netflix starting on July 26th.

Also during the interview, Adam will discuss what it was like being a police officer and working as a fitness model before the acting bug hit.  As a fitness model, he once weighed in at 260 pounds before changing his diet and becoming a vegetarian. 

Adam will also discuss how he got into the acting business and what he believes it takes to succeed in the industry.  Adam has just finished wrapping up another movie, “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and is working on producing movies as well.  He is a rising star in the acting world but more importantly, he is a positive role model who believes that the sky is the limit, if you only believe!

Direct download: Episode_129_-_Actor_Adam_Lindo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:45pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Kristoffer Quiaoit and Victor Macias, founders and creators of Nui, a cookie brand on a mission to annihilate sugar addiction. During the interview, Kristoffer and Victor will discuss the impetus for creating a cookie based on the ketogenic diet and how that diet helped them to lose weight and increase mental clarity. Each decadent cookie has less than one gram of sugar, which is naturally found in nuts. You could eat a whole box of 16 Nui cookies and still consume less sugar than one traditional cookie. The cookies are low carb, gluten free, and keto friendly! 

After baking Nui cookies in their home kitchen for themselves, friends and families, Quiaoit and Macias, created a website and posted about their cookies on Reddit which led to initial orders. The next step was two very successful Kickstarter campaigns that raised over $200,000.  They were recently featured on my favorite TV show, Shark Tank and offered investment deals by Sharks, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and guest Shark, MLB Allstar, Alex Rodriguez and they chose to go with Alex Rodriguez!  During the interview, Kristoffer and Victor will also describe what it was like pitching their cookie deal to the sharks and how they prepared for this moment that changed their lives forever.  This was an amazing and inspiring interview of two young first generation immigrants, whose parents showed them that hard work and perseverance always pay off.

Direct download: Episode_128_-_Nui_Cookies.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Jennifer Cohen, best-selling author, performance coach, fitness and wellness authority and entrepreneur.  During the interview, Jennifer will discuss her exercise philosophy, provide fitness tips during the holiday season and discuss her latest book, “Badass Body Goals” The Booty-Building & Waist Trimming Journal is a personal trainer in a book. It teaches you everything you need to know about booty-building, fat loss, and working out effectively to meet your goals, and then provides 10 weeks of complete, guided workouts you’ll use to make outrageously quick progress.  Each chapter comes with a video tutorial that readers can access through HabitNest.com so you can work out with Jennifer Cohen from anywhere.

Early in her career, Jennifer emerged as an influential role model and game-changer for the fitness industry, best known for her savvy, straight-talking reputation and belief in a “no excuse” approach that forgoes the fitness fads and focuses on long-term, sustainable results.  Jennifer has been a spokesperson and consultant for brands including Nike, Weight Watchers, KIND Bars, Polar Heart Rate Monitors, Muscle Milk, Victoria’s Secret Sports and more. She has been named “Greatest 100 most Influential People in Health and Fitness” and “#16 Most Impactful Fitness Entrepreneurs” by Web MD. She was the host of CW Network’s fitness and lifestyle program, “Shedding for the Wedding” and a regular guest on network television including “The Today Show.” Cohen has also been a contributor for publications including Men’s Health, Mind Body Green, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post and more. She currently has a regular column on Forbes.

Direct download: Episode_127_-_Jennifer_Cohen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EDT

In this episode of my Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Jessica Smith and Wendy Bush, the founders and creators of the Kidpreneur Business Expo, an annual event that was created to highlight kids who own and operate a business with the support of their parents and other mentors.  This extraordinary event will take place on Saturday, November 24th (“Small Business Saturday”), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the NJ Convention and Expo Center, located at 97 Sunfield Avenue in Edison, New Jersey.  During the interview, Wendy and Jessica discuss in detail, the importance of entrepreneurship for children and how the Kidpreneur Business Expo will not only showcase many businesses started by kids from all over the country, but will also inspire children attending the event to want to start their own businesses.  There will be entertainment, workshops, fashion show, fitness exhibitions, product giveaways (for the first 100 people) and much more.  Take a few minutes and listen to these powerful young women talk about this very exciting event.  For more information, contact Jessica directly at kidpreneurbusinessexpo@gmail.com.  Vendor and sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Direct download: Episode_126_-_Jessica_and_Wendy_-_Kidpreneur_Expo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52am EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Shanae Jones, affectionately known as the Hip Hop Herbalist and the owner of Ivy’s Tea Co., a pop culture and Hip-Hop inspired holistic health brand that provides herbal tea and herb-infused honey. She is a graduate of the Sky House Herbal School and The Black UpStart. Shanae became known as the Hip-Hop Herbalist after breaking stereotypes and bringing very traditional herbal remedies to millennials using the trendy and ever-evolving vehicle that is pop culture. Shanae hopes to change the way you see tea drinkers and introduce more African holistic health remedies into the holistic health industry.  During the interview, Shanae will share the many benefits you will receive from drinking her herbal teas, such as detoxification, boosts your immune system, improve gut health and much more.

Direct download: Episode_125_Shanae_Jones_Ivys_Tea.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:40pm EDT

 In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I’m joined by Jacque Peppel, a native Floridian, born in Tampa, Florida, a month before Pearl Harbor.  Jacque’s passion is helping people to achieve abundant health.  She is trained as a Health and Wellness Coach, a Life Coach and Spiritual Counselor.   

Most of Jacque’s life she suffered from respiratory and digestive disorders.  Fifteen years ago, she came down with an autoimmune disease which attacked her bones and muscles.  Her pain and suffering was so bad, she had to take sleeping pills to counter the effects of the other pills the doctors prescribed, which kept her awake.  During the interview, Jacque will share what steps she took to heal her body naturally of the disease.  Jacque is now in her 70s and proudly boasts about not being on any medications.  Jacque’s story is one of faith, inspiration and healthy living.  She is very involved with her church and credit’s her faith in God for bringing her this far. 

Direct download: Episode_124_Jacque_Peppel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:21pm EDT

In this week’s episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I’m joined by former Baltimore Raven, Matt Lawrence, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Co-Founder of Lawrence International.  During the interview, Matt will share what it was like growing up in Hartford and Bloomfield Connecticut, two very different sides of the track and how that experience played a major part in shaping his young adult life.  Matt’s role models were his parents, who both have Masters degrees and stressed the importance of hard work and education.  While playing in the NFL, Matt was involved with the Presidential Council for Fitness and Nutrition where he volunteered his time to make a strong impact in the young lives who looked up to him. Wanting to make more of a global impact, Matt attended the Wharton school of business. While there, he was able to gain the critical information needed to build a sustainable business model that Lawrence International has today. Unfortunately shortly thereafter, Matt was sidelined and forced to retire due to a very severe concussion. Matt currently suffers from debilitating conditions due to his TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and during the interview, dives deep into the effects TBI is having on him in his personal and business life.  In the midst of his condition, Matt still remains strong and committed to the organization he and his cousin, James Lawrence founded. You can hear the passion in Matt’s voice as he talks about what motivated him to create the organization and the many opportunities and skills Lawrence International is providing kids locally and internationally. Matt is now an ordained minister and credits his faith in God for bringing him this far.  It was a pleasure interviewing Matt Lawrence and learning about the outstanding work Lawrence International is doing locally and internationally for the youth.

 

Direct download: Episode_123_-_Matt_Lawrence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:05pm EDT

In this week's episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Pariis Garcia, a professional track & Field super star who runs for the Puerto Rican Athletics national team.  Pariis graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Masters in Special Education from St. Johns University. Pariis is also the Brand Ambassador for iON Performance Care and is the creator of a fitness and nutrition blog called “Fit Curls”.  During the interview, Pariis will discuss how she was selected to run for the Puerto Rican Athletics team. She will also describe her rigorous training routine and visualization techniques before a race, and what motivates her to succeed.  Pariis is a strong believer in education and athletics but all of this is second to her love for family and faith in God, whom she credits for her success.  Pariis is young, and driven to succeed.  She is also committed to giving back to those less fortunate, which was evidenced by her support for the people in her homeland of Puerto Rico during the recent hurricane.  Pariis took the initiative and partnered with an Evangelical Baptist Church in NYC and collected donations to deliver to the devastated areas in Puerto Rico.  This is truly an amazing and inspiring young woman, who believes that whatever you conceive and believe, you can achieve.  What a pleasure it was to interview Pariis Garcia.

Direct download: Episode_122_-_Pariis_Garcia.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41pm EDT

In this week's episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Certified Group Fitness Instructors/Personal Trainers, Kristina Lewis-Rodriguez and Cassandra Phifer, co-directors of FITBK, a borough-wide health, fitness and wellness community-based initiative based in Brooklyn.  During the interview, Kristina and Cassandra will discuss their personal journeys into a healthy lifestyle.  They will also announce that on Saturday, September 22, FITBK will host their first ever FITBK Inaugural Awards Gala Celebration at KAI Studio in Brooklyn.  This event (the first of its kind), will honor  leaders and luminaries in the health and fitness industry including fitness advocates, enthusiasts, educators, local government officials, media personalities and local supporters in support of FITBK's mission to improve the health outcome of people of color within at-risk communities as well as immigrant communities in Brooklyn.  The event is hosted by Jennifer Bisram, Multi-Emmy Nominated Television Journalist/Reporter for PIX 11 News.  This year's honorees include: superstars and unsung heroes in fitness such as Trinidadian soca music recording artist and CEO/Founder of AZAFIT, Fay-Ann Lyons; CEO of Just-Train and personal trainer to actor/comedian Kevin Hart, Ron "Boss" Everline; Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer Anthony Gibson; the national organization Black Girls Run Inc.; and Lisa George, Fitness Professional.  All proceeds from the event will help fund FITBK's NO-COST health, wellness and fitness educational programs offered throughout Brooklyn and Queens.

 I really enjoyed interviewing Kristina and Cassandra, as they talked passionately about FITBK's NO-COST weekly results-driven aerobics and core strength training classes and their upcoming Awards Gala Celebration, which is sure to be a MAJOR success and the start of something big.  For more information on the fitness classes or to purchase tickets for the Awards Gala, call 718-940-2200 Ext. 115.

Direct download: Episode_121_-_Kristina_Lewis_and_Cassandra_Phifer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41pm EDT

In this week’s episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Orvel Douglas, a Certified Nutrition and Diet Specialist.  Orvel’s journey into nutrition started out over 20 years ago, when he weighed over 200 pounds and within 8 weeks through proper nutrition and exercise, lost over 50 pounds.  During the interview, Orvel Douglas, who is a Fruitarian, will explain the differences between being a Vegan, Vegetarian and Fruitarian and why he believes that the Fruitarian lifestyle is best and more effective when it comes to detoxifying your body and improving your health.  Orvel will also list the types of fruit he recommends for anyone wishing to try the Fruitarian diet and why eating these fruits work so well in reversing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, arthritis and more.

For the past 2 years, Orvel has hosted a bi-monthly Fruitarian Challenge on Facebook, where you can find hundreds of testimonies from people all over the world, who have taken part in his challenges and received amazing results.  According to Orvel, even if you don’t complete the monthly challenge and try eating just fruits for a few days or a week, you will receive enormous benefits that can change your life.

If you’re looking for a possible solution to obesity, diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure or whatever ails you, the Fruitarian lifestyle just might be worth a try.  This has been a very informative interview and I for one will be eating more fruit.

 For more information on the Fruitarian lifestyle or to set up a consultation, you can reach Orvel Douglas at orveldouglas@yahoo.com.

 

 

Direct download: Episode_120_-_Orvel_Douglas_-_Fruitarian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Rekishia L. McMillan, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Award-Winning Author, retired Air Force veteran and owner of “Rock Your World Naturally”.  During our interview, Rekishia will discuss nutrition, weight loss, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, military veterans and women's health. Her coaching philosophy provides an integrative approach that provides a warm, helpful, and confidential environment in which individuals feel free to express their feelings and communicate their concerns.   Rekishia believes (as is stated in the Bible), that the life of the body is in the blood and your blood type has a lot to do with your overall health. Rekishia will also list the foods she recommends to her clients to build up the blood and strengthen the immune system. 

Did you know that the #3 cause of patients death is following doctor’s orders?  I didn’t know this fact until Rekishia mentioned it in the interview.  This interview will enlighten you as to the importance of nutrition and why over 2000 years ago, the Greek Physician Hippocrates said “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Thy Food”.  At the end of the interview Rekishia offers a “free gift”, a “5-Day Clean Eating Challenge”, to my listeners, so be sure to listen to this very informative interview and receive your free gift.

 

Direct download: Episode_119_RiKishia_McMillan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:29pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I provide a compilation of motivational speakers to inspire you to live your life’s purpose.  Mark Twain said it best when he stated that “the two most important days in our lives is (i) when we are born and (ii) the day we find out why”.  In other words, when you find your life’s purpose.  I believe we were all born to fulfill a purpose and some of us know right away what that purpose is, and there are those of us who will go through life never knowing.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know now, today what your purpose is in this life?

I believe this episode will inspire and motivate you to find your purpose.  If you like these types of podcasts and would prefer that I incorporate them with my interviews, then please share with your friends, subscribe and leave a comment.

Direct download: Episode_118_-_Living_Your_Life_With_Purpose.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:28am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Mrs. Idera Abdullah (“Sister Bisi”), Founder and Executive Director of IMANI HOUSE, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, serving marginalized youth, families, and immigrants in Brooklyn, NY, and Liberia, West Africa.  

During the interview, Sister Bisi will share her motivation for creating Imani House. With programs ranging from literacy and job readiness classes for adults, to after-school programs and camps for children, Imani House continues to accomplish great things with the vision and hard work of Sister Bisi as its driving force.  Also in the interview, Sister Bisi will discuss the work Imani House is doing to address the epidemic of childhood obesity, through their upcoming 6th Annual “Walk to Live Walk-A-Thon and Festival,” which will take place on June 2nd from 9:30am to 3pm, at the Grecian Shelter in Prospect Park, entrance at Parkside Ave and Parade Place.  One of Imani House’s missions is to “help people do for themselves,” and walking, Sister Bisi believes, is one of the best exercises you can do for yourself.  It doesn’t’ cost you anything but it can improve your health significantly and that’s how it started for Sister Bisi.  She was once very overweight and when a friend initially invited her to participate in a walk, she tried and failed but that didn’t stop her from continuing to try.  On her third attempt at walking around the park, she succeeded and became an avid walker ever since.  Sister Bisi knows what walking can do to improve your health.  Sister Bisi noted that too many kids today are suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure due to lack of inactivity and poor eating habits.  This is more prevalent among black and Latino kids.  The 6th Annual Walk to Live Walk-A-Thon and Festival was created to bring communities together and bring awareness to this very serious issue before it gets worse.  

Following the 3.5-mile walk, there will be various types of fun activities, including music, dancing, games and prizes.  There will also be healthy snacks and visits from local politicians.  All are welcome to attend.

For more information about participating, volunteering, or supporting Walk-to-Live, please visit www.ihiwalktolive.com, email imani@imanihouse.org, or call (718) 638-2059.  This was a very inspiring interview.  I hope to see you at the Walk!

Direct download: Episode_117_Sis_Bisi.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:50am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Kimi Walker, a school psychologist, philanthropist, coach, and wellness enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana.  During the interview, Kimi will share her personal journey into health and wellness.  As a teenager, Kimi was obese, suffered from asthma and had to deal with various social and emotional challenges associated with obesity.  At one point, Kimi’s weight was close to 300 pounds.  While attending Florida A&M University, Kimi decided to undergo a lifestyle change and took certain action steps to lose the weight, all of which she will share during the interview.  Kimi believes that you must take a holistic approach to weight loss.  It’s not just about the body, but the mind and spirit as well.

In addition to running her private practice as a school psychologist, working with children age 2 to 20 and their families, Kimi also has an accountability coaching business where she holds clients accountable in achieving their goals, whether it’s weight loss or business.  Kimi’s personal experience in wellness more than qualifies her to understand what so many people are going through when it comes to health challenges, whether they are mental or physical.  Kimi will share how she holds her clients accountable and what we can do to hold ourselves accountable when it comes to achieving our goals.

If you think your life is busy, just listen to Kimi Walker.  This young woman has 4 personal brands, which includes being the host of the “Early Accountability Podcast” and running her own not-for-profit organization (Nubian Wellness). She shows no signs of slowing down.  If you need some inspiration and motivation to go after your goals, Kimi Walker has it!

Direct download: Episode_116_-_Kimi_Walker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, Vince discusses the connection between obesity and stress.  Federal health officials are surprised at the continued rise in obesity rates among American adults given the fact that there is so much information available on how to prevent obesity. Vince believes that the Federal health officials are missing out on one of the major contributors to obesity, which is stress. Vince believes that obesity rates will continue to increase as long as stress combined with poor eating habits and inactivity exist.

Direct download: Episode_115_Vince-Obesity_and_Stress.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:45am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Jermaine Rivers, actor, author, and U.S. Army veteran from Atlanta, Georgia. Jermaine was recently cast in a recurring Guest Starring role as Shatter on Fox/Marvel’s ‘The Gifted’ opposite Steven Moyer (True Blood), Amy Acker (Person of Interest). Some of Rivers other notable roles were as the notorious Officer Carter on season 3 of “Devious Maids” and Officer Holmes on Season 5 of Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots”. Look for him in the upcoming Feature Films “HANGMAN” starring Al Pacino and Karl Urban also “DEN OF THIEVES” starring Gerard Butler and 50 Cent.  During the interview, Jermaine will take us on his journey which began growing up in Georgia to a military family, serving in the U.S. Army for over 10 years and pursuing a very successful acting career.  Jermaine will also share how his military background helped him to land various roles and how important gratitude and a positive mental attitude is to achieving your goals.  He will also discuss what it’s like playing a Marvel comic book character and how he prepares for the role.  His exercise and nutrition regimen is also discussed and much more. This was a very informative and inspiring interview. Jermaine is definitely on his way to a long- lasting and successful acting career. 

Direct download: Episode_114_Jermaine_Rivers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:01pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks To Fitness podcast, I am joined by Carla Christine, founder and creator of the  Yoga Greenbook, the first online streaming service providing yoga and meditation videos created by and for people of color. During the interview, Carla will share her journey from her childhood growing up in Charleston, South Carolina in a military family, pursuing an Electrical Engineering degree and working for the Federal Government.  After suffering from work-related anxiety, long commutes, and unfulfilling tasks for over 10 years, Carla decided to quit her lucrative job as an Electrical Engineer.  She didn’t know what she was going to do, but she knew it was time to make a change and pursue a more purposeful and fulfilling career.

Carla first tried Yoga back in 2011 after the recommendation from a friend who was worried when a doctor prescribed her with an anti-depressant for anxiety without an evaluation. At the time Carla couldn’t see how twisting and bending could cause such healing in her body and mind but since her friend knew her struggles she agreed to try it. She believes it is probably the best advice she has taken because since then yoga has aided her in self-healing and self-study.  Carla wakes up every day with undying passion to share yoga’s transformational powers through the Yoga Greenbook.

Yoga Green Book leads people of color to a safe online space with culturally-affirming teachers using the ancient healing art of yoga to promote wellness. You can try Yoga Greenbook with a 30 Day Free Trial Membership at yogagreenbook.com.

Direct download: Episode_113_Carla_Christine-Yoga_Green_Book.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:55pm EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dr. Jason McKeown, CEO of MODIUS Health and Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of the 2014 Inc. 500 company Quest Nutrition and the co-founder and host of Impact Theory.

Dr. McKeown and Tom will discuss how MODIUS, a revolutionary new wearable technology, works to help you reduce body weight and gain a lean muscular body.  MODIUS, which has been approved by the FDA as a “wellness device”, was developed by Dr. McKeown and other neuroscientists, based in San Diego, California.  During the interview, Dr. McKeown explains how MODIUS works by “stimulating the vestibular nerve, which connects to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the area of the brain that controls body weight and appetite. Vestibular stimulation has been shown to influence body weight.”  In August of 2017, a 2-month fundraising campaign on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo was created to raise $50,000.  According to Dr. McKeown, MODIUS is fully funded and did not need the $50,000 but as a way to further promote the product and do a proof of concept by having people purchase and try the product, the crowdfunding campaign was created. The campaign is nearly over and as of this writing; MODIUS has raised approximately 1.5 million dollars, 2995% of its $50,000 fundraising goal.  MODIUS is not meant to take the place of proper nutrition and exercise, but to be a catalyst that would encourage people to eat better and exercise.

The creators of MODIUS are so confident as to the device’s effectiveness, that they are offering a 100% money back guarantee.  If for some reason you lose too much weight or not enough, or if it just doesn’t work for you, you can still get your money back no questions asked.  This device has the potential to being one of the greatest breakthroughs in modern history as it relates to weight loss.  Tom Bilyeu stated that since he’s been using MODIUS, he has better quality sleep and sleeps about one hour longer, which is another health benefit from using MODIUS. 

This has been a truly fascinating interview about an amazing product, which can potentially benefit millions and perhaps billions worldwide.

Direct download: Episode_112_Jason_McKeown_Tom_Bilyeu.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:15pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Kershel Anthony, founder and creator of KerboomKidz Inc., an energetic and challenging group exercise program that is especially designed for kidz (ages 4-17). The goal of KerboomKIDZ is to increase student’s health by creating a non-judgmental environment while improving children’s memory and physical coordination. KerboomKIDZ raises students' confidence and stimulates their physical and mental states. Kershel started dancing at the age of five and attributes his love of dance to being surrounded by music while growing up in Long Island, New York.  He studied Dance at Hofstra University, where he perfected his style, becoming an expert in hip-hop, ballet and modern dance, as well as perfecting his break-dancing sills. From The King Michael Tour, to SHAPE America Conferences and to the IDEA World Fitness Conference, Kershel has been stomping his feet and making imprints into today’s hottest trends. He has appeared on Sweat, Inc., with Jillian Michaels, Obi Obadike, Randy Hetrick and former NFL Star, Terrell Owens.  If you attended our 14th annual Children’s Sports & Fitness Expo on Saturday, June 24th, you would have had the pleasure of witnessing Kershel’s high-energy workout class first hand.

Direct download: Episode_111_Kelshel_Anthony.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:09pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by ShLanda Burton, a Food, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Specialist out of Clemmons, North Carolina. Shlanda holds two University Degrees in Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a Registration Eligible - Dietician, Certified Diabetes Peer Educator and Certified Birth Doula. During the interview, Shlanda will share the lifestyle changes she made which enabled her to lose 140 pounds in 3 short years and how she is able to keep it off.  Shlanda will share that although she has a gym membership, she does not go to a gym.  In her own words, “nature is my gym” and Shlanda will discuss how she utilizes nature to help her lose weight along with her healthy eating style and methods.  After her career working for government agencies she created her business Balanced By Burton, where she leads and teaches others in their journey to use the right tools and support for healthy and successful weight loss. Shlanda believes that true health is about balancing your body, mind and spirit with the food you put into your body.  She assists her clients with their transitional journey, by taking them step by step through her nutrition education techniques.  This interview with Shlanda is full of “food for thought” when it comes to designing your own personal nutrition program for weight loss.

Direct download: Episode_110_Shlander_Burton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:40pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Katrina Williams, an HR professional who by day works on Wall Street and by night is the owner of Top Mogul Kat Dance Studio (TMK), out of Newark, New Jersey.  Katrina is also a personal training client of Jabir (JayTheBody) Bryan, owner of “Secret Formula Fitness” personal training studio out of Hillside, New Jersey. I interviewed Jay in Episode 107 of my podcast and was very impressed by the fact that in a short amount of time, he has amassed over 21 clients who have lost a total of one thousand pounds under his training and guidance.

During the interview, Katrina shared how Jay’s unique training style and methods helped her to reach her fitness goals.  Katrina also shared what her childhood was like growing up in East Orange, New Jersey as a very active and healthy child, participating in all types of activities, including dance, but it wasn’t until later in her adult life while trying to juggle her passion as the owner of Top Mogul Kat Dance Studio and commuting to Manhattan for her day job, that the daily commute and the stress that goes along with it, really took a toll on Katrina’s body and caused her to gain about 30 pounds and that’s when she reached out to Jay for help.  With the help of Jay’s Secret Formula Fitness training methods, Katrina was able to “get her body back” to where it used to be and is now feeling totally energized and motivated towards taking TMK Dance Studio to a higher level.

Direct download: Episode_109_Katrina_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Danielle Crosby, a Certified Personal Trainer, and aspiring bodybuilder.  During the interview, Danielle will take us on her journey growing up in Detroit, Michigan in a single parent household with 2 other siblings.  As a child, Danielle witnessed something that no child should have to see and that is domestic violence against her mom.  This was a traumatic experience for young Danielle along with the fact that she felt like an outcast among her peers.  To deal with the loneliness, Danielle would spend her time eating all types of food, especially sweets for comfort, which added to her excessive weight gain.  Later in life, after a divorce from her 5 year old son’s father, Danielle found herself in continuous cycles of harmful relationships which further led her down an unhealthy path, but one day she found the strength and courage to move on from those relationships realizing that she deserves more from life than to be in relationships that are detrimental to her mind and body and she is also her son’s sole provider.  Danielle turned her attention to eating healthy and exercising 5 days per week.  As a result of her switching to a healthy lifestyle with nothing but positivity around her, Danielle has lost over 70 pounds and has a goal to compete in a major bodybuilding competition while building her personal training business.  Danielle is determined to succeed and she is documenting her progress on her Instagram page @dannycfitness.

Direct download: Episode_108_Danielle_Crosby.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Jabir (JayThe Body) Bryan, a graduate of Rutgers University, Certified Personal Trainer and owner of “Secret Formula Fitness” a “results oriented" personal training company out of Hillside, New Jersey.  During the interview, Jay will discuss his humble upbringing in Irvington, New Jersey as the son to a single parent mom, who he credits for being one of the main reasons for his success.  Jay started his company out of the trunk of his car, traveling throughout various parts of New Jersey providing one- on-one personal training in parks and in his clients’ homes.  It wasn’t long before word spread about the success Jay’s personal training methods were having on his clients, most of whom lost a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time that Jay decided to open his own training facility called Secret Formula Fitness.  Jay now has over 21 clients who have lost over 1000 pounds under his supervision and guidance. 

In March of 2016, Jay launched another company called Secret Formula Nutrition which is his Supplement line.  In the interview, Jay will explain where he gained the knowledge, skills and sales experience which contributes to the success of his company.  Jay is looking to franchise his Secret Formula Fitness brand throughout the country and is seeking investors.  This was truly an inspiring and informative episode of how a young man with grind and hustle is determined to succeed and turn his company into a multi-million dollar brand.  He is well on his way.

Direct download: Episode_107_-Jabir__JayTheBody_Bryan.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:35am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Ashley Watkins, a mother of 2 boys, a certified personal trainer, kinesiology student and business owner. Ashley, who is originally from Buffalo New York, now lives in Los Angeles where she is fulfilling her dreams by helping others. After battling a lifetime of obesity and losing 100 pounds (in 6 months) through her own journey, Ashley started “Body by Ashley”, a company dedicated to helping thousands of men, women, seniors and children achieve their highest health and fitness goals through developing challenging fitness programs, group classes, one on one training and meal planning. Her in-person training has transformed the lives of many, but more importantly, her social media influence and online programs have touched thousands across the globe. 

During the interview, Ashley will share her amazing journey to creating Body by Ashley, including what it was like having to go to physical therapy as a 14-year old child because of her weight gain and how this affected her self-esteem growing up.  Ashley will also discuss the impact being in a toxic relationship had on her mentally and physically, and how she was able to use this situation as motivation to change the direction of her life.  Also in the interview is the actual exercise routines and nutrition format Ashley followed to lose 100 pounds. This is another informative and inspiring story of how one young woman was able to take the lemons that were handed to her and turn it into lemonade. 

Direct download: Episode_106_Ashley_Watkins.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:04am EDT

In this week's episode of Six Weeks to Fitness, Vince Ferguson, the host of the Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, announces the pre-launch of his online course "How to Create A-List Events on a Shoestring Budget", "A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating High Profile Events, Attracting Athletes, Celebrities, and Sponsors on a Small Budget. For the past 25 years, Vince has created and produced award shows and fitness events that have brought out well over 100,000 people.  During the podcast, Vince goes into detail on the content of the course as well as the launch date which will be August 2, 2017.

Direct download: Episode_105_Vince_Ferguson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:49pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Lanett Tachel, a talented young actress and writer from Prince George's County, Maryland. Lanett knew from her childhood that she was destined to be an actress, so after receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Howard University and performing on stages in the DC Metropolitan area and touring as the lead character in “The Bluest Eye” in the Dominican Republic, Lanett moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams to be an actress. 

During the interview, Lanett will share what life was like growing up in Prince George’s County, to a very supportive and entrepreneurial minded family where failure was not an option.  Lanett grew up in an environment where almost everyone around her was a professional and very successful, so the expectations were that whatever you chose to do, you will succeed.  Lanett took that mindset to Hollywood, where she has lived for the past 7 years and has appeared on TV and in films such as the erotically thrilling true story of 'THE PROVIDERS,' directed by talented "Queen Sugar' writer, Denise Harkavy and the newly released erotic thriller  “ILLICIT”, where Lanett shows off her acting and co-writing talent. ILLICIT was just released on “Video on Demand”.

 Lanett believes that good health and hard work is key to her success, so she tries to exercise 4 times a week engaging in her favorite activity, which is a Spin class.  Lanett is a rising star who shows no signs of slowing down and wants to help as many people as she can in her climb to the top.

Direct download: Episode_104_Lanet_Tachel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:16am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Ms. Bo Talley, a mother of four, former R&B singer, entrepreneur, event host, philanthropist, actress, fitness motivator and wife of professional basketball coach Fred Williams. In addition to these many hats, Ms. Bo serves as a motivation to many people, especially after her age-defying photo went viral and made national and international headlines.  During the interview, Ms. Bo will discuss her childhood growing up in a small town called Scottsboro, Alabama and why she credits the women in her family, especially her grandmother for being such a positive role model and inspiration in her life.  Ms. Bo will also discuss a charity event she created called “Balling for Lupus”,  the 1st ever All FEMALE Celebrity Charity Basketball Game in Atlanta, GA.  The Balling for Lupus foundation’s main purpose is to help bring more awareness and funds to the chronic illness.  Ms. Bo admits that she didn’t know much about Lupus until she found out that her cousin has the disease and that her aunt died from that disease years earlier, at a time when no one really talked about Lupus. Her celebrity coaches and players consist of current and former WNBA Players, Actresses, Reality TV Stars, Models and top community influencers.  The 4th annual Balling for Lupus Charity Tournament will take place on July 8th in Atlanta, Georgia.  The event will also be streamed on Facebook Live and on Instagram.

Also during the interview, Ms. Bo discusses her exercise philosophy, provides exercise tips to develop your arms, legs and abdominals.  Ms. Bo is truly an amazing woman whose positive energy, age defying smile and body, shows no signs of slowing down.

Direct download: Episode_103_Ms._Bo_Talley.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:28pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Gustavo Velasquez, actor and 2017 Daytime Emmy Award Nominee, known for his work in Conversations in L.A. a breakout sleeper hit by Immediate Vision Productions, also starring creator, writer, director, actress Ann Marie Cummings.  During the interview, Gustavo will discuss why, after graduating from college with an Honors Degree in Accounting, he decided to walk away from the accounting field to pursue his passion.  Gustavo will also discuss the importance eating healthy and exercise plays in in his personal and professional life and why he feels everyone should take their health seriously.  Gustavo will also discuss what it feels like being nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his first acting role and how a chance meeting in Starbucks helped to launch his acting career.

Direct download: Episode_102_Gustavo_Velasquez.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Ashanti Middleton, creator and host of “Taste and Toast”, a restaurant review TV series available on tasteandtoastwithus.com, Facebook and on YouTube.  Ashanti is a native New Yorker who was born and raised in Queens.  During the interview Ashanti discusses the reasons why she created Taste and Toast, which involves traveling throughout New York City, trying out different foods and drinks that each restaurant specializes in and exposing these restaurants to the public. 

 Each episode will take viewers into the “belly of the feast” with a casual style and high-class swagger combination designed to attract both newcomers as well as refined palates to come together to uncover the latest treats to hit the streets of the nation’s latest casual and fine dining hotspots!

Taste & Toast is designed to speak to a new generation of socially networked, mobilized, tech-savvy, culturally aware individuals seeking the most adventurous, interesting, culturally relevant, and tasty restaurants that the nation has to offer.

Ashanti has visited all types of restaurants with her show, including Peruvian, Thai, Soul Food and more.  Taste and Toast is becoming so popular, restaurant owners in Arizona and Atlanta have approached Ashanti with their interest in having Taste and Toast at their facility.  Taste and Toast is the only show of its kind that is produced by a young, African-American female entrepreneur.  Taste and Toast is totally self-funded by Ashanti.  She is currently seeking sponsors and funding for additional shows. 

Ashanti is a rising star in the entertainment industry and shows no signs of slowing down.  Taste and Toast has the ability to become a “runaway hit” with the proper exposure.

Direct download: Episode101-Ashanti_Middleton.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:37pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dorcas Meyers, Founder of Roc-A-Natural LLC. and lifestyle wellness coach, who advocates for beauty that illuminates from within for a holistic, authentic new you.  Dorcas is dedicated to emphasizing the beauty of natural hair, and educating diverse generations about the importance of proper nutrition and exercise to illuminate your beauty from the inside out.  Dorcas is also the creator of the Roc-A-Natural Hair, Health and Beauty Transform Your Life Expo, which will take place on Saturday, May 13th in New York City at the Watson Hotel.

During the interview, Dorcas will share the many exciting activities, presentations, and workshops that will take place at the Expo, such as an innovative and exciting Natural Hair Fashion Show. Industry professionals and fashion designers from the tri-state area will have the opportunity to showcase their fabulous work through the wonder of artful expression. During the show, the Roc-A-Natural Awards Ceremony will honor outstanding leaders who inspire excellence, ingenuity, effect change, a positive mindset and offer resources to live a successful and natural lifestyle.  Vince Ferguson, President, and Founder of Body Sculpt of New York and creator of the Children’s Sports & Fitness Expo, will be on hand to receive one of these prestigious awards.  

Certified Holistic Nutritionist Yvette Onofre, will address the nurturing of a healthy body through the “Nutrition Workshop and “Smoothie Operator” demonstration that will radiate confidence and beauty from within. This is just a small sample of what will take place at this highly anticipated event which will inspire and encourage an entire community to be proud of their inner beauty while seeking a more natural way of life.

This is the Roc-A-Natural Hair and Beauty Transform Your Life Expo’s 4th year in existence and it shows no signs of slowing down.  Dorcas’ enthusiasm is contagious and Inspiring.

Direct download: Dorcas_Meyers_-_Episode_100.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:35pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Meredith Shirk, a health and fitness expert, serial entrepreneur, traveler and small business consultant currently residing in Malibu, California.  Meredith is also a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the Creator and Founder of Svelte Training, a multifaceted approach to obtaining one's optimal lifestyle.  Meredith believes that mental and physical wellbeing are both key pieces of the puzzle that can create the best, most happy version of you.  In 2016 Meredith started to develop Svelte as an online fitness and lifestyle consulting company and from ground zero, she took it to over $400K in sales in less than 12 months. Starting without a list, a real online product, a name or an offer, Meredith molded her business partner and mentors, solidifying herself as an authority in her space.

 Going from physical one on one personal training, trading time for dollars, to utilizing her knowledge and expanding her online influence, Meredith has built her own path to success using a lucrative online business model to scale and leverage her time

Meredith Shirk is a driven and savvy business woman who is now stepping out from behind the curtain to educate, enlighten and empower not just people struggling with their weight, but entrepreneurs looking to bust down the barriers of self-deprecating mindsets and really take hold of their lives.

Direct download: Episode_99_Meredith_Shirk-Svelte_Training.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58pm EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by the Detroit Piston’s Tobias Harris. The 6’ 9” forward played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic before joining the Pistons where he is currently the team’s leading scorer. Throughout his five-year career in the NBA, Tobias has remained committed to his mentorship programs, specifically via the Tobias Harris School of Business Basketball Camp.  During the interview, Tobias will discuss his childhood growing up on Long Island, New York to a large family of basketball players.  He will also share his exercise routine in the gym, which includes weight training, calisthenics and more.  Tobias will also discuss how eating a plant-based diet has increased his endurance and stamina on the court.  Tobias is a strong believer in giving back to the community, especially children, which is evident by the work he is doing through his Tobias Harris School of Business Basketball Camp.  This camp not only teaches kids the important skills necessary to compete in the game of basketball, but it exposes kids to other professions as well.  Tobias believes that children should focus on education first and if basketball doesn’t work out, they have other options in their lives.  Tobias not only “talks the talk but he also walks the walk.”

Direct download: Episode_98_Tobias_Harris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Charity Lynette, Celebrity Fitness Instructor and creator of Curvy Chick Fitness.  During the interview, Charity will discuss what life was like growing up in a small northwestern town to military parents.  Most of Charity Lynette's life she was overweight and although playing High School and college Basketball, she still struggled with her weight. The turning point in her life was the surprising loss of her mom due to unhealthy living. Fueling her choice to start a healthier lifestyle and with her mother in mind, she dedicated her life to helping others do the same, losing over 100 pounds in the process. Since then she has continued to work within Hospitals and Health fairs throughout the country, teaching women that although they all have curves, healthy curves is what matters most.  As a Plus Size Model and Fitness Instructor Charity went through her challenges explaining to those who didn't understand how a Plus Size women could teach fitness, the answer was simply “We all have different body types but as long as we are eating right and exercising, the body will take its course."  Charity is showing the world that just because you’re thin, doesn’t mean you’re fit and just because you have curves doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy.  Charity is a rising star in the fitness industry and she is looking to expand her brand throughout the country.

Charity has been featured in numerous media outlets such as Bustle.com, Hip Hop Weekly, NY Daily News, Abigail Magazine, blackbride.com, Society of Curves, cocoafab.com, Entertainment Scoop, Boston Fitness Magazine, Skinny Minority Blog, Your Tango, Stylish Curves and more.

Direct download: Episode_97_Charity_Lynette.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:55pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Caprice O’Bryant, a 24-year old Certified Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and owner of Excuse Free Fitness out of Homewood, Illinois, near Chicago. Caprice has been through the wire, surviving a serious car accident at 14 and learning how to walk again and then surviving a second life threatening car accident a few years later that left her with seizures. At 19, she had a severe seizure that caused her to hit her head on the concrete, resulting in total memory loss. During the interview, Caprice will discuss her road to recovery which started at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where she was encouraged to try yoga.  With an invitation from her father, she began going to the gym.  It was in the gym where glimpses of her future self were shown.  Caprice attributes her ability to turn tragedy into triumph to the love and support of her family and the important role that proper nutrition and exercise plays in her life.  It is through proper nutrition and exercise that Caprice has been able to control her seizures.  Being “seizure free” for the past 2 ½ years, Caprice can now focus on utilizing her knowledge and skills to help improve the health and wellbeing of others through exercise and by creating custom meal plans that encourage healthy eating and appeal to the taste buds as well. Caprice is also a warrior and advocate of Epilepsy awareness. Her motto is, “with Excuse Free Fitness, you can do ALL things”! She is truly a walking miracle, and despite all obstacles, she continues to persevere.  Caprice truly is an amazing young woman, who truly believes in Excuse Free Fitness.

Direct download: Episode_96_Caprice_Obryant.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:05am EDT

In this episode of Six Weeks to Fitness, I am joined by Imani Hakim, best known for her role as Tonya Rock, kid sister to Chris Rock on the very popular sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris”.  On March 10, 2017, Imani will star in the Netflix original Movie “Burning Sands” alongside actress Alfre Woodard.  Although most people decide what career path they want to take after they graduate from high school, Imani Hakim already had developed a strong passion for acting by the tender age of seven and by age 11 she landed her first acting role in Everybody Hates Chris.  During the interview, Imani will discuss how her persistence along with her father’s support and belief in her abilities, helped her land her first role.  She will also discuss in detail her next movie, Burning Sands, which will give you a raw, voyeuristic journey of fraternity pledging through the eyes of one favored pledgee (Trevor Jackson), who is torn between honoring a code of silence or standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing.  Imani will also discuss what life is like being a young actress in Hollywood auditioning for film and TV roles.  Imani believes that there is no substitute for confidence, believing in yourself and getting paid to do what you love to do.  Imani will also discuss her exercise routine and the important role nutrition plays in her life. 

Direct download: Episode_95_-_Imani_Hakim.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dr. Phoenyx Austin, founder of the Fit Beauty Shop, creator of Dr. Phoenyx Nutrition, best-selling author of “If You Love It, It Will Grow – A Guide to Healthy, Beautiful Natural Hair”, and communications consultant. Dr. Phoenyx specializes in providing nutrition products and practical tips to help women achieve a fit, healthy and beautiful body from the inside out! She is highly respected for her expertise in both fitness and nutrition, as well as her passion for entrepreneurship and making healthy living fun.  Dr. Phoenyx has been featured in many major publications and has served as an on-air health/fitness expert on networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, NewsOne Now and Radio One. Although Dr. Phoenyx is a medical doctor and has served in the U.S. Air Force as a physician, Dr. Phoenyx stated in the interview that she was not taught nutrition in school; instead, she learned how to treat disease with medication after you became sick.  It wasn’t until after medical school that Dr. Phoenyx immersed herself into fitness and nutrition and became an expert in the field and is now sharing her expertise with the world as a speaker, consultant and entrepreneur.  You can find out more about Dr. Phoenyx by visiting www.drphoenyx.com.

Direct download: Episode_94_-_Dr._Phoenix_Austin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:38pm EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by actress Rachel Currence, who played Sharmari Fears, the wife of Ronnie Devoe in the BET Blockbuster hit “The New Edition Story”.  During the interview, Rachel will share what it was like working with the other cast members, which included Fox TV show Empire’s "Bryshere Y. Gray" and other outstanding young actors.  Rachel will also talk about what life was like growing up in San Diego, California, being the youngest of 4 siblings, starting out in beauty pageants and winning many titles, one including LITTLE MISS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, which placed her in many parades, charity events and the local newspaper, which, thanks to her mother, started her out on the road to becoming an actress.  Rachel will also discuss the importance of drive, persistence and focus to achieving your goals in acting and how staying true to her diet is the key to her health and wellbeing.  When Rachel isn’t acting, she enjoys investing in Real Estate. Rachel is a rising star and true entrepreneur in every sense of the word.

Direct download: Episode_93_-_Rachel_Currence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:45pm EDT

In this episode of Six Weeks to Fitness, I am joined by Theresa Wells (Coach Wells), owner of Tone At Home Fitness, A mobile fitness training support company out of San Diego, California.  Coach Wells holds multiple certifications as a Group Fitness instructor, Zumba instructor, Boot Camp instructor and Insanity® (Beachbody) fitness instructor.  She is also a Running and Nutrition Coach.  Coach Wells is a graduate of both the University of California at San Diego, (UCSD) and the University of San Diego (USD), she earned her B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning with an emphasis in Education and Community Dynamics and Later obtained a Masters in School Counseling and PPS Credential.  During the interview Coach Wells will take us on a journey from her youth growing up in San Diego, California where she lived a very active childhood and maintained a successful fitness business until a near tragic car accident occurred in 2016 where she sustained multiple injuries to her body, including a major concussion and short-term memory loss.  She also gained about 30 pounds after the accident.

When doctors told Coach Wells, she will never be able to run again, something she prides herself in doing having run numerous marathons, Coach Wells proved the doctors wrong.  Today, Coach Wells is almost fully recovered and back in the park running and helping her clients get in shape through her one on one training and her Tone At Home Facebook page, which provides exercise, nutrition and weight loss tips. Coach Wells turned near tragedy into triumph and shares her knowledge and wisdom on the importance of exercise and nutrition to achieving fitness goals.  This and much more is in this very informative and inspiring episode.

Direct download: Episode_92_Theresa_Wells.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:23pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Tom Bilyeu, co-founder of the 2014 Inc. 500 company, Quest Nutrition — a unicorn startup valued at over $1 billion — and the co-founder and host of Impact Theory, a first-of-its-kind company designed to facilitate global change through the incubation of mission-based businesses and the cultivation of empowering content. Every piece of content Impact Theory creates is meant to underscore the company mission to free people from “The Matrix” and help them unlock their true potential. During the interview, Tom will take us on a journey from his youth growing up in Tacoma, Washington in a family that struggled with obesity and how this struggle gave him a personal drive to segue into the health and fitness industry and help his loved ones and others like them revolutionize their relationship with food. As it would turn out, this new focus on something deeply personal and passion-based led Tom and his two partners to create Quest Nutrition.

Tom has taken his drive to help people develop the skills they will need to improve themselves and the world even further with his new company, Impact Theory, where he interviews high-profile innovators and thought leaders, such as Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, Lewis Howes, Lisa Nichols, Michael Strahan and others.  Also, in this episode, Tom talks about the role the mind plays in determining your success and the methods and tools he and his partners used to take their company from zero to one billion dollars in less than 7 years.  This is truly one of my most informative and impactful interviews on health, wealth and success.

Direct download: Episode_91_-_Tom_Bilyeu-Impact_Theory.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:11am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dr. Arabia Mollette, Emergency Physician and Internet TV host out of the South Bronx, in New York City.  At the age of 5, young Arabia envisioned herself becoming a doctor but wasn't sure what kind of doctor she'd become until two tragedies occurred in her life. At 17, she became a teen mom to a precious baby boy, whose life was tragically taken away at four months old. Six years later, her youngest sister was shot and killed while riding in a friend’s car. Both tragedies caused her to question the doctors about their medical explanations, and it sparked a desire for Arabia to make a difference in her community.  During the interview, Dr. Mollette will take us on a journey from her youth up until today, sharing some of the obstacles and challenges she had to overcome and how her belief that she was placed here to fulfill a higher purpose enabled her to realize her dream to becoming an Emergency Physician and offering medical help and advice to people all around the world.  Dr. Arabia has even launched her own podcast called “The Visit with Dr. Arabia Mollette”, where she provides free medical advice, while discussing a variety of topics such as  wellness, mental illness and more with the guests on her show.  This is an amazing story of how a young, African American woman turned tragedy into triumph.

Direct download: Episode_90_-_Part_I.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Jameelah Struthers, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and co-host of Professionally Fit radio, out of Southfield, Michigan. Jameelah’s fitness journey began after her mother, who lived a very active and healthy lifestyle, was diagnosed with Brain Cancer and was given 8 months to 3 years to live.  During the interview, Jameelah will take us on her personal journey battling depression, anger and grief and how starting an exercise and nutrition program started her on the road to recovery, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Jameelah will share how healthy eating has affected her thought processes.  Jameelah believes that by cutting out refined sugars, bread and other processed foods from her diet, she now has more mental clarity and positive thoughts.  Jameelah believes that there is a connection with the foods we eat and how we think.  Jameelah will also share her exercise philosophy, which she believes is the reason why she was able to lose 25 pounds.  Jameelah operates a Facebook page called “Get Fit With Jaye”, where she gives fitness and nutrition advice. 

After conditioning her own body and mind to achieve her goals and developing a passion for health and wellness, Jameelah now spends her time helping others to achieve their fitness goals.

Direct download: Episode__89_Jameelah_Struthers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:21pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Bruce Cardenas, Chief Communications Officer for Quest Nutrition. Prior to joining Quest, Bruce served in the U.S. Marine Corp. where he was assigned to the security detail for one of the Marine Corp. generals.  While in the Marines, Bruce participated in various sports such as powerlifting and football.  After leaving the Marines, Bruce pursued his life-long dream of becoming a police officer and joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).  While in the LAPD, Bruce started a high end security firm providing security for music executives and celebrities such as Mariah Carey, Courtney Love, Rickie Martin, Mark Anthony and many others.  During the interview, Bruce will share how he met the owners of Quest Nutrition at a local gym, and how that relationship evolved into him becoming the Chief Communications Officer for the company.  Bruce will also discuss the Quest mission and the Quest Nutrition products, which include protein bars, powders and chips.  The products are in 90 countries and the protein bar is the top selling protein bar in the market.

Bruce believes that developing long-lasting relationships is key to any successful business. His natural entrepreneurial ambition, combined with his strong affinity for connecting communities through meaningful relationships, has solidified his place with the Quest family. 

Direct download: Episode_88_Bruce_Cardenas.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:16pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Nicole Rodrigues, CEO and founder of NRPR Group, a strategic positioning agency in Beverly Hills, which was awarded best PR agency in the city. More than 16 years ago, Nicole worked in-house as a PR coordinator for the Oakland Raiders, while also cheering for the team as a Raiderette. She’s developed and executed strategic campaigns for some of the biggest names in business, such as Yahoo!, Dolby, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony PlayStation, Hulu, M-GO, Toon Hero, Demand Media, MobiTV, and the Oakland Raiders.

During the interview, Nicole will take us on a journey from her childhood, growing up the oldest of 9 children in Fremont, California, working 3 jobs to pay for her college education to pursuing her dreams as a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders and becoming the owner of a very successful PR company.  Nicole will also discuss the important role exercise and nutrition played in helping her to achieve her goals and why, while in the 8th grade, she decided to give up drinking soda and how that has impacted her life.  Nicole believes that in order to be successful you must have a positive mindset and limit the amount of negative people in your life.  Nicole doesn’t believe in excuses.  She believes if she can live her life’s dream and purpose, coming from humble beginnings, anyone can.  Nicole didn’t know how she was going to achieve her goals but stayed on a positive, health conscious path, believed in herself and her abilities and became a trailblazer.

Direct download: Episode_87_Nicole_Rodrigues.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:57pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Zhivi Williams, CEO of Leading by Example and Passion Driven, out of Charlotte, North Carolina.  Zhivi is a Health, Wellness and Fitness Accountability Coach, motivational speaker, Personal Trainer, and author of “Who Needs A Gym” Using Social Media for Weight Loss”.  During the interview, Zhivi will discuss various chapters of the book, which was written for men and women who don’t know where to start on their fitness journey and for those who are on a budget and may not be able to afford a personal trainer, but still need the inspiration and support that a personal trainer can provide, but at no cost using social media as the fitness platform.  The book also includes information on how to get free online healthy eating and weight loss support, meal suggestions, exercise routines and much more.  Zhivi will also discuss her online coaching business, her 30 day challenge which will take place each month starting in January.  You can also workout with Zhivi on Facebook every morning.

Direct download: Episode_86_Zhivi_Williams_-_Book_Releasse.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Dre Baldwin a/k/a DreAllDay, a former professional basketball player turned Mental Toughness Coach and Expert. He coaches, consults, and speaks with audiences ranging from business owners, salespeople, content marketers, branding executives, sports teams and high schools.  Dre is the author of 11 books including The Mental Handbook, where he writes about having a “bullet proof” mindset.  During the interview, Dre will take us on a journey from his youth growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, playing Division 3 basketball to becoming a professional basketball player and a Mental Toughness Expert.  Dre will also discuss the importance personal development and visualization played in the achievement of his goals and successes.  Dre Baldwin lays out a blueprint in this interview that anyone can follow, if they know how to apply information and have the mental toughness it takes to stand out from among the crowd. 

Dre Baldwin is now a top speaker and motivator in his field, having published over 5,300 videos since 2009 with over 120,000 subscribers, and 39,000,000 views of his YouTube channel.  This is a very inspiring interview from a young man who knows what he’s talking about and is living his dream!

Direct download: Episode_85-Dre_Baldwin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:36pm EDT

In this episode of Six Weeks to Fitness, I am joined by Chef Isra Gordon, owner of Delicious Endings Catering and Tea House, a full-service catering company out of Brooklyn, New York, that promises to engage your appetite with ingredient-driven, health-focused global gourmet cuisine.  Chef Gordon was born and raised on the island of Grenada and is a graduate of the New York Restaurant School Culinary Program.  She is a highly trained chef and pastry chef with over 27 years of experience in the culinary industry.  Chef Gordon’s personal recipes have been featured in cookbooks and magazines, such as “One Sweet Cookie” and “Kuji Magazine”. 

Chef Gordon’s Delicious Endings Catering and Tea House has extensive experience catering to those with dietary restrictions and preferences, such as raw foodists, vegetarians, pescetarians, and others. Delicious Endings Catering and Tea House also carries over 30 different types of teas, some of which are carefully formulated by Chef Isra, to treat diabetes, dementia, high cholesterol, weight loss and much more.  Delicious Endings Catering and Tea House is the culmination of Chef Gordon’s passion and years of experience in the culinary world.  Chef Gordon believes that the obesity epidemic can be linked directly to the food we eat, the amount of sugary foods and drinks we consume and the lack of exercise.  For more information about Delicious Endings Catering and Tea House, visit www.deliciousendings.com or call Chef Isra at (917) 364-8276.

Direct download: Episode_84_Chef_Isra_Gordon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:35pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Reea Rodney, author, mother of two and childcare provider.  Originally from Trinidad, Reea migrated to Brooklyn, New York in 2006 in search for a better life for her family. Because of her passion for her work as a childcare provider and desire to help children, Reea was inspired to write children’s books. She wanted to assist not only the kids who were under her care with the day to day issues they may be facing, but kids all over the world.  Her stories addresses topics such as adjusting to change, fear, separation anxiety, bravery, imagination, witty personality, love, compassion and teamwork. Although Reea’s first book, “Juniper and Rose: Sisters and Best Friends Forever,” was written in 2012, Reea held back from releasing the book until October, 2016, due to fear and low self-esteem.  It wasn’t until Reea read Steve Harvey’s book “Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success” that Reea decided to take that leap of faith and publish Juniper and Rose, which is receiving rave reviews from parents and children all across the country.  Reea’s success reminds us of that quote from Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”, where he states “whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve”.  Reea is starting to achieve great success with Juniper and Rose, the first of a series of books about these adorable twin sisters.

Direct download: Episode_83_Reea_Rodney.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:14pm EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am pleased to welcome back to the program Shaniqua Garvin, a single mom, event planner and CEO of her lifestyle blog, Brown Media Mama.  During the interview, Shaniqua will discuss her upcoming event “Fall Into Fitness” presented by Sisterhued, the first of many fitness events she will be hosting from New York City to Los Angeles.  The event will take place on Sunday, October 9th from 12 to 2 p.m. at the Fit 4 Dance Studio, located at 154 Utica Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y.  Sponsors and contributors include Fit 4 Dance Studio, Fiji, Suja, Raw Food Central, GoGo squeeze, Pipernilli, Outside of the Box Creations, Boiron, 22 days nutrition, Skaklee, Pipernilli and Amped hydrate. There will be Belly Dancehall classes, giveaways, refreshments, panel discussions conducted by Laci Chisholm (owner of Fit4Dance), Golda Smith,  MPH, CPT, and Damian McCleod, Acupuncturist.

Direct download: Episode_82-Shaniqua_Fit_4_Dance_Event.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:17am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I will be joined by Shaniqua Garvin, a widowed single mom, and event planner, raising her young son in New York City. She is the founder and CEO of her lifestyle blog, Brown Media Mama.  During the interview, Shaniqua will discuss her weight loss journey which began after losing her husband to heart disease at the age of 38 and how this tragedy motivated her to improve her health for the sake of her son. While working on her weight loss, Shaniqua was told about an open casting call that Oprah’s “O” Magazine had to spotlight women and their weight loss journey.  Shaniqua wrote in to the magazine and explained how the loss of her husband inspired her to lose weight and how she could not do it alone.  To Shaniqua’s surprise and excitement, she immediately received a call from the magazine and was selected among 9 other women to share their weight loss journey and grace the cover of the April, 2016 “O” Magazine with Oprah.  Shaniqua will share what it was like to meet Oprah and Gayle during the photo shoot and how that experience has changed her life for the better.  Shaniqua is determined to share her story on the importance of taking care of your health.  This is a very heartfelt and inspiring episode.

Direct download: Episode_81_Shaniqua_Garvin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03am EDT

In this special Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I will be joined by Angela Mathis, a Minister and Abundance Coach out of Atlanta, Georgia.  During the interview, Angela will discuss the many health benefits she has received while taking O2 Drops, a one-of-a-kind formula of bio-available oxygen molecules and essential trace minerals that has been said to revitalize your body and improve your health in ways that you might not have thought possible.  O2 Drops have been known to assist your body with weight loss, sleeping problems; chronic pain, aches, stiffness; low energy or fatigue; recovery from exercise and much more.  Angela believes that if you give your body what it needs, the body will heal itself.  This is a very important episode for anyone who would like to improve their health naturally with the help of one of the most important chemical elements on Earth, Oxygen.

 For those of you who are interested in trying O2 Drops for yourselves, I have a limited supply of samples available on a first come, first serve basis.  All you have to do is email or call the number provided in the interview.

Direct download: Episode_80_Angela_Mathis_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:15am EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Ashanti Johnson, creator and founder of 360.Mind.Body.Soul, the Physique Factory, one of the most unique and innovative fitness facilities located in the south side of Chicago.  Battling weight issues in her teens and 20s, Ashanti recognized a pattern.  No matter how much she ate or worked out, weight was the side-effect of her stress-level.  During the interview, Ashanti will discuss what happened when she moved to Chicago in her early 20s that set a light bulb off in her head, which caused her to discover the real reason why so many people remain overweight in spite of the exercise and diets they are on.  Ashanti will also explain how 360.Mind.Body.Soul (MBS) came into existence and the impact her boutique fitness club has made in the lives of hundreds of African American women who have lost over 10,000 pounds in 5 years following her guidance and weight loss philosophy.  If you’re doing all you can to lose weight and get healthy and not seeing the results you would like, I strongly suggest that you listen to Ashanti Johnson’s philosophy on health and fitness and how the mind, body and soul plays such a vital part to your success. 

Ashanti Johnson is a rising star in the fitness industry.  360.Mind.Body.Soul is just getting started and is poised to take the fitness industry to a whole new level with her mission to help her clients grow, evolve and actualize their weight-loss goals in the shortest amount of time.  Check out the 360 MBS website at www.360mbs.com and see for yourself the many weight loss transformations taking place under Ashanti’s guidance.  Ashanti will make a believer out of you.

Direct download: Episode_79_-_Ashanti_Johnson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:05am EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by former fashion model, Ed Lewis, Sr. and his son, Ed Lewis, Jr. Instead of pursuing his promising career as a fashion model, where he modeled for Sean John clothing line and was featured in various magazines such as Vibe, DNR and The Source, Eddie Lewis, Sr., decided to turn his back on the modeling industry and all that the industry had to offer, the money, travel and more, to raise his son, who is now one of the most heavily recruited high school football players in New Jersey.  He has offers from over 10 Division 1 colleges. It has been a long, hard road for Eddie, Sr., and in the midst of days when there was no food on the table and no money in the bank, he always made sure his son was well fed and had a roof over his head.  In Eddie Sr.’s words, “I had to rob Peter to pay Paul” and then mug Paul to pay back Peter”.  This interview is about the journey of a parent who has risked it all for his son and how his son is now reaping the rewards of his father’s sacrifice.  Father and son join me to talk about the struggle and triumphs that they both endured.  This is a very moving and inspiring episode on a personal level.

 

Direct download: Episode_78_-_Ed_Lewis_Sr._and_Jr.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21pm EDT

In this Episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I am joined by Sirobe Carstafhnur, a talented Architect and Urban Planner and creator of “Mind Your Shape”, a wellness program that combines traditional weight loss methods with emotional support, body empowerment strategies, private personal training, nutritional and culinary education, and an artistic curation of the individual's progress. The goal of the program is to enable an individual to take full responsibility and pride in their own well-being and to embark on the journey to a healthier and more sustainable way of life. During the interview, Sirobe will take us back to when she was a child growing up in Mississippi and although her childhood started out like most children, very active, and happy with a supportive family structure around her, something happened to Sirobe when she was around 6 or 7 years old that affected her both mentally, emotionally and physically.  Sirobe will talk about this traumatic experience and more in this interview.

Sirobe considers herself a “work in progress” and with her creative and supportive team around her, she is documenting her transformation along the way and helping others who are in need of support through her Mind Your Shape program.

Direct download: Episode_77_-_Sirobe_Carstafhnur.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:05am EDT

In this episode of our Six Weeks to Fitness podcast, I will be joined by Adam Davenport, a Yale educated, award winning, actor, writer and director.  Adam  recently completed filming the part of Hercules in the Independent production “Project Olympus”, a feature length rock musical.  There were about 500 other actors auditioning for the role of Hercules.

During the interview, Adam will take us on his amazing journey growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago, where he read a book every day and lived a sort of introverted, nerdy lifestyle (in Adam’s words), with very little physical activity, to becoming a film major at Yale University and being the recipient of the Panavision New Filmmaker Awards.  Adam will also discuss his many role models growing up, such as Toni Morrison, Halle Berry, Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Alfre Woodard, Laurence Fishburn, George Lucas and others, some of whom he has collaborated with in his young career.  Adam lives a healthy lifestyle which consists of exercising 5 to 6 days a week, eating small healthy meals throughout the day and does not drink alcohol because of the negative effects alcohol consumption has on the body.  He is living proof that if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you.

Adam will also provide action steps that he believes anyone can take in order to be successful and why he believes that visualization is important when it comes to accomplishing your goals.  This was an inspiring and informative interview from a truly remarkable and committed rising star. 

Direct download: Episode_76-Adam_Davenport_Hercules.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:54am EDT