I really do appreciate celebrity TV doctor’s who are leading the charge in promoting change towards a healthy lifestyle. The Ozes and the Smiths of the world have captivated millions with their television appearances and books. Sometimes I am taken back a bit when they bring out a fitness trainer and he or she is relegated to only showing a few exercises to keep the crowd motivated. When it comes to a trainers value in the wellness world, I don’t want to be tagged as just be the designated hype man. I am a personal trainer who has a direct and hands on approach in impacting a communities’ health.
About three months, ago I decided to conduct my own case study on the keys to getting the community healthier. The keys were education, motivation, physical application, and maintenance and wellness activism. I started a program called, The Fitness Syndicate Vs. Obesity. I got six personal trainers, a nutritionist, a coach, Jiu-Jitsu instructors and a beach boot camp drill sergeant to volunteer their time to help train 14 members of our community at no charge for 12 weeks.
The mission was to show that more credit, when it comes to wellness, should be given to the ground troops or the frontline soldiers in the battle against obesity and the chronic illnesses that plague the African American communities and throughout the United States. I wanted to show this without subtracting any credibility from the medical community. The goal was designed to show that people in fitness industry should always be considered as an important component of preventative health. I only needed two things from a doctor for this program; a medical release allowing participants to train and a follow up of the participants improved health after the program.
Before I continue, I need to share the trigger that prompted this program…
In 2005, we experienced one of the worst tragedies to date in Hurricane Katrina. We all saw the carnage and death caused by the storm. As a young trainer, I observed something that shook me to my core and was probably not appropriate to say at the time. I saw people that could not save themselves from being morbidly obese. I remember watching a news story of a man who could not pull his wife to the rooftop because she was too heavy. I also saw elderly people confined to wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. I could only assumed it could have been from sedentary lifestyles and smoking; all preventable diseases. I wanted to do more than just donate. I wanted to help within my expertise. I tried to use resources to coordinate an effort to provide massive month of fitness training from the best of the fitness industry but it fell on deaf ears and the idea died.
In 2010, I realized that I could run the same idea right here in Los Angeles because obesity has taken over our community too. So as a pilot, I asked a few trainers to donate a week of their time to train 12 people. They accepted without hesitation. I remember the only media source that helped me was Radio Free 102.3 FM KJLH, which has a long history of helping the Los Angeles communities.
With all heart but not much of a strategy we helped 12 people lose weight and changed most of their lives for the better. To my fault, I had difficulty putting together the right message to send to the public, but experience is the best teacher.
Back to the present…
The 2013 program was better strategically planned event. KJLH was on board once again, lead by a compassionate DJ by the name of Adai Lamar. She also is a client that also had an incredible weight loss journey. Together we ran a promotion for potential participants to submit letters as to why they should be selected. I offered no reward or monetary prize. I wanted to see who in Los Angeles wanted to change their life without the expectation of reward.
Well the letters poured in. I fell into a state of depression reading the incredible obstacles that caused each person their current condition. I wish I could have taken them all but I had to choose 14. I also chose nine alternates.
I was delighted that Gayle Anderson from KTLA Channel 5 interviewed some of the selectees prior to initial weigh-in, which gave the program some needed momentum and confidence in what I was doing.
When the program officially began, I was inspired by the willingness of the trainers and the passion of the participants to succeed. This year the best of the best gladly volunteered their time. The legendary Coach E, Celebrity Trainer Dawn Strozier, Kelvan “KFlash” Gamble, GI Joe Charles former UFC veteran, Chai Brazil, AK, Jiu Jitsu instructors Glen and Jocelyn Chang, Henry Chuckwurah and Nutritionist Doctor Natacha Nelson. The participants were exposed to every facet of fitness; MMA training, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, track and field, Zumba, beach boot camps and of course Functional Training, along with constant advise from a certified nutritionist.
The goal was to keep our participants in a state of muscle confusion to offset a plateau in fat and weight loss and it worked. We even varied the times of training. Every participant utilized every resource for the 12 weeks, which I am very proud to write. Even our alternates made their one training session per week. That is how serious they were.
In 2010, four people quit the program with only 8 finishing. This year only one quit but an alternate quickly stepped in and kept it moving.
We even set up a pampering event at the Jspot Comedy Club and received a healthy cooking demonstration from The American Heart Associations Kitchen Divas. There was also a beach walk at Manhattan Beaches Pier to Pier Walk to keep their morale up during this challenging process, which was highly effective.
In the end the group lost a total of 256 lbs., but more important, I began receiving positive health reports from follow-ups from their perspective doctors. I also discovered that life around them was changing in a positive direction. For some, obesity ran ramped in their households. Through their journey the immediate family followed suit. I witnessed stronger bonds between the participants and their children. I also noticed a strong bond among the participants and trainers. A community of health and wellness was forming. Some have advised that the people in their social and work environments are changing because of their work to change their own life.
After 12 weeks in the program, 14 disciples of fitness are now passionately taking what they’ve learned and are sharing with other. This was the blueprint of my program.
The truth is doctors and fitness communities cannot save the community alone. We have to instill others who may not be licensed or certified to teach the masses. In most cases people want to change their lives. They know they need external help from a trainer or a healthcare provider but money and life struggles keep them from that.
I saw a news segment in 2008 about Dr. Oz. He took a whole day to provide free health check ups at a convention center. From what I saw from the news segment, the center was swamped with people who needed a check up but had nowhere to turn before that day.
The same theory was applied in my fitness program but add three months to that mode of giving and you’ve literally did more then help, you increased your message through the mouths of 14 other people. This is called a force multiplier. Just as a disease can quickly take over a community, so can positive reinforcement on healthy values.
Just imagine if this idea could be done state-by-state or city-by-city with the best trainers of those areas. We, along with the hard work our doctors already do, could have an incredible impact on obesity and all the sickness that comes with it.
Optimally, we’ll need 12 health and fitness professionals of different modalities to donate one week within a 12-week cycle in each state or major city in the United States. We need willing participants who aren’t looking for reward but change for their lives. We document their progress from start to finish and report it simultaneously nationwide.
This will work family, I’ve done it twice now in Los Angeles. I may or may not one day be able to get to Louisiana to help out there but I now have a master plan to promote my fellow trainers out there to work with their communizes as we did here in L.A.
To my trainers across the country who are inspired by this writing, it takes a strong trainer to realize a community can’t be helped by just the efforts of one. You have to reach out to your equals in the competitive field of fitness. You also have take profit out of the equation for one week during the 12 weeks program and give up your secret cookies for free for the success of the program. The bond I have with my team is beyond even my entrepreneurial/ capitalistic/ conservative reasoning but my heart is rich!
It never was about us. It is about our ability to take a small bit of time away from thinking about the business of fitness and becoming a vessel to solving the problem of obesity by lending your expertise to those in need. The rest will come. Who wants in!
You don’t have to be a fighter to feel like one. So let’s train!
For more on The CJ’s Functional Fitness Foundation’s Fitness Syndicate Vs. Obesity program go to www.cjff.org and click on the program link.
Come Join CJ at the 2013 KJLH’s Women’s Health Forum Saturday April 27, 2013.
(After Photo LV Williams lost 51lbs)
(After JeNi Barrett Lost 31 lbs)
(Adai, CJ and the Syndicate Team)
Click the Photo Above to See The Fitness Syndicate in action