Connect with us

Interviews

How Art of Athletics Activewear is Helping Women Achieve Their Dreams

Published

on

Owner of AOA

Art of Athletics Activewear is a brand focused on helping women enhance their health through comfortable, stylish activewear and accessories. Linda, the founder of AOA takes great pride in her brand and donates a percentage of all proceeds to Global Mamas—a nonprofit that transforms the lives of women in Africa by creating sustainable income opportunities which lead to financial independence. Read our interview with Linda and find out details on her Fall4Fitness campaign and how you can save on AOA fitness apparel and contribute to a great cause.

BFT: What was the inspiration behind creating Art of Athletics? What separates Art of Athletics from others?

AOA: My inspiration was to take what I believe in – which is the strength of a woman – and incorporate that into what was missing in my life, which was fitness and share it.

The designs incorporate important aesthetics of modern day fitness apparel. Not only are they are chic and fashion-forward, but they are breathable, have 4-way stretch, and are super comfy. Our bottoms are all reversible, so you get two for the price of one and our tops come with removable cups for added support and shape.

BFT: Paying it forward seems to be a major part of the AOA brand. Tell us a little about the contributions that you and the AOA brand make to non-profit organizations.

AOA: Our goal is to help encourage capable women who are in great places today, to give back to pay it forward. We choose non-profits that focus on women because we believe that women are the backbone of every family and we want to help bring awareness to their needs and become successful.

BFT: As a woman who promotes inner strength and courage, what advice do you have for the BFT community, women in particular, for overcoming obstacles such as self-doubt, low self-esteem or body image issues?

AOA: There is so much I would like to say but the one thing I have always believed and lived is that “what you think, you become.” I think that sums up our existence; the choices we make and how we impact our lives and others. Never ever let anything or anyone dictate who you are or what you can become. You are beautiful. You are powerful. You are amazing. Period.

BFT: When did fitness become a major part of your life? What is your favorite type of exercise?

AOA: I never knew what fitness and healthy eating was until I migrated to the US. My fitness quest began in 2000 when I realized that I needed an outlet in my life. I was working full-time and going to school at night and felt drained constantly, I needed a way to feel energized and alive and exercising did just that for me.

I enjoy running outdoors with no music; it de-clutters my brain and helps me think things through. I always feel very accomplished after each run.

BFT: For some, fitness is looking like a person on the cover of a magazine. For others, it might be just making smarter choices to achieve a healthier lifestyle. How do you define fitness for yourself?

AOA: Fitness to me is about being a healthier me and making healthy choices. It is always important that I outline my fitness goals and keep the focus but just as in life nothing is perfect, so sometimes I fall and I just need to pick myself back up and refocus.

AOA Breathe Again TankBFT: What is your personal favorite product from the AOA brand and why?

AOA: I love all the pieces because they have great meaning to me. My current favorite is the Breathe Again Tank for two wonderful reasons; first, I love the name I chose for the empire waist design because it allows you to relax your stomach muscles, not be conscious and just breathe again. Secondly, I am expecting my first child and this tank has been my go-to as the baby grows along with my stomach. It allows me to be comfortable and provide enough room for my growing belly without restriction and the length is perfect enough that I am not constantly tagging on the tank top to pull it down. Pair it with the Color Block Pant and you are all set to go.

BFT: How does it feel to own a brand that has helped women around the world gain economic independence?

AOA: It feels amazing. We are still in the initial stages of that journey, but it is refreshing to know that every woman we touch has a domino effect on the people around her and that is what encourages us to want to do more.

AOA pants

BFT: Tell us a little bit more about your Fall4Fitness campaign. what is it about and where can people find out more information?

AOA: Our Fall4Fitness campaign encourages women to not only lead a healthy lifestyle to fit into their summer bikini, but to continue with their fitness activities and healthy eating during the Fall and Winter months. With that in mind, we are offering a promotion to encourage women to get moving and to stock up on new gear to excite them to jump out there and continue or begin a fitness regimen they have been putting off. We’re offering 20% off every purchase when customers use code FALL4FITNESS at checkout.

BFT: What’s next for the AOA brand? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

AOA: The next step for the Art of Athletics brand is to introduce more styles into the mix to give our customers variety. In 5 years, we would like to expand our charitable partnerships, keeping the focus on women and family sustenance and look to become a household name in women’s active wear.

BFT: How can people keep in touch with you?

AOA: We would be thrilled to have you to keep in touch with us through our various social media outlets:

1. Like us on Facebook|www.Facebook.com/ArtofAthletics

2. Follow us on Twitter|@AOAactivewear

3. Visit our website www.AOAactivewear.com and signup for our newsletters

4. Follow us on Pinterest at www.Pinterest.com/AOAactivewear

Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

Continue Reading
Comments

Interviews

Bernie Mac’s Widow, Rhonda McCullough, Talks Regaining Health after Loss

“In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, ‘This was it,’ and I’ve been committed ever since.”

Published

on

Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac, widow

Rhonda McCullough, Bernie Mac’s widow, has dealt with so many life changes over the years. After losing her husband, then her father and mother last year, Rhonda’s eating habits became increasingly unhealthy and her weight skyrocketed. It wasn’t until last year after her mother’s death, that she decided to change her eating habits, and shed the weight. Today, Rhonda has lost over 70 pounds by eating healthy and keeping a regular exercise routine. She’d like to let others know, that if she could do it, so can you!

Black Fitness Today caught up with Rhonda McCullough, to learn more about how she turned pain into triumph and how she kick-started her weight loss journey!

Describe yourself as you can remember while you were with Bernie Mac:
I was a young mother, a young wife and a stay-at-home mom for a while. That’s where I came into my weight issues; being at home, a little bored, and having a baby… I’d eat a dozen of doughnuts, then I’d say, “wow I can’t believe I ate all of that.” It was always the sweets.

So your weight problems started as a young mother, even while Bernie Mac was still living?
Oh absolutely. The weight issues started after my pregnancy. I gained close to 80lbs. After I delivered her, I lost 20lbs, then I went on a strict diet. I ended up getting back down to my original pre-pregnancy size, and I maintained that weight for a while.

How long were you able to sustain that post-pregnancy weight loss?
I was able to lose the weight, but I couldn’t sustain it for very long. Bernie Mac worked 4pm to midnight, and I’d wait for him to come home before eating dinner, and you know, you can’t eat late like that, plus I wasn’t active. As African-Americans, we’re not taught that you must exercise daily to sustain weight loss. You have to exercise, you have to move, and I didn’t do any of that. So as life went on, I ate, and I gained the weight back, especially once Bernie got sick.

After Bernie Mac got sick, how did that affect your weight loss?
Bernie was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in the 80’s. As his sickness progressed, it just got worst for me. I was here taking care of him. After he died in August 2008, I could only think, “What am I going to do now?” I just didn’t care about my diet after that. Nothing was healthy, nothing was good. I remember saying to myself, “I’m going to be fat the rest of my life.”

What happened between 2008 and now?
After Bernie died in 2008, my dad died months later. In 2010, I joined Weight Watchers and ended up losing 70lbs. I got remarried at the end of 2010 on New Years Eve. From 2010 to 2013, I don’t know how, but the weight crept back on me. In 2016, my mom got sick. She was in and out the hospital, it was just so stressful and I didn’t care about my diet again. I was at my highest weight that I’d ever been. I just couldn’t stay focused on the weight loss.

What was the turning point for you?
I have a good friend, he told me, “You know what Rhonda, you’re a beautiful person, no matter what size you are. Stop talking about yourself… if you don’t like how you look, change it, only you can change it.” I’ve been a yo-yo dieter my whole life. So this time around, because I’m turning 60 this year, I said I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to look good. So slowly but surely, I started making changes. After my mom died, months later, I knew it was time for a major change. In October of 2016, I made up my mind. I said, “This was it,” and I’ve been committed ever since.

How has your diet changed?
I cut out sugars, white foods, potatoes, sodas, I only ate lean meats and vegetables, and I did that for four months. I got tired of that so I decided to incorporate some foods back into my diet, but in moderation. You just have to learn how to compromise.

Are you happy?
I honestly am. I love the way my shirts and blouses fit; I love the way my jeans fit. I’m a size that’s suitable for me. I want to lose maybe 10-15 more pounds but I honestly am happy with the way I look now.

What are some words of encouragement that you would give someone going through the same thing you went through?
Right now in this moment, no matter how you feel, or how you look, you still have to love yourself. We always show compassion to other people, but we never show that same compassion to ourselves. Within loving ourselves, we can make a change. Start small, it doesn’t have to be big. Don’t make goals that are too big and overwhelming. Take something away for a week. Start walking everyday for 10 minutes, until you can build up and do more. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not a diet, this is a lifestyle. Not to say you can’t enjoy some things, just not every day. We have to learn how to love ourselves and not let the food consume us. Eat to live, don’t live to eat.

Rhonda McCullough plans to continue her weight loss journey while living on purpose! Follow Rhonda on IG at @mcculloghgilmore.

Continue Reading

Cover Feature

Living Fit The Civil Way – How A Healthy Lifestyle Powers Karen Civil’s Success

Published

on

karen civil
Photo credit: Noel Daganta

Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today

It’s another beautiful November day in Los Angeles, and it’s shoot day. Karen Civil is en route, and the team is preparing for her arrival. You can feel how the atmosphere changes when she walks into the studio. She brings an aura of confidence, yet calmness. Even while she’s ironing out details of her schedule for the rest of the week, she’s in lock step during shoot prep. Karen is like a chameleon who can rock many different looks and shine bright while doing it.

Everyone has their own method of preparation for photo shoots. We can imagine that in being a cover girl for a fitness mag, she wanted to be ready. But, her lifestyle, work ethic, and commitment to maintaining good health and a solid physique proved to be a perfect return on investment on shoot day.

The Elizabeth, New Jersey native now residing in Los Angeles is one of the best digital strategists in the game.  Even if you still don’t know who she is by now, you probably know her work and have seen her footprint. Check some of her most notable receipts:

Remember when Weezy went to prison? Karen was responsible for the creation of his fan site weezythanxyou.com, that kept his fans connected and brand intact during his incarceration. This was crucial because it was before social media gave us all direct access to our favorite celebs and entertainers.

You know all those Beats by Dre ads with notable athletes and entertainers wearing the headphones while getting a glimpse into their journeys? She spearheaded that campaign.

The booming success of mainstream artists like YG, Nipsey Hussle and Dave East and more, link back to her, as she has elevated these artists into formidable brands.

One of Karen’s platforms, karencivil.com, which kicked off in 2008, has been unique in the hip-hop industry because it is credited with introducing now global superstars to the world before anyone else including Drake, J. Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

Karen and her team launched the LiveCivil playground in Haiti, the place of her roots, to create a safe place for children to be able to play and express themselves.

Karen Civil is not only holding her own in a male-dominated industry, but is setting the path that women — and men — want to follow.

What enables Karen Civil to be the powerhouse that she is goes beyond her knowledge, experience, and connections. It is often said that our health is our greatest wealth. How can we live out our fullest potential if we aren’t healthy enough to do it? This is an idea that Karen takes very seriously; it gives her balance and a solid foundation.

Self-care has enabled her to successfully fight her battle with anemia, and maintain not only a solid body, but a solid mental state – something so crucial in the industry she dominates each and every day.

Flip to the next page to read our interview with Karen to find out what fitness means to her, why she felt it was best to let go of her vegan lifestyle, what keeps her grounded, and advice she has on brand-building.

Prev1 of 5
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Interviews

Hollywood Stylist and Former WAGS LA Star Ashley North Talks Healthy Living

The Fashion Maven Dishes Juggling Motherhood, Career, and Personal Fitness In Style

Published

on

ashley north, black fitness today, home decor, celebrity stylist
Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

Black Fitness Today got a chance to catch up with fashion maven & stylist to some of Hollywood’s most dapper actors, Ashley North. Ashley, formerly of E! Network’s WAGS LA and fiancé to one of the toughest players in the NFL (Dashon Goldson), shares her workout regimen and how she juggles both worlds of motherhood and staying fit for the fashion!

As a busy mom, how do you incorporate fitness into your daily regimen?

It’s hard, but I have to do it!!!  My girls are so active and in order to keep up I have to be in shape!!! (laughs)

Why is fitness an important part of your life? How does it help you?

Fitness is important, I mean I’m a fashion girl at heart and to look good and feel good I have to work out. It helps me with feeling strong inside out, there no better feeling than being fearless and knowing your body’s capabilities and strengths.

Tell us about your workouts! What are your favorite exercises and why?

I do some classes at my gym but mainly circuit training with my trainer, every session we focus on something new and it keep me on toes and most importantly it makes my workouts fun! My favorite workout… is anything that has to do with ABS!!! I’m trying to get bikini ready and keeping my tummy tight is so major.

Since your fiancé is NFL Pro baller, Dashon Goldson, do you all enjoy any workouts together? (Share Detail)

LOL (Laughs) Honestly Dashon is such a professional I can’t hang with him in gym. He will try to work out with me but he gets intense and I just can’t keep up! We have a membership at the same gym and he’s so encouraging and really tries to help me but there’s no competing with a pro baller.

How does your diet impact your fit family?

I really try to stay as healthy as possible and try to create innovative ways for the girls to enjoy eating heathy, but my fiancé is Jamaican so it’s tough! His mom taught me some amazing recipes and I always incorporate a veggie with our meals. For snacks, we eats lots of fruits and I’m always down for a good smoothie or protein shake.

ashley north, celebrity stylist, black fitness today

Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

How do you make sure your family stays fit and healthy?

Our oldest stays in sports, she’s very active, basketball, soccer you name it she’s in it. We maintain our workouts, Dashon trains every morning so he’s GOALS for us all. With him being an athlete it makes it easier for us to stay on track.

What’s on your workout playlist?

Anything rachet I LOVE IT!!! (laughs)

What is your gym bag?

Uhmmm, this is a good question… bottled water, towel, misted water, a hair tie, and an oversized hoodie for sure!!

What your favorite way to cool down from an intense workout session?

Honestly, I literally lay on the floor and pass out. I push myself, so when it’s over I collapse. But I’m good at listening to my body and a good protein shake to help with muscle recovery.

Tips for mothers juggling family and work?

Find the time for yourself. I’ve noticed I feel most confident when I feel fit and look good in my clothes. When I’m working out that’s MY time to really focus on ME (we all need that). So, finding the time to do something for yourself is KEY!

What is your favorite gym outfit? Favorite fitness clothing brand?

Right now, I’m loving CARBON38, they have really cool fit/leisure wear and everything is high-waisted and really on trend. The materials are luxe and I’m a complete fan of this brand.

For more on Ashley follow her on Instagram @ashleynorthstyle!

Continue Reading

Trending