Meet the Founders of BFT!


Meet Ilen Bell

Ilen (pronounced eye-len), a Cleveland, Ohio native, is an Iraq war veteran and former U.S. Army interrogator, whose true passion lies in health and fitness. He received his Master’s degree from California University of Pennsylvania in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with an emphasis in Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention, and a Bachelor’s degree in Homeland Security from American Military University.

Ilen is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is credentialed as a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and as a Speed Enhancement Specialist (SES) through the National Association of Speed and Explosion.

Ilen’s passion for health and fitness developed while serving in the military. Prior to serving in the Army, poor eating habits from childhood through his early adult years led to a struggle with weight. After seeing the positive changes associated with living a healthier lifestyle, Ilen decided to become a personal trainer. He has worked at multiple national chain health clubs, but his most notable experience came from working as a strength coach at both Fischer Sports and Sullivan PROformance in Phoenix, Arizona, where he helped train NFL, MLB and Division I athletes.  


Meet Lauren Bell

Lauren, a Cleveland, Ohio native, is a Marketing and PR professional using her experience to manage various business projects for BFT. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Management & Leadership from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lauren is a Certified Personal Fitness Chef through the Spencer Institute, the sister school of National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association (NESTA). She has been recognized for her professional work as the recipient of a 2009 Ohio Professional Writers award and a 2009 & 2010 Award for Publication Excellence (APEX).

From childhood through high school, Lauren played basketball, but her active way of life slowed down once in college, quickly gaining weight for the first time as a result of poor eating habits and stress. After splitting her favorite pair of jeans, she finally decided to make the commitment to live a healthier lifestyle, joined a local gym and began working with a personal trainer (who eventually became her husband, Ilen). Her newfound way of eating and existing love for food turned into a passion for cooking and turning traditional comfort foods into guilt-free dishes!

Photos Courtesy of Shelly Haywood Photography

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.

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