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Road to Competition: Kimberly Ross Proves Winning First Ever Competition is Possible




Kimmy Ross TrophiesIn May 2012, Kimberly Ross self-trained, entered and competed in her first ever figure competition at the Lone Star Muscle Mania Figure Competition in Galveston, TX. She took home multiple wins, including the Overall Championship title! Kimberly, affectionately known to many as Kimmy, is a board certified Registered Nurse, nationally certified Nurse Educator and certified ZUMBA instructor, but has had an affinity towards music, dance, and fitness all of her life. She developed more of a focused interest in fitness during her six years as a Captain in the United States Air Force. Read Kimmy’s interview below to find out how she conquered the stage in her first competition!

BFT: Were you always an avid fitness person? What got you into fitness?

KR: I am not sure if I have always been into fitness per se, but I have always enjoyed being active and exposing myself to enjoyable new experiences. I am often asked “what got me into fitness” and there has not been one thing or another. Early on in life when I was an only child, I recall my mother placing me in various classes i.e. dance, skate, and swim, but all very sporadically and briefly. During my years in high school and college I played JV volleyball, and performed with the dance squad for a short period. I would have to say fitness or an active lifestyle along with the camaraderie it offered was just something I enjoyed.

BFT. What made you decide to enter the fitness competition?

KR. I made this decision after I realized many seeds were being planted for me to do so. I was always in the gym and my workouts were often intense. On more than one occasion I had been asked if I compete. I laughed at the notion because in my opinion I was nowhere near physically or mentally prepared for whatever that meant! After a few insightful conversations with one woman in particular, Rochelle Parks, who had been and still is an active and successful competitor and supporter, I decided to do a little research then make some decisions. I was thinking it to be a highly unlikely undertaking since I could not imagine making the dietary or more specifically the alcohol sacrifices which I felt I so dearly needed in order to keep my sanity at the job I had at the time [laughs].

BFT: How did you feel to win the fitness competition on the first time out?

KR: I could list to you the entire cliche of adjectives to describe my “amazing,” “unbelievable,” “incredible,” and “unforgettable” win, but none of them would do justice. It still brings on chills and tears when I passionately recollect not only the win, but the journey to get there. I suppose my best comparative would be to my all-time favorite sports movie(s), ROCKY. I went the 15 rounds (15 weeks) and I competed victoriously against my Apollo (opponents who were known and had won in the past). There was no split decision. I, an unknown entry to the judges, the Muscle Mania organization, the figure competition stage, and to most of my opponents took home three trophies that night including the Overall title!! It was my ROCKY scene come true!

BFT:  You are a nurse, ZUMBA instructor and now fitness champion, do you believe health and fitness is your purpose on this earth and if so when did you realize it?

KR: I believe we all may have more than one purpose in life. For me, that discovery is daily. I do believe that I have been given a specific innate passion and compassion for people. I know that is what helped me as early as ninth grade decide that I wanted to be a nurse. The longer I live, the more I learn about myself, my talents, abilities, as well as my weakness and areas for growth. As far as health and fitness, at this season in my life yes, I do believe it is part of my purpose. I know this because of the lives I have been able to influence, encourage and uplift. I know this because you have asked me to share in part this portion of my story. I know this because most days there is nothing I would rather be doing than pushing play to the ROCKY theme song and hitting the gym.

Kimberly RossBFT: What’s your advice to women who use their hair as an excuse not to workout?

KR: Figure it out or get over it! I worked out prior to going natural. I have worn my hair in various styles over the past years with hair weaves, braids and wigs. I figured it out because I enjoyed my time in the gym, out running, or in fitness classes and I did not want to sacrifice that enjoyment or the awesome feeling afterwards because of my hair. To be honest, going natural a couple years ago was a huge challenge. There were a lot of things I had to figure out and I am not just referring to hair products! I had to dig deep and reconnect with the woman in the mirror and the hair on her head. Who is she? What is she? How does she feel and where had she been? When I convinced myself that I was old enough to care less about the societal thoughts of which hair style was more appealing to the masses and cared more about being free to be me, I began to embrace my shorter natural look. When I embraced it confidently so did and so have many others. I occasionally still have some challenges with hair “issues” but that’s never gonna change. After all, I am still a woman and we all have bad hair days [laughs].

BFT: What are your future plans or goals in the world of fitness?

KR: That has become the million dollar question. The one show I competed in in May 2012 which was to be considered a “bucket list” item has grown into something bigger. I am competing in the Fitness Universe competition in Las Vegas, Nevada November 16 and 17th. This is a bigger show that will be shown live on the internet and will be my second one. There are still many things I am trying to tweak my body in these last few weeks so my final decision to go as a competitor or a spectator will be made in a couple of weeks.

BFT: I always like the last question to be an opportunity for the interviewee to speak to the audience on anything that comes to you.

KR: Thank you for asking me to do this interview. It is such a humbling compliment to be sought out to share an intimate part of my life in this way.
There is so much I would like to say to your audience, but as it relates to fitness I would say to all of you, BEGIN! Begin with YOURSELF. Not with the gym, your significant other, or your best friend. Begin with YOU because once you start on this internal and external path of change, you may end up being the only one on it at some point. Your life/our lives are so much better when we have the energy to conquer and cash in on all life has to offer. Don’t let your laziness, your circumstances, or your surroundings be your excuse for missing out on life’s good deal! BEGIN!

Kevin Thornton was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a Black Fitness Today ambassador, certified spinning instructor and Life Coach.

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Episode 5: The REAL Bow – Dr. Rainbow Barris

On ‘Black-ish’ Success, Marriage, Motherhood and Living Healthy Her Way!



Rainbow Barris, Blackish, Kenya Barris, Rainbow Barris book, podcast

We had the great pleasure to chat with The REAL Bow – Dr. Rainbow Barris for episode 5! Click on the link in this article to listen! And, read on to see more info on your chance to enter to win a copy of her brand new book!

podcast, rainbow barris

In this episode, we get right into our interview with Dr. Rainbow Barris, who is the inspiration behind the character Rainbow Johnson on ABCs hit show ‘Black-ish’ and author of Keeping Up With the Johnson’s – Bow’s Guide to Black-ish Parenting. It’s hard enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle period – let alone as wife of director and writer Kenya Barris, being a medical doctor and raising six children! But Barris has found what works for her and wants to encourage other women balancing family and career to find what works uniquely for them! Plus, we talk about the show, Mr. & Mrs. Barris’ recent $1 million donation to Clark Atlanta University, and what life is like for her now. Don’t miss this!

Beginning Friday, June 29th – you’ll be able to enter to win a copy of Barris’ book! Stay tuned to our website, and Facebook and Instagram pages.

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Episode 4: Leah Uko – Journalist on Fox 11 Los Angeles + Bodybuilder

Los Angeles area native Leah Uko is back home working as a nightside reporter, as seen on Fox 11 Los Angeles. But she’s also a bodybuilder preparing to step on stage again this fall. Learn more about her journey, why she loves to bear arms on camera, and why discipline and journaling keep her motivated and determined to reach her goals.



leah uko, los angeles, fox 11

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CrossFit Inc Global Branding Manager Talks with Black Fitness Today Ahead of Manion-WOD to Honor Fallen Hero

Ilen Bell, MS, CSCS, Co-Founder of Black Fitness Today



Manion WOD events will be occurring at CrossFit gyms across the United States on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Times vary by location. Proceeds from each event will go towards TMF veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.


On April 29th, CrossFit gyms across the country will recognize the sacrifice of 1stLT Travis Manion and complete the Manion-Workout of the Day (WOD) to benefit Travis Manion Foundation (TMF) veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.

Read our interview with CrossFit Global Branding Manager, Jimi Letchford, and TMF President and Sister of Travis Manion, Ryan Manion.

Who was 1stLT Travis Manion?

Ryan: Travis was my best friend, and younger brother by 15 months. Even though I was the older sibling, I looked up to Travis in many ways because he always set the example. Travis was a high character person even from a young age, and when he saw something wrong, he would stand up. He was an all-league standout in wrestling, football and lacrosse, a member of five championship teams, and an All-American wrestler. Travis was best known as a motivating and popular figure to his classmates. This combination of leadership, athleticism, and academic achievement opened the door to his appointment to the United States Naval Academy.

After graduating from USNA, he decided to follow in our father’s footsteps and was awarded a commission into the United States Marine Corps. After finishing at the top of his class at The Basic School in Quantico, VA, Travis was assigned to 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force, with whom he deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty. On April 29, 2007 during his second tour of duty in Iraq Travis, his fellow Marines and Iraqi Army counterparts were ambushed. Leading the counterattack against the enemy forces, Travis was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper while aiding and drawing fire away from his wounded teammates. Travis Manion paid the ultimate sacrifice that day, but his selfless actions allowed every member of his patrol to survive.


How does CrossFit serve as a vehicle for honoring heroes like 1stLT Travis Manion, who paid the ultimate sacrifice?

Jimi: Every day, millions of people engage in CrossFit workouts around the world. Our Workouts of the Day (aka WODs) are constantly varied, (relatively) high intensity, functional movement challenges that are intended to elicit physical and mental responses like no other workout regimen. The CrossFit program may not be for everyone, but it is for anyone.

Our Hero WODs are a different breed. They’re intended to take you to your limit. It’s up to the athlete to decide whether they’ll push past this limit. During this process, we honor the Hero(es) in which the workout was named. The men and women we honor through these WODs have amazing stories of character and bravery, and knowing about their legacy pushes us to go even further than we thought possible.

CrossFit has closely aligned its core values with that of the military. Why might CrossFit be something veterans want to give a try?

Jimi: CrossFit has a very tight-knit community, and a great sense of camaraderie among participants. When veterans join a CrossFit gym, they often find that camaraderie very similar to what they experience while in service to our Country. The idea that you belong to something bigger than yourself can often be lost while transitioning out of the military to civilian life. Like the military, there’s also a competitive nature to CrossFit. That friendly competition is something many veterans continue to look for in the next chapter of their life, and CrossFit is a great way to fill that void.

“If Not Me, Then Who…” is a question that has come to shape 1stLT Manion’s legacy. How is TMF and CrossFit answering this question?

Ryan: “If Not Me, Then Who…” isn’t actually a question, it’s a mantra that Travis lived by every day, and we’re inspiring future generations to put that mantra into action within their own lives. Just before Travis left for his second deployment to Iraq, he attended a football game with my husband Dave, and while they were leaving the stadium, Dave said to Travis “How about I push you down the steps so you break your ankle, and you won’t have to go back?” Travis looked at Dave very serious, and simply replied “If Not Me, Then Who…” He went on to explain that if he didn’t go back, someone less prepared would have to go in his place. This is the way Travis approached everything in his life, even from an early age. Those words have grown into a national movement that is inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to be of service to their own communities, and to be part of something bigger than themselves.  

Jimi: Travis was as true a friend as you could ever find. He always looked out for others, and often times would even thank me for pushing him to work harder. He was also a fierce competitor, and would never cut corners. His mantra of “If Not Me, Then Who…” really does represent how selfless Travis was. To me, Travis is representative of all the other Heroes that our Nation, and CrossFit community, have lost. So, I’d like to tell anyone that will be honoring Travis (or whoever else they’ll be honoring this weekend) to do so with the utmost integrity to the workout standards. Remember that those we honor through our Hero WODs paid the ultimate sacrifice in their line of duty. It is now our duty to never forget them. “If Not Me, Then Who…”

How does CrossFit motivate its members to collectively complete intense WODs sometimes named in honor of fallen military and first responders whom the members have no personal connection?

Jimi: The people that walk into our CrossFit boxes are people that recognize that only hard work will achieve health and wellness. CrossFitters don’t believe that there is a ‘magic pill’ for fitness. It turns out that this psychographic also tends to be very altruistic and humble. As a CrossFit community, all we have to do is tell the story of the fallen Hero, how it may relate to the workout, and the rest just happens. For example, the “Manion” Hero WOD is extremely leg intensive. We know from our relationship with Travis that he always had the strongest legs of anyone on our team. So, Travis’ workout consists of a 400 meter run and 29 back squats (135lbs), done over 7 rounds. The numbers are somewhat poetic; Travis was killed 4/29/07.

Manion WOD events will be occurring at CrossFit gyms across the United States on Sunday, April 29, 2018. Times vary by location. Proceeds from each event will go towards TMF veteran initiatives such as TMF veteran expeditions, veteran-empowerment programs, and scholarships.

How can people exemplify Travis’ character and sacrifice beyond the four walls of a CrossFit box where many join together once a year to complete a WOD honoring Travis’ legacy?

Ryan: Get involved in your own community. Look for your passion and a purpose, and wake up with determination to make a difference in the world every day, no matter how small. Live by “If Not Me, Then Who…” and look for those opportunities that present themselves each and every day that you can be the best version of yourself, and take advantage of them.

What communities does TMF serve?

Ryan: We currently have offices in 8 cities across the country, which include: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington D.C. However our impact and opportunities for involvement are nationwide.

How does the Travis Manion Foundation ensure that children of fallen heroes are not left behind?

We work closely with families of the fallen, and specifically organize service expeditions for survivors. These expeditions allow family members of fallen military to spend time with others who can relate to their journey, while providing them an opportunity to carry on their loved one’s legacy by being of service to a community in need. We host 8-10 domestic or international expedition each year, and one such expedition is specifically for teens who have lost a parent or sibling in service to our country. These young adults learn that while their loved one may be gone, they can honor their memory and carry on their legacy through the actions they take each and every day.

Where can people find information on joining or volunteering with TMF?

Ryan: Anyone can join the mission by visiting We have volunteer and engagement opportunities throughout the year, which includes our Operation Legacy service projects and the 9/11 Heroes Run 5K series.

What do you want people to know most about Travis?

Ryan: Travis always challenged himself to be the best person he could, and he did that by focusing on being big in the little things. Because of that, he was prepared when bigger challenges arose. The legacy that Travis left behind, and for that matter all our fallen heroes, is one that we all have a responsibility to carry on. The way that we do that is by look towards the character they lived with, and challenging ourselves to think about how we can be the best version of ourselves – because “If Not Me, Then Who…”



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