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What a 16-year-old Iraqi Taught Me about Life

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

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As Veterans Day approaches, I think about how my experience with a 16 year-old Iraqi taught me one of my most valuable lessons in life. In 2006, I deployed to Iraq not knowing if I would return on my own two feet or even at all. War is a scary thing, but somehow God turned a war zone into the classroom, and I learned one of the greatest lessons.  As an interrogator, I talked to many people and spent hours asking questions, analyzing and writing reports. Much like the American justice system, not everyone is guilty and those who are guilty are often victims of circumstances…lack of opportunity, feelings of hopelessness, harsh environments, etc. 

One day, I was given a case of a 16-year-old boy who looked to be about 12. After discussing his circumstances of detainment and getting his side of the story, I directed the conversation back to his personal life.  I wanted to know what he saw for himself in the future so I asked “what is your dream?” His first response –  “what do you mean?” – caught me off guard…like what do you mean, what do I mean? I responded, “You know, what is your dream? What do you want to be when you grow up?”(speaking through an interpreter). His facial expressions showed that he sincerely didn’t understand what I was talking about and my interpreter told me the same.

Being an American and coming from the greatest country in the world…where we are taught and encouraged to dream and told from an early age that we can be anything we want to be…I could not understand how he did not know what a dream was.  On my last and final attempt to explain a dream, he responded with a confused look “I don’t understand, I will be a farmer because my father is a farmer.” At that point, I realized that a dream is a gift that not all receive because of cultural beliefs or circumstances of life.

What was the lesson?

  • A dream is a gift.
  • The freedom to dream is foreign to many around the world.
  • Refusing to pursue your dreams is selfish because your dream could change the world and could change the outlook and hope that a person has on their own life. It is selfish because somewhere in the world there is another boy or girl who doesn’t know what a dream is.

After leaving the booth (interrogation room) I made a promise to myself to follow my dreams and to give my best effort in reaching all of my goals in life. If you know what it is to dream …go for it! There are places in the world where a dream is as foreign as the English language. Pursuing your dream can be difficult and some may say it’s impossible, but know that a dream is a gift that should be shared with the world. The only way to do that is to show and prove that achieving a dream is possible!

Ilen Bell is co-founder and CEO of Black Fitness Today, a digital platform dedicated to empowering the black community through health promotion and performance enhancement. He lives in Tucson, AZ with his wife and daughter and nine-to-fives it as head strength and conditioning coach for a military special operations unit.

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2Chainz Pretty Girls Fit Fest: Pretty Girls Like Trap Music

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Atlanta’s Hottest Fitness Trainers Missy Mostrom, Stephanie LeBeau, DaShaun “Guru” Johnson & Lana Ector Whipped Over 200 Pretty Girls into Shape at Center Stage for the Release of 2Chainz “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” Album  

This past Thursday, June 15th over 200 of Atlanta’s prettiest girls showed up to the Loft at Center Stage in athletic gear for one reason…because they love trap music! Event attendees were excited and ready to sweat it out to 2Chainz new album “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” with a few of Atlanta’s hottest fitness trainers and were surprised to receive an official “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” pink yoga mat which came in handy during the three 45-minute workout sessions.

Session 1 featured trainers Stephanie LeBeau and Missy Mostrom of VESTA who opened the night with kickboxing moves and rotational exercises that increased heartbeats and spirits. Then the Guru of Abs himself, Dashaun Johnson, took the stage for Session 2 and after a quick warm up he turned it up and took it off! Always one to focus on breathing during his workouts, you could hear the ladies calling out the numbers of their sets throughout the entire venue. To close out the night in Session 3, Lana Ector came to represent that Black Women Workout Too and showed all the pretty girls that a little twerking can be considered a workout too.

Throughout the evening attendees were able to relax in the Pretty Girls lounge wherein they previewed the “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” album and refreshed themselves with Propel Electrolyte Water.The next stop on the Trap Fitness tour will be….well you just have to stay tuned to find out.

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Fantasia’s ‘Journey to Fit’ – See the Exercises that Helped Refine Her Sexy

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The All New Black Fitness Today Podcast!

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black fitness today, podcast, ilen bell, lauren bell

The Black Fitness Today Podcast is here! Allow us to re-introduce ourselves:

We’re Ilen and Lauren Bell, the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today! We want to take things a step further and start a podcast to further connect with you, and bring you even more interviews, tips and tools to keep you fit, empowered and inspired!

What better way to kick things off than by interviewing the fitness industry’s most trusted consultant and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp – the fast growing fitness business in the world – Bedros Keuilian! He was even recently named one of the “20 Faces of Franchising” by Global Franchise Magazine. But his success was hard earned. Bedros and his family immigrated to America from Armenia, with less than $300. But his family’s determination and will to overcome led Bedros from digging through dumpsters for food, to reaching massive professional and personal success.

Listen to this motivating and informative episode as Bedros drops gems for days – – not only for the current and aspiring fitness professional, but for anyone looking to elevate their life! What does hitting the snooze button really mean subconsciously? How do you make time for healthy living while always on the go? What’s the best way for fitness professionals to avoid burnout and make their passion into a profitable living? Get answers to these questions and so much more.
Keeping you fit, inspired and empowered! We are Black Fitness Today. The premier fitness lifestyle brand for the black community.

Listen to “Bedros Keuilian: From Homeless Personal Trainer to Multi-Million Dollar Fitness Empire” on Spreaker.

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