He’s the man behind all the swoons over Morris Chestnut in The Best Man Holiday. He’s labeled the “world’s most ripped fitness model” and has graced over 40 fitness magazine covers and has written more than 150 articles over the past 5 years. It appears by looking at his covers that he has landed more covers than any African-American male fitness professional expert or fitness personality. World-renowned fitness expert and fitness personality Obi Obadike believes there is no greater feeling than to help enrich the lives of others. But his journey hasn’t been easy. He has dealt with racism and discrimination and had to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with overseas before being embraced here in the U.S. as a fitness authority and cover model. But his perseverance and dedication to changing attitudes towards African-Americans in fitness has paved the way for others that have followed him.
How does he keep his body in shape? Get the answer to this question and more in our exclusive and candid interview with Obadike, and get inside the mind of one of the most decorated fitness experts around!
BFT: So yeah let’s get into it! Just to give you a little background on Black Fitness Today, we founded BFT basically with the goal to provide a resource for the African-American community because a lot of fitness magazines and websites don’t cater specifically to our audience. So we wanted to be a right hand in providing information and tools to start changing statistics and attitudes towards fitness in African-American community. Our goal is to create our own platform where we can create opportunities for African-Americans to be featured on covers of magazines and be highlighted for their excellent work in health and fitness.
Obi: Sure. Yeah I think it’s great. No doubt. I totally get it and understand — being African-American and in the fitness industry myself, it can be very difficult to get on magazine covers and I’m actually surprised at the success that I’ve had because I went through a lot of racial biases, discrimination and a lot of garbage just to get on a magazine cover let alone multiple covers. So I understand the plight that you guys have and being of color it’s very, very difficult.
BFT: How have you been able to break through racial bias and discrimination in the fitness industry?
Obi: What’s so funny is that when I came in the industry there weren’t really any fitness experts or fitness models or personalities of color on fitness magazine covers. Anytime you saw a fitness magazine with a person of color on the cover, it was a mainstream crossover actor like a Will Smith — so when I came in the game there wasn’t really any black fitness fitness personality landing multiple covers every year; it made me so angry when I would go to the stores and see the clear lack of black representation on these covers. I had an opportunity to break into the fitness industry when I was in my early 20s and just like anybody else when you don’t see those opportunities for people that look like you on covers it’s like, why should I even try? I’m going to get turned down.
Then in 2008, that’s when I said I really wanted to do this and to break into the industry and create an opportunity for others to succeed. Initially when I started to approach fitness magazines I was getting turned down by most of them, and there was one magazine in particular that doesn’t exist anymore that said “we’ll put him in the magazine but my publisher won’t go for a black guy on the cover.” There was another magazine that said “last time we tried an African-American fitness couple cover was in 1988 and sales dropped.” A third magazine said hey “black covers don’t really do that well in sales.” It was almost like they were saying putting me on a cover would be a risk and it was one of the dumbest things in the world because when you look at magazine covers, white Caucasians typically have to tan to look like our complexion in order to look more marketable and here you have someone with a permanent tan that can’t even get a cover! [laughs]
So I started reaching out to the international magazines and flew to Australia on my own dime and went out to a lot of international countries because they didn’t seem to have the color issue like domestic magazines. So most of my success as a cover guy during my first two years was internationally, and once I started landing international covers and developing a huge social network following, then I started reaching out to some of the domestic fitness magazines again and those no’s started turning into “okay well maybe we’ll give you a chance” so it seemed like it was a lot easier to break-in internationally than domestically. And I don’t want to come off like I’m better than anyone.
I’m just a guy that is so blessed and I am flattered that any magazine would see anything redeeming in me to put me on any fitness magazine cover.
BFT: That’s a huge accomplishment!
Obi: Thanks. I appreciate that. So for me it wasn’t trying to establish myself as cover guy, my thing was using the cover as a vehicle to promote health and fitness so that people would actually listen to what I had to say and to also promote my brand.
BFT: You were an athlete yourself, right?
Obi: Right, yeah I ran track at Cal State Fullerton. I was the school record-holder in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 relay and that’s really where I found my love for fitness. So yeah as a track guy and basketball player my love for fitness came from playing sports growing up.
Here’s a reader question: You mentioned some of your obstacles breaking into the fitness industry. How did you stay focused on your goal of being the guy on the covers and writing fitness articles after being turned down so many times?
Obi: I knew that eventually someone would give me an opportunity and I knew that I had a lot to give to the industry, and help bring fitness to everyone – not just to black people – but all sorts of people. So for me, it was just knowing that having confidence in my ability not as a model, (it’s so funny I don’t even promote myself that way, I promote myself as a fitness entrepreneur) it was knowing that I have so much to give and want to help people so I think that was what kept me focused. Anytime you’re of color and you’ve been discriminated against or dealt with racial biases, we all can identify with that.
I actually had this conversation with Morris about some of what’s he’s been through in Hollywood and some of things that the cast went through for Best Man Holiday – an all African-American cast – they actually had to read and audition and these are all established actors! And now look, the movie exceeded expectations and will probably make over $100 million. I’m so happy for them because Hollywood is so tough on people of color, particularly African-Americans — so I can identify with them as a guy trying to land fitness covers and even with the success I’ve had, I still have to deal with the stuff.
I had to beat down doors just to get an opportunity to be on magazine covers and I still have challenges. It’s getting better, but can still be very difficult.
BFT: We definitely understand the challenges, we’ve had our share of difficulties as a brand that focuses on African-American health and fitness. But it only makes us push harder, because it goes back to companies being hesitant to take the risk on a demographic that traditionally has not taken its health seriously. We know that we will break through our barriers.
Obi: Absolutely. You guys keep doing what you’re doing. You’re doing the right thing. We definitely need more black representation when it comes to fitness that’s for sure.
BFT: So, what would you say is the most rewarding aspect of being a fitness professional?
Obi: The most rewarding part is being able to change peoples lives. I know it sounds cliché but you can’t put a price tag on comments like “you have changed my life ” or “you gave me confidence, my self-esteem is high, I feel better about myself” – you can’t put a price tag on that. And not just celebrities, because I train a lot of regular people who just want to get in shape, so when you hear that, it’s unbelievable. When people say they’re motivated by your pictures or that they can’t believe I’m following them on Twitter, when I get messages like “seeing you’re pictures makes me want to go to the gym,” stuff like that keeps me going especially when you have bad days. Getting messages like that lets you know that you’re making a difference.
BFT: What is your personal regimen as far as fitness and nutrition? How do you become the “world’s most ripped fitness model?”
Obi: [laughs] You guys found that on the Internet huh? That’s so funny. For me, it’s just making it a lifestyle and falling in love with foods that are healthy. I can eat chicken every day and never get tired of it. For breakfast, I have a whey protein shake and oatmeal, although I’m not really a big breakfast person. For lunch, I’ll have a chicken sandwich, lots of veggies and a baked potato. For dinner, I’ll have a lean steak, some brown rice and some spinach.
I always tell people I’m a boring eater so if you try to find entertainment off my food you better go somewhere else [laughs].
BFT: Yeah that’s one of the hardest things is finding that balance with the foods you enjoy and being consistent with clean foods because it can get mundane.
Obi: It’s hard for a lot of people because when you’re dieting a lot of food is similar in plain taste such as chicken, turkey and fish. But you know, I follow the 80/20 rule – maintaining a clean diet 80 to 90% of the time and then cheating 10 to 20% of the time. As long as you’re training hard and keeping up with your weight lifting and cardio, if you follow those ratios you should be able to maintain a fairly good shape. Stay drug free, take a basic multivitamin and fish oil supplement, that’s it.
BFT: You mentioned the 80/20 rule – what is your favorite cheat meal for that 20% part of the ratio?
Obi: My favorite cheat meal is probably some pizza and fried chicken. To me when you cheat, you use the cheat as a reward for eating healthy throughout the week, but you know when you cheated too much; it’s not supposed to be an all-you-can-eat cheat! You don’t want to ruin the healthy week you had by cheating the whole damn day [laughs].
It’s important to have a cheat meal especially for psychological reasons, as long as it’s not overboard.
BFT: Right. For us, ever since we’ve been on our journey, we always look forward to our weekly cheat meal, which is usually on a Saturday night. It’s rewarding but you really begin to value the healthy habits more and look forward to getting right back to it the next day.
Obi: Yeah, absolutely.
BFT: As for as nutrition, what is your general guidance for people looking to lose weight or get in shape?
Obi: I’m a big believer in the 40/40/20 ratio. 40% protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fat. Generally that’s what works for myself and my clients from a maintenance standpoint. If you’re on a fat loss diet, you may need to take down the carbs as you progress, but overall that’s what I suggest.
BFT: Is there a difference between training men and women? Do you change the ratios?
Obi: It depends on their goals, their training and diet history. There so many different factors in putting a program together that it’s hard to say that this is just what it is for women, so it really depends. Typically when I have put together programs for women that want to lose weight, I typically have them on the 10 to 12 calorie-per-pound diet.
BFT: What is the minimum amount of calories that a person should take in?
Obi: Anything under 1200-1100 calories can be dangerous because you put your body into starvation mode and your metabolism starts to slowly shut down. I think a lot of people think that the less you eat, the more you lose and that’s not necessarily true. There is a limit where if you go under it, it can negatively affect your goal of losing weight.
BFT: You’re college career was affected by injuries. It seems like there are so many non-contact injuries in sports today. How big are you on injury prevention?
Obi: Huge! I’m a big proponent of stretching before and after exercise including upper body and lower body on a soft surface instead of a hard surface. Then making sure when you train, that you train symmetrically and make sure that you don’t have any imbalances. A lot of times when you have injuries it comes from those imbalances. With my hamstring injuries my quads were very strong and at the time I had very weak hamstrings and the imbalances were causing the injuries, along with being stubborn and not stretching the way I was supposed to. Also, when you stretch and improve your flexibility, it leads to better range of motion which actually helps you optimize your training because you’re able to train the body part to the best of its ability.
Here’s another reader question: Do you have any fitness products or DVDs available?
Obi: Yeah, absolutely — I have an online training service and six-part e-book fat loss system that is very affordable called Ultimate Fat Loss For Men and Women available in my online store.
Here’s another reader question: What are good Ab exercises?
Obi: Kneeling cable crunches, plank punches, Russian twists, feet off the ground, and sprinting. Sprinting is a really good ab workout. But most ab exercises have to be done slowly, it’s not about speed, you really want to feel your abs being worked. Lastly, it’s like the old saying goes abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.
There’s no such thing as spot reduction, so you can just do a bunch of ab exercises and think that the fat is going to melt away — you have to lose weight circularly.
BFT: So what’s next for you?
Obi: I am one of the fitness experts that helped launch Turner Broadcasting’s brand new digital health and wellness brand. I hosted and produced most of the exercise videos on the Turner Health and Wellness brand website. I am on hold for a couple of TV fitness health show host and co-host opportunities so hopefully in the 1st quarter of 2014 I should know if those things on hold will materialize. Ultimately what I want to do is host my own fitness TV show. Modestly speaking, I feel like I have a very strong on-camera ability skillset to influence and motivate millions of people to be fitter and healthier. I believe it will happen much sooner than later.
Here is a boot camp exercise video I hosted and produced for Turner Broadcasting’s brand new health and wellness brand called upwave:
I recently signed as a spokesmodel/face to a brand new national chain of gyms launching the first week of January called Ripped Fitness. The first RIPPED studio gym will open just in time for the new year of 2014 at 14 Rye Ridge Plaza in Rye Brook, New York.
I am the creator of the training method that is going to be taught in all of the boot camp workout classes called the Ripped Method which combines 30 minutes of HIIT cardio and 30 minutes of body-weight exercises in a HIIT class boot camp format.
The owner of Ripped Fitness named Brian Ripka who is a brilliant entrepreneur wants to have over 100 studio gyms within the next 3 to 5 years nationally. The RIPPED method is the new hybrid workout that defies categorization and delivers unprecedented fat loss results and will have the ability to burn up to 900 calories per class. It is very exciting to design a training method that will help a large group of people get in great shape. I am very excited about the launch of this new brand of chain of gyms.
To read more about who they are please go to their website or their social media pages below:
BFT: How can the BFT community stay connected with you?
Obi: For anybody that wants to contact me:
Future NFL Hall-of-Famer Edgerrin James Talks Running 500 Miles in 365 Days
No matter what he does, Edgerrin James knows how to lead. During his time in the NFL, James averaged 4.2 yards per carry and is one of the all-time leaders in career rushing yards. Although retired, these days, the future Hall-of-Famer also rushes toward opportunities to give back. A beloved member of the University of Miami community, James contributed the largest-ever donation of any former athlete that has ever attended. He is also the founder of the Edgerrin James Foundation and the Edgerrin James Youth Football Skills Camp.
Black Fitness Today caught up with James to learn about his recent decision to embark on a 500-mile journey this past year, and what set him apart in his training as a professional athlete.
Why did you decide to embark on your 500-mile journey across the country? What has the journey taught you?
I always like to challenge myself. Running is something I’ve always hated doing, so that made it pretty interesting! This experience has really pushed me because there’s no reward at the end of the [500-mile journey] except the fact that I did it and I was consistent. There were many times I didn’t feel like running, but once I agreed to do it, I knew I had to accomplish it.
Tell us more about your partnership with Adidas.
The Adidas partnership was good for many reasons. They provided some nice uniforms for my youth football team from top to bottom. That’s more important than anything — to lace a team of inner-city kids with custom uniforms meant a lot to me and the kids. Another reason is the relationship with the University of Miami; that’s my school and I rep the gear faithfully. So it’s only right I locked in with Adidas. I’m glad the deal worked out and look forward to building on that relationship.
You mentioned that you’ve always hated running. Did that have any impact on you while playing football in terms of how you approached your training?
Basketball was my go to sport. It is fun and exciting and also gets you in shape. I used playing ball as my running to get in shape.
What was your favorite off-season training routine?
I’ve always liked the late-night sessions in the off-season. I would train before going to the club or after leaving the club — sounds unusual but it was the best for me. I didn’t drink and was well-rested before I would go out. My training was always very quiet with no distractions. During the day I would go to the University of Miami and get it in with the younger guys in the hot sun.
In addition to your 500-mile journey, how else do you stay in shape these days?
I always work out three to four times a week. Nothing hard, but I consistently get some type of work in.
What role does nutrition play in your everyday life? What are some of your favorite healthy foods and foods you can’t live without?
I don’t worry too much about what I eat. I just make sure I maintain a certain weight and follow up any heavy eating with a nice workout to make sure I’m back on track.
Many people know you for your accomplishments on the football field, but many don’t know that you are also passionate about giving back. What are some of your initiatives? Why is philanthropy so important to you?
My purpose is to empower my people and all people that share stories similar to mine. Too many times, you see other cultures having success and wonder why not us. It’s up to us to look out for us and when you see examples, it makes it really real to the younger generation. It also gives them realistic goals to chase without making the excuses. I’m just trying to be an example that’s tried and true without any excuses. Just hard work and determination…
What advice do you have to young men who are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Learn as much as you can and just become a good example for the next generation, understand how this world works, and play the game of life to win!
What is the legacy you want to leave behind?
The legacy I want to leave behind is that I did things the right way and never tried to be anyone else except myself, that I showed people you don’t have to conform or be something you’re not to be successful, and just put in the right work and let everything else work itself out.
Carmelita Jeter Talks Personal Connection To Breast Cancer and Her Fight For a Cure
There’s still no faster woman alive than Carmelita Jeter. We will always remember her amazing achievements on the track as a world record holder with three Olympic medals. You may even remember her signature pink cleats she wore during some of her races. But the story behind them reveals an inspiring journey. In 2012, while training for the Olympic games, Jeter’s aunt — Brenda Washington — lost her battle with breast cancer. However, Jeter found new strength and turned tragedy into triumph. From partnering with NIKE to nonprofits, Jeter has become an outspoken advocate for breast cancer awareness and is dedicated to using her platform to fight for a cure!
In 2012 as you prepped for the London Olympics, your aunt, Brenda Washington, passed from breast cancer. And much like you did, people have to find the strength to pick themselves up, go to work and continue living after tragedy. How were you able to find that strength?
I was able to find the strength to keep going from my family, my coaches and my agent. At the time, I questioned my faith a lot. I just couldn’t understand why God would take her away from me. But I concluded that if my cousin Lachondra (her daughter) was able to be strong, I could not be weaker than her, for her sake.
What’s the best advice you can offer for supporting family members who are battling breast cancer?
The best advice I can give is to stay very close and experience moments with each other, even if it is just a small gathering at a relative’s house where everyone brings a dish. Also, never be afraid to speak about the person that is sick or has passed away. You have to keep their spirit alive.
You’ve partnered with various non-profit organizations to raise breast cancer awareness. Tell us a little bit about some of your partnerships including “The Pink Jet” with PINTRILL.
I partnered with Pintrill who made a Hot Pink Jet and a bracelet made from MyIntent with the words, “Mind over body,” inscribed. I’ve been the ambassador for Susan G. Komen’s Circle of PromiseInitiative that was based on African-American women getting tested more frequently.
In what ways did your aunt’s battle with breast cancer impact you on and off the track?
My aunt Brenda Washington’s battle made a huge impact on the track for me. Nike, my sponsor, made me my very own hot pink signature spikes in her honor. Every time I lined up to compete, I ran for her.
What advice would you give to African-Americans in the fight against breast cancer?
The advice I would give African-Americans would be to not give up, and remember to stay a unit.
What are some tips that you can offer in helping with early detection and decreasing the rate of diagnoses?
My major tip would be to stop thinking African-Americans don’t get breast cancer. Also, stop thinking that you have to be over 45 to get diagnosed with the disease. We need to be more educated on the topic and we need to stop being afraid to go to the doctor. Go to the doctor and get checked up regularly!
Keep up with Jeter’s work in the community and dedication to fighting for a cure!
WNBA Legend Lisa Leslie Talks Hall of Fame Inductions and Healthy Partnership with Boston Market
Lisa Leslie became not only the most recognized player in the WNBA, but changed the face of women’s sports. As a two-time champion, three-time WNBA MVP, four-time Olympic Gold Medalist and eight-time all-star it should come as no surprise that Lisa is being inducted into both the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on June 13th and September 11, 2015 respectfully. As a wife, mother, Olympic athlete, model, author, speaker, and businesswoman, Leslie is a true leader and pioneer. But part of her success and ability to be Superwoman is through smart choices and taking care of her health. Recently, she teamed up with Boston Market in celebration of National Rotisserie Chicken Day, June 2nd – to celebrate the healthier cooking method. Read our interview with Lisa as she discusses her upcoming hall of fame inductions, teaming up with Boston Market, and a list of her favorite healthy rotisserie chicken recipes.
BFT: Things have changed since 1985 when Boston Market first opened its doors, the obesity epidemic being one. As a spokesperson for Boston Market why did you feel it was necessary to join in promoting healthier eating?
LL: Absolutely. I feel like we are in a time where we can no longer accept the bad food that is bombarding our community. Boston Market is definitely taking a stand with the new brand promise, All Good. The fact that you can find fresh, never frozen chicken with no added steroids or hormones makes Boston Market a frequent stop for me. As a working mom, I understand the importance of healthy food and trying to make healthy choices for my family. The Boston Market Rotisserie Chicken is not only yummy by itself but can also be used to make a variety of other meals, salads, tacos and enchiladas.
BFT: We were surprised to learn that Boston Market offers more than 150 meals 550 calories and under! When you’re on the go what is your favorite menu option at Boston Market?
LL: My favorite is breast of chicken with a wing, the green beans, sautéed spinach, which is only available at select stores, and yams. I try to load up on vegetables.
BFT: What are some of your favorite Rotisserie Chicken dishes and recipes?
LL: I love to use Boston Market rotisserie chicken in many different kinds of recipes. First, it is great by itself with some healthy sides. Then I can use the leftovers for additional meals, like Chicken Wraps and a great Waldorf Salad.
BFT: As a pioneer of the WNBA, how does it feel to know that you are being formally inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in less than two weeks, June 13, 2015 in Knoxville, TN?
I am really humbled and excited to be a part of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. It took a lot of hard work but I did not get here alone. I had so much support from teammates, coaches and family. It seems unfair that only I get an award.
BFT: This September you will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, “the highest honor in Basketball.” Many players dream to one day be in your position. What type of work, training, dedication, support etc., did it take to get you to this point?
It takes an abnormal amount of focus and dedication to your craft; it takes about 10,000 hours of repetition to become good at anything. I had a great support system as well, from my mother to my family to the coaches and teammates I played with throughout the years.
BFT: When you think back on your career and your many accomplishments, what are you most proud of?
LL: It is hard to choose one thing: I am proud of being a mom. I am proud of being a wife and businesswoman. I am proud of my basketball career and philanthropic work.
BFT: What do you want people to take away from what you were able to accomplish during your career?
LL: I would love to be known as a person who really gave her all in everything she did, as a wife, mom, athlete, captain, teammate, businesswoman. Along the way, I have met some wonderful people. I have helped people and received so much in return. I am just thankful for the journey.
Here are the recipes:
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
1 whole Boston Market Rotisserie Chicken, picked and diced in small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
8 oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup carrots, diced in small pieces
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup roasted peanuts chopped in half
1 head Greenleaf or Iceberg lettuce, separated into whole leaves
1 – 8 oz. pouch or 1 cup of your favorite Hoisin Sauce
Heat oil over high heat in large frying pan or wok
Add chicken, all vegetables and half of the peanuts, stir fry for two minutes
Add 3/4 pouch of Asian sauce, bring to a simmer, add green onions and remaining peanuts
Scoop the mixture into a lettuce leaf cup
Drizzle the remaining sauce on top
Waldorf Chicken Salad
1 Boston Market Rotisserie chicken, picked and diced
½ cup apples diced
½ cup celery diced
¼ cup grapes cut in thirds
¼ cup walnuts chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, chill and serve on bread, croissant or on a bed of lettuce. Serves five to six.
This recipe calls for one whole Boston Market Rotisserie chicken but if you want all white meat buy two whole chickens and use dark meat in another recipe.
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