Having earned a corporate communications degree, how did you get involved in the fitness industry?
I grew up as an athlete; gymnastics, track and field, cheerleading and dance. So I have always been involved and had a natural gravitation to the fitness world one way or another whether it was teaching, working out, competing or eating healthy.
Sometime trainers – in an attempt to gain exposure – can appear unprofessional in what they choose to show on social media. Having worked with brands such as Nike, Reebok, NFL, Glamour magazine, and made national television appearances. How big of a role does maintaining a professional image play in getting and staying aligned with major brands?
First, I have to thank my parents for my strict, humble and supportive upbringing which I respect more now that I’m older, of course. I was taught old school southern manners from the get go so that set me straight. Lol. I think a professional image plays a huge role when representing a product or brand. These company’s have chosen and trust that you will represent there brand to the best of your ability and that you are the right fit for the product. Maintaining a professional image comes easy and natural for me. I’m honest, I try and do the right thing and I stay true to who I am. If I ever start to get to big for my britches my parents are always there to keep me grounded. I also think of what my Grandma would say as I see her with her hand on her hip, shaking her head with that look on her face, ‘I know I taught you better than that’! “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If I ever have to question myself or think twice about it, I already know the answer.
From New York to Istanbul, Turkey, describe what it’s like working with different cultures. In what ways is the idea of being fit different from America?
My experience in Turkey was amazing! I would do it all over again! Working with different cultures was so enlightening and intriguing. The Turkish were warm and inviting and truly just good people. The language barrier was a challenge but I love challenges. It was good to actually be the foreigner for once and know what it feels like to be on the other side. I now have a whole new respect for foreigners. I learned a lot about myself and others. Exercise for them was more like recreation and enjoyable than a goal of always needing to lose weight or be skinny. No one was over weight but of course it helps that all the food was extremely fresh and that they eat more of a Mediterranean diet. I also noticed that no one ran on the treadmills and that I was the only crazy person that did, lol…clearly, I was an American, lol! We did have a lot of athletes from all over the world come to the gym to workout in between layovers or transition time between training and beginning the new season. I learned not to obsess about time and to have fun! Actually, I was forced to when they took my watch as a joke for 2 weeks. Although I was there to work I quickly learned that play time was just as equally important If not more, in there culture. They work hard but definitely play even harder. I learned to really enjoy lunch and dinner and to eat slow and truly enjoy my food because that was considered family time and a time out for the entire city to just kick back and relax. The music and night life was amazing. I have to give it to the Turkish, they really know how to have a good time! I met some really great people and the food was excellent! Did I say that already, lol!
D3 (Drive, Discipline, Determination) is a huge part of your fitness brand and something that you instill in your clients. We want to know yours!
- What drives you?
That burning desire to make a difference. Being challenged. Doing something I’m not great at. Good strong friends and supportive friends and family. Friends that are also driven is inspiring. Creative people. Competing with myself to always be and do better because I’m my own worst critic.
- In what area do you struggle to stay disciplined?
I’m a pretty disciplined person but I’m a foodie. I love and crave good healthy foods. But I have a weakness for healthy warm (fresh out of the oven) peanut butter cookies, OMG. I know, your thinking healthy peanut butter cookies, WHAT?! But the problem is how many I can eat at one time, lol!!!
- What are you determined to accomplish next?
Learn to play the acoustic guitar. Starting a little business but I haven’t quite figured out what it will be. Lol. Creating my own food bag for the airline industry. I am particular about my food and a good sturdy, well made, perfect sized food bag is in desperate need to be created! Investing in some property. Rock climbing is going to be my next adventure. I went skiing this past winter and it was awesome so I’d like to better that skill then learn to snowboard! Grow my own garden with fresh vegetables. Travel internationally and explore more countries and cultures. Tango in Argentina.
Tell us about your fitness project with Acacia TV, a company founded by Bob Johnson of BET?
It’s been a dream come true for me to be able to do what I love, fitness! Acacia TV is up and coming and I love being on the brink of something new and exciting! I get to really be involved and watch it grow! It is streaming fitness workouts that offer a little something for everybody which means there are no excuses! I looooove that there is diversity amongst the 5 of us leading the videos. I’m able to be myself (athletic, silly and creative) and be who I am and I am so grateful for that! I have been waiting for this moment for 14 years and it’s finally happening. At times, I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe I’m really doing this! I’m the strength girl even though I love it all (dance, interval training, power, kettlebell, jump rope, CrossFit, etc…) strength training is my focus out of the 5 of us. I get to be creative and create my own workouts, how awesome is that! We are involved in social media and market Acacia and ourselves with Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I’ve had the opportunity to write fitness articles, demo exercises and write workouts for The Examiner, Spark People blog site and for Fitness and Oxygen magazine. I’ve appeared on several blog sites such as Two Classy Chics and Trainer T Fitness and hopefully more to come!
If you had to choose, which would it be, squat or deadlift?
Hmmm…Squat and Deadlift! Both are essential to life. But if I had to pick just one, squat is the ultimate exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime. A squat builds your entire lower body, core and back. If you have a strong squat you can do anything because you have built a strong foundation to live a active healthy lifestyle.
What was your biggest fear in beginning your career in fitness?
I didn’t really have any fears because I had faith. Once I started my career in fitness, I knew this was it. I met such great people along the way. Mentors that were kind, thoughtful and helpful and I still talk to them to this day. One thing I knew for sure, I could not do a 9-5, it just wasn’t for me. Then I thought about it and realized I never grew up in a household where a regular 9-5 job was the norm. My mom is a flight attendant and my dad is a businessman but always had his own schedule and traveled a lot. So my career in the fitness field was spot on!
As a competitor what is it like stepping onto a stage and being judged?
I love it! I feel comfortable on stage. I’m a competitor and love to compete so to me I see it as it’s my time to shine! However, I don’t always love being judged by someone’s else’s definition of what perfect is or what they think it is because I know how much hard work truly goes into it and I know how much I put into it. When I go for something it’s 110%! I put my heart and soul into it and giving up is not an option.
What is one thing that you have overcome that people can benefit from reading?
I have over come failing. I’ve come to realize that without my failures and disappointments I wouldn’t be fulfilling my dreams right now with Acacia TV! It was in the plans all along although it’s a hard lesson to learn at the moment in time. If you fail at something it’s ok to be upset and down about it for a bit, we’re only human, but you have to get over and let it go so that you can keep your path clear and able to be receptive for the next blessing.
Stay connected with Deazie and workout with her online by visiting AcaciaTV!