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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!

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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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Greenleaf Star Deborah Joy Winans Talks About Overcoming Self-Doubt and Achieving Self-Love



Greenleaf, Deborah Joy Winans, OWN
Photo: OWN

It’s hard to find a black family who didn’t grow up listening to the legendary Winans family, or at least know someone who did. From Bebe and CeCe, to Marvin, to Vickie, the Winans family has an annointing! But not everyone in the Winans family has chosen to make a primary career out of singing. 34-year-old Deborah Joy knew in her spirit she wanted to become an actress. The pursuit of her true passion paid off, as she was seen by Oprah at a workshop, and offered the opportunity to play Charity Greenleaf. Ironically, Charity is a singer!

Black Fitness Today caught up with Winans to discuss her success as an actress living her dream, and how she has overcome colorism and struggles with body positivity, to truly love herself and who she has been called to be. We know that wellness starts from within, and a healthy body is meaningless without a healthy mind and spirit.

Winans says she’s living her dreams thanks to her big breakthrough to starring as Charity Greenleaf on OWN’s hit drama series, Greenleaf. She credits her family as being a dynamic support system, as they constantly cheered her on as she worked towards her dream.

Even though her family was very supportive, Winans says she still dealt with a lot of self-confidence issues as a black woman with a darker complexion. Winans noticed a difference in the way she was treated in high school when events and activities came around that required a date. Winans says women with a lighter complexion would get more attention and she even recalls asking her dad, “Is it because I’m dark?”

Black womens’ battle with complexion is nothing new. We have all been culturally conditioned to view lighter skin as a the standard-bearer for beauty. It is refreshing to see the shifts in beauty and what our culture views as acceptable.

“I had to learn to see myself the way God saw me.”

When it came to career goals and dreams, Winans always knew she wanted to be an actress, even though she grew up in a singing family. Daughter to Carvin Winans, Deborah grew up amongst chart-topping hits and albums across her family, but has said she did not grow up singing.

“I always knew what I wanted to do, but I never saw anyone who looked like me in film.”

Despite not getting attention from her peers as a teen, Winans realized one day she had to be a role-model for darker girls, especially those who didn’t get the same love and support from their family as she did.

Winans acknowledges Oprah Winfrey as a beacon during her childhood.  And today, she says the black representation in television and film is, “absolutely amazing!”

“If [Oprah] can pursue her dreams like this, certainly at some point, somebody will see me too.”

Winans pursued theater in school and after completing her Master’s program, she knew she’d done all the work necessary to move forward in her acting career. But that is when self-doubt started to hit. After hearing so many “no’s,” Winans began to wonder if acting was truly the career path she should be pursuing. Winans thanks her husband, attorney and community activist, Terrence Williams, for being the motivation she needed. After meeting Williams, Winans says she still didn’t have an agent, and hadn’t really booked anything.

Deborah Joy Winans, OWN, Greenleaf

Photo: YouTube

Still questioning God and wondering when her moment was coming, Winans recalls Williams sharing advice, “you have to be open and you have to be ready.” Months later, Winans was doing a family workshop production in NYC. Oprah attended, saw Winans performing, and pitched her to the network for the role of Charity.

“I knew I had done the work, it’s just a matter of being able to have an opportunity.”

She credits her support system for believing in her more than she even believed in herself. While currently prepping for Season 3, Winans notes how balance is more important than ever. With a full time schedule with Greenleaf and having a family life as well, Deborah Joy says it’s all about making “day-to-day decisions.”

Whether its deciding what time she needs to wake up to make sure her home is taken care of before heading to work, or simply deciding what to eat while on set, Winans says you have to constantly choose what’s best for you.

After being nominated for Best New Artist at the Stellar Awards, Winans is currently trying to figure out if singing will be one of the next steps in her future. She did however, have a single on the Greenleaf soundtrack, The Master’s Calling, that shot to the top 20 on the Gospel Billboard chart. Along with constantly writing, it’s safe to say, Deborah Joy Winans will have a busy 2018!

“When you recognize who you are in God and who you belong to, you know that there is nothing that is for you, that you won’t get.”

Follow Deborah Joy Winans at, @deborahjoywinans – Instagram and @deborahjwinans – Twitter to stay in the loop with what she’s up to next!

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American Bobsledder Aja Evans Looks to Bring Home Gold at the Winter Olympics



aja evans, winter olympics,
Photo: Sports Illustrated

Bobsledding might be the sport to watch in this winter’s Olympic Games. We’re seeing more representation and more awareness of the sport. It has been nearly two decades since Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American bobsledder to bring home a Gold Medal in 2002. In 2017, we found out that Nigeria would have a bobsledding team of black girl magic competing for the first time ever, which brought even more excitement about representation in the sport. But did you know that we’ve got an African-American woman from Chicago representing TEAM USA? 29-year-old Aja Evans will be competing in the Olympics for the SECOND time, after winning a Bronze medal in 2014.

Evans is using her platform to encourage more participation from people of color in on-ice sports. Her story was also recently featured in Procter and Gamble’s Love Over Bias campaign who spotlight athletes who found their deepest encouragement from their mothers.

“I saw that I could be a symbol of power and resilience and strength for others,” Evans says, “and I wanted to own that. … It was a powerful realization to understand I was standing for so much more. I was representing where I’m from. I was representing African-American women all across the world…In this city and the areas I grew up in, so many kids are closed-minded and they don’t think there’s any more to life outside of where they are,” she says. “But I’m living proof that there is. When I talk to kids, I want them to see my (Olympic) medal and to understand I accomplished these things because I refused to let anyone tell me I couldn’t.”

We are already inspired by Evans and will be cheering her on! The 2018 Winter Games in South Korea begin February 7th on NBC, but catch the opening ceremony on February 9th.

Read more about Aja Evans and her journey as an elite athlete here.

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Hollywood Stylist and Former WAGS LA Star Ashley North Talks Healthy Living

The Fashion Maven Dishes Juggling Motherhood, Career, and Personal Fitness In Style



ashley north, black fitness today, home decor, celebrity stylist
Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

Black Fitness Today got a chance to catch up with fashion maven & stylist to some of Hollywood’s most dapper actors, Ashley North. Ashley, formerly of E! Network’s WAGS LA and fiancé to one of the toughest players in the NFL (Dashon Goldson), shares her workout regimen and how she juggles both worlds of motherhood and staying fit for the fashion!

As a busy mom, how do you incorporate fitness into your daily regimen?

It’s hard, but I have to do it!!!  My girls are so active and in order to keep up I have to be in shape!!! (laughs)

Why is fitness an important part of your life? How does it help you?

Fitness is important, I mean I’m a fashion girl at heart and to look good and feel good I have to work out. It helps me with feeling strong inside out, there no better feeling than being fearless and knowing your body’s capabilities and strengths.

Tell us about your workouts! What are your favorite exercises and why?

I do some classes at my gym but mainly circuit training with my trainer, every session we focus on something new and it keep me on toes and most importantly it makes my workouts fun! My favorite workout… is anything that has to do with ABS!!! I’m trying to get bikini ready and keeping my tummy tight is so major.

Since your fiancé is NFL Pro baller, Dashon Goldson, do you all enjoy any workouts together? (Share Detail)

LOL (Laughs) Honestly Dashon is such a professional I can’t hang with him in gym. He will try to work out with me but he gets intense and I just can’t keep up! We have a membership at the same gym and he’s so encouraging and really tries to help me but there’s no competing with a pro baller.

How does your diet impact your fit family?

I really try to stay as healthy as possible and try to create innovative ways for the girls to enjoy eating heathy, but my fiancé is Jamaican so it’s tough! His mom taught me some amazing recipes and I always incorporate a veggie with our meals. For snacks, we eats lots of fruits and I’m always down for a good smoothie or protein shake.

ashley north, celebrity stylist, black fitness today

Photo credit: Shannon Laurine

How do you make sure your family stays fit and healthy?

Our oldest stays in sports, she’s very active, basketball, soccer you name it she’s in it. We maintain our workouts, Dashon trains every morning so he’s GOALS for us all. With him being an athlete it makes it easier for us to stay on track.

What’s on your workout playlist?

Anything rachet I LOVE IT!!! (laughs)

What is your gym bag?

Uhmmm, this is a good question… bottled water, towel, misted water, a hair tie, and an oversized hoodie for sure!!

What your favorite way to cool down from an intense workout session?

Honestly, I literally lay on the floor and pass out. I push myself, so when it’s over I collapse. But I’m good at listening to my body and a good protein shake to help with muscle recovery.

Tips for mothers juggling family and work?

Find the time for yourself. I’ve noticed I feel most confident when I feel fit and look good in my clothes. When I’m working out that’s MY time to really focus on ME (we all need that). So, finding the time to do something for yourself is KEY!

What is your favorite gym outfit? Favorite fitness clothing brand?

Right now, I’m loving CARBON38, they have really cool fit/leisure wear and everything is high-waisted and really on trend. The materials are luxe and I’m a complete fan of this brand.

For more on Ashley follow her on Instagram @ashleynorthstyle!

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Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today






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