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The Road to Competition – Sherry Smith



Q. What inspired you to become a fitness competitor?

A. After the birth of my daughter, I got serious about lifting weights but nothing was pushing me to really strive for my best. Leave it to my mom to be the catalyst. She will be competing in her first figure competition next month in the ‘Over 50’ division. Initially, she was on the fence about it. She had mentioned doing one a few times before and never followed through. I thought, “what better way to make sure she keeps at it and motivate her than to enter myself?” 

Q. What were some obstacles that you had to overcome on your journey to the stage?

A. The transition back into shape after I had my daughter. I didn’t have a huge weight gain, but I knew if I was going to get back to my pre-pregnancy body it would take work – REAL work…diet included.  That’s when I opened my Oxygen Magazine, not just for the workouts, but for the recipes. About three months after my daughter was born, I was back to my old self!

Q. Where did you find encouragement along the way?

A. I had been approached in the gym a few times and asked if I was a trainer, or if I compete, etc., and took that as a good sign. After researching the different classes and some of my favorite fitness all-stars, I decided my body is currently best suited for bikini. She was ecstatic at the idea of doing this sort of thing together. So I entered myself in the Tanji Johnson Classic, Bikini Division, in Vancouver, WA.  I got 3rd in my class in my first contest. I guess that’s a good sign!

Q. What is your biggest weakness when it comes to fitness?

A. I am TERRIBLE about sweets. None of this would have happened had I not cleaned up my diet, and stuck with an actual training plan. It showed me there is always room for improvement. The pictures don’t lie. It also inflicted me with competition fever.

Q. What types of workouts did you do leading up to your completion? Did you work with any trainers?

A.  I didn’t have a trainer. I consulted a friend of a friend on posing and state prep (i.e. spray tan?! Really? LOL), but the workouts were all mine from research. I have been reading quite a few workout magazines, and following some of my favorite competitors for years. I kept the lifting pretty heavy and threw in supersets for variation. Cardio was mainly high intensity interview training (HIIT).

Q. How did you diet change during competition prep?

A.  As far as diet I kept it simple.  Food would be protein/good carb/veggies for my meals, except dinner where I cut out the carbs.  I ate about every 2 ½ hours. I also had my protein shakes pre and post workout.  Closer to competition I cut down to only two, then one carb a day.

Q. Were you an active person before you began training for competition? What do you like most about training for competition?

A. Yes, during my time in the military, I exercised regularly and my ex-husband got me to start lifting weights. I loved what it did to my arms, so I kept with it. As far as training, I love it. I enjoy the discipline it takes to stick to clean eating, and being a source of motivation for my mom and many friends. 

Q. There are different ideals on what it means to be “in shape.” How do you assess your progress or measure your level of fitness?

A. I think the true measurement a great physique is, “what do you look like naked?”  I never looked bad, I just knew I could look better.

Q. This was your first show and you placed in the top three. That’s pretty impressive! How did you celebrate?

A. I DESTROYED about six donuts after the competition. [Laughs]

Q. So what’s next for you? Are you preparing for any upcoming shows?

A. I plan to compete again. Look for me at Nationals. The USAs in Vegas on July 26-27. It’s a pro qualifying event!  Just like my last show, no matter the outcome I know I will get the feedback I need to push myself even more and continue to go after the things in life that are only seemingly out of reach.

Q.  How can readers follow you and stay up to date with your training and upcoming fitness competitions?

A. Those who are interested can follow me on Facebook. (click here)


Do you want to share your health and fitness journey with us? Do you have a “Transformation Story” or know someone who does? Submit your information to be featured on our website! For more information click here.

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Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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Cover Feature

Living Fit The Civil Way – How A Healthy Lifestyle Powers Karen Civil’s Success



karen civil
Photo credit: Noel Daganta

Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today

It’s another beautiful November day in Los Angeles, and it’s shoot day. Karen Civil is en route, and the team is preparing for her arrival. You can feel how the atmosphere changes when she walks into the studio. She brings an aura of confidence, yet calmness. Even while she’s ironing out details of her schedule for the rest of the week, she’s in lock step during shoot prep. Karen is like a chameleon who can rock many different looks and shine bright while doing it.

Everyone has their own method of preparation for photo shoots. We can imagine that in being a cover girl for a fitness mag, she wanted to be ready. But, her lifestyle, work ethic, and commitment to maintaining good health and a solid physique proved to be a perfect return on investment on shoot day.

The Elizabeth, New Jersey native now residing in Los Angeles is one of the best digital strategists in the game.  Even if you still don’t know who she is by now, you probably know her work and have seen her footprint. Check some of her most notable receipts:

Remember when Weezy went to prison? Karen was responsible for the creation of his fan site, that kept his fans connected and brand intact during his incarceration. This was crucial because it was before social media gave us all direct access to our favorite celebs and entertainers.

You know all those Beats by Dre ads with notable athletes and entertainers wearing the headphones while getting a glimpse into their journeys? She spearheaded that campaign.

The booming success of mainstream artists like YG, Nipsey Hussle and Dave East and more, link back to her, as she has elevated these artists into formidable brands.

One of Karen’s platforms,, which kicked off in 2008, has been unique in the hip-hop industry because it is credited with introducing now global superstars to the world before anyone else including Drake, J. Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

Karen and her team launched the LiveCivil playground in Haiti, the place of her roots, to create a safe place for children to be able to play and express themselves.

Karen Civil is not only holding her own in a male-dominated industry, but is setting the path that women — and men — want to follow.

What enables Karen Civil to be the powerhouse that she is goes beyond her knowledge, experience, and connections. It is often said that our health is our greatest wealth. How can we live out our fullest potential if we aren’t healthy enough to do it? This is an idea that Karen takes very seriously; it gives her balance and a solid foundation.

Self-care has enabled her to successfully fight her battle with anemia, and maintain not only a solid body, but a solid mental state – something so crucial in the industry she dominates each and every day.

Flip to the next page to read our interview with Karen to find out what fitness means to her, why she felt it was best to let go of her vegan lifestyle, what keeps her grounded, and advice she has on brand-building.

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@iamnayfit – 5 Tips to Make Your #BodyGoals A Reality and Getting Results In 28-Day Challenge




What is the #Ri28 challenge?

The 28 day challenge was made when we put together all of the elements needed to lower your body fat percentage quickly and efficiently.  The combination of reducing carb intake and increase activity on a daily basis is key to fat loss.

What can people expect over 28 days?

Clients can look forward to a no stress program. No gym membership is needed , no gym equipment is required. All you need is $39 and a device to watch the workout on.

Who is the #Ri28 challenge for?

This challenge is for anyone who wants to tighten and tone. This a great way to spice up your normal cardio routine with high intensity interval training.

Why should people join the challenge?Anyone wanting for feel better and look their best should join the #Ri28 family. 2017 is coming to an end and it’s time for bring in the new year feeling and looking  like the best version of YOU!

What are your Five Tips to Make #BodyGoals A Reality?

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Elise Neal – Fit Over 50 Interview – Black Fitness Today Exclusive



elise neal, black fitness today

Watch our exclusive interview with multi-talented actress, dancer and gym lover Elise Neal! Get the full cover story and find out about Elise’s newest role in Wolverine 3 (Logan) and more about the Elise Neal Body Boot Camp on
Keep up with us!
Twitter: @EliseNeal
Instagram: @therealneale
Snapchat: EliseWorldWide

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Karen Civil, Live Civil, Black Fitness Today




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