Black Celebrities

THE FACES OF BLACK FITNESS, THEN AND NOW

By: Jasmine Cochran

For decades, Black Americans have suffered far more than our counterparts with debilitating health issues, including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Many of the illnesses we see so often in our community are preventable through a healthy diet and consistent exercise. Most people struggle with the specifics and logistics of an overhaul of their lifestyles that would take them from sickness to fitness, and therefore, seek out a motivator in this area of their lives who can take them by the hand and lead by example. Fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry, which tells us that people are looking for solutions. These two fitness gurus provided solutions and became trusted, household names in the fitness world and welcome guest in living rooms all over the country, and subsequently, the world.

 

Billy Blanks

I remember the very first time I saw a “Tae Bo” commericial. Billy Blanks was ripped, intense, laced in spandex, and on his way to building an empire. Before I knew it, his tapes were part of all my friend’s mom’s after-work routines and the reasons for their satisfying soreness. People hadn’t been so excited about working out in their living rooms since Richard Simmons had them “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.”

Blanks had been fighting one battle or another since childhood. One of 15, count them, 15 children, he struggled with dyslexia and problems with his tendons. Not one to be restricted by the walls of his struggles, Blanks proved, by becoming a wildly successful businessman and athlete, that these problems were nothing more than temporary challenges.

Blanks is quite the accomplished martial artist. He is a seventh degree black belt in tae kwon do, and a fourth degree black belt in kung fu.

Blanks has made appearances in several box office hits, including Tango and Cash, Lionheart, and The Last Boy Scout.

Billy Blanks is still one of the highest grossing fitness video trainers of all time, and he’s not done with Tae Bo. Blanks still makes improvements to the fitness system, and now, it’s an app! If you’re more into social media, you can catch the TaeBo Youtube channel.

Today, Blanks runs the Billy Blanks World Training Center located in Sherman Oaks, California.

 

Shaun T.

The way that Tae bo took the fitness world by storm in the 1990s, INSANITY became a fitness craze in 2009. Shaun T.’s most popular fitness video is dubbed as “the hardest workout put on DVD.”

Shaun T. attended Rowan Univeristy where he majored in health and exercise science and minored in theater and dance, and he’s not just fitness. Shaun appeared in the stage version of The Ten Commandments with Val Kilmer and Adam Labmert, among other musicals. He hosted the ABC show “My Diet is Better Than Yours,” appeared on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, toured with Mariah Carey, and assisted with the sequel to Bring It On called Bring It On: All or Nothing.

In addition to INSANITY, Shaun is known for Hip Hop Abs, the video that catapulted him towards fitness videos for kids and teens.

He’s done all of that, and that’s still not all! Did you know that Shaun T. has an apparel line? The clothing pieces have mantras of his favorite sayings. In November, he will release his new book, and if that isn’t enough Shaun for you, you can subscribe to his Podcast.

We are thankful for these brothers who show us, in word and in deed, that we can attain the health and fitness levels we desire, and they’ll be there through various mediums to show us how it’s done.

Jasmine loves people, food, culture, fitness, and nature. She wants you to find what you love and live it until you die, because if you don’t do that, you’re not truly living, anyway.

 

Sources:
Biography.com
IMDB.com
Shauntfitness.com
Photocred: blackfitnesstoday.com

 

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