Has anyone ever asked you, “When is the baby due?” You got angry because either you weren’t pregnant or you had given birth months ago! Do you look down and see your stomach but not your feet? You are not alone. Millions of people have experienced the same.
To look at fitness guru/choreographer Shaun T, it’s hard to believe the chiseled hunk once battled the bulge with an extra load of 50 pounds. But he did. The New York native, a proud member of “A Phi A till the day I die,” found a way to use his degree in sports science and minor in theater/dance from Rowan University to change his life and others.
The former athlete, who’ll soon be choreographing routines for the New England Patriots’ cheerleaders, created Hip Hop Abs, a workout program that gets you ready to hit the club and the beach. The best part is that you have fun working out, which studies have shown eases depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good brain chemicals, reduces immune-system chemicals and increases your body temperature. All of this boosts your confidence, takes your mind off worries and helps you feel more sociable.
EBONY.com caught up with the busy fitness specialist/personal trainer on the eve of his trip to Germany, where his Hip Hop Abs program is all the rave.
A person might complain that she or he has worked out and feels stomach muscles but can’t see them. Why does it take so long to see the results? The muscle is there. The reason they don’t see it but they feel it is they are eating it away. Crunches don’t burn fat. Once people start eating right, the inches will dissipate. You’ll start to see the indentation and what we call abs.
What kind of workout regimen should you have in place? If you want to see definition in your body, you have to combine food and exercise. If you just eat right but don’t shape and tone your body, you won’t be hard. If you do toning exercises and eat well, you’ll see the definition, change and results.
People want to spot reduce problem areas, especially the stomach. Is it true that you can’t spot reduce? The difference is, I will keep it real as Shaun T does. If you’re already fit and see the definition, you can say, “I want my abs to be more ripped.” For instance, I already lift weights and eat well. I know what I must do with my diet to make my abs pop. With those who have at least 30 pounds to lose, it is difficult to spot reduce. Often, you will see results in the midsection the fastest, just as when you eat and see it go there first. Do cardiovascular exercises. Do things that will keep your heart rate up. Do exercises that isolate that part of your body. So when the pounds and inches dissipate, you’ll see those results on the parts that you hope to see them on.
Most people don’t work out because they say they don’t have time. What do you say? A friend of mine came to me and said he didn’t have time. I asked him, “How much time do you spend eating or lollygagging through the office?” No one is sitting behind a desk the whole day. People go to talk to others in the office. You talk on the phone with friends. Everyone has that time. In general, you should make time for yourself in the day, and part of it should be for working out. I say if you work out for 10 minutes a day, this is better than not doing anything. Once you start working out, even if it’s 5 minutes, you will feel good and you’ll say you can do longer each day. Start and build your way out. It’s hard to stay motivated. Take time for yourself. Exercise is what I call my antidepressant drug. You start to move around and change your focus. You feel better. The blood is flowing. You have a different mind-set. Start easy and go harder if that’s what you need.
Working out boosts your self-esteem and lifts depression. Why is that? Because of the endorphins in your body. Your blood is starting to flow. It’s the natural energy. Have you ever experienced a time when adrenalin kicked in whether you were fearful or extremely happy? It’s like when you go to a concert and see an artist come onstage. That same feeling happens when you work out. It’s that feeling you get when you go to a dance class. Do the exercises and workout routines that are fun. That will keep you motivated.
How long should a person work out each day? I’m saying 12 minutes to just move around. To really see major results, you want to try to work out for a minimum of 30 minutes a day and have a well-balanced nutrition plan. You’ll boost your energy and lose those extra calories. You’ll see some results, whether slow or quick, depending on your body.
You are the creator of Hip-Hop Abs. Tell me about your new programs. I have Insanity and Asylum. Insanity is a total body-sculpting program. Your own body supplies the weight and resistance; there are no weights or equipment. It’s high intensity. I have a nutrition guide. Asylum just came out. It incorporates strength training. It’s very sports specific. You work on speed, agility, power, strength, pulling. It’s more in depth with the sculpting of your body.
How do you know what you should and shouldn’t eat for sculpted abs? Everywhere I go people ask, “What do I eat?” I ain’t telling nobody what to eat. [Laughs.] Write a list with a bunch of foods you like. You know what’s good and what’s bad. For example, if you like ice cream, have a quarter instead of eating a pint. Don’t deprive yourself. Take all the healthy options and make them 90 percent of your diet. Make the bad things 10 percent of your diet. Just balance yourself off. Find foods you like and pick healthy ones. Eat the bad foods once or twice a week. Eat any of what you want but not all of what you want.
Find out more about Shaun T’s workout programs at www.Shauntfitness.com and www.beachbody.com.
Nine Fat-Burning Exercises to Try: •Abdominal crunches •Leg presses •Leg curls •Calf raises •Chest presses •Shoulder presses •Back extensions •Triceps extensions •Lateral pull-downs
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Senior Editor, EBONY Magazine