As we head into the summer sun, the one thing on all of our minds is how exactly do we get that booty in shape? And although this thought can be heavy-handed (pun intended), the reality is: You. Can. Do. It. In just 21 days, Marjorie underwent her own summer-inspired transformation with the help of mother-daughter personal trainer duo Ellen and Lana Ector of Gymnetics Fitness.
We sat down with this dynamic duo to gather up all of their empowering health wisdom and get the lowdown on Marjorie’s fitness makeover. Warning: Reading this may result in the body of your dreams.
The Lady Loves Couture: How did the two of you enter the fitness world? And what attracted you most to healthy living?
Ellen: I began my fitness journey back in the early ’90s, when there weren’t really that many women working out in the African-American community. I had never even seen a woman go running out the door, or jogging, and there weren’t any gyms in our communities. I was over 200 pounds at the time. I remember seeing a photo of myself and I was all butt and gut. I was so dissatisfied with what I saw that I almost cried and I was determined to make a change. It only took me 9 months to transform my entire body. After that point, I got my personal training license, and I felt inspired to move this well kept “workout” secret into our community. It was happening, but on a small level. I knew fitness was coming when I saw Angela Bassett’s arms, and then Oprah ran her first marathon that year too.
You mentioned that fitness, as a way of life, didn’t exist in the black community in the early ‘90s: Can you elaborate on that?
Lana: I think there has always been such an emphasis in black culture about a woman being the center of the household. We really value being there for our kids, our husbands, making the soul food– everybody comes before you do. And, although that’s a beautiful quality, the truth is we have to make room to take care of ourselves. If we don’t make our health and fitness a priority there’s not going to be anyone there to take care of everybody else.
And what about your fitness journey, Lana?
Lana: I grew up eating healthy and working out and I always had my mom to model that healthy behavior. But when I went to college, I think I had like a mini rebellion, and I gained the freshman 20. When I came back home on a break, my mom just gave me this look and said, “Are you going to be fit or fat? You choose, but it’s either the ‘A’ or ‘I’?” I chose the “I” for fit, and I made a pledge to her that I would always take care of my health.
TLLC: Your business is built on the motto that working out should be “a part of ones DNA.” Can you elaborate on this philosophy?
Lana: Sometimes you might not like working out, but you just have to do it. You have to treat fitness like it’s an actual part of your genetic makeup. It’s not just what you do when you feel like it, it’s whom you actually are.
Ellen: It should be a habit and a lifestyle– just like brushing your teeth. It must be deeply engrained into your life. You keep your workout shoes near your bed in the morning, and you just go to it.
TLLC: You just finished the first round of Marjorie’s fitness challenge. Can you tell us a little bit about that process? What was the inspiration? And what was the plan of attack?
Lana: It was a 21-day challenge with an overall commitment to living a healthy lifestyle, both through working out and healthy eating. With all of the traveling Marjorie has the opportunity to do, sometimes it’s hard to stick to something consistent; she wanted to get back on the right track. Fashion is such a big part of her life and she really wanted to feel confident and comfortable as she moved in her clothes. And, it takes 21 days to break a habit. That’s why we commit to 21 days.
Ellen: Along with our personal training services, the program includes a meal plan for 21 days. The first 10 days are purely vegan. The second week you basically go back to eating like a caveman: Paleo style, meaning chicken, fish, and vegetables only. By the third week, you can incorporate fruits. Once you clear the 21 days, you will notice unwanted fat drop and a large increase in energy. For the rest of the month, you can allow yourself to incorporate some of the stuff you love, as long as you don’t go overboard.
TLLC: Were there any hurdles along the way? And if so, what words of wisdom would you tell Marjorie to help keep her eye on the prize?
Lana: The great thing about Marjorie is that I knew instantly she would be a success. We ask all of our clients what there goal is, and Marjorie said, “You know what? I’m going to try to be the best version of Marjorie Harvey possible.” You’re training your brain, just as much as your body.
Ellen: I think the vegan part was a bit challenging for the first 10 days because Marjorie does enjoy her meat. We do it to reset the body and clear the mind by changing the way you think. Eliminating things gives you the opportunity to tell yourself “no.” If I can say “no” to myself then I can be in control of my mind, and then I’m in control of the body.
TLLC: What’s the one simple thing anyone can start doing today that could be a major game changer to their overall health?
Ellen: Make water your boyfriend. Get rid of that diet soda, the sugary juice, the dairy, the caffeine. Start a walking regimen. Or, get in front of the TV, put your favorite show on, and pop in one of our DVDs. It’s only 25 minutes!
TLLC: What do you think is the hardest for people to commit to?
Lana: I think people are scared to start a fitness program. They’re scared and nervous because they don’t know what to expect because they’ve never worked out before. My advice is to just take it one step at a time. Don’t expect to have the same results as the people around you that have been working out for years. It’s about taking baby steps, daily.
TLLC: What’s it like working so closely as mother and daughter?
Lana: I love it because I can’t get fired (laughing). My mom still beats me at running, and I think in those moments, “wow, she’s almost 40 years older then me!” It’s not all about my fitness right now; working out with her reminds me of what’s possible at her age. I hope to come as close to her as possible.
Ellen: She can’t get fired but I can write her up and give her a few days off (laughing). She always has my back, and I know she’s going to give them a hard workout. Lana’s more of the drill sergeant, always adding those extra jumping jacks. I’ve taught her well.
TLLC: Since the two of you are examples of health at varying stages of life, what is the most dramatic difference between fitness in your 20’s versus the later stages of life. Basically, can we still get away with eating pizza after 30?
Ellen: I didn’t start until I was 40, so it’s never too late to start. People talk about your metabolism slowing down, but you can always speed up your metabolism with the right food and exercise. I like to think of it this way: Out of the 365 days of the year, you can mess up 65 of those. That’s still a lot of pizza.
Lana: Like I said, my mom still beats me every time we run. For me as a young person, I want to workout but I don’t want to lose my butt. I was interested in how to build my body naturally, instead of going to the plastic surgeon. I figured out how to keep a nice, small waist while keeping my curves. Lose the gut, but keep the butt.