Fitness for Healthy Living
BayouLife talks to six fitness gurus about their routines for healthy living.
Articles by Meredith McKinnie, Photography by Martin G Meyers
While Kemper Baugh is a social media staple, often posing in various scenic spots across the area in the latest fashions, one can’t help but notice her physique. It’s one that requires work. A conscious approach to eating paired with a willingness to push herself physically, Kemper thrives on variety, both in the gym and on her plate. Staying in shape wasn’t an initial decision, but rather a result of cheering in high school and college. But after graduation, Kemper knew she would have to create her own healthy lifestyle. And she did so by staying active and paying attention to what she eats.
At The Glenwood Wellness Center, Kemper takes CrossFit classes four times a week. And she takes the same approach outside of class, mixing up her routine with kettlebells, box jumps, dumbbells and treadmill combinations. Sometimes she’ll run on the track, incorporating sprints and walks for variety. She likes changing it up, getting a full body workout. She admits it’s harder to do without a workout buddy; she frequently pairs with her husband Jo or her friend Kayla. They challenge each other and get quality time in as well.
Kemper insists on portion control, rather than eliminating certain foods. She truly believes one can eat pretty much anything within reason if the amounts are controlled. Kemper eats just until she’s full, paying attention to what her body tells her. A typical day would include oatmeal for breakfast, a turkey/avocado wrap with chips for lunch, Greek yogurt for a snack, and a meat with a veggie and carbs or lentil soup for supper. Water is her beverage of choice, but she rarely skips dessert. Kemper admits, “I’ll eat less food to eat more sweets.”
Kemper encourages others to seek their own version of fit, insisting, “Your fit will look different than mine.” Body shape is a combination of so many factors, so just knowing one has a healthy diet and lifestyle is key. A healthy mindset is essential to Kemper’s life as well, focusing on her faith in God and a positive outlook on life.
Growing up in Bogota, Colombia, Cesar Camacho was always active in sports and fitness. After moving to the United States, he continued to attend the gym regularly and one day after hearing a familiar beat, he decided to try out Zumba. After all, Latin rhythms are in his blood. He fell in love. Soon he was a certified instructor with his own class. He found himself on stage at the NELA attempt at breaking the Guinness World Record for the biggest Zumba class. Everyone saw Cesar’s charisma and his ability to inspire others. His energy is legendary. So, with the encouragement of a close childhood friend, Cesar decided to give up his long-term day job at a bank and start his own gym.
He now holds certifications in personal training, group exercise and Zumba Fitness. He’s also a certified USA Weightlifting Coach. At his gym, INFIT, he encourages positivity and team spirit. He teaches a variety of classes including Bootcamp and Kickboxing, where he stresses making small changes, following a plan and giving it time to work. He emphasizes everyone’s ability to be healthy, to not be intimidated. He caters workouts to each person’s own abilities and goals, like a personal trainer, but in a group setting. In his classes you can find a young elementary school teacher working out right next to a grandmother battling chronic arthritis; or a 64-year-old professional piano tuner partnering with a high school student. All on the same mission, they encourage and support each other to accomplish their goals.
Cesar explains that establishing good eating habits counts for about 80% of staying healthy and fit. His motto is, “Clean your plate.” Rather than finishing it, he means clean it up. Anyone can do it. Start with small changes like controlling portions, adding fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. He also encourages people to record their own journey, either through pictures or on social media. It helps to stay accountable and may help inspire others. For those who say they “don’t have time to work out,” Cesar recommends changing that mantra to, “How can I find time for myself?” Cesar lives this every day, and it shows. He feels good, looks good and inspires those around him to find their own path to health and fitness.
Evan Develroy grew up hating his body. He was a chunky kid because of a lot of childhood trauma and ate primarily junk food. And as a troubled youth, he had no outlet. One day he started doing pushups and situps and running, exercises that didn’t require the equipment he couldn’t afford. He began to see results and fell in love with exercise. In the Army, he trained for a selection program: running 30-50 miles a week, swimming 3-5 miles, biking 50-100 miles. He felt he was in shape, because he could do long distances. And then he took a CrossFit class with some Navy Seals and realized how out of shape he was. He needed to train for “real life.” In CrossFit, the goal is how fast, how much weight and how perfectly an exercise can be done.
At 36, Evan is stronger than he’s ever been. After enduring colon cancer and birth defects in his hips and shoulders, even his lab results are better. He acknowledges most people want an easy quick program, and those never work. He now owns two gyms: CrossFit Ruston and Bossier City CrossFit. For exercise to have the maximum results, one must challenge himself. And for Evan, CrossFit is the most challenging. And after three deployments, it’s the most rewarding. The community aspect really helps to motivate. Returning to civilian life is tough, and CrossFit helped Evan reintegrate into society. Helping people “healed his heart.”
Evan says diet is “like getting a belt in martial arts.” He prefers the small incremental approach, one change a week. “You would eat a big elephant one bite at a time.” For success, people must forgive themselves; stop hating their bodies. Day by day, be mindful of what you are doing. “The behaviors we do the most are the ones we get the best at.” Evan is also part owner at Jennings Apiaries, promoting sustainable agricultural practices. He also co-created The Better Human App, where people can track what they eat and how to meet their individual weight and fitness goals. Be purposeful, and eventually it pays off.
For many, personal training is a fad, but for Mara Brown it has always been a lifestyle. She fell in love with fitness and sports at a young age. As a child, Mara participated in sports such as softball, basketball and cheer, but Tae Kwon Do has proven to be a key influencer throughout her life. Mara claims, “Through years of training in Martial Arts, I have been able to see the impact of determination, perseverance, team work and self-confidence in both my life and those I have trained.” Mara was a four-year national Tae Kwon Do Champion, and two-time Women’s Team USA participant in the World Games, but one of her most prestigious titles is as an IFBB Professional Figure Body Builder.’
Body building is more than just lifting weights; it’s a lifestyle. Mara says, “It’s about consistency and personal determination to be the best YOU. To compete with yourself and to strive for greatness.” Though her lifestyle is more than just weight lifting, she insists, “Remember Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither will be reaching your fitness goal. It takes one step at a time.” She hopes her clients will come to see that fitness and health are mutual goals.
Through bodybuilding Mara has learned a great deal about the health industry, especially when it comes to nutrition and the latest “fad and trendy diets.” Mara focuses on whole foods rather than processed foods. She tells her clients that carbs are not “evil.” You can eat carbs and healthy fats to lose weight and maintain healthy eating habits. Most importantly know what your ingesting. Pay close attention to the nutritional facts. Nutrition can come down to a science. But focus on calories in and calories out. Remember, every unwanted pound didn’t come instantly, and neither will be getting them off. This is when consistency plays a major role in your progression.
“For most, those steps take time. But the journey there is what makes it worth it. Try to stay true to yourself with realistic goals.
At 61 years old, David Thiels has learned that “staying fit truly does impact his overall health.” David started running twenty years ago on the advice of his doctor. David’s goal was to increase the HDL component of his cholesterol. Dr. Barnes prescribed more exercise, and that catapulted David into running and other forms of exercise. He joined a running group at the Monroe Athletic Club (MAC) that is open to anyone. The group meets four times a week: 5:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; 7:00 a.m. on weekends. Running with the group is “like a ministry” for him. True friendships have developed, and the support of his fellow runners has enriched his faith. They share, pray and encourage each other. That sense of community has fostered David throughout the years.
Running enriches his relationship with his daughter, Lindsay, a fellow running enthusiast. Father and daughter train together as part of The MAC Running Group and compete in races. In 2013, they ran the Tyler Marathon, David’s first, prompted by the desire to run a marathon with Lindsay. It was extremely challenging with many “rolling hills,” but he did it, and he kept on doing it. He’s run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in New Orleans the last two years, reducing his overall time by one minute. And he’s qualified for the Boston Marathon twice. He plans to run Boston in 2019.
Being fit has become part of who he is. In addition to the 26 miles he runs every week, he attends BodyPump classes twice a week, does individual strength training for half an hour three times a week, and has incorporated yoga stretching after his runs. He drinks predominantly water and avoids junk food. He can make hamburgers or chicken healthier than he can buy it somewhere. He makes a lot of soup, gumbo and red beans and rice. Living on Caney Lake, he loves his fish, a good source of protein. He reduces the quantity of heavier items by starting his meals with a salad. He has learned that sugar makes him sluggish, and depends on fruit to satisfy his sweet tooth. It’s way of life for David, nourishing his physical and spiritual health.
For Susan Hopper, being healthy has always just been a way of life. She started working in a local gym straight out of high school. And for the last twenty years, she’s taught spin classes and been a personal trainer. She acknowledges that food is 90% of staying shape. She avoids sugar and carbs, anything white. And instead of a cheat day, she has a cheat meal once a week. While there are a lot of diet scams, her advice for weight control is simple: “If you can burn it off, you can eat it.” Susan insists, as she’s gotten older staying disciplined has gotten harder. The temptations are everywhere, especially with young children. But at this point in her life, the reasons for staying healthy have increased. She’s all about remaining fit for her family.
When Susan works out, she slips into the meditation zone. She weight trains 3 days a week for only 30 minutes. Her workouts are “short and hard, not short and heavy.” For cardio, she hits the track, running the straights and walking the curves. On the treadmill, she’ll run 3 minutes and walk four. With her clients, the approach is traditional. She’s all about “lessening the risk of injury.” For newcomers, she advises “starting with a traditional walk and light weight/high rep routine. Susan likes to see “fitness last,” and it’s important to make it a lifestyle change. Portion control and consistency are essential to a client’s success.
Being fit is not her religion, but her faith is paramount. Her hashtag is #godisgreat and she puts it at the end of everything. In her mid-thirties, she took her son to a Bible study, and then she realized the trip was for her. She has been invested in God’s Word ever since. As a result, Susan feels very blessed at this time in her life, her family and health being a big part of that. She’s learned to appreciate what she has, and her mission is to help others see theirs as well.