Fitness guru, Shaun T will be speaking at #EssenceFest and getting all attendees empowered to seek a healthy lifestyle. But before he hits NOLA he stopped by to talk about his excitement for #EssenceFest, his new healthy food delivery service, and how he hopes to help you Define Your Life.
ESSENCE: Since this is your first time at #EssenceFest, what are you looking forward to seeing or doing besides your Empowerment talk?
I’m a trainer for the people. And that’s just like training the mind and training the body. I just want to be in the mix and meet the people and feel the vibe. I’m really big on energy of a room. When I go into a big group of people to teach, even if I have a group of 1,000 or more people, I find the average amount of energy that’s in the room and feel it. I have this motto I say all the time, “When you roll into the carnival, anything can happen.” Wyclef said that. It’s going to be fun! The questions and answers that I’m going to do is just going to be a little more free-flowing and easy. That’s what I’m really excited about and I’ve never been to New Orleans.
ESSENCE: Speaking of your podcast, Define Your Life, tell me about what you are touching on in the podcast.
First of all, I’m not a like a “you need to live your life like this and this,” unless I’ve actually experienced a certain struggle and went through it. I don’t like talking at people. I’m like, “This is what I went through and this is how I got through it.” I try to help people relate to it any parts of their life, whether it’s relationship or self-acceptance. I talk about everything from my sexual abuse as a kid to being in an abusive relationship as a young 20-year-old, I mean, everything! I’m looking for people to fall in love with themselves and I believe that the only way people are truly going to believe who you are is if you show your vulnerability.
There’s other parts where I talk about things like my Summer Slim-down Series. My whole motto, is that weight loss has nothing to do with the pounds on your body. It’s all the baggage you are carrying in your life. So, is it work that’s stopping you from getting there? If you imagine your day when you wake up and you are ridiculously excited to get up, like when you were a kid and it’s Christmas and you’re like, “I don’t care if I got three hours of sleep, I’ve got all of the energy in the world!” What if we find that about our daily lives? I feel like, if you can find that everyday, and not everyday is going to be perfect but if you have that goal and vision, there’s a release of weight in your life. Once you find that path, everything else just flows.
ESSENCE: You’re most known for your workout programs like Hip Hop Abs and Insanity but you started as a background dancer for notables like Mariah Carey and other people. Do you feel like that prepared for where you are in your career now?
I feel like it’s a combination of a lot of things. I mean, it prepared me for being on the road a lot but the root of where I come from is how I was raised. I think that prepared me a lot for where I am. I’m in a spot where I have to constantly be humble. On days where I don’t feel like being bothered, I’m like, you are walking down the street. Someone is going to know who you are so don’t get cute! That’s what my upbringing taught me.
Professional dancing, what that added to my career is… Every time I would get ready to go out and perform, I would get this nervousness that stopped me in my tracks. I was so excited, you don’t even know! I was so excited to dance and overtime, doing that for years, it helped prepare me for video shoots or when I’m going to speak or even give a workout. I’ve taught 10s of thousands of classes in my life but every time, I’m like, “oh my God, I don’t want to do this!” But, then I say to myself, the minute you stop having this energy is the minute you need to not do this anymore.
ESSENCE: If you could dispel one myth or misconception about fitness, what would it be?
What works for you is not going to work for everyone else and what works for everyone else is not necessarily going to work for you. You have to find your own calculation. People flip flop back and forth. That’s fine but you have to grasp your own thing. There are so many trends that come out and people feel like, “That’s the thing.” Insanity is not the thing for everybody either because if you are just busy cussing me out the whole 40 minutes, then you don’t need to be doing it. That’s why I have a lot of different programs because I just don’t think that one is for everything.
ESSENCE: I know you just hosted a huge event in Canada called Shauntervention. What is Shauntervention?
What was amazing to me, getting in the fitness industry and then when my infomercials became popular, people wanted to work out with me more at live events. You think you’re going to show up and it’s going to be a whole bunch of fit people there but it’s people from every different type of journey. That’s what Shauntervention is all about. At the end of the day, it’s about taking yourself on a journey. A workout is going to be what it is but it’s like, what’s happening to your mind? You could basically take the music out and my cueing of form & safety, and it’s a message that’s happening through the workout. It’s a keynote during the workout.
ESSENCE: Are you doing this in other places?
Next year, we are going on a 2016 tour and we are going to do East Coast, NY area, DC, Chicago, ATL, California, Texas and the UK.
ESSENCE: What else is next for you?
I’m in the contract phase of the book with the writer I am going to work with. He’s amazing. I’m not sure when it will come out but we will probably start getting in to the nitty gritty of it, this Fall. I have a FILA fitness shoe that just came out. I’m partnering with FILA and Kohl's and I wanted to do that is because growing up, I had one pair of shoes and until my toe was sticking out of it, that was the shoes I was wearing. So I created a shoe that was functional and would support men and womens’ styles, as well as extremely affordable. I have a new food line coming out called, Prept Foods. It’s a home delivery food service where the portions are going to be perfect and so within that, we’re going to have a 7-day or a 14-day or a 30-day program. It’s a kickstart. It’s motivation within it. I also partnered with Core Power, which is a nutrition shake. I’m lactose intolerant so I was never able to promote protein shakes so they came up with this method to take the lactose out of the protein so it’s really good. It’s amazing. I have Arctic Ease, which is an ice wrap for your arm or joints or knees. I hated getting in ice baths when I was in college and I ran track or just putting ice on it. But, Arctic Ease is a cooling wrap that you get. It’s basically an ace bandage that’s cooling that keeps your inflammation down.
Then, Cize, (like the end of exercise) which is my new dance program that launches in July. It’s a dance program that you don’t even feel like you’re working out because you’re learning choreography. We have songs from Timbaland, Bruno Mars, Missy Elliott, Destiny’s Child, Sia’s Chandelier is in there and then, Rich Girl. Then we have Beach Body On-Demand now, with the BB programs, you’ll be able to get the workouts online and stream them anywhere. You no longer have to have DVDs. Every program needs to have access to on-demand.
ESSENCE: When does the Prept Foods food line come out?
We are hoping to launch this Fall for back to school, for parents who are taking kids off to school and for lunch. We want to have the lunch option because a lot of people can eat healthy in school but then it’s the lunch—and you know in New York, y’all like to eat out—so we have the full day option. It’s going to be great! We are hoping to launch in September. The food is really healthy and tasty.
Don't miss Shaun T at this year's Empowerment Experience. See the full lineup of speakers here.