*Actress A.J. Johnson (“Baby Boy”/”House Party”) turned fitness guru has partnered with Spelman College to develop a “21 Days to Fit” nutritional and wellness program.
The program, set to launch December 10, will address the issues of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and other illnesses that affect African American women at a higher rate than women from other racial groups.
At a press event on Monday (12/3/12) in Los Angeles, Johnson, who is also a graduate from the prestigious African American women’s university, explained what the program will provide.
“I want to make sure that everyone understands that this is 21 days to better. It is going to cover nutrition, fitness and our mental and spiritual health because all of that, as far as I’m concerned, plays a part in your overall better,” said Johnson. “There will be daily guidance given with an online program in every (area).”
Johnson, who’s whipped celebrities such as Gabrielle Union, Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway into shape, began working with Spelman students in 2008 as part of the “Fit for Life” program. The school was so pleased with the results that the school’s president, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, personally met with Johnson in Los Angeles to discuss her having a larger role in the wellness of Spelman students.
“When she invited me to lunch to say, ‘I’m thinking about doing a program but we’re going to use the athletic funds on the campus to build a wellness program, ‘I was hyperventilating,” said Johnson. “It was so exciting and so unbelievable that the change was happening like that and I said whatever you do I’m in. I want to be a part of it – big or small.”
And, Dr. Tatum really did go BIG. She went so far as to discontinue Spelman’s participation in intercollegiate athletics last year in favor of the new initiative the “Spelman Wellness Revolution.” “21 Days to Fit” is part of that program.
“It was launched for a very specific reason and that is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has already released data that says that this generation of young people will not outlive their parents,” said Tomika DePriest, Spelman’s Executive Director of Communications. “We’ve already seen at Spelman the impact of that. We had a young professor in the English department, who was just 30, pass away from diabetes. We also had a student pass way. The student was diagnosed at birth and died as a Spelman college sophomore. So, we’ve had tangible examples of this CDC factoid coming to life. And it was very important to launch this ‘Revolution.’”
DePriest added, “Spelman’s focus on health in an intentional way, under Dr. Tatum’s leadership, goes as far back as 2004 when Spelman partnered with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta to launch ‘Fit Nation.’ In 2008, ‘Fit For Life’ was launched and in that campaign A.J. was brought in an intentional way to inform and also to do specific (health) programs with students. It’s not new but it is new. What it really is – it’s intentional in the sense of bringing every resource we have on campus under one centralized area and taking the resources and applying those in an impactful way.”
In addition to Spelman students benefitting from the “21 Days to Fit” program, the community at large will also be able to take part in the campaign by going to http://www.spelman.edu and A.J. Johnson’s website http://www.theajzone.com.
EUR bonus coverage: In the clip below, AJ Johnson explains why you may not see her on TV and on the big screen as much as you would like: