Rarely have I been so inspired to stop making excuses and try to consistently incorporate exercise into my everyday routine. From one phone call, I was convinced. Speaking with AJ Johnson had me feeling motivated and unstoppable. I wasn’t talking to a celebrity but a new friend who is truly passionate about sharing her insight about fitness, spiritual oneness and nutrition. What did I learn? Exercise should not be a chore or a segment of life, but rather a component. Fitness doesn’t have to mean trekking off to the gym and spending thirty minutes on the elliptical. Health and wellness embodies more than calorie counting and stomach crunching; it’s more than physical. Via The AJ Zone, Ms. Johnson personally guides you through a three phase, 12-week program (the same program that both she and her Hollywood clients follow!), helping you to develop a total health and wellness lifestyle.
Q: Now, I’m sure our readers recognize you as an actress. What they may not know about is your dedication to health and fitness. Have health and fitness always been a passion of yours?
Not really. I’m the baby of all brothers so I’ve always been athletic. I’ve had to shoot five-foot free throws to sit at the table. It was never a health and wellness focus until I lost my mother to a short battle with thyroid cancer. I was a freshman at college. I had been at school for two weeks and my mother died. How does that happen to a healthy woman? We didn’t even know what a canned good looked like. So, I decided to research and investigate to figure out and understand how as well as accept losing my mother.
Health and fitness derived from my concern for my own health, losing my mother and my love for sciences. I started to live and apply it but then I lost my father in 2003. That really did it. As an actress, my father asked, ‘When are you going to own something?’ He said I was essentially a hired actress, that I needed to talk to Mr. Paramount. That was dad’s last message . . . that I was the health and fitness joke. He said, “I didn’t listen to you. I teased you. You’re amazing. You’re helping people. Do your thing!” To deal with both my parents gone, and in order to not go crazy, I had to do something to educate people. I have been so blessed. I left Spelman College, and there’s no reason why I’ve done as well as I’ve done in Hollywood!
Q: You’re more than a trainer, you’re a wellness coach. What exactly does that entail?
I’m not even a trainer. For me, most trainers focus primarily on fitness. When I say fitness I mean not even the most productive way of working out. Working out is so physical and biological. The whole focus and foundation of a productive workout is to control your heart rate. I have chosen to marry my premed background with my athletic background with my psychology background and spiritual focus. And that’s where you get the wellness. Every thing’s emotional. It’s more than just food. Food is where we go trying to not deal with the issue. Let’s fix the issue! And the meantime lets fix the components. It’s coaching one into wellness.
Q: What is The AJ Zone and what inspired its launch?
The AJ Zone is a total wellness concierge company. We do whatever it takes to help one with adjusting one’s lifestyle into better health. In LA we have a facility with one on one coaching. In Hollywood, traveling is the excuse for people not being healthy. I try to create a place that says, “Hey there’s another way to combat the negativity of Hollywood.” It launched in 2001.
Q: You use the same plan with Zone members as you do with celebrity clients. How does that work?
We have programs designed that are the same as celebrities. We have three tier programs on the website. My biggest thing when I travel is to educate people to do their own research. Catering to individual needs . . . that’s why I haven’t done DVDs and books because some people will say, “That doesn’t work for me.” I want to come to you and say “This is what works for me, let’s adjust it to your style.”
Q: I personally dread going to the gym and find little excitement working out. What do you do to get your clients and Zone members pumped about fitness?
That’s why I like doing retreats . . . some early workouts in the sun on the beach, prayer and meditation! Think of your wish list for your life. That to me is a better workout than a 20 minute run on a treadmill. Stop looking at exercise as exercise! Make it a part of your life. Not just the gym. Walk!
“Exercise is not a segment of your life but a component!”
Q: You recently appeared on Michael Baisden’s show, Baisden After Dark to discuss obesity in Black America. How do you feel about the physical health in the Black Community?
It’s atrocious, to say the least. That’s not pointing a finger at anyone. It is what it is. That’s another reason why I dedicate my passion and attention to the African-American community and state of wellness. The 2006 statistics say we comprise 65 percent of the unhealthiest people. We come in at number one. That’s a race I don’t think we want to win. It comes from a lack of education and motivation—having the knowledge and not applying it. It’s the same issue with everyone. Same issue repeated over and over again. Let me get out to the community! If I can come to your town and help one person . . . Healthy living is contagious. I don’t beg people to do anything.
Q: I have to be honest, after checking out The AJ Zone, I feel inspired to make an effort to stay consistently active . . . especially with summer right around the corner. I ordered new running shoes the other day, in fact!
I love it! Like you said, you may have a hang nail but if AJ’s doing what she’s doing with a broken foot, you can do it with a hurt toe. I have fun doing what I do! It’s not a job! That’s like heaven on earth!
For more information about AJ Johnson’s wellness movement, visit www.theajzone.com