WiL Turner has a plan for getting you into shape … and doing good in the world
By Scott Huffman | Contributing Writer
It’s the time of year when people start making resolutions — chief among them, to get fit. According to personal trainer and coach WiL Turner, fitness goals should be much broader than a simple desire to drop a few post-holiday pounds or to tone up quickly for a new Grindr photo. “Fitness” is an unbridled commitment to all-around healthy living. While Turner’s philosophy focuses on exercise (naturally), it also encompasses healthy eating, regular downtime… and community involvement.
“I want to teach people to have happy lives whether it be exercising, eating well, sleeping or just being kind and nice to each other,” Turner says. “Most of the time when clients come to me, their primary goal is to look great. That’s a superficial goal. I don’t really care what you look like — I care about your health.”
For those who have resolved to improve their fitness in 2017 — and not just their looks — Turner offers the following tips on healthier and happier living.
As a motivational tool, Turner suggests keeping a tangible, written record of one’s daily fitness journey. Begin by logging your current vital statistics including weight, measurements, BMI and heart rate. Next, clearly commit both short and long term goals to writing. Then add and review information daily by recording things like food intake, exercise details, calories burned and even general feelings or inspirational thoughts.
“Having a journal is essentially important,” Turner says. “This is something that was important to me before I became a trainer. It chronicles what you do from day to day and sets the habit of being consistent in following a routine. Writing [things] down is a part of the process to help achieve the goal.”
Exercise with someone
Whether work outs are at home or a gym, Turner suggests recruiting a friend to join you. Many find teamwork motivating. In addition, workout partners help keep each other honest and on the right track.
“I typically try to encourage my clients to work out in groups, because you are holding each other accountable to be where you are supposed to be,” Turner says. “You are going to work out, and you are going to have positive interaction with someone.”
Forget going on a strict diet plan. Instead, Turner advocates a gradual transition to long-term healthier eating habits. Begin by modifying the quantity and quality of your daily food intake. If you love breads and pastas, for example, continue eating them. However, begin reducing the portions consumed and try using healthier versions of the carbohydrates.
“Diet is a four-letter word that I don’t use,” Turner says. “It implies that people have to restrict themselves from food. I call it healthier eating habits. I try to steer clear of recommending a diet per se.”
For snacking, Turner suggests alternatives like apples with peanut butter or a handful of almonds. Not only are these alternatives healthier, but they also can mimic the taste of the cookies or donuts one might normally eat. This trick can make transitioning to healthier options easier on the palate.
Fitness programs are never a one-size-fits-all solution. For maximum effectiveness, programs should always be tailored to meet individual needs. Turner, who works frequently with the LGBT community, often encounters clients with very specific wellness concerns. Transgender people, for example, may have elevated hormone levels which, in turn, may have an impact on metabolism. HIV-positive people taking daily medications can also have special physiological considerations. Turner recommends tailoring fitness programs accordingly.
“The types of medication dictate the types of exercise in terms of heart rate,” Turner says. “I am mindful of the types of medication that my clients are taking at the time. It has changed my perspective of what I do as a fitness professional to provide a service and a support to these particular clients.”
Safeguard against injury
Turner cautions that leaping into physical training too quickly can increase the risk of injury. He suggests first working on one’s flexibility and mobility prior to lifting weights or hitting the machines. Afterwards, as an additional measure to avoid injury, he recommends adequate daily rest to give the body time to recover from stress and fatigue.
“My clients never touch weights for the first two or three weeks of their training,” Turner says. “I teach them to use their own bodies as a tool for them to achieve their goal. If they are not aware of the movements or how their muscles contract, [injury can be] something as simple as picking up a dumbbell, and I’ve seen it happen.”
Wellness is a lifelong investment that offers not only improved appearance, but other significant rewards as well. Commitment to a fitness program can change one’s outlook and improve one’s self-esteem. Reaping the full benefit, however, requires steadfast dedication.
“We get out of our lives what we put into it and that includes how we take care of ourselves,” Turner says. “I am very much holistic in that sense. I think it’s more than what I look like. I have goals and ambitions. I care for my community. Fitness is an opportunity to engage with people in an in-depth way. It allows me to help people on a broader scale.”
Turner commits a portion of proceeds to benefit those impacted by HIV/AIDS. For more information, visit Fusion40Fitness.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2017.