1-on-1 With Shaun T
Shaun T is arguably one of the most well-known fitness trainers out now. The motivational speaker, businessman and television personality displays a level of passion, energy and love for self-improvement that isn’t easy to find these days, and it certainly benefits all of us who are interested in becoming the best version of ourselves.
While he’s best known for his home fitness programs such as T-25, Insanity and Hip Hop Abs, the New Jersey native has an impressive career that started way before his rise to fame as a workout guru. Shaun T has an impressive background in professional dance, having worked with the likes of Mariah Carey.
JET spoke with the choreographer and trainer about his life and how he seeks to motivate millions through his new Fitmoji app.
JET: I have to confess. I’m a huge fan of your work. You are very motivational, fun and entertaining. How did you become a trainer?
Shaun T: In college, I found myself 50 pounds overweight after using my meal plan card to its fullest. As a former track athlete, I knew I needed to just start moving again to get the weight off. So I decided to switch my major to Exercise Science. A requirement to graduate was to teach a group fitness class at my college. I had never taught before and was worried that no one would show up. Instead, 90 people showed up and the rest is history! I fell in love with teaching and fitness.
JET: A huge part of fitness seems to be motivation. For me, I work out when I’m under a lot of stress. It’s my escape and I imagine that to be true for many people. What was the moment that pushed you into fitness?
Shaun T: Whether it’s stress from weight gain, stress at work or I’m just having a rough day, the first thing I want to do is MOVE my body and release all the negative or draining energy. Exercise releases endorphins and that will help change you negative mindset. I like to say dancing is my therapy!
JET: Some people do fitness, but it seems like you have a clear understanding of your purpose and take what you do seriously. We’ve seen how your career transformed bodies, but what does it do for you from a personal standpoint?
Shaun T: Personally, I do what I do not because I want people to have abs or a nice butt. I do it because I want them to TRUST AND BELIEVE in who they are. I want people to be the best version of themselves possible. That is my PURPOSE and why I wake up every day trying to inspire and motivate them to DIG DEEPER. It is so much more than just the physical—it’s the mental and the emotional as well. I love what I do and when I see people feel better about themselves, it inspires me to continue to do what I love.
JET: That makes perfect sense. In addition to your inspirational videos, you recently launched the “Fitmoji by Shaun T” app.
Shaun T: Fitmoji by Shaun T is just another fun way to keep people motivated and inspired. From pictures, to GIFs, memes, videos and audio clips of some of my most motivational sayings, Fitmoji by Shaun T is a way for people to communicate with each other and push each other to dig seriously deep! And I mean, what’s more fun than writing a special message on my abs to send to your friends?!
JET: For those struggling with weight loss, fitness motivation and overall confidence, what do you say to them?
Shaun T: It is usually something INSIDE of a person’s mind that makes them struggle. My motivation to them is always to trust and believe in themselves. To look in the mirror and love who they see staring back at them. When they can do that, everything else starts to fall into place.
JET: Okay Shaun, number one health tip?
Shaun T: My food plan, “85/15.” Eat 85% of foods that are deemed healthy and 15% of foods that are fun that you love. I truly believe that when following this plan, people are far more likely to stay on track and not go off the deep end.
JET: Can you offer us one bonus piece of motivational advice?
Shaun T: Work toward being healthy mentally and physically is a lifestyle no matter what body size you are. Sometimes people start their fitness journey and overwhelm themselves by doing a week’s worth of hard workouts and eating only salads. What does that get them? An incredibly sore body and hunger pangs! My suggestion [is to] start with small changes. Take the stairs to work, drink more water throughout the day or read a motivational book (The Slight Edge is my favorite). These small changes will lead to larger changes and help you stay focused on a health plan.