Chappriel Pitt works as a personal trainer in Kinston, NC. He’s energetic, excited and inspirational – a powerful combination for someone whose career is helping others to be their best. He also trains celebrity chef Vivian Howard and her team, helping them fit boot camp classes in between busy days of filming, traveling and working in her restaurants.
On a rainy afternoon in Kinston, Chappriel and I talked about how fitness and nutrition work together to support a healthy lifestyle, and he might have convinced me to buy a kettle bell.
MB: Tell me about yourself and why you chose a career in fitness
CP: My whole life I’ve been interested in sports – tennis, basketball, I played everything. I am fascinated by the body’s motion during sports and exercise and finding a way to perfect that movement. My former career was in IT, but when I relocated to Kinston nearly a decade ago, those jobs didn’t exist here. So, I relied on my training background and focused more of my time on fitness. In Kinston, I teach students, groups, individuals – anyone willing to put the work in to make their body and mind better. I want to teach people about proper exercise, and give them the push they need to succeed.
MB: So, you focus on both physical and mental change – why?
CP: I see myself as more than a trainer. Although I spend most of my time in fitness training, I’m also a motivational speaker. At times I can be more like a life coach for my clients. Fitness can be a mental challenge, but I tell people that what they put into a workout is what they’ll get out. Working closely with my regular trainees, I see what motivates them, why they struggle with certain workouts. I like to give assurance and support during training and also when my clients are dealing with day to day challenges. As my clients advance in their fitness routine, they’ll see results in their body and their attitude.
MB: Other than physical appearance, what benefits can routine exercise provide?
CP: When you’re working out, your stamina improves. You think clearer, you’re more focused. You have more energy to give back to your job and your family. You also strengthen your immune system, and better prepare your body for daily tasks. I see my clients gain self-esteem. When you’re confident in your body and your abilities, it radiates off of you. There are so many ‘quick fixes’ in today’s world, but nothing beats hard work. When you put in the work for what you want, you’re proud and you have a zest for life that everyone can see.
MB: I totally agree that you have to work hard for results, but it’s not just about exercise. What role does nutrition play in a well-rounded healthy lifestyle?
CP: What you feed your body is key. If you’re eating unhealthy foods or overeating, your body will break down. You can have an elite fitness routine, but if you’re not fueling your body with healthy, fresh foods, you won’t see progress. I tell my clients it’s important to understand why they have poor eating behaviors, then work on addressing those root causes.
MB: How do you advise your clients to think about food in a healthy way?
CP: Your body reacts best to nutritious, balanced meals with fresh produce, lean meats, and healthy fats. I stress the importance of portion control and watching out for boredom eating. A lot of people try to eat well, but they don’t do it in a sustainable way. I hate when people use the word diet! They think drastic changes to their meals are the answer, but they need a realistic life change. When thinking about improving your meals – by adding more vegetables, fruits or grains – ask yourself if you can keep up this routine for a year. If you can’t, you’re being unrealistic about your goals.
I tell my clients to think about what, when and where they’re eating. These days, we’re all constantly on the go. So if you’re eating most of your meals in the car, you’re likely getting fast food. But if you take the time to prepare healthy snacks, you can make your food work for you. If you’re eating right before bedtime, your body doesn’t need a large meal just to sleep. But a healthy breakfast will start your day off on the right foot.
I also think we can use mealtimes to build relationships with the people in our lives. People used to sit down to meals and really talk to each other. Now everyone is busy or distracted by phones and tablets. Gathering your family and friends around a table, or cooking with your kids is a great way to think about what you’re eating and spend time with one another. It’s also an easy way to set an example for children. Taking kids to a farmers’ market so they learn about local food, or including them in meal preparation will teach them life lessons. When kids see that their parents have healthy habits, they are more likely to adopt those habits for themselves.
MB: You mentioned people are busier than ever. How can someone squeeze in a workout if they don’t have much time or don’t have a gym membership?
CP: You don’t need a gym or equipment to get a total body workout. If you have a few minutes, try to do exercises that raise your heart rate and work some of your major muscle groups. I’d recommend three exercises – do each one, then repeat the ‘circuit’ two or three times.
- Push-Ups. Modify them to start on your knees if needed, and see how many you can do in a minute. Try to hit that number each time you work out. Each week, add two more repetitions to your count.
- Fast Feet: On your toes, quickly shift your weight from side to side. It’s a football drill! You’ll raise your heart rate and feel the burn in your calves. Time yourself for a minute, and add to your time as you are able.
- Sit-Ups: Make sure to keep your thumbs near your temples so you’re using your core muscles to sit up. See how many you can do in a minute, and try to reach that same number each workout. Like push-ups, add more repetitions over time.
Do you want to ask an expert? Call the number on the back of your member ID card or use “Find A Doctor” to locate a provider. If you want to train with Chappriel, check out his workouts on Instagram. Chappriel teaches boot camp, kickboxing and agility classes at gyms around Kinston.