Certified personal trainer and nutritionist, Dontae Thomas, gives tips on changing your mind and body
By Amina Diakite
It’s never too late to stop putting off that gym routine and begin picking up new healthy habits. If you needed a sign to start working out, this is it! Starting a fitness regime can be a real challenge for someone who doesn’t know where to start—or for those who don’t know how to start again. Life can be a roller coaster, and fitness may not be on your list of priorities, but shouldn’t it be? Certified personal trainer and nutritionist Dontae Thomas is a Trenton native, whose goal is to help people transform their bodies and their minds. His fitness gym, Team Chizel, is located at 2695 South Broad Street in Hamilton Township, New Jersey where he provides one-on-one training and group workout sessions. Thomas believes that in order to tackle the severity of violence in the city we must “heal the people’s minds.” According to the Trenton Health Team, about 17% of the Trenton population experienced poor mental health for more than two weeks in the past three years and about 18% of adults in Trenton reported they had been diagnosed with depression. The Trenton Health mental health index also indicates Trenton ranks the highest in need of mental health services, compared to other towns in Mercer County.
Thomas is no stranger to mental battles himself and says fitness helped him get through the toughest parts of his life. For Thomas, his fitness journey and business began during his incarceration. Despite having what Thomas considered to be an “excellent” upbringing, as a young adult he began seeking quick money-making opportunities. As a result of selling and distributing drugs, Thomas was imprisoned for 10 years. But for him, focusing on his fitness became a distraction that ultimately improved both his mental and physical health. Thomas recently sat down with the Trenton Journal to talk about his fitness journey and to find out ways you can incorporate workouts into your daily routine.
Where does someone who is really struggling with fitness start?
It is imperative to commit to change before you begin anything, including your fitness journey. Committing comes with layers, but without actual devotion to your goals, working out will continue to become a pass time. Begin this life-changing journey with some self-reflection. Reflect on why incorporating fitness into your daily life will benefit you. Set short and long-term goals by researching workouts and deciding what schedule works best for you. Commitment also looks to tackle that inner voice that may be holding you back from full change. It’s fighting that inside person in your head when [it] tells you, ‘Oh, not today, man,’ ‘It’s just not for me,’ ‘I just don’t want to be bothered with nobody’. This can be tough, and tricky, but performing active positive thinking can be beneficial, and can help you to feel at ease with the decision you make. Once you are committed to your fitness and health, ensure those around you are too. Surround yourself with individuals who will hold you accountable when it comes to your goals. Joining a fitness gym like Team Chizel can be beneficial when you have others like yourself all working toward the same goal.
Do you think some people may shy away from fitness and wellness because of financial constraints? Is finance a valid concern?
Yes! Finances are a very valid concern! Gym memberships and personal training services are often quite expensive, however, it shouldn’t stop you from pursuing a healthier lifestyle. When it comes to finances and affording the gym, prioritization is key. Access your spending habits and focus on setting aside money for this new priority. Negotiate what habits you will no longer finance, like purchasing that subscription to that thing you don’t really use; or stop splurging on weekly fast food binges; or start small. Try to save $5 dollars a day, or $2, or $1. By the end of the month, you should have enough saved up to purchase a gym membership or trainer for the following month. “I always tell people to deposit something into your fitness account today. [When] you deposit into your health account, you start looking better, feeling better. My motto is forget how much money you make, the money doesn’t mean nothing once you’re sick and ill.
Does fitness go hand in hand with mental health? If so, how have you seen the two coexist whether personally or through your clients?
Incorporating fitness into our daily lives has proven to be beneficial to our minds for both children and adults. Regular physical exercise is known to help balance and regulate hormones, weight, and blood flow. Even rest days should be active in small ways. Take a walk in the morning or do yoga in the evening. Either way, the emphasis on physical activity is essential. Many people throughout their lifetime deal with chronic stress due to the pressures of everyday life; and as an attempt to escape reality, turn to self-medicating options to cope with stress. Only by facing reality will we really be able to better ourselves.
What are the benefits of joining your Team Chizel’s 21-Day Challenge ?
Team Chizel offers other affordable training sessions, as well as group services. Prices may vary depending on your session and continued subscription. At the fitness center, you’ll be surrounded by supportive peers who share the same needs, goals, and interests as you. I believe it takes 21 days to break a habit, 21 days to create a new habit, and 90 days to form a new lifestyle. I guarantee you’ll start getting into the roll of things, your mindset [will] start changing. I want to change your mind. I want to force you to focus. As stated, virtual options are also available for those homebound. As a dedicated trainer I work above and beyond for my clients and allow after-hours communication for any questions or further support.
What inspires you to continue advocating for health and fitness?
[I want] to save a couple of lives…take back control of our health. It’s about prevention, not cure. Health and time is everything. To help change a [persons] life has been the best for me… that’s my blessing. That’s the reward for me.
To join Team Chizel visit www.TeamChizel.com and follow @teamchizel on Instagram.