As the month of January is swiftly coming to a close, many of us have been holding onto our annual resolutions since the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve. For this upcoming year, I personally wanted to focus on improving my overall health. So I reached out to fitness and wellness expert, Sabrina Feggans. Her wildly popular program: “Beyond Fitness with Sabrina” truly does go beyond just fitness. She has transformed and inspired countless lives with her unique program by incorporating nutrition, motivation, accountability, and the latest technology to bring her vision of health to the comfort of your own home. Her journey in weight loss is relatable and attainable, and her program keeps your heart rate up while thankfully still allowing you to eat some of your favorite foods! I recently had the opportunity to sit down with her to discuss resolutions, weight loss, power foods, and so much more.
Why did you decide to start your journey into fitness training?
Well, my journey really started from an emotional place. I specifically remember taking my youngest on a 3rd grade field trip which happened to be a hiking trail. I was pushing over 200 lbs. at the time and was very out of breath during the trip. I suffered with asthma and had to stop, catch my breath and use my inhaler multiple times – I faintly heard several of the third graders asking my youngest: “What’s wrong with your mom?” and I heard her defending me by explaining what asthma was and why I needed the inhaler. This literally broken my heart. I fought back tears the entire ride home. I made a vow that day to take control of my health and get healthier by the next field trip. Ultimately, that meant, while at sport practice I wouldn’t sit there with the moms and talk about everything under the sun (gossip); instead, I would use that time to go the gym, walk, or do something active.
I started going to the gym, but I was lost when using the equipment and not seeing any results. I did the easiest activities, spending the least amount of time in the gym possible. However, while I was walking on the treadmill, I would often see this class packed with people and it look very intense but fun. I worked up the nerve to take the class which was called “Tabata” and I fell in love with the energy and motivation. I was among likeminded individuals who pushed each other daily to get better and stronger. It became an accountability thing because we looked forward to seeing each other a few times a week, and when one of us didn’t show up, we wanted to know why. After months of taking the class, seeing results, building endurance and feeling great – it was announced that the class would be cancelled. I was forced to figure out a routine and so I did just that – I put together workouts and printed them, and met a few people at the gym to complete the prepared workout. My interest in working out grew over time and I was asked to teach for a seasonal outdoor fitness business. I would have about 30-40 people taking my class on any given day. After the season was over, I knew I couldn’t stop so I made it official by getting certified and turning this into a business. Today, I am at the lowest weight I have ever been since junior high, I teach classes 6 days a week, I run 3-4 Spartan races per year, and I have coached a number of others into a healthier, more active lifestyle.
What is your philosophy behind “Beyond Fitness with Sabrina”?
I was enrolled in the entrepreneurial class and my mentor would tell me week after week, “Sabrina – you need to come up with a name.” I had all these names in my head, but I wasn’t really in love with them. I sat in class that night thinking about what was important in this journey. I realized, yes losing a significant amount of weight was awesome but was that really what kept me going? What truly mattered to me was building a connection with others and helping others to be healthier, not only in body but also in mind; building and empowering others to do “hard stuff” and encouraging them to not give up. So it goes Beyond Fitness with ME. Yes, I want to help people lose weight, but I also want them to be empowered and build confidence, and to have a lasting relationship with them.
As we start into the New Year, many of us have made resolutions to ourselves in regard to fitness and wellness. How can someone find success and accountability in this?
Yes, everyone will start the year off mentally telling themselves this year is going to be different and then they start listing all the ways it will be different. This approach without having an accountability system will likely not work long-term. Challenges are a great way for people to have a goal to work towards and be held accountable. Beyond Fitness with Sabrina offers monthly challenges (short-term goals). I ask individuals to sign up and take the 30 Day Challenge: for 30 days you are committing to completing Beyond Fitness with Sabrina’s 30 minute videos. These videos require individuals to take 2% of their day to complete the videos, which can be done in the comfort of their home with minimum equipment. Upon completing the videos, the participants show their tracker results and after workout photos, and discuss their thoughts about the workout, etc. to encourage others to complete theirs. This commitment and private group is not just about working out, but now about accountability, team work, common goals and realistic life struggles. Staying fit and healthy has been popular and successful! Beyond Fitness with Sabrina’s next Challenge is for February and it’s titled: LOVE YOUR BODY. We often appreciate other bodies, especially now with all the filters, social media etc., but this is an opportunity for us to work on loving our own bodies, all the things they’re capable of doing, and how we have the ability to transform them.
Your in person group classes have been wildly successful, and I understand you have now ventured into the world of online virtual group classes and personal training. Tell me, how has your focus shifted to cater to your clients virtually?
Yes, Beyond Fitness with Sabrina prior to COVID – 19 primarily offered a variety of in person exercise-only programs. When COVID -19 forced doors to close early in 2020, Beyond Fitness with Sabrina had to make some tough decisions and pivot quickly in order to continue to serve the clients’ fitness and wellness goals. Beyond Fitness with Sabrina immediately started offering virtual online Zoom evening classes to replace the current in person group classes. With proven evidence that exercising is a great way to build and support the immune system, Beyond Fitness with Sabrina realized that taking care of our health and fitness is more important than ever today and pausing Beyond Fitness with Sabrina was not an option. Beyond Fitness with Sabrina begin to offer a variety of online Zoom morning and evening virtual classes Monday – Friday. You can find the schedule for these classes here: https://www.thebeyondfitnesswithsabrina.com/new-page-2
Especially with virtual schooling and working from home, Beyond Fitness with Sabrina recognized that the Zoom online schedule may not fit the needs of everyone and that a wonderful alternative would be for people to join the monthly challenges and complete the workouts in their own time. Today, Beyond Fitness with Sabrina has doubled its following and client base by being help clients across the country with their fitness and health goals. Beyond Fitness with Sabrina is continuing to look for new and innovative ways to assist clients in their health and fitness journey.
What are 4 power foods that you would encourage people to begin incorporating in their diet today?
If I’m forced to name only 4, here’s what I could eat for a lifetime – lean meat, sweet potatoes, kale and avocado. YUM!
Ok for the sake of argument: Should we really ditch eating white bread? It’s sooo damn good!
Now… I love me some bread. I do try not to eat it often – especially white bread – but calories are calories so if you are trying to lose weight, you need to stay in a calorie deficit. So you could potentially lose weight if you just ate bread all day… and still keep your calories low. You likely would not feel great, but you would still be able to lose weight lol! However, since they are empty calories you are not reaping any of the benefits that food provides for us. White bread is processed and bleached which has potential of stripping all of the nutrients out of it. Bread & butter – YUMMERS!
Many of us across the globe are currently working remotely. Sabrina, how can someone that’s just starting their journey begin at home?
I recommend starting with something you like to do, whether its yoga, meditation, running, boxing, etc. and starting for short periods of time. Everything today is online, tons of videos for everyone. But the goal is to just start! Starting is half the battle. Once you start, be consistent, the same time every day. Taking this approach builds habits and a need within the brain. For me, I become very cranky if I don’t work out; it’s a stress reliever for me. Sometimes my family will say to me – you need to go workout. I tend to work out in the morning and if I miss that morning workout, my day appears to be off or less productive, so for me this means mentally I know if I don’t want an “off day”, I need to roll over, stop hitting the snooze button and make sure my feet hit the floor to get up and get dressed. Who wants an off day – a nonproductive day?? NO ONE! In order to build healthy habits, you must start. No baby starts walking before they can crawl, no baby crawls before they can hold themselves up first. The challenges are a great place to start, they force you to commit for a certain amount of time; in this time, you start to build those healthy habits that your body and mind will soon start to crave.
How can parents and caretakers that are currently working from home introduce fitness into their children’s lives?
Children are impressionable and they will reenact and model anything they find of interest or that is a trend. Just like they reenact television shows or Tik Tok videos, they will eventually reenact their parents. Have you have heard that saying: she acts just like her mother, or even in a negative comparison: his dad was abusive and now he’s grown up to be an abuser? Or, have you seen a small child imitate smoking with a pencil or straw, etc. because their parents smoke? Sorry for such a harsh comparison but, that’s the reality of just how impressionable they are. They will begin to imitate the things they see we do. Being active, eating healthy is no different. The model behavior will eventually be adopted. As a parent, as my children started to get older and started to be somewhat self-conscious, I would hear them complaining about their bodies; I would still go to the grocery store and load the cart with sugary, unhealthy snacks. Until one day, I thought to myself – if I don’t buy it, they can’t eat it. And so I stopped buying it. Yes of course they walked around the house complaining – nothing is in the house to eat despite a full fridge and pantry – but eventually, they stopped missing those types of foods and were ultimately forced to make better decisions in their food selection. The behavior starts at home and a great way to engage children to be more active is to find something fun: a kickball game, dancing videos, walking, scavenger hunt, etc. Make it fun and it’s doesn’t feel like they are working out.
Do you have fitness goals for yourself? If so, what are they?
My fitness goal for 2021 is to get my strength and body fat back down to 15%, I am currently at 19%, but was at my lowest about 2 years ago and I loved the way I felt. I would love to get back there again. Additionally, I would like to start participating in Spartan races again and rank in my age group.
How do you stay motivated?
Haha! To be honest, I’m being watched. Would you trust a fat, out of shape trainer? Someone yelling and telling you that you can do it, and they never do it? NO thank you!! I often tell my following… I will never ask you to do anything I do not do. This is something I hold with pride, knowing I am setting an example for others and others trust me to guide them through my knowledge and discipline journey because I have done it. I didn’t just go to school and learn it, I actually lived it. Plus, I love the way I feel at the age of 42 and being able to do a lot of things that most at this age or even younger cannot is a proud feeling and I have no desire to return to that 200 lb. Sabrina.
Now, I am familiar with boot camp training, but I know you also teach HIIT and Tabata classes?
Tell me more.
Tabata training is one of the most popular forms of high-intensity interval training (HIIT)…The differences between HIIT and Tabata are that rest and work periods in Tabata are shorter compared to HIIT, and Tabata pushes the limit on the percentage of your maximum heart rate. With Tabata, the rest periods are short, but people love the idea that they can do just about anything for 20 seconds, so they are willing to go from 0-100 and stay there for 20 seconds. This type of workout is doable for others… as a reminder this is exactly where I started my journey because I mentally knew I could do an exercise for 20 seconds… now I may not have been my best starting out, but mentally I knew I could perform for 20 seconds. I like to pair cardio and strength movement together to get the best of both worlds. Tabata has the potential of burning massive calories, not only during the workout but hours later.
Is music an important element in your work?
Music is important when working out because it’s not the body we have to convince, it’s the mind and with music it’s a great way to remove the resistance in the mind. I am very strategic in my selection of music because I know the workout is going to be intense and I need something that is going to help my clients get out of their head and feel the music; ultimately, they get so lost in the music that they forget the pain behind the workout. Sometimes, I could spend hours trying to find the clean version of a perfect song and beat and then I’ll just say, forget it who hasn’t heard a little ratchetness before?
What transformations have you seen in your clients?
Initially, clients come to me because they want to lose weight, get healthier, get off of certain medicine and live longer. Once they start this journey, the weight starts to come off, and they start to get more confident in themselves and in the ability to complete workouts. This confidence grows into running races, looking forward to and completing intense workouts classes or going shopping for the first time for a new wardrobe, or getting a new hair cut to match their new bodies, or completing rounds and rounds of burpees – who doesn’t love burpees?
Lastly, what do you know for sure?
One thing is for sure… there is nothing given, and everything is required. If you want the results, you have to put in the work. Nobody is going to or will do it for you. It’s up to you to commit and work hard to achieve your goals in every aspect of your life. Fitness is no different.
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