Vincent Ferguson: Giving the Skinny on Obesity

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The purpose of Body Sculpt of New York was to go out into communities and talk to children and encourage them to stay in school, take better care of their bodies, and learn about health and nutrition. “I hoped if kids learned how to sculpt their bodies, eat well and become educated it would give them a positive self-image and steer them away from the temptation of drugs and crime,� said Ferguson who is also the president and founder of the Children’s Choice Awards, an annual awards program that allows children to vote for positive role models in the field of sports, fashion, music, film, education, television and politics.

New Yorker, Vincent Ferguson, is a certified personal trainer, former body builder and author of the book “Six Weeks to A Six Pack.â€?  The father, personal trainer, and part-time real estate investment broker is also a combatant of childhood obesity.  On Saturday, October 9th he is planning a Health and Fitness Expo at Harlem PAL which he hopes will attract both parents and children alike and educate them concerning the necessity and benefits of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

The 7th of 9 children, Ferguson graduated high school and went straight into the United States Navy where he learned kickboxing and martial arts.  After returning to civilian life, Vincent continued to fine tune his body at the local YMCA in Flatbush where he started body building.  He began to compete in contests and noticed how training honed his body and gave him a feeling of health and well being.  He also noticed that many young people were directionless and could easily be swayed by drugs which led to crime. “I saw that kids needed direction and something to focus upon to get them off the streets.  I knew that working out had done wonders for me and had kept me disciplined and focused. I thought it would do the same for children.  I wanted to do something to change their lives so I gathered a group of people together and formed an organization called Body Sculpt of New York, Inc,â€? explained Ferguson.  The purpose of Body Sculpt of New York was to go out into communities and talk to children and encourage them to stay in school, take better care of their bodies, and learn about health and nutrition.  “I hoped if kids learned how to sculpt their bodies, eat well and become educated it would give them a positive self-image and steer them away from the temptation of drugs and crime,â€? said Ferguson who is also the president and founder of the Children’s Choice Awards, an annual awards program that allows children to vote for positive role models in the field of sports, fashion, music, film, education, television and politics.

“Bodybuilding and martial arts give people a feeling of confidence,â€? says Ferguson.  “When you work out you start to feel strong.  You start to see your body changing and looking better.  This makes you feel better about yourself.  It’s not so important to try to look bigger as it is to try and be totally fit.  I wrote a book about abdominal training entitled: “Six Weeks To A Six Pack,â€? claimed the health advocate who believes that the center of your body, the abdominal, should be healthy and look good.  “Your stomach area should be firm, strong and defined.  Weight training helps this area.  For example, anyone can weight train. Although women may not have the level of testosterone that men have, they can still build muscle to a smaller degree and still retain their femininity.  Women are finding out they can be stronger than what they are. They don’t have to be the weaker sex.  Whether male or female, when you work out with weights it helps tone the body.  As you get older muscles sag but if you continue to work out with weights even into your 50’s and 60’s, you can counteract the sag and build up muscles.  It also does wonders for the skin. A lot of people who opt for plastic surgery could simply work out with weights instead of going under the knife,â€? explained Ferguson.

Diet is also important because there are too many children, especially African American children (and adults) who are over weight. “There is definitely truth to the old phrase ‘You are what you eat.’  If you eat a lot of fried foods your body becomes drained and starts to look drawn. All that grease clogs the arteries and makes you a candidate for a heart attack. If you eat a lot of live foods --like various vegetables and soups your body also looks fresh and alive.  Greens or vegetables eaten raw or steamed are very good and important to your well being.  In terms of meat, I would suggest that you stay away from red meat because it takes a long time to digest in the body. Also, they are putting a lot of chemicals into meat to preserve it.  These chemicals are causing all kinds of cancers and toxins in the body.  Chemicals in food are more prevalent today than it was 100 years ago.  Water, fresh fruits, and exercise help to excrete some of these toxins out of the body.  Fiber such as corn, certain cereal, certain fruits and whole wheat is excellent to push the toxins out of the body also.  Changing the way you eat can make a difference.  It’s best to eat tiny meals throughout the day.  Space it out for about 3 hours between meals.  It is best to eat your biggest meal at lunch time. Eat a smaller breakfast and dinner.  When it comes to food, ‘big’ is not better,â€? continued the personal trainer.

In order to introduce both children and adults to a healthier lifestyle, Mr. Ferguson is planning his upcoming Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday, October 9th between 10:00 AM and 6:00PM at the Harlem PAL located at 441 Manhattan Avenue (West 119th St.).  “Having worked with children at events and in schools, Body Sculpt of New York began to notice the obesity problem prevalent in our children and felt a need to do something about it,â€? stated Vince.  “43% of children, ages 6-19 are overweight and/or obese, a large number which is simply unacceptable.  Obese children turn into obese adults.  Obesity brings on diabetes, hypertension and cardiac disease issues.  We need to focus on prevention by educating our children in order to help them eat better and exercise.  A lot of schools have eliminated their exercise programs which enabled children to stay in shape. Therefore, we are creating this event to expose children to various activities and exercises that will aid them to stay healthy and in shape.  We are making it fun and educational as well.  Body Sculpt of New York is doing this Expo with the help of the Harlem ‘Y’ and Harlem PAL.  Of course, we have to work with the parents because in order to educate the children you have to educate the parents.  Though this event is geared toward children, it’s an opportunity for parents, through the various workshops we are conducting, to learn what they can do to help their children and themselves maintain a healthier lifestyle and environment.

“Within the last 20 years since the computer came about, more kids have become obese.  Some of the factors that have contributed to obesity are lack of activity in schools and at home, video games, watching too much TV, parents over feeding, sedentary lifestyles and parents not leading by example.  Some parents themselves are over weight.  I recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day for children. If parents would encourage their children to do 10 minutes of exercise in the morning before going to school and 20 minutes at night it would make a big difference in the lives of their children. It’s an activity both parent and child can do together.  People have to select an active they like in order to keep doing it --whether they choose dancing, jogging, bicycling, rollerblading or aerobics. Two of the best exercises and something very simple to do which has an overall positive effect on the entire body and incorporates the lungs, heart and leg muscles is dancing and jump rope.  Jumping rope is an activity you see little girls doing and boxers doing but anyone can do it and it can be extremely beneficial toward an overall body workout.  Let’s face it-- we are all bombarded with stress.  Music is a great stress buster and motivates exercise.  It’s fun and gets folks moving.  Dancing is a good fighter of stress and hypertension.  Not everyone is disciplined. Exercise is not easy, but once you start seeing how good you look and feel, it will encourage you to exercise,â€? remarked Vince.  “Obesity has its down side. There are problems breathing and moving about. Lots of obese kids tend to get picked on and develop a low self esteem. We show them that if they work at it and take care of themselves they can raise their emotional and psychological esteem.  A sound mind builds a sound body.  It’s a slow but steady process.  However, as you build muscle its easier for your body to burn fat. For those kids who need emotional support, I recommend a neighborhood program called Truce Fitness which is located on 118th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue,â€? claimed the exercise guru.

The Health and Fitness Expo is the first of many to come.  Body Sculpt of New York intends to make the Expo an ongoing event and hopes to run it for two days next summer.  “We plan to have all kinds of workshops on October 9th says Ferguson.  “There will be a modern dance workshop and workshops featuring African dance and hip hop.  105.1 is a sponsor.  We expect to have celebrities at the Expo such as Doug E Fresh, Morgan Heritage, Glen Lewis and others. Cynthia Horn from Right On Magazine is co-hosting. We would like people to come out and support what we are trying to do,â€? said the enthusiastic fitness trainer.  “We want people to know there is so much more to life and there are positive choices out here.  There will be 25 clinics in all.  Some of the clinics will include: soccer, basketball, football, tennis, boxing, martial arts, jump rope, tap, jazz and modern dance, golf, etc.  And, it’s all free!  Kids will have a chance to win money prizes and there will be a basketball tournament where the kids can win a $500 prize.  There will be lectures on diet and obesity. Cal Ramsey will speak about athletics and education.  There will be a lot going on that day so we will have something of interest for everyone.  All people have to do is…Come on out!!!â€?

Interested parties wishing to volunteer or find out more about the Expo can go to www.sixweeks.com

 

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