Northeast Ohio Natives Hope Fitness Website Inspires Healthy Changes In The Black Community

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two Northeast Ohio natives are hoping that their online fitness venture will someday transform them into the go-to experts for all things health- and fitness-related for the black community.

Ilen and Lauren Bell are the husband-and-wife team behind Black Fitness Today[1], a website dedicated to helping African-Americans become  more fit and healthy.

The Bells, both 28, started the site in late 2011. In June they launched I Am Black Fitness Today, a nationwide health and fitness campaign via social media. The focus of the campaign is to get as many people as possible to sign a pledge to follow a healthier lifestyle and get involved with others on social media. The Bells also are using the Web site to spotlight individuals who are working toward their fitness goals.

“Our own family histories [include] high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, said Lauren Bell, a 2003 graduate of Twinsburg High School who has a degree in communications from John Carroll University as well as a masters degree in management and leadership. [The web site] comes from a desire to break the mold.

Added Ilen Bell, a 2003 graduate of Maple Heights High School who in 2011 received his masters degree in exercise science and health promotion from California University of Pennsylvania: On so many health and fitness magazines, theres a always a person on the cover who looks like a model. A lot of people think thats what fitness is. We want to change that thinking.

The couple first met in the gym.

In 2008 Lauren was working out at the now-closed Bally Total Fitness in Severance Town Center in Cleveland Heights. As she was using the chest fly machine, Ilen – one of Ballys personal trainers — spotted her and walked over.

The first question he asked me was, Why do you look so mad? she said. He became her personal trainer. Then they became friends. Eventually they started dating.

The Web site is the result of two years of dreaming about wanting to help black people become healthier. Those plans were shelved temporarily when Ilen Bell left Cleveland in September 2009 to accept a position with a military contractor as an interrogation instructor at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, about 90 minutes south of Tucson.[2]

After a year, Ilen returned to Cleveland. He had been laid off, giving the couple time to resume working on their dream. They started doing research, looking at how much it would cost to start a web site, mulling over their values and mission statements.

After the Bells married in October 2010, they relocated to Phoenix.

In 2011, Ilen began working as a strength coach to college and professional football players. When the 130-day NFL lockout ended in July, he returned to Fort Huachuca as an interrogation instructor. Until they launched Black Fitness Today, Lauren worked as a marketing/public relations coordinator for Primavera Online High School in Chandler, Arizona.

In March 2012 the couple moved to the Tucson area to be closer to the military base, where Ilen continues to work full-time. They took time out of their hectic schedule to chat with The Plain Dealer recently.

Are the two of you natural athletes? 

 Growing up, I was always active,” said Lauren. “I played basketball through high school. But I allowed myself to get out of shape when I went to college.

My goal [in joining Bally’s] was to get back in shape, to make a true commitment to get back into fitness again.

With the military it was so ingrained in the culture,” Ilen said.  He spent nearly three years in the Army, serving with the 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion[3] out of Fort Hood, Texas.

Every morning I would get up and exercise, said Ilen, who in 2006 was deployed to Iraq for 11 months, where he conducted detainee interrogations. Exercise helped alleviate the stress of the job.

It really became a part of my identity, he said. When I got out, I knew thats what I wanted to do.   After being medically discharged in December 2007, he became certified as a personal trainer and worked at health clubs and gyms in the Cleveland area.

Why focus on fitness?

Lauren and I were brainstorming ways that we could reach the African American community, Ilen said. It seemed like [there is] a lot of hesitation to start fitness programs. It was just wanting to reach more than one person at a time, reach people on a much larger scale.

Why not just open a gym?

Opening up a gym is definitely an expense, said Ilen. Online, you can reach the whole world. Its an opportunity to reach people on a much larger scale.

We’ve truly been a true start-up, weve funded everything ourselves, said Lauren, who freelances as a communications consultant to help pay the bills. We havent minded doing that, its something that we’re passionate about.

Who are you trying to reach?

“Our target audience is ages 18-35,” said Lauren. “Adults and young families. But it really doesnt matter what age [you are].

How do you stay in shape? where do you work out?

We love food, said Lauren, who is a certified personal fitness chef. I’ve been able to turn that love of food and transform it into very healthy dishes. [But] we like to indulge and have a cheat meal one meal a week.

The couple does a lot of resistance training, cardio and high-intensity workouts. We work out four to six times a week at a gym close to our house, Ilen said. The main thing we do is to try to keep it interesting and to have specific goals.

What is your husband like as a trainer?

He has the ability to make you feel good enough about yourself, and then flip the switch and make you feel so angry that you want to perform, Lauren said.

What do you do differently?

What has been able to separate us is the human element that we bring to the table, Lauren said. Were not just pumping out and cranking out health information. We empower people and their own journeys. We want to help people believe they can make a change for themselves. If were not promoting a behavior change, were not going to make an impact.

Were on the journey with people as well. We werent born with six packs, we dont eat spinach out of a bag each day. This is a long journey.

What are your long-term professional goals?

We want to be the subject matter experts for fitness and nutrition in the African American community, Lauren said. Theyre thinking big — health fairs, conferences, mobile tours, fitness coaching, even a physical location, she said. At the end of the day its all about, How can we encourage people who may have sedentary lifestyles?

We want to change the statistics, Ilen said. We want to cut down on chronic diseases.

Will you ever come back to Cleveland?

Our goal is to be closer to home, Ilen said. Adds Lauren, All of our family is incredibly supportive. Our parents have been our biggest cheerleaders.


  1. ^ Black Fitness Today (blackfitnesstoday.com)
  2. ^ Fort Huachuca (huachuca-www.army.mil)
  3. ^ 163rd Military Intelligence Battalion (www.hood.army.mil)

Original Story Here


The Zone Tone Breakthrough: Unleashing The Mind Muscle Connection For Accelerated Fat Loss, Lean Muscle, and Elite Conditioning (Kindle Edition) tagged “fitness tips” 7 times

Thu, 27 Dec 2012 01:24:52 GMT The Zone Tone Breakthrough: Unleashing The Mind Muscle Connection For Accelerated Fat Loss, Lean Muscle, and Elite Conditioning The Zone Tone Breakthrough: Unleashing The Mind Muscle Connection For Accelerated Fat Loss, Lean Muscle, and Elite Conditioning (Kindle Edition)By James Villepigue Buy new: $6.99 Customer tags: health(7), exercise(7), fitness(7), fitness tips(7), get in shape(7), bodybuilding(7), athletics(7), fat loss(6), muscle gain(6), build muscle(6), sports psychology(3), mind to muscle(3) http://www.amazon.com/The-Zone-Tone-Breakthrough-ebook/dp/B00A6K4HFS/ref=tag_rso_rs_edpp_url?ie=UTF8&creative=381421&tag=thedays-20

Easy Fitness Tips Volume 2 (Kindle Edition) tagged “fitness tips” 5 times

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 13:56:15 GMT Easy Fitness Tips Volume 2 Easy Fitness Tips Volume 2 (Kindle Edition)By Lisa Jeffreys Buy new: $0.99 Customer Rating: 5.0 Customer tags: fitness tips(5), exercise tips(4), fitness(4), exercise program(3), female fitness(3), easy recipes(3), exercise and fitness(3), fitness and diet(3), gym working out, health tips http://www.amazon.com/Easy-Fitness-Tips-Volume-ebook/dp/B0087QFRES/ref=tag_rso_rs_edpp_url?ie=UTF8&creative=381421&tag=thedays-20

4 Summer Workout Tips From Celeb Trainer Jeanette Jenkins …

Jenkins shares the best summer workout tips for girls who view exercising as more of a chore than pleasure. http://hellobeautiful.com/2658796/hate-to-exercise-try-these-4-summer-workout-tips-from-celeb-trainer-jeanette-jenkins-exclusive/

The Best Mens Fitness Tips | BlogLet.com

The best mens fitness tips must include diet, workout routines, core exercises, stretches and so on. Follow our instructions in order to get the best results. http://www.bloglet.com/the-best-mens-fitness-tips/

* G4 Dental Ultrasonic Scaler Tip fit EMS and WOODPECKER type

2013-07-21T00:31:06.000Z $0.10 (2 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Jul-23-2013 17:31:06 PDT
Bid now | Add to watch list

000-067 Mig Contact Tip .030″ FIT MILLER HOBART MIG GUN, PK 25

2013-06-06T01:31:40.000Z $9.99
End Date: Sunday Aug-4-2013 18:36:40 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $9.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

You May Also Like These Topics...
2 women playing soccer on green grass field during daytime

You Can Help Your Child Get More Exercise By Following These 5 Tips

Does your child get enough exercise? You can get your children more active with these 5 fun parenting tips.

man in black t-shirt and black shorts running on road during daytime

Better Health in Four Steps

In just four steps, you can improve your health for the better and this article will show you how. The steps below are bite-sized nuggets of health information you can actually use to live a healthy life. Here we go… Nutritional supplements are the first step As far as I’m concerned, they are very important […]

Top 4 Nutrition Predictions in the New Year

Several food and nutrition trends were in the spotlight this year, including the continued rise of plant-based diets, non-dairy ice creams and superfoods that are blasts from the past — legumes, apples and cabbage. It can be easy to experience nutrition whiplash in the New Year, but don’t be a victim. Get a jump-start on […]

5 Ways to Feel Good While Getting Fit

Setting intentions is a powerful thing. Then when you have that shiny new gym membership in hand, you feel like nothing stands between you and your goals to get in shape once and for all. Trouble is, lack of motivation, unpreparedness and busy schedules have a way of interfering with our plans. If you find […]

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Previous Post
Health & Fitness Healthy Lifestyle Supplements Swimming

Tips For Handling Your Health Care Needs Overseas

Next Post
Bodybuilding Fat Loss Strength Training

World Champion Fitness Expert Transforms Lives With The Eco-diet


  1. Fitness Tips To Prepare To Join The Army? I want to join the army, and I would like some fitness tips so I can whip my butt into shape. I’m almost 16 right now, and I’m not really in shape. Any advice from people who have any kind of military experience would be great, or if you just know some tips. Thanks!

      • HealthNut
      • July 23, 2013

      Hey man,

      You will need to build mental toughness more than anything, but you will learn that once you join.

      you should start out by doing 200-300 push-ups, 200-300 sit-ups, and 50-100 pull-ups everyday. It does not have to be all at once.

      You will need to get your general fitness levels up. The best way to do that is by doing this

      Jumping jacks-30 seconds
      shuffle splits- 30 seconds
      mountain climbers- 30 seconds
      burpess 30 seconds.

      repeat that 3-4 times. Before joining the army you should be doing that for 30 minutes a day.

      That should help you get started. If you have anymore questions, please ask.

      Good luck.

      Danny lupiani

  2. Reply

    What Are Some Good Fitness Tips? I have been trying to lose weight for a couple months now and has been stuck at one weight. Do anyone have any fitness tips and also eating tips for me?

      • HealthNut
      • July 23, 2013

      80% of weight loss is diet.
      You can eat a healthy diet and lose weight.
      You can eat a healthy diet and exercise and lose more weight.
      You can exercise and eat a poor diet and not lose and even gain weight.
      A good healthy diet high in fiber, lean meats, eggs, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, antioxidant foods, healthy beverages and low in added sugar and salt help people lose weight, lower cholesterol, increase energy, improve brain function, lower blood pressure, reduce cancer risk and have a more positive lifestyle!
      You need to eat a lot more food and a lot more fiber!
      Diets that exclude foods from any food group are fad diets and do not lead to permanent weight loss or solve any other health issues.
      First, try to kick your fiber intake to 40 grams of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
      Whatever you do, get your fiber from your food, not from a jar.
      Fruits and vegetables have good fiber in them. A high fiber diet increases the metabolism.
      Try a breakfast cereal with at least 20% of recommended daily allowance of fiber in it. They are usually low in sugar so there is a double benefit. Blueberries or raspberries on top add more fiber and antioxidants. But fresh or frozen, not the kind in syrup. Oatmeal with berries or a bit of fresh honey is also good.
      Raw nuts are a great source of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Avocados are the best.
      Lots of beans, peas, and grains are high fiber. Whole grain breads. Fiber kicks up the metabolism so you actually burn more calories. These foods will give you more gas in the beginning but if eaten daily, the bacteria in the digestive tract will elevate lowering the gas output.
      This will get you on the path for a healthy daily bowel movement. This helps clean the system and aids healthy digestion.
      I know it goes against everything you’ve heard but eating lots of the right foods will actually help you lose weight!
      Next, take an age appropriate basic daily multivitamin. Don’t look at your multivitamin as nutrition but more as an insurance policy. Think of it as filling in the gaps in your daily diet as opposed to a primary source of nutrients.
      You have to drink lots of water to be healthy. But you can disguise it. Fill your glass all the way full with ice before pouring low sugar beverages. Try iced green tea with a splash of orange juice in it for sweet. More antioxidants. Add lemon juice to water for flavor. Slice up a cucumber and float it in pitcher of water. Gives it salty fresh taste. But you must drink up to 100 oz of water daily to help your body get rid of waste and the natural toxins.
      Last, you need to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep depending on your age. All recent sleep studies report a connection between poor sleep patterns and weight gain. This includes going to bed as close to the same time every night including weekends. Most of us stay up late Friday and Saturday night and it throws us off.
      You must combine a healthy diet with exercise to multiply the benefit. Whether an hour a day in the weight room or just a 30 minute brisk walk every day, the added benefit of a regular exercise program really do increase and accelerate healthy weight loss.

      I lost 30 pounds in 5 months by spending my money at the grocery and gym and have kept it off for over two years. Less than 3% of people that attempt weight loss lose it and keep it off for two years. It is not easy. It is a lifestyle change.
      Good luck and good health.

  3. Reply

    Any Fitness Tips For People With Asthma? Just need some fitness tips to help with my asthma. I want to be able to run for a longer period and have an overall better fitness level. I start losing my breath after about 1 minute of running. Any ideas and tips would be very much appreciated : )

      • HealthNut
      • July 23, 2013

      First, you have to choose a certain kind of exercise that they really can handle well. Some exercise that might be great choice for asthma sufferers are walking, swimming, riding a bike, as well as hiking. These kinds of exercise needs less physical move than tennis, hockey, gymnastics, long distance running, and many other else. You could also consult their doctors to choose the most appropriate type of exercise for you.

      Second, you can take advantage of your inhaler. You can use your inhaler about 15 minutes before you start to exercise. Besides, makes sure that your inhaler is always close enough to you. You will never know when the attack might hit you. Therefore, providing inhaler as first aid near you is very important.

      Third, breathing through your nose during the exercise is also important. Mouth breathing tends to trigger asthma attack since it causes you to inhale cold air right into the bronchial tube. In contrary, the air that you heal will be filtered well when you are breathing through your nose. Besides, nose breathing also allows the air to be warmer before reaching the lungs.

      The fourth thing you need to do is looking for a certain area that free from pollutions and allergens. However you should also avoid area with too many trees or grass. Then, you should also be aware of the symptoms of asthma that occur during the exercise. If you feel very tired and your chest begins to be tightening, you should be notice that those are the initial symptoms of asthma. Usually, those symptoms will be followed by wheezing. Stop doing any physical activity when these symptoms occur.

      By following those tips, asthma sufferers could still have exercise with less risk of asthma attack. Do not let asthma attack prevent you to have regular exercise activity.

  4. Reply

    Anyone Know Some Good Fitness Tips? I’m really bad at running, and I would like to loose a few pounds, so I was wondering if anyone could give me some simple fitness tips? Just a simple fitness regime, please.

      • HealthNut
      • July 23, 2013

      Avoid elevators and escalators,,
      climb stairs,, walk long distances every single day.
      hour of cardio at your target heart rate every day.
      stretch properly afterwards or you wont want to come back tomorrow which blows the whole plan.

      good luck

Leave a Reply