Exercise instructor Chandra Hampton is helping people dance their way to healthier lifestyles. She takes control of her health and encourages others to do the same. We had a chance to sit down with this inspirational instructor to learn more about her and talk about health.
Where are you from?
I am a Baton Rouge, Louisiana girl who currently lives in Washington D.C. Also, I spent a number of years living in NYC. Yes, I was a gypsy for a bit and enjoyed wonderful experiences in difference cities. But, I’m tired now, so D.C. is stuck with me.
What do you do for a living?
I recently started my own Zumba Fitness ™ and private dance classes in the Chinatown area of Washington D.C. I also teach at Washington Sports Club in Georgetown. By day, I am an Executive Assistant for a trade association.
You look great! Tell us about your diet and fitness lifestyle outside of teaching Zumba.
Thank you! I attend a variety of dance workshops to stay fit, get inspiration to choreograph my routines, and to satisfy my craving to learn new things. I even try to incorporate small ways of staying physically engaged since it is a way of life for me. For example, I make a point of taking the stairs as much as possible because I know it is good for toning my glutes. When I go on vacation, I make sure to include physical activities such as snorkeling, ATV excursions, going out to dance, etc.
Traditional dieting is not really a part of my regimen because I am not a fan of temporary fixes. Instead, I’m committed to making healthier eating choices with allowances for occasional treats. For the most part, I eat foods that are good for me, like lean meats (chicken, turkey and fish), lots (and I mean lots) of fruits and green vegetables, in addition to drinking water throughout the day. Unless it is a treat moment, I tend to skip fried foods, soda, and heavy sauce on my food. With that said, the only way to make this healthy lifestyle work is by being realistic. Completely giving up some of my favorites such as gumbo, crawfish, and Caribbean food would be complete torture. I’m not interested in starving myself or being unable to experience the joy of rewarding my taste buds. However, I always keep in mind that I care more about being healthy than I do about food; and that reminder keeps my treat intake to a limit.
What inspired you to manage your health this way?
Between the years of 2007 to 2009, I experienced some tragedies in my life that shook me to the core. But I am naturally optimistic, so I didn’t allow myself to stay down in the dumps for too long. I decided to take control of my happiness and start by making sure that I looked and felt great!
It’s been about two years since you lost the weight. How has shedding 30 pounds changed your life?
To be completely honest, I never really thought I had a weight problem. Growing up in Louisiana, the cultural views of a proportioned size 12 woman was considered normal/thick, and was celebrated by most people. But, after noticing my clothes were becoming too tight and being unsatisfied with how I looked, I decided to do something about it. I made a 180 degree turn by joining the gym and changing my eating habits. I became so dedicated to fitness that the weight seemed like it literally fell off and a size 7/8 girl appeared. To discipline myself made me feel so powerful; like I could achieve anything in the world I wanted to. From that point on, I wanted to help people experience that same feeling…that of a champion.
How long have you been natural?
It has been 2 years and 7 months since I did the big chop.
What’s your hair regimen like?
What I discovered about my texture of hair is that A) my hair does not respond well to over-manipulation, B) my hair begins to lock in the nape area if neglected and C) my hair needs heavier products to combat dryness. I wash my hair every two weeks (or as needed depending on the product build-up or sweating from the gym) and I stick with products that work for me. I wash and co-wash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration. I moisturize and deep condition with Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie and Deep Treatment Masque. For twisting, I use Jamaican Mango and Lime Wax.
To wash, detangle, and prepare for twisting, I always divide my hair into four sections. This is very necessary for my thick and coarse hair. Otherwise, it will never be thoroughly cleaned or conditioned. Plus, this makes it easier to detangle. I pretty much always flat twist my hair after washing because it gives my hair the stretch that it needs in addition to definition. At night, I pineapple my hair. In the morning, I shake it out and/or lightly blow dry the roots to help create the shape I want.
A major concern in the natural hair community what to do with our hair prior to exercising. What’s your go-to hairstyle for exercising?
My natural hair journey and fitness journey happened around the same time, so it was definitely a learning process for me. But I think I have it down to a science now. My go-to style for workouts is multiple puffs. It keeps me a little cooler during workouts by having some of my scalp exposed. Also, putting my hair in multiple puffs allows me the opportunity to stretch my 4C hair without using heat. It is a win/win situation.
What are your thoughts on the health statistics for black women and what do you think we can do to take control of that?
It is no secret that more than 50% of the population of African-American women is considered obese. I believe we are better than this and can prevent many illnesses that plague us because of weight issues. The first thing we can do is to change our mindset about our bodies. We only get one, so taking care of it is paramount for the sake of our health. Also, finding a workout that you enjoy is the key to being consistent. These days, you are not limited to the treadmill or regular aerobics. There is Zumba Fitness ™ (of course!), Soul Cycling, Piloxing (combination of Pilates and boxing) and a host of alternative classes. Dedicate yourself to a workout regimen combined with healthier eating habits and you are on your way!
What final words of inspiration do you have for the 4chc community regarding their overall health and fitness?
Having a fitness lifestyle does not have to be boring, but you must dedicate yourself to it. For the sake of your health, do not put off being physically active and eating healthier. When you make something a real priority in your life, it will reward you.
Facebook: Zumba Fitness with C.Hampton