Shaun T launches all-new workout plan to get you out of your pandemic funk
EXCLUSIVE: The Insanity creator shares wellness tips and his thoughts on the COVID vaccine
Shaun T is a self-proclaimed transformation specialist, and rightfully so. The 43-year-old fitness guru is the creator of the best-selling fitness programs Insanity, Hip Hop Abs, Focus T25 and Transform: 20—online workout hub, Beachbody’s most successful launch in history.
His personal life as a husband and dad of twins, who were conceived via surrogacy, has also made waves and opened others up to transforming their own lives. And in 2021, after the year we’ve all had, who isn’t in need of a little transformation?
Let’s Get Up is his latest workout model he released in May to make fitness attainable (and fun!) to the masses, but more importantly to discover the best version of yourself. theGrio caught up with Shaun to get the low down on the program, his thoughts on the vaccine, and his life this past year, which included a near-death experience.
G: Tell me everything about your new program “Let’s Get Up” and how it’s different from Insanity or other workouts out there.
ST: One of the reasons I created Let’s Get Up is because, once I created Insanity, I think [a lot of the new workout programs that followed] started to go hard. Everyone was like, “Oh, let’s go hard.” In a very humble way, I like to call myself a trendsetter. I think what happens in fitness a lot is when something becomes successful, people kind of run with that. I think one of the things that was happening is we were meeting a demographic of people who want to work out to have fun, and we were leaving out people who don’t want to work out because it’s not fun, or they just can’t find the daily motivation to do it.
Let’s Get Up combines dance and conditioning for a caloric burn and toning, all-in-one while having a great time. Every workout starts with a dance warmup, and then we do some toning where I focus on the legs. You’re lifting your booty, working on your core and you never have to do anything on the floor. No burpees either! In the middle of the workout, you learn conditioning-specific choreography, and then, you do one little section of Insanity to spike your heart rates. In the end, instead of performing, you “show out,” which is what I call it. We also have some weight workouts so you get to lift but it’s rhythmic, it’s fun. You know Shaun T is always trying to have a good old time! [Laughs]
G: Any advice for those of us who feel like we’ve fallen off during the pandemic and are trying to get motivated again?
ST: I can tell you to change your nutrition. I can tell you what workout to do—but everybody knows that already. Instead, change your hair or change your wardrobe. Go out and start to wear something vibrant. I got myself some loc extensions and it enhanced my fitness because now I can work my hair. If I have a good outfit on, I’m going to work out because I bought you a new outfit—or six new outfits. I want to look fly as hell in them!
You want to look good in some creative way that you’ve created for yourself, instead of just getting up and working out because if you haven’t worked out during a pandemic, it’s hard to turn on that switch. If you turn on another switch, then everything else will be enhanced. Express yourself and build your confidence, and I’m telling you, your fitness is gonna come into play because you are going to want to look as confident as you can.
G: Now I’ll tell everyone that Shaun T basically told me to go shopping! [Laughing]
ST: Listen, we already know that black clothes make people look small. Get some colors—something that’s gonna make you show out.
G: Between the pandemic and the Black lives we lost, this past year has looked different for different people. What was your year like, mentally and physically?
ST: I’m sure you’ve heard social media is like just a snapshot of the happiness of your life, right? At the beginning of the pandemic, I was home to put my kids in bed for two months straight, which was so different for me because I travel so much. It was kind of like this silver lining. Then we bought an RV and started camping. Then I started online boot camps, but then I got hit by a boat on a jet ski and that changed the course of things.
I went through a deep—I don’t want to say depression because I think that word is thrown around very loosely—but a heavy stressful time. I almost died, you know? It was crazy. I had to navigate my way back to feeling good, and then I had to focus on recovery—mental and physical. Meditating more, not being afraid to talk to my husband about how I was feeling, and a lot of Talk Space online therapy. I had some great therapy sessions talking on my podcast too. I got the opportunity to create a new workout program and it was kind of a perfect time coming out of this stressful state. I knew that I wanted to help bring more joy to people’s lives through movement.
G: This time last year, folks were in the streets protesting George Floyd’s death and countless other deaths. How did you navigate that time?
ST: I didn’t go to protest. My act of service—even though my kids at the time were only 2 and a half—was to teach my kids about everything going on. If you ask my kids what a pandemic or Black Lives Matter, they know, believe it or not. As you know my I’m gay, in an interracial relationship with kids via surrogacy, they have the same egg donor, and one looks white and one looks Black—my entire life is already set up to be discriminated against. So, for me, it was having deep discussions with my family, including my kids, and we didn’t sugarcoat anything. Although if you asked my kids what a pandemic is they’ll say, “People are sick, and we can’t go to Target…or the library, or the museum, or the aquarium.”
I definitely went through it with George, like that really affected me. My husband and I got into an argument. There’s a lot he just didn’t understand. He came from a family who was not racist, but [as a white man] he also never experienced racism. So he didn’t understand how I was like, “You’ll never understand.” He’s like, “What do you mean?” Because his family wasn’t racist, he didn’t think that way. I’m like you can walk outside, you can go to a store and you’re gonna be totally fine, everywhere you go. I had to explain that when I go to a store I have to be overly nice, when I go in for a job interview I have to make sure I speak extremely clear because a majority of people have their preconceived notions.
What was interesting is his mom, who is 78 or 79, was the first one concerned about how Silas and Sander would be treated in school because Sander is visibly Black, and even though Silas is half Black too, he looks more like a white child. We just had this crazy family dynamic that opened up a conversation to some intense moments of arguing and trying to reach an understanding. I say all that to say while a lot of people were vocal on Instagram and this and that, our family had to go through a deep educational lesson to be able to live together through something like that.
G: The COVID vaccine, and whether to get it or not is a hot topic of discussion these days and can even be taboo to bring up in certain circles. Where do you stand on the subject?
ST: Everybody has a reason why they want to get the vaccine or they don’t. And I’m like, do you. I don’t think you need to get the vaccine. I don’t think you should not get the vaccine. We chose for our family to get a vaccine because we live with my in-laws, and they’re close to 80 years old. They wanted it. Our kids are too young to get the vaccine yet, but they still go out to the museums and the zoo and we still take them on road trips. The safest thing for our family, for the adults, was to get vaccinated. Now, if you want to hang out with me and you’re not vaccinated, I’m still going to dinner. Listen, I have a degree in science, so I 100% believe in science.
I think one of the very frustrating things is there are people out there that are trying to be fact warriors. They think that they’re educating people when really they’re coming across as being know-it-alls. There’s all this information out there, so I love when people say, “Hey, do your research.” But don’t push folks into a corner or don’t get mad at them. I look at that entire vaccine, to get it or not to get it, as just another way for people to want to be divisive. Just mind it.
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