By Kyle Stackpole
No matter how much Rochelle Boykin has accomplished as a fitness instructor, she yearns to do more.
After she was certified to teach Zumba in January 2014, she became a group fitness instructor through Aerobics Fitness Association of America, an organization that certifies group and personal trainers. Boykin then received certifications to teach spin and Kangoo Jumps classes. She currently spends six hours a week teaching fitness in the Baltimore area, and she takes a few classes, too.
This is still more of a hobby for Boykin, who works 45 hours per week as an integrated marketing specialist at Radio One in Baltimore.
After playing a variety of sports while growing up in Washington, D.C., though, Boykin hopes she can transform her fitness gig into a career in the near future.
"I'm working on my personal training certification, so I'd like to become a master trainer," Boykin said. "I'd also like to have my own fitness facility that will incorporate not only fitness classes, but mind-body classes as well, like meditation and yoga and nutrition classes and things like that."
Boykin played basketball and soccer through middle school, but it was her dancing career that she stuck with as she got older. She danced and took Zumba classes at Marymount Manhattan College while working toward degrees in theatre arts and media studies from 2004-08.
Despite working at a fitness facility during graduate school at Howard University, Boykin said she hadn't thought much about teaching fitness classes until some of her instructors began recommending she do so years later. She began teaching Zumba in February 2014.
"I started seeing really good results with some of my students," Boykin said. "They were coming and telling me their success stories, and I was like, ‘Oh, wow! This is really working.'"
Using her students as inspiration, Boykin began teaching new formats, one of which included a mix of her full-time job. Boykin discussed the possibility of playing music for fitness classes with DJs at Radio One looking to expand their audience.
Her idea quickly became a reality.
"Two of them were totally up for it, so we started doing live DJ spin, and that's taken off tremendously, and that's been really popular," Boykin said.
Boykin currently teaches at three fitness centers in Maryland -- LA Fitness (Lansdowne), Brick Bodies (Reisterstown) and Club De Cycle (Woodlawn).
She said one of the reasons she teaches revolves around the concept of self-love. Boykin stresses the importance of people taking care of their health, which includes exercising, having the right attitude and eating the right foods.
In some of her classes, Boykin would give her students challenges. One month, she had her students eliminate soda, coffee, sugar, white bread and pasta from their diets.
Boykin received positive feedback about how they felt. With these limitations, Boykin said, her students found healthier substitutions.
Students began wanting more fitness information and healthy eating options, so Boykin started her own website, Fab Fitness (rochelleb.zumba.com/), in January 2015. Her slogan, "Welcome to total Health & Happiness" is shown through posts about food, lifestyle and exercise. She also includes videos of herself doing various workouts.
"Fab Fitness came from just my ideas [that] for a healthy lifestyle, it's more than just working out," Boykin said. "Fab Fitness was kind of my platform to say, ‘Living a healthy lifestyle, you have to incorporate all three aspects, and that's when you'll really start to see amazing results.'"
Down the road, Boykin said she would like to open her own fitness facility in which members take classes in fitness, mental approach -- such as yoga and meditation -- and nutrition. She also hopes to create a 90-day program to help people adopt healthier lifestyles.
Those aspirations will have to wait, as Boykin is working on her personal training and nutrition coach certificates. Plus, there are still other formats Boykin "hopes to master when it comes to group fitness."
Just as she experienced when she first started out as a fitness instructor more than two years ago, Boykin will rely on those she teaches to help her achieve her goals.
"Kind of a big feat I'm looking to tackle," Boykin said, "but it's really the students that inspire me to keep pushing."
Issue 220: April 2016