Time for a Change


Published:

Crossfit trainer Emily Beard.

The new year is always the best time to start fresh and begin new and healthier ways of living. These professionals make it their business to keep us southerners in shape both mentally and physically.

 

Claudia Deen on an early morning rum.

Running with Claudia Deen

After walking away from a promising career in advertising, Claudia Deen has reinvented herself as a self-made health and fitness guru, and she wants to inspire you to make healthier choices in the new year.

Even as a 24-year-old graduate student, Claudia Deen couldn’t avoid the dreaded “freshman 15” when she left her native Venezuela to study at Savannah College of Art and Design in 2010.

“I had access to all these things when I moved here, things I never had access to in Venezuela,” Deen recalls. “I could go to Kroger and get all these snacks and eat whatever I wanted.”

After gaining 16 pounds – a significant amount for her petite frame – and experiencing frequent skin breakouts, she decided it was time to dump the junk food. Almost two years ago, she took the next step and adopted a plant-based diet. When she cut out dairy, the breakouts stopped, and she believes leaving behind meat has helped reduce the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, which she was diagnosed with in her early 20s.

And despite her concerns that moving to a mostly vegan diet – if you’ve connected the dots from Deen to her famous butter-loving mother-in-law, you’ll understand why it’s only *mostly* vegan – she didn’t experience any setbacks to her distance-running training. In fact, she has completed five marathons since making the move away from meat, and she’s training for another one in Jacksonville in December.

“It hasn’t had any negative effect,” Deen says. “It’s been all positive. I just feel good.”

Deen feels so good about the life changes she has made that she’s carved out a career helping others do the same. When she married celebrity chef Bobby Deen in 2013 and left her advertising career to return to Savannah, she was looking for something she was passionate about that would offer flexibility to travel as much as she wished.

She started by earning a health coaching certification and has steadily added to her repertoire from there, becoming certified to teach indoor cycling and yoga sculpt and earning her USATF certification as a running coach. Now she’s working on another certification to teach TRX suspension weight training.

“One thing led to the other,” Deen says, “and now that’s what I do.”

It’s not all she does. She’s also a brand ambassador for Lululemon, representing the athletic apparel brand in the community and leading “Sweat Club” sessions, and she has a blog – The Trendy Smoothie – that she uses to inspire others to take care of themselves by posting recipes, fitness tips, and other keys to a healthy lifestyle.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a health coach – someone who helps clients identify their health and wellness challenges and develop a plan to address them, whether those struggles are losing weight, reducing stress, eating better, exercising more, or some combination of them all.

Of course, Deen has to maintain her credibility, and one look at her website or blog bears that out. She’s a brown belt in karate, has completed 11 marathons, 13 half marathons, and two 70.3-mile Ironman triathlons.

And she’s not done yet. Her goal is to complete a marathon in each of the 50 states, and she will be one-fifth of the way there when she adds Florida to the list in December.

As for what’s next for the small health and fitness empire she’s building in Savannah? You’ll have to wait and see.

“I have some things in mind, but they’re still very raw,” Deen says, “not ready to be shared with the world.”

 

Weight trainer Sam Carter

Weight Lifting with Sam Carter

Sam Carter has one question before he invites a young athlete into his gym, “Do you want to change your life?” At 27:17, the Proverbial adage that as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another transcends the weight room to develop the total person.

Don’t bother looking for information about 27:17 online. You won’t even find evidence it exists. No social media presence to speak of.

And even if you know the gym is tucked inside the back of the Victor B. Jenkins Memorial Boys Club, good luck picking the right unmarked door that leads to the space where Sam Carter lays down his sermon.

Carter isn't technically a preacher, but when he’s within these walls – which are adorned with articles of clothing representing dozens of people who have molded him into the man he is – he plays the part for his willing congregation, sprinkling nuggets of wit and wisdom into his intense motivational rants.

Even the gym’s name, 27:17, comes from a verse in Proverbs – “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – that Carter regularly repeats.

Carter is a mountain of a man whose chiseled physique would be more intimidating if not for his disarming smile and relentless positivity. Here in the gym, he is in his element.

“If you’re good at something and you love it, but you don’t get paid, that’s called a hobby. If you’re good at something and you get paid to do it, but you don’t love it, that’s called a job,” Carter says. “But if you love something, you’re good at it, and you get paid to do it – that’s a passion.”

The story of how Carter uncovered that passion begins when he graduated from Savannah High School and enlisted in the Marines Corps Reserve while attending Savannah State University on a baseball scholarship.

A devastating knee injury ended his baseball and military careers, but it set him on a path toward his passion. He enrolled at Armstrong State University to earn his teaching certification and bumped into one of his former coaches, who set things in motion for Carter to land a job teaching at Riley Learning Center and coaching at Savannah High.

Carter immediately implemented a training plan that went beyond lifting weights, incorporating the principles of his Marine Corps training.

“We got real good, real fast,” Carter recalls. “We were just demolishing people.”

Two years later, Carter landed his first paying client as a personal trainer, and his passion was fully formed. Soon after, he left his teaching job to become a full-time trainer. Carter landed a part-time job at Savannah College of Art and Design, overseeing the newly-opened Club SCAD.

Almost no one came to the gym. Carter thought pumping iron with a former Marine might not be a good fit with a tony art school.

Then Carter’s former supervisor at Riley, Jean Hayes, invited the coach to a Bible study. Afterwards, Hayes introduced Carter to Hall of Fame basketball player Cazzie Russell, then SCAD’s men’s basketball coach, and told Russell in no uncertain terms that he needed to send his team to Club SCAD to train.

When the team showed up the next day, Carter put them through the same paces he used to whip his high school players into shape. It didn’t go over well, and Carter confided in a friend that he feared he would lose his job.

“He asked me, ‘Do you believe in the training that you do?,’ and I told him I did,” Carter recalls. “And he said, ‘Then if they fire you, let them fire you.’ The next day we didn’t go outside and run with 25-pound plates, we went outside with 45s. If they fire me, let them fire me.”

A month later, SCAD offered Carter a full-time contract, and he’s still there 16 years later.

While 27:17 has virtually no online profile, Carter himself has garnered a measure of fame, thanks in large part to his professional relationship and friendship with Savannah’s famed Deen family. Carter started training celebrity chef Bobby Deen in 2002, beginning a long relationship that has landed Carter guest spots on various television shows ranging from the Deens’ shows on Food Network to ABC’s “The Chew.”

Carter acknowledges such opportunities lend him credibility, but he really doesn’t need it. The list of people he has trained over the years includes numerous professional and high-level collegiate athletes, almost all of whom stay in touch with Carter and get back in the gym with him when they’re in town.

Still, there’s a reason he keeps such a low profile for 27:17. It’s not for everyone.

“God will send the right people my way,” Carter says.

Carter looks for a specific type of athlete – one who has potential they need help unlocking and the humility, discipline and work ethic required to unlock it. He relies on his network of contacts to connect him to potential clients, then makes his pitch.

“Do you want to change your life?”

“I introduce myself to them and at first their parents have no clue, they think it’s weird,” Carter says. “They’re skeptical at first. They think I want something. I don’t want anything. I just want to help you get better.”

That extends beyond the gym, the court, or the field. When student-athletes come to 27:17 each afternoon, they spend an hour in a small classroom space upstairs working on homework before joining Carter in the gym for their training.

“I don’t want to be a strength coach,” Carter says. “I want to help people change their lives. If you don’t want to be better, then I don’t work.”

To read the full article, subscribe now or pick up the January/February issue of South Magazine.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greatest Destinations 2020

Greatest Professional Photographers 2020

Calling South’s Greatest Photographers! Are you a professional photographer with beautiful work? Enter South’s Greatest Photographers 2020!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • Book Signing and Luncheon with Colleen Oakley

    Feb 19, 2020
    12:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ Chatham Club

      Join us for a luncheon with Colleen Oakley featuring her new book, You Were There Too. Tickets include lunch and a copy of Oakley's book. Two...

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Quarter Finals II

    Feb 19, 2020
    4:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Skidaway Island United Methodist Church

    The second half of 28 quarterfinalists compete for a spot in the semifinals in the 2020 American Traditions Vocal Competition.  With an...

  • 2020 American Traditions Vocal Competition

    Feb 17, 2020
    4:30 PM - 9:30 AM @ Skidaway Island United Methodist Church

    The American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) returns for its highly anticipated 27th anniversary season Feb. 17-21, 2020. With an outstanding...

  • “Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao: Nationalism and Regionalism in Contemporary Spain”

    Feb 19, 2020
    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Savannah Country Day School

    SCDS Upper School Spanish instructor Michelle Dumais will explore the historical roots of the tensions between Spanish regionalism and nationalism...

  • Savannah Pennysaver Job Fair

    Feb 20, 2020
    10:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ Charles H. Morris Center

    Lowcountry artists are invited to submit their works of art for The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) 26th Annual Judged Show. Winners...

  • Confident Complexion – Love Your Skin at Bluemercury!

    Feb 13, 2020
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM

    The beauty of makeup is that you’re in control of when and how you wear it—whether it’s to enhance, conceal or simply not to wear it at all....

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Semi Finals

    Feb 20, 2020
    4:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Skidaway Island United Methodist Church

    The 12 semifinalists compete for a spot in the finals as they sing their second program of American songs. The ATC requires singers to create...

  • Oglethorpe Mall Carnival

    Feb 20, 2020
    5:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Oglethorpe Mall

    Experience the sights, sounds and aromas of the electrifying midway with rides and games for all ages, favorite fair food and Victoria Circus...

  • Sips for Spouses

    Feb 20, 2020
    5:30 PM - 8:00 PM @ Ghost Coast Distillery

    Who: Patriot Advantage, Hire Heroes USA and YOU! What: A fundraising event to benefit the nonprofit Hire Heroes: Serving Spouses Program Where:...

  • "Little Women"

    Feb 20, 2020
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, writer-director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has crafted a “Little Women” that draws on both the classic...

  • Julilette Gordon Low Birthplace Groundbreaking

    Feb 21, 2020
    12:30 PM - 2:00 PM @ Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace

    Girl Scouts of the USA is hosting an official groundbreaking ceremony to share information on current renovation work, future site highlights and...

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Master Class

    Feb 21, 2020
    3:00 PM - 4:30 PM @ Savannah Cultural Arts Center: Ben Tucker Theatre

    Spend the afternoon with the judges as they work with contestants to perfect performances of select ATC songs. The ATC requires singers to create...

  • Magical Interventions feat. Ngil Mask, Fang People

    Feb 21, 2020
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Savannah African Art Museum

    Everyone knows that magic is everywhere and everyone knows that you should only use magic if it helps yourself and others. What if someone has...

  • AURA Fest: Underground Weekend

    Feb 21, 2020
    7:30 PM - 11:45 PM @ The Jinx

    AURA Fest: Underground Weekend at The Jinx February 22, 2020 Torche, Bask, Oakskin, SHEHEHE, Knightsquatch February 21, 2020 Inter Arma, CLOAK,...

  • Savannah Music Festival IPA Release featuring Roosevelt Collier & Jontavius Willis

    Feb 21, 2020
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ Southbound Brewing Company

    On Friday, February 21, 2020, Savannah Music Festival and Southbound Brewing Co. will celebrate the release of this season's Wailin' IPA with a...

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Finals

    Feb 21, 2020
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Cultural Arts Center: Ben Tucker Theatre

    Join the gala evening as finalists content for top prizes and the all-important ATC Gold Medal. The ATC requires singers to create three rounds of...

  • Retro Run 5K Race

    Feb 22, 2020
    8:00 AM @ Red Gate Farms

    The Retro Run is Feb 22nd at Red Gate Farms: 8am Kids Mile, 8:30 5k/10k start. Bring out the coolest clothing, hair and bling for this race. Finish...

  • Forsyth Farmer's Market

    Jun 29, 2019
    9:00 AM - 1:00 PM @ South end of Forsyth Park

    The Forsyth Farmers’ Market vendors offer a variety of local goods including seasonal produce, eggs, honey, pastured meat, bread, cheese,...

  • 17th Annual Savannah International Food & Wine Festival

    Feb 22, 2020
    3:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Hellenic Center

    Come eat and drink for a cause! You are invited to participate in the Savannah International Food & Wine Tasting. The Tasting offers guests...

  • Savannah Philharmonic Cinephile du joure

    Feb 23, 2020
    5:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Ascension

    The Blue Heron Chamber Ensemble goes to the movies to bring you Chamber works by film composers. Flutist Jeana Melilli, pianist Ben Warsaw and...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

2020 Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association held its annual Southern Coast Heart Ball on Saturday, February 8th at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort and Spa. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception with a silent auction, dinner and program, and dancing to end the evening. All proceeds went to the Open Your Heart campaign.

4th Annual Hearts for Healing Gala

Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center held its Fourth Annual Hearts for Healing Gala on Friday, February 7th at the Tybee Island Wedding Chapel. Guests enjoyed gourmet dining, dancing, and a silent auction. All proceeds from the auction benefitted the Faith Equestrian Therapeutic Center's program for individuals with disabilities.

IDC Benefits the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire

The LeClerc Family owners of IDC (International Diamond Center) in Savannah 349 Mall Blvd held a benefit to support the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire on Thursday, February 6th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. Guests enjoyed light food and drinks, while bidding on several silent auction items, including autographed footballs and helmets donated by Anthony Lanier II.

Royce Learning Center Annual Low Country Boil & Oyster Roast

The Royce Learning Center held their annual low country boil and oyster roast on Saturday, February 1st. Guests enjoyed mingling over the seafood selection. Royce Learning Center meets the needs of children and adults with learning differences and literacy needs through its unique programs.

Dining in the Dark 2020

The Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision held its annual Dining in the Dark event on Saturday, January 18th at the Embassy Suites Downtown Savannah. Guests were served a four-course meal in complete darkness by the Savannah Metro's SWAT team. Dining in the Dark serves to raise awareness about vision loss.

January Brews for a Cause

South magazine in collaboration with Southern Eagle Distributing hosted their monthly Brews for a Cause on Thursday, January 16th at the Savannah Taphouse in a successful effort to raise money and awareness for the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision. The night featured delicious appetizers by Savannah Taphouse and a range of flavored Bud Light Seltzers provided by Southern Eagle. These events provide good food, fun entertainment, refreshing drinks and most importantly – raise money for a great cause! Be sure to be on the lookout for our next Brews in February!

Ford Plantation's Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting for Silk Hope

The Ford Plantation celebrated the completion of its two new Silk Hope model homes on January 10, 2020. The Silk Hope project is limited to 53 homes, on beautiful lots of buyers’ choosing amongst old oaks and a Lowcountry marsh setting. This member-backed project is the first new for sale residential development at The Ford Plantation in more than fifteen years and represents the final phase of home development to be offered. The Silk Hope community is the product of a collaboration of some of the world’s top residential architects and landscape designers and has been modeled to capture tranquil European village and Lowcountry architecture.

Mat Best Signs his New Best-seller at Nine Line

Veteran, entrepreneur and author Mat Best met fans and signed copies of his new book “Thank you for my Service” Thursday Dec. 12 at Nine Line Apparel. Best’s best-selling authorial debut chronicles his service as a U.S. Army Ranger. Best's Black Rifle Coffee co., partnered with Nine Line Apparel, has shops on River st. and off route 95 on Ft. Argyle rd.

Victory Antiques and Engel & Völkers' Holiday Party

Dickey Mopper and his team at Engel and Völkers celebrated the season at their annual holiday party on Wednesday Dec. 11, with a special appearance from the jolly fellow himself, Santa Claus. Mopper and company, celebrating alongside the crew of Victory Antiques, showed off the newest Engel and Völkers office at 1650 East Victory Dr. in Savannah.

Good Times Jazz Bar & Restaurant's 2nd Anniversary Celebration feat. Lady Leah

Jazz lovers celebrated Good Times Jazz bar's second anniversary on Nov. 8 and 9 featuring jazz vocalist Lady Leah and the culinary stylings of Good Times' chef Joe Randall, the dean of southern cuisine. In 2017 Randall teamed with Danielle and Stephen T. Moore to create one of the city's smoothest spots, a confluence of culture and taste fit for the soul of Savannah.