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

South's Greatest Photographers 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most creative photographers. If that is you, or you know of any, don't hesitate to nominate!

South's Greatest Kids Contest 2017

When it comes to cute, the kids of the South are all way above average! Share the cuteness and nominate your kids today.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • #art912, Avanguardia

    Nov 17, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Avanguardia, an exhibition by Savannah-based artist Lisa D. Watson (American, b. 1967), explores the encroachment of the constructed environment on...

  • Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection

    Oct 13, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Academy

    When the world gets urban, the South gets Southern. That’s one way to sum up Scenic Impressions: Southern Paintings from the Johnson Collection,...

  • PULSE Art + Technology Festival 2018

    Jan 17, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Comprised of innovative digital artworks, projection performances, and engaging family programs, the 12th annual PULSE Art + Technology Festival...

  • Kirk Varnedoe: In the Middle at the Modern

    Sep 22, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Can you have an art exhibition without any artworks? Is a curator an artist? Who or what decides an object’s value? Through the lens of an art...

  • The Candy Apple Happy Hour

    Jun 13, 2017
    3:00 PM @ The Candy Apple Cafe

    Repeats every day until Sun Jun 18 2017  11 am Cocktail Artist Series The restaurant will serve cocktails inspired by select Broadway...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 18, 2018
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Prepare to be inspired! Mountainfilm on Tour in Savannah returns for its 9th year [January 18-20, 2018]. We have an incredible line-up of...

  • Jacob Lawrence, Lines of Influence at SCAD Museum of Art

    Sep 07, 2017
    All Day @ SCAD Museum of Art

    Jacob Lawrence Lines of Influence Sept. 7, 2017 - Feb. 4, 2018 The SCAD Museum of Art and the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence...

  • Coastal WildScapes Beaches and Barrier Islands

    Jan 20, 2018
    9:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Richmond Hill City Center

    REGISTRATION 9 am Coffee and Snacks WELCOME 10 am COASTAL WILDSCAPES OF GEORGIA A GEOLOGIC PERSPECTIVE 10:10 am Clark Alexander BREAK 10:45 am...

  • "Beyond the Castle" Book Celebration

    Jan 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ The Church Mouse

    Author, Jody Carbiener Dreyer will host a book celebration on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Church Mouse, 78 Arrow Road on...

  • PULSE Free Family Day and STEAM Expo

    Jan 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair’s most popular Family Day includes opportuni­ties to experience all of the 2018 PULSE exhibitions and experiment with technology...

  • “One of These Nights,” The Music of The Eagles

    Jan 20, 2018
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Eagles are arguably the quintessential American band combining influences of both rock and country into a unique sound that provided the...

  • PULSE Metropolis-Synthesis Screening/Performance

    Jan 21, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Atlanta-based artists Alessandro Imperato and David Spencer return to PULSE to perform a re-interpretation of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents 'Good People'

    Nov 28, 2017
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater’s Production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire.  Welcome to Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the...

  • National Reading Day

    Jan 23, 2018
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ Hancock Day School

    The Sandfly Women Business Owner’s Coalition will promote literacy efforts on National Reading Day, Tuesday, Jan. 23, by spending time at Hancock...

  • Chocolate Bar Your Way Class

    Jun 14, 2017
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Sweet Pete's Candy

    4 pm sweetpetescandy.com Learn the art of old fashioned candy making in one of Sweet Pete’s Candy’s most popular classes. Sweet...

  • Daughters of the Dust Film Screening

    Jan 25, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Julie Dash’s dreamy, visually-striking film, the first wide-release feature by a female African American director, tells the story of the Peazant...

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Educational Outreach Concert

    Jan 25, 2018
    7:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Skidaway Island UMC

    Join the American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) as they celebrate their first week of educating students in the Savannah-Chatham County Public...

  • Anything Flows Yoga Class

    Jun 15, 2017
    7:00 PM @ Dragon Dance Yoga

    7 pm Anything Flows Yoga Class Walk in rate: $14 Dragon Dance Yoga This class will take you beyond your comfort zone while still...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents 'Good People'

    Jan 25, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater’s Production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire.  Welcome to Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the...

  • Carrie Mae Weems: Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Considered one of the most influential contemporary artists, Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) has continued to explore the African American...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Jazz'd Tapas Bar NYE

Make sure to check out these scenes from the Studio 54 NYE party at Jazz'd Tapas Bar!

Ho Ho Holiday Oyster Roast

Ele & The Chef hosted their 1st annual Ho Ho Holiday Oyster Roast at Current Kitchen & Cocktails on December 17th. All ticket sales benefitted Aiden Cares, an awareness intiitive that encourages giving and serving.

A prevention event by RCC - Step Up and Step In to Stop Bullying

This annual 8k run was held on December 16th at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, and all proceeds for the event benefited the Rape Crisis Center.

Oyster Roast for a Reason

Check out these photos from the UGA Marine Extension and Georiga Sea Grant Oyster Roast for a Reason. Presented by Oyster South, a regional non-profit organization, the Oyster Roast for a Reason is a fundraising event that celebrates Georgia's first oyster hatchery and helps continue the University of Georgia's efforts to bring the oyster farming industry back to the Georgia coast.

Lip Syncing with Ghost Coast

One epic battle took place on Halloween night, and it all went down at Ghost Coast Distillery in Savannah. Visitors wore their funniest (and scariest!) costumes for the 2017 Halloween event. Many donned costumes that portrayed the singer they would be on stage during the lip sync battle.

Savannah Children's Book Festival 2017

This Saturday brought thousands of visitors to Forsyth Park for the annual Savannah Children's Book Festival. Hosted by the Live Oak Public Libraries, the day-long event showcased the talents of eleven featured authors and thirty-nine indie authors, illustrators, and performing artists from around the country. This year’s festival includes book signings and readings, arts and crafts, community partners and nonprofit organizations, as well as food.

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!

Thursday night was the night to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day at 39 Rue De Jean in Savannah! The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau symbolizes the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine. Attendees enjoyed heavy hors d’oeuvres, an oyster roast outside on the patio, and Henry Fessy Beaujolais Nouveau.

Taste of Savannah Food and Wine Festival 2017

This signature, festival event was a huge hit at its new location, the Georgia State Railroad Museum! Guests wandered the grounds savoring hundreds of wines, spirits, craft beers and more.

13 Secrets Jewelry One-Year Anniversary

Boutique owners Chad and Manu celebrated the one-year anniversary of 13 Secrets Thursday, Nov. 9. Event highlights included gourmet appetizers by local chefs, a wine tasting, door prizes and great networking opportunities! Here's to another great year!

Celebrity Chef Dinner

A night featuring dishes by some of the South's best, James Beard Awarded, Chef's of 2017. The night included multiple courses, each paired with the perfect wine to complement the flavors. Simply put - a dinner one will not soon forget!