Teri Crenshaw was born and raised in the small town of Cheyenne, Wyoming where the population was about 50K. That is, until the big rodeo came to town at which point there was an influx of a few thousand additional cowboys, rodeo queens and country music fans. As a fan of fashion magazines, fitness and rap music, she didn’t exactly “blend in” well from an early age. She, along with her sisters grew up on 40 acres of land that they shared with horses, chickens, ducks, turkeys, cats, dogs, rabbits, goats and a large garden of fruits and vegetables.
Her sisters were all good at riding horses, one even being an accomplished barrel racer. But Teri preferred looking at the horses instead of riding them. However, there was plenty of room to run and they had a basketball court and a weight room, so she was happily occupied with non-cowgirl activities.
Could you tell us a brief background about yourself?
Most of my activities while growing up included athletics. I started running for a track club when I was in the sixth grade and for all of my middle school and high school years I was a multi-sport athlete. I played volleyball, basketball, ran track and played soccer. I started lifting weights in our basement weight room at the age of 16 years. My dad, an amateur power lifter and body-builder encouraged me to commence strength training to increase my vertical leap for volleyball and basketball and my sprint speed for track. Soon, I was reading articles in Muscle & Fitness magazine and seeing the photos of Rachel McLish and Cory Everson. I was amazed at their fit and feminine physiques!
I attended the University of Wyoming where I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition with a speciality in Exercise Physiology in 1991. I was also a part of the RD program. However, I can remember the day I went into my advisor’s office to let him know I had no interest in working for a hospital to provide low sugar meals to diabetic patients. I knew that I wanted to work with people who I could help before they ended up with preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease caused by obesity. I wanted to get a Wellness degree before this course path even existed officially.
I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition (SFN), a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and former ACE Faculty (CEU provider).
When did you decide to become a fitness entrepreneur and what was your motivation behind it?
Once, when my son was in preschool, I decided I wanted to pursue my field of study with a health and fitness career.
I had taken a part-time job as an aerobics instructor at a local health club. The job ad read, “No experience necessary” and at the job interview I was told that they just needed an athlete to teach the class. I was all in! Within a year I became certified as a personal trainer. I soon realised I was on my path to a career in wellness. The journey of my success began in 1996. As my number of clients increased over the next two years, I started looking for a way to take my fitness career to the next level. I opened my own studio and started a personal chef service. Just a suggestion, never recommend anyone to do both at the same time. I ended up getting only 3 to 4 hours of sleep per night for many months while trying to raise my young son and build two businesses.
However, the hard work paid off as my clientèle outgrew my studio space rapidly. A friend and client of mine who was also a successful business owner asked if we could build a health club together. That lead to the creation of Millennium Fitness Spa in 1997. It was a full health club offering personal training, group fitness and spa services. Along with that, we also provided customers with fitness ballet classes and a class called NIA which were offered on Saturdays accompanied by live drummers. I have always enjoyed spotting future fitness trends and offering new and innovative options for my clients.
Later in 1999, my husband got hired by the Scottsdale Police Department so we had to move to Arizona. I sold my share of the club to my partner.
Did you face any major hardship in your life? Could you tell us what was it like at that time, and how did you overcome it? What struggles did you face getting back on the track?
I have spent my life as an athlete, a nutritionist and a fitness advocate. Being healthy and making choices to maintain and improve wellness has always been a major motive in my life. So when I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 41, nothing seemed to make sense. I was honestly terrified. Even though I went to the doctor with what I thought were early onset symptoms, the tumor was already 2 inches in diameter and was causing a blockage in my intestines. All I could think of during that period was that there was so much more I wanted to do in my life. I loved my life and wanted to keep living. I had a 16 years old son.
It made me realize that I should choose to live bigger, inspire more, and do all of the things I had always wanted to do.
Thankfully, we moved to a place where I had access to amazing medical care. Every 3 months, I had to get my CT scans and colonoscopies at Mayo hospital which went on for a year. Despite my skinniness and tiredness and weakness, I decided to take an adult dance class. This was one thing I had always wanted to do. Dance. I absolutely loved it! At times when we were supposed to do floor work, I would lie on the floor and the bones in my hips and pelvis would hurt because they were protruded. Some of the women in the class even commented on how skinny I was but that never stopped me from discussing my diagnosis with them.
My experience with dancing lead to my next fitness innovation which was a dance-fitness program that incorporated strength and dance movements with high intensity intervals and I named it “Attitude”. Also included in the program was a nutrition plan and a specific time before every class was organised to discuss any challenges the women who participated with us wanted to share. I helped many women connect with their fun, sassy, confident and beautiful essence while losing weight and getting fit in a friendly atmosphere. Teaching this program was incredibly rewarding and a complete blast! I still have clients ask me about it.
When I was finally declared cancer free in 2010, I decided it was time to reach for my next goal which was to compete in my first fitness show. I was 42 years old, but it didn’t matter because this was something I had always wanted to do someday. Since then, I have competed in 14 shows, won 21 trophies and earned pro status with the WBFF.
What was your inspiration behind coming up with the mantra Strength. Beauty. Passion?
The mantra is my story and also, I believe is my gift to share with other women. I believe that being physically strong assists me in making strong decisions for myself. I choose to share the beauty of confidence and purpose and exhibit beauty in my own unique way. Passion is all about doing what I have always wanted to do. It’s about realizing there is a finish line and it is my responsibility to go all out in everything I do before I get there.
I hope to inspire other women with this belief and the message I want to convey with it.
When did you realise you want to empower women and impart your knowledge about fitness and nutrition with them?
I have always worked with a lot of men in my fitness career. This industry needs to share the science behind diet and exercise. Unfortunately, the need is so big that it blinds the women with false information and fast fixes that leaves them feeling defeated. It is heart breaking to see the self loathing and self doubt that is perpetuated by the diet industry. Women are hammered with a notion that being overweight either means they are bad, undisciplined or victimized in some sort. When in reality all of it is absolutely incorrect! They have been bamboozled for years and the internet and social media only makes the matter worse. Truth be told, they just haven’t been guided with the right message or the tools for a lasting success.
The most magnified example of this situation I have ever witnessed is in the competitive fitness world. OMG! I was floored by the extremely unhealthy things these women have been doing to their bodies. It is incredibly sad and I feel that’s not how it is supposed to be.
I want women to know this. I am obsessed with this quest.
What is your take on nutrition? Could you share a sample diet with us?
I believe in whole food, protein optimized along with performance nutrition. The food you consume should provide the fuel your body needs to perform well both physically and mentally in all aspects of your life. All of the macro nutrients conduct important functions in our bodies so none of them should be eliminated completely. Most people consider food to be merely unnecessary aisles of emotional entertainment in a grocery store! Of course, that doesn’t mean having a piece of cake on your birthday is taboo. But I think finding satisfaction and comfort in food is a driving source behind the perpetual weight gain and extreme dieting cycle. The same applies to the gimmicks and fads in the diet industry. It’s not always necessary to emotionally engage yourself in following a cult-like mentality of eating like a cave woman or putting butter in your coffee. It’s actually quite simple to eat something that supports your health and fitness goals.
Here is a basic sample menu for a woman:
Breakfast: 1 egg & 3 egg whites scrambled +1/2 cup oatmeal + 1/3 cup of blueberries +1 T walnuts + 1 tsp of honey.
Snack: 1 apple + 1 T natural peanut butter
Lunch: 4 oz grilled chicken breast + 2 cups fresh spinach + 1 roma tomato, 1/2 cucumber + 1/2 baked yam + vinegar and oil salad dressing (2 T)
Snack 2: 1 cup snap peas + 2 tablespoons hummus
Dinner: 4 oz beef loin or halibut +1 cup broccoli +1 cup grilled summer squash + 1 tsp butter
This can be translated into a daily nutrition formula with your ideal serving sizes: (protein = size of your palm, veggies/ fruits = size of your fist, starchy carbs = size of your cupped hand, fat = the size of your thumb 🙂
Breakfast: Protein + starchy carb + fruit (fibrous carb) + fat + simple carb (sparingly)
Snack: Fruit (fibrous carb) + fat
Lunch: Protein + veggies (fibrous carb) + starchy carb + fat
Snack: Vegetable (fibrous carb) + protein
Dinner: Protein + veggies + veggies (fibrous carbs) + fat
Do you excuse yourself from a fit regime and give yourself a few cheat days? Do you have any clean recipes you’d like to share with us?
I do! I eat dark chocolate whenever I like. Other than that, I have popcorn sometimes and on occasion I eat way too much trail mix. Yes, that’s what I consider my cheat days.
I’m more of an assembler than a chef when it comes to clean recipes. One of my favorite fast lunch recipes is 5 oz tuna (from a pouch) mixed with 1 honeycrisp apple (chopped) and topped with 1 T walnuts. Easy, high protein, good omega 3’s, sweet and crunchy!
We recently had the opportunity to work together for your coaching business. How would you describe your overall experience with Natalie Minh Interactive? Did all your thoughts and ideas come across easily?
I had an excellent experience working with Natalie and her team. I felt that my thoughts and ideas were well understood and if there was anything that was unclear Natalie would call me to make sure we were on the same page.
Why did you choose to work with Natalie Minh Interactive and how was your experience?
I have known Natalie for a few years through FMI. I have always had great respect for her business acumen. The tipping point was twofold: I read the book, The One Thing by Gary Keller and attended a fitness camp at which Natalie made a presentation on fitness business ideas. At that point I knew that the One Thing I needed to do to take my business to the next level was to work with Natalie on branding and website development.
My experience was fantastic! Natalie and her team are exceptionally professional and delivered well on all aspects of website development. The intake process was very thorough and I believe that is a major contributor to making sure that the work is done to the highest standards.
Unfortunately, during the process my husband was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and was hospitalized, wheelchair bound for several weeks. Natalie and her team were very kind, understanding and accommodating during this difficult period. Their customer care is really amazing.
If I only had 8 weeks to lose 15 lbs what would you advise me to do?
First, I would assess your motivation and starting point to determine if a particular amount of weight loss would be safe and achievable by you. I would determine this by connecting with you and having a discussion. It’s important to know factors like current lean body mass vs. fat mass, dieting and weight loss history and fitness level. Determination and support are also big factors. From there, we would develop a plan that would work best for you. To be successful, the detail, options and course of action are all driven by you as an individual client with individual needs and preferences.
If you could meet the younger version of yourself, what would you tell her?
I might reinforce what my dad used to tell me before every game or athletic event. He would say in his best (funny) “wise karate master” voice: “Be a force, grasshopper.” It always made me smile.
I would say to my younger self, “Be heard, be strong, be brave….be a force. There are women who need to hear what you have to share with them.”
What are your plans for the future?
I am in the process of expanding my business further to include a membership site integration with functionality which is different than anything that is currently on the market. I am extremely excited to set these wheels in motion within the next few weeks!
What advice would you give to someone who is a beginner in the field of fitness and nutrition?
Learn everything you can and then work for levels of mastery. I think there are far too many people who get into fitness and nutrition only because they enjoy working out. In order to be an asset to the market and a professional in the field, it takes more than just an interest in fitness. Having true knowledge about it creates the baseline. Without that, you are doing a disservice at the very least and in a worst case scenario, you’re harming yourself. You owe it to your clients to be well prepared and well versed in the science. Nutrition and exercise science are fluid areas of study. Never stop learning.
Could you tell us something about the books you wrote; Lean Body Method? What inspired you to write it and how successful do you think it is?
My current Lean Body Method digital product is actually an introduction to the complete Lean Body Method program. I have included it as a precursor on my website to the full book version and membership that I will be offering later this year. I want people to have a basic understanding of the process so they will be excited about the next step in their individual Lean Body Method transformations.
Lean Body Method is my core product offering. It is the culmination of all of my years of education, experience and innovation in fitness, nutrition and motivation. I am excited to launch the full product offering to a much larger audience soon!
Any shout outs?
First to my biggest fans, my husband, Wayne and my son, Keith.
Next to my biggest fitness business influences: Natalie Minh, Alycia Darby, Kim Miller, Amanda Russell and Mike Rashid.
Finally, to my clients and friends who have followed me, encouraged me and kept me smiling 🙂
Where can we find you on the internet?