With over 13 years experience in Exercise Sports, Gerard “Coach G” Burley’s “Passion to Purpose” is one of personal acceptance and love. He grew up being overweight, battling issues with body images and a lack of self-esteem. But when his mother passed away from heart disease when he was very young, the 33-year-old Fitness Coach and Motivator discovered his will to live. It’s safe to say, the death kicked off his journey of healing through proper dieting, healthy choices and spiritual and emotional renewal.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a BS in Sports Medicine and a MS in Exercise and Health Promotion from Cal U, Coach G went on to work in several coporate settings, relocate to Rome to work with U.S. Ambassadors, dance alongside Michelle Obama for her “Let’s Move” project and other non-profit organizations. He also appeared regularly on CNN, Fox News, ABC News, and wrote a column for the Washington Blade. His basic message was to teach his highly revered fitness class SWEAT and maintain a roster of private clients, including polical figures, CEOS and professional athletes. Today, this brother has no problem moving and staying active!
To celebrate the usher of Fall, BE Modern Man sat down with Coach G to talk about his mission to use exercise as a fitness tool to create change, spread the importance of health and what it means to be a BE Modern Man.
Who is your fitness inspiration?
My clients truly inspire me. When I see someone give their heart and nerve and sinew to become the best version of themselves, I am moved.
The BE Modern Man tagline is “it is our normal to be extraordinary.” What makes you unique and stand apart from the crowd?
I’m a 6’3, 225 pound, black, openly gay, former pro basketball player who has lived overseas hailing from Baltimore. So nothing about me is ordinary. Fitness wise, I have never approached fitness from an inches, calories, and pounds perspective. I focus on making people mentally stronger and having a good time while we do it. The rest follows.
What do you believe is your greatest achievement personally and/or professionally?
I think my biggest achievement personally was learning to truly love all aspects of me. Professionally it was giving up my 9-to-5 career to move to Italy, play pro basketball overseas while simultaneously opening my fitness company and training our U.S. Ambassadors in Rome.
Describe the creation of Coach G Fitness.
Coach G Fitness started as a way to empower people through fitness. I wanted to create something that made people feel better at the end of each session. I grew up overweight, not liking my body and with no real skills to combat it. I wanted to show people how to be mentally and physically strong. When my mom passed right after my high school graduation, I knew life was short and I must command my destiny.
Why are exercise and fitness so important, especially to men of color?
We live with a crazy juxtaposition of being the race of the best athletes in the world and the race who suffers from the most exercise related preventable illnesses. We as a community have to change this narrative.
What are some workouts that are great for the Fall season?
With the outside temps cooling down, this is a great time to go for hikes or long bike rides. You can get your body temperature up and the sweat will whisk away in no time. Enjoy the outdoors before we are all banished to the inside by snow and ice.
What is an example of the perfect full body workout?
The best full body workout should activate all of your big muscles, chest, back and legs, while getting your heart rate up. Follow the 4 P’s: Planks, Push-Ups, Pull-Ups and Power Squats. These are four of my favorites moves for developing a strong core and sculpting your best body in no time.
What is your opinion on the state of fitness and health (obesity) in this country, more specifically within the black community?
We are at a critical place in the state our our community health. It’s sad that preventable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease have become commonplace in our homes. We need a shift in our thought process to learn that we are worth the investment in our health.
What is the key advice you can offer to younger generation and BE Modern Man hopefuls hoping to cultivate a successful career?
Trust your swag! I have this written down on a sticky note and on my vision board that I walk by each day. Everytime I have doubted myself or not trusted myself, it comes back to bite me in the ass.
Why is it important that BE Modern Men like you are represented in your industry?
The sports industry uses our people to push products, but rarely are we represented in the field of health and wellness. Our people are suffering the most, but we are under represented when policies affecting our communities are made. We must have representation for the sake of our people.
As a man with a strong character, how do you see your own impact within your community?
I am able to have control over the environment in which we provide fitness and workouts, and I am also in a position to hire, educate, and collaborate with other people of color. Besides fitness, I am able to stand as a proud gay man, leading people to feel better and break through many predisposed stereotypes.
Tell us why this type of exposure is needed in telling our stories.
With the media’s constant portrayal of us in a negative light, it’s so important for others and our community to not fall into that trap. There are men of color at the top of their field throughout the world no matter what society tells us. I want to change the narrative. I’ll start with me.
What does a BE Modern Man mean to you?
Being a BE Modern Man means being someone who sees the world as a place to make your own path while building a bridge for others to follow. We come from such a strong past and have the responsibility to lay the groundwork for an even stronger future.
To find out more about Coach G, visit www.coachgfitness.com and follow on social at Facebook.com/CoachGFitness, mobile.twitter.com/CoachGFit and https://www.instagram.com/coachgfitness/. To see him in action watch the video listed below and become inspired for a healthier you!
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan.