BE Modern Man: Meet Mr. Black Fitness Ilen Bell - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.

BE Modern Man Ilen Bell

Name: Ilen Bell

Age: 33

Profession: Co-Founder of Black Fitness Today and US Air Force Special Operations Strength and Conditioning Coach

One Word That Describes You: Observant

Social Media: Twitter:@blkfitnesstoday Instagram:@ilenbell and @blackfitnesstodaFacebook: Facebook.com/ilen.bell Facebook.com/BlackFitnessToday

What does being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction mean to you?

Being one of the BEMM 100 Men of Distinction is humbling, as some of our community’s leading visionaries and emerging talent have been featured on this platform. It also serves as confirmation to speak your dreams into existence. A few years back, whenever one of my friends would call me, he would ask, “What’s up?” and my response was almost certainly, “working on making the cover of Black Enterprise!” This may not be the cover but it is the homepage! So yes, being one of the BEMM 100 is exciting and proof that seemingly lofty dreams can come true.

What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?

As an entrepreneur, I have faced many roadblocks and pitfalls, especially in creating and presenting content that falls outside of the norm of what is considered profitable in urban media. A little over a year after starting Black Fitness Today, one of the country’s largest distributors of urban content unexpectedly ceased discussions on a partnership agreement that would have potentially helped us gain resources to make significant impacts in our community. That experience made us stronger and today we are still blazing the trail independently as a fitness magazine providing opportunities for people of color to be recognized and highlighted for their commitment to personal and community health promotion.

What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?

When it comes to relationships with others, I look for people who are resilient. Inside and outside of business, resiliency is important because obstacles present themselves during the highs and lows. So in those times of change, it is all about how you respond. It’s about moving with the cheese and daring to reinvent when necessary.

What are some immediate projects you are working on?

Currently, I am working on forecasting cover features for Black Fitness Today for 2018 as well adding new components to our website. I cannot reveal too much but I am excited about the future of our platform.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice I ever received was something I heard Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban say, “Don’t follow your passions, follow your effort. It will lead you to your passions and to success, however you define it.”

What is some advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?

If you desire to make a difference in your community or in the lives of others, you have to remain confident while on your path toward making the change you want to see. Many times making a difference requires a great level of selflessness, which can be difficult at times. Stay steadfast in your purpose—money, connections, and whatever resources you need will come.

How do you prep for an important business meeting and/or event?

Whenever I have an important business meeting and/or event I make sure to conduct extensive research on pertinent topics. If I don’t know something, I find a way to gain understanding. Lastly, I rehearse material and practice diaphragmatic breathing to manage excitement to stay calm, cool and collected.

As a busy Modern Man, how do you unwind on vacation? Share a story about your best vacation.

I don’t get a chance to vacation much these days, but when I do, I like to unwind by getting out and exploring the local area I am visiting, whether that’s on an island, or just another city a few states away. I enjoy learning and experiencing new cultures. My best vacation so far has been my honeymoon. Being able to ride on a catamaran with my wife in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in the Cayman Islands and swimming with stingrays was an experience I will never forget.

If you could travel and stay anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? 

If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be to Egypt. As a kid, I was fascinated with pyramids and dreamt of one day visiting the Great Pyramids of Giza. I definitely have a goal of making that childhood dream come true soon.

What is your “Extraordinary Impact”?

My Extraordinary Impact comes from the daily output of serving my family, community, and country. Providing a platform for people of color in the fitness industry is extraordinary as traditional fitness media has few opportunities for people of color and our platform exists to level the playing field. Outside of Black Fitness Today, I work as a head strength and conditioning coach for a US Air Force Special Operations squadron where I create individualized programs to ensure physical readiness for Pararescuemen, the nation’s force of choice to execute the most perilous, demanding, and extreme rescue missions anytime, anywhere across the globe.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Dream up and while in the pursuit of a worthy goal, create your own definition of success and be driven, not by society’s definition but your definition alone. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you when your dream seems out of reach and take a moment every once in a while to celebrate progress, big or small. Thank you for the privilege to be recognized alongside the current and past BE Modern Men. I appreciate the opportunity.

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