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Olympian Cooperized Boxer Takes on Vegas Fight

November 24, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m sitting in the marketing office brainstorming ideas for our holiday social media videos for when an idea comes to mind. Next thing I know, we’re heading over to Cooper Fitness Center because Boxing Pro Derrick James just happens to be training 2012 Olympian Errol Spence Jr. for a Dec. 13 fight at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We realized it was perfect timing for our holiday social media plans and we decided to make the ask.

Having been to “watch parties” seeing Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and others go round-for-round, I admittedly had no idea of what training for a professional boxer entailed. I quickly realized it takes a lot of mental strength, agility, discipline, drive and determination. We got what we needed for our video, but watching Spence’s work ethic was humbling. To say I was exhausted just watching is an understatement, but a light bulb went off and I knew it would be a great story. What motivates James? What makes him a great boxer?

A week later, I walk into a dark boxing studio to find Spence with laser focus warming up for his training session with James. James has been training Spence for 6 or 7 years, so it was interesting to hear his advice on what it takes for Spence to succeed. “Stay focused and in the moment—be focused and alert.” That advice seems simple but for someone with more than 35 years of experience as a boxer and a coach, it holds more weight. Spence will tell you, “[his] dad got [him] into boxing” on the last day of school, as he needed something to keep him busy for summer. He started in 9th grade and never looked back. It was something he always wanted to do, so he focused on training and sharpening his skills.

So what does a day of training look like for 7x National Champion with 14 wins and 11 knockouts? Spence arrives at the gym around lunch time and spends two hours “hitting the bags, hitting the mitts and sparring.” But that’s not all, later he runs 5-6 miles for cardio. It’s evident that he’s humble because the week before I stood next to his dad watching him do plyometrics with a weighted vest with ease and precision. A quick scroll through his social media channels and it’s easy to see how far he’s come from a pint-size baseball player to a respected boxer. Spence describes a good boxer as having “mental determination, focus and self-motivation” and it’s clear to anyone who has seen him training in Cooper Fitness Center, he certainly fits the bill.

“Never be satisfied, always focus on evolving and never get settled in a particular way. Set short and long-term goals,” says James. It’s easy to see why Spence trusts James with his boxing career. The boxing pro has years of experience and knowledge from his own career, but also from what he’s learned from his mentor and former boxing coach.

About that upcoming fight, Spence will surely be prepared when Mike Arnaoutis steps into the ring but it’s unlikely he’ll be listening to music to get ready. The 24 year old admits, “[he] listens to Jay Z and T.I.,” but he doesn’t really listen to music before his matches.

Aside from training Spence, James provides private and group lessons for everyone from teens to adults. Cooper Fitness Center offers sports training with pros in basketball, boxing, tennis, martial arts and swimming in addition to more than 26 certified personal trainers. For more information, visit or call 972.233.4832, ext. 4430.


A Week With Cooper Wellness

“Cooper helped me regain my confidence, showed me that there were many things I could do that I didn’t think possible any longer and helped me regain my life.” Jason, National Instruments

Walking around the Cooper Aerobics campus in Dallas, you never know who you will cross paths with. After seeing a few groups come in to attend the five-day wellness week hosted by Cooper Wellness, I decided to call my teammate (fellow employee) Susan Thompson, who is the Wellness Director at National Instruments through Cooper Consulting Partners to find out more. Susan explained that participants proactively want to make a change and need manager approval to attend a wellness program. Ideal participants are self-motivated and actively seeking help and support to keep them committed to their health goals.

Susan shared these four activities that participants commit to for the six-month period.

  1. Log food four days (or more) per week for four to six weeks through the MyFitnessPal app before the program starts.
  2. Engage 150 minutes of physical activity (walking or even housework counts) per week.
  3. Personal train once each week with a workout buddy
  4. Attend a support group once a week.

Employees set goals for the six month period and end up with great success stories to share. Jason attended Cooper Wellness beginning on March 31 and has already seen a dramatic difference in his life and is truly Cooperized.

“Before Cooper (or BC as my group coined it), we spent a large amount of time playing video games or watching TV at home,” Jason confessed. “After Cooper (AC) we are hardly ever at home for long stretches of time. We go out, socialize, work out together and live life,” Jason said. “Cooper helped me regain my confidence, showed me that there were many things I could do that I didn’t think possible any longer and helped me regain my life. I’d always heard the phrase ‘a new lease on life.’ Now I understand what that means fully. I’ve been given a second chance. What a difference a year can make.”

Since April, Jason and his wife have completed multiple 5Ks, regularly walk their dogs, are generally active and have even been hiking. Jason’s group collectively was down 200 pounds at their three month weigh-in and will continue to use the behavior change skills they learned at Cooper as they move towards their six month goal.

Last week another group with Cooper Wellness spent a week on campus participating in the five-day wellness week. “Being here this week has shown the impact of education and support in making healthier choices. I am going back to Austin inspired by the enthusiasm the group developed as they tried new foods and exercise classes. Many would not have tried these new behaviors last week,” said Susan. “Watching the Cooper Wellness team unlock the door for a healthy lifestyle for this group and knowing they can take that with them moving forward has been so rewarding. We are genuinely teaching and empowering people to live longer, and live better!”

Register to attend a Cooper Wellness program individually or contact Cooper Consulting Partners for customized services in strategy consulting, leader training and lifestyle education for your company.

What Nutritionists Eat When They Dine Out

I was sitting in an interview with Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, listening to her give tips on how to make a healthy decision at meal time when I thought, “I wonder what she eats when she goes out to dinner?” The writer asked questions about changes anyone could make when they were meal planning and the information Meridan shared was great. There were plenty of tips and tricks I could use while grocery shopping but I spend more time dining out with friends and family than I do cooking at home.  A few weeks later, I finally got around to chatting with Meridan about how she decides what restaurants to dine at and what she orders.

“Whatever happens, always eat consistently throughout the day,” says Meridan. Meals and snacks provide you with the necessary nutrition and energy to have the most productive day. Eating regularly also helps to avoid overeating when you do finally sit down to eat. Consider eating a lighter lunch before a big dinner but definitely don’t skip a meal.

  1. Think lean and green. Always go for salads, fruits and vegetables first. These foods are high in fiber and will fill up your stomach faster. Whether it’s a cup of fruit or vegetable soup, you will be starting off with foods that will keep you from overindulging later in your meal.
  2. Consider sharing an appetizer. Splitting that delicious appetizer will help you manage portion control. Eating two appetizers instead of an entrée is another great way to make sure you’re eating a healthy portion size.
  3. Substitute for something healthier.  If your meal comes with pasta or rice, consider substituting that for double veggies in order to get the healthiest version of the meal possible.  Most restaurants are willing to allow customers to substitute or make changes to the listed menu items as dietary needs continue to change.
  4. Skip the sauce. Depending on what you order, you’re adding an additional 500 calories to your meal. Skipping that extra sauce, oil or butter goes a long way in managing your caloric intake. Meals may start out healthy but be mindful of how little extras add up quickly.

Choose restaurants carefully and always know before you go. Look at menus online before deciding where to plan your next meal. Check out Healthy Dining Finder for restaurant reviews and contact Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services to find out how to plan meals according to your lifestyle.