For Stacie Clark, the road to fitness stardom has been especially long. The 40-year-old trainer has spent years getting other people in killer shape. Now she’s poised to expand her reach in a big way.
Clark was recently crowned the “Next Fitness Star” by Women’s Health magazine. In the latest issue, her workout secrets are featured in a six-page spread. She beat out thousands of applicants to win the title. One of the spoils of her victory: a starring role in a new DVD fitness series called “The Women’s Health Power Sculpt Series with Stacie Clark DVD” ($28, available at www.thenextfitnessstar.com/jan).
Clark comes from humble roots, a farm kid from Indiana. She led an active life growing up, but hit a wall in college. Forty pounds later, she walked into a gym and took a job there — so she could get fit for free. “I got in the best shape of my life,” Clark said. “That’s when I lost the weight, and then I never let it go.”
Today, she’s a certified trainer and co-owner of Tiger Fit Studio in Plymouth. For Clark, fitness is more than a profession: “This is my lifestyle.”
ALL ABOUT BALANCE “I do work out about seven days a week, but not every day is 120 percent. I do a little cardio and a little strength training. I would probably say three days are hard. Four days are not so hard. And I do about 90 minutes a day.” She says she owes her impeccable shape to four things: commitment, dedication, passion and diet. “When it comes to diet, I’m not really strict. It’s calories in, calories out. I use the 80-20 rule. You want 80 percent of your diet to be the right kind of mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat. The healthy kind. And 20 percent, you allow for those extra rewards — can you have a glass of wine, can you have a cookie? The answer is yes. I always ask my clients, did you earn it today? And if you didn’t earn it, maybe you should think twice. It’s all about a balance.”
MIXING IT ALL TOGETHER “I do about two to three days of strength training a week,” she said. “That’s a mixture of using your body weight and using medium to heavy weights. By that I mean eight to 15 pounds.” Her studio features a class called FIT — functional integral training. “It integrates a nice balance of cardio, keeping your heart rate up but using your body weight, and using light to medium weights. It goes back to the basic principles — lunging, squatting, pushing, pulling, rotational movement. I do that two to three times a week. And [another] one of my favorites is Barre. Barre is really just using three-pound weights for maybe eight minutes of the class and doing small movements. Although it’s not an easy class … it complements the large movements and training that I do throughout the week. I love that class because I feel that anybody, at all fitness levels, can do that class.”
FASHION MAVEN After graduating with a fashion degree from Indiana University, Clark was recruited by then-Dayton-Hudson to work in Minnesota. She went on to become the women’s fashion director for Macy’s North. “Fashion and fitness are my two passions,” she said.
In 2006, she made the move to the fitness industry, joining her husband, Chris, in launching Tiger Athletics (parent company for Tiger Fit) out of their garage. The two left their corporate jobs to start their small business while supporting two small children. “I was scared to death.”
A FAMILY AFFAIR The business has always been a family affair. In its infancy, the company focused on youth sports training. It has since expanded to offer separate classes and personal training for adults, as well as classes that kids and their parents can attend together. “So if we’re doing speed agility for youth on Tuesday nights, we’re offering adult classes at the same time. They may not be working out together but they’re still coming to the studio together.
“Then in the summertime we specialize in a summer boot camp,” she said. “So adults are working alongside their kids with separate coaches. And then they’re each having their separate training session, but we integrate it throughout the 90 minutes. And there are competitions — the kids want to race their mom or dad. … It’s about that whole feeling of being on the playground again and being the best you can be.”
ON HER 15 MINUTES OF FAME She chose to enter the first-ever Women’s Health Next Fitness Star contest because she said she felt “this is talking to me,” and because she saw it as an opportunity to reach more people. “I want them to get moving. I want them to be healthy and to incorporate fitness into their lifestyle.” She made a fitness video for the contest and submitted it. Eight weeks later, she got a call telling her she was one of five finalists. In August, Clark appeared on the “Today” show with the other contenders for the big announcement. “When I flew to New York I found out that I was up against twenty-somethings, and I was the only mom,” she said. Upon hearing the news that she’d won, she recalled: “I remember screaming, ‘Go, moms!’ … It was my way of saying anybody can do this. You can, too. You’ve just got to work for it.”