By Erickka Sy Savane
Photography By Umoja “Mojo” Turner
Health and fitness guru Donna Richardson lives an extraordinary life. From climbing Mount Kilamanjaro in less than 9 days to selling millions of exercise videos to being inducted into the Fitness Hall of Fame, Donna is doing things that many of us only dream of. And at 51 years old, the Maryland native is just getting started! In her latest book, Witness to Fitness: Pumped Up! Powered Up! All Things are Possible!, Donna shows us how a healthy lifestyle can be achieved through a strong faith in God, a philosophy that has helped her connect with millions of fans around the world. While it would be easy to talk about Donna’s accomplishments all day, it might be more interesting to hear her talk about what it takes to live an extraordinary life…
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Because of His grace and mercy, I feel blessed each day to love and live on purpose. And like most people out there, I need to go to work.
Did you grow up in a fitness conscious home?
I grew up playing sports and participating in recreational activities. My family loves to dance and whenever we’d have big dinners we’d at least make the effort to dance off the calories. But most important I grew up believing in my faith and in myself.
What do you do to keep your body, mind and spirit in tact?
I explore and stretch myself beyond what I think I am capable of doing. And in my daily devotion, I feed my mind, body and spirit so I am constantly being renewed, rejuvenated and reinvigorated.
What are the biggest challenges when it comes to motivating people to get fit?
The biggest obstacle in motivating people to become fit and healthier is you can’t help someone until they make a commitment to help themselves. They get in their own way by allowing fear, strongholds, hopelessness and complacency to take control. First, there is nothing more powerful than a changed mind. Change your thinking and your actions will follow. Trust in God with everything in your life, including your health. If you have failed at losing weight and becoming healthier, it’s because you left Him out of the plan. Last, faith without works is dead. We can pray all day for good health and to lose weight, but we must do the work. You have to be sick and tired or want it bad enough to make it happen.
How do you keep your career fresh and yourself motivated?
I have to keep reinventing myself. When I started this journey 25 years ago I started in Buns Of Steel. Now I’m 50 and I have Buns of AARP. I get pumped, powered and prayed up knowing I have improved lives, transformed lives and saved lives.
What’s been your greatest accomplishment?
I don’t think there is one big accomplishment in my life. My greatest personal accomplishment is being a caregiver for 11 years to my father-in-love who is deceased and now for my dad who has dementia.
How has your life changed these last few months and how are you renewing?
My life has changed drastically in the last year and a half due to a divorce. I’ve been to hell and back, but the misery I faced has helped my ministry. I can now share with women who are stuck. I want to help women move forward so that we can be who God has created us to be. As for renewing, I’m bathing in the word, bathing in the water. I love bubble baths, oils…I put on one of the bishops sermons and it fills me up.
Are you dating?
I’m open to dating. Everyday I’m working on myself. I tell women that you have to be what you want to attract. And you have to have a vision of love. What do you want it to look like?
What do you dream of doing that you haven’t attained yet?
Recently in an interview, I was asked, “What will you achieve next since you have traveled to 50 states, 50 countries and 7 continents?” I said “I will visit 50 more countries, sky rocket to the moon and continue to do things that challenge me to grow and evolve into being the best me!”
What advice would you give our H&S woman who finds herself beginning her second phase of life?
Whether you are beginning a second phase in your life or starting a new journey in your life, embrace who you are right where you are. Be excited about letting go of your past so you can indulge in your future. And everyday love on you so you will have an overflowing reservoir to love yourself and others. When faced with challenges I think of it as opportunity to grow in grace.
“I grew up playing sports and participating in recreational activities. My family loves to dance and whenever we’d have big dinners we’d at least make the effort to dance off the calories. But most important I grew up believing in my faith and in myself.”