Who: Gerard “Coach G” Burley, 34
Lives: Petworth, baby!
Does: Founder of Sweat DC fitness studio, where I train about four clients and teach one or two Sweat DC HIIT classes a day.
My philosophy to health and nutrition is that fitness should be inclusive, fun, and empowering. After losing my mom at a very young age to heart disease, I developed a passion to see women, especially black women, take charge of their health. I always wanted to be able to bring healthy lifestyles to those forgotten faces you don’t see on the ads or those who are struggling and need a pat on the back with an occasional kick in the pants. My upbringing for sure had a large impact on my relationship with food.
Growing up as a gay black boy from Baltimore, I often used food as a comfort and coping mechanism, so that allows me to empathize with my clients with the same struggles. I’ve had some clients have some dope transformations just by getting them to practice more “conscious” eating—taking a moment to realize why they are eating. We look at healthy eating as a skill set and focus on taking realistic small steps toward acquiring skills to tackle goals.
In the end, people need a support system. I remind them that one good meal won’t save you and one bad meal won’t kill you.
The first thing I start with each morning is a big ol’ glass of water with two caps of apple cider vinegar. I used to have huge cravings for coffee every morning, but once I started drinking more water I saw that I wasn’t as dependent on it. Drinking more water also keeps my hunger cravings low. After a full night’s sleep you’re very dehydrated, so you have to replenish that thirst.
When it comes to sleep versus breakfast, I’m choosing sleep. My mornings are fast and they need to be seamless to get me out the door and to my clients on time. For a quick fix, I do two scoops of Vega Protein & Greens shake mixed with unsweetened almond milk or water. I get in 40 grams of protein to start my day. Protein is huge to maintaining my weight and not overeating. I don’t follow a macro tracker, but I shoot to get at least 40 grams of protein at each meal. I also like this because I get some greens in without a spending time making a salad.
I’m pretty much training clients throughout the morning, back-to-back, so eating real food becomes a struggle. I keep these Vega ready-made shakes nearby to scarf down in the five minutes between my clients. The times I forget these or run out of them, I usually end up overeating later because I get hungry—I eat ANYTHING close and bad for me, which means places like Popeye’s and carry-out are calling my name.
As with many people in the city, time is not on my side, so anything that can help me save time is priceless to me. My first real meal of the day is in the afternoon and it’s a Mighty Meal. Mighty Meals is a local meal prep company that delivers all my meals to my house. They were a great find when I noticed I was gaining weight after all the long hours opening my studio. Despite popular opinion, most of owning a fitness studio takes place on your butt in front of a laptop. Knowing a lot of my Sweat DC clients have the same problem with time to create their own healthy meals, we now have a partnership with Mighty Meals, so that anyone can have items delivered to the studio and pick them up after class.
I do a lot of my admin work at Panera or a local cafe, so my dinner tends to be something balanced that I can eat while answering emails or planning workouts. I’m currently ballin’ on a budget, so I like the “You Pick Two” where I get the Bacon Turkey Bravo (I love anything with bacon) and black bean soup with the hibiscus ginger tea. I know bread isn’t great, so at least I get a taste with the half-sandwich without overdoing it. If I need a late night snack, it’s back to my go-to Vega protein shake or another Mighty Meal.