By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
If there was an award for the most inspirational couple in the fitness world, it would go to HitchFit co-founders and WBFF (World Beauty Fitness and Fashion) Pros Micah Lacerte and his wife, Diana Chaloux Lacerte.
These two fitness trainers have literally transformed thousands of lives in not only their home in Kansas City, Missouri, but around the world as well.
The couple exclusively sat down with Jake’s Take and to talk about their 2013 highlights, previewed the 2014 WBFF US Central Fitness Show and told me about some of their humanitarian projects.
Jacob Elyachar: How has HitchFit grown since the last time we spoke?
Micah Lacerte: We have been working on a lot of new projects. HitchFit has clients in over 60 countries including Papua New Guinea and we are in the process of searching for larger facilities, so we can open up more streams to the business. We have been working for two years on our HitchFit protein and we are finally at a point, where we will be launching it soon. The WBFF US Central Show will be on May 31 and it will be our fourth year.
Diana Chaloux Lacerte: In addition to all of the excitement, we have been working on renovating the website and trying to make it better. We have shared so many incredible transformations.
ML: Between our one-on-one and online transformations, we had a total of 60,000 pounds of fat lost in 2013! (JE: Wow!)
DCL: The numbers grow every year and we have a lot of big goals for this year. We want to open a second one-on-one location and we have been looking at one of our long-term goals… which is to make HitchFit franchisable!
JE: What have been some of your proudest moments as gym owners?
ML: Just being able to transform so many lives on both a local and global level. Living our passion and seeing the business grow and we are blown away with the amount of feedback that we get back on a daily basis.
DCL: I enjoy seeing clients come in for their after pictures. We have never met a lot of these people until they come in for their pictures and to see them come full circle, it means so much to me.
ML: I just got an email from Top Ten Reviews (one of the largest and most popular reviews sites in the world) letting us know that HitchFit Online Personal training ranked second in the world for 2013-2014 for the Top Online Personal Systems (HitchFit was the only one that was fully custom to the client and both Best and Most Success Stories). We beat out systems like Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels and Weight Watchers Online and done this all in under five years and based here in Kansas City! We started HitchFit almost five years ago with a mission to transform as many lives as possible and to teach a lifestyle based on long-term results.
JE: Micah, you piloted HitchFit Kids last year. How did it teach you to reach out to younger clients? Does the program have a future in your brand?
ML: One of the biggest reasons why we want to expand into a bigger facility is to implement the HitchFit Kids program. Diana and I have been talking about this since HitchFit’s creation about how we could build a structure of a kids program into HitchFit. Kansas City is one of the most obese cities in the nation and that applies to children as well! We are at a point where we want to focus on the kids. We hope that kids look at fitness as something that is fun and understand what they are eating. Once, we get a bigger facility…HitchFit Kids will come to life.
JE: You just spoke about HitchFit adding new clients from around the world. What makes HitchFit attractable to people in other countries?
DCL: I know one thing that separates us from other online personal training programs is how personable we are. They are not signing up for things that are being spit out to them. If we have a language barrier with our international clients, we work through it! We keep going back and forth and we make sure that we are on the same page on the same topic. I think in most automatic systems, they have this coach that is someone that is trying to make a profit off of a program. They also cannot actually answer their clients’ questions or take that extra time to make sure that they understand what’s going on.
I think that is what separates us from the pack and how it makes us different. We have such amazing transformations coming out because HitchFit’s ability to make it so personal and I think that is why we are able to grow globally. There are not a lot of systems out there that can actually communicate with the client globally. Most online personal training programs just simply tell you to put in your measurements and the program just simply spits out stats. They miss out on having a relationship with a coach that responds back to them.
ML: Diana and I have over 20 years of experience and our main focus is not training a client but transforming a client. That takes a whole different spin on things. We are not looking at exterior first…we are looking at interior! We are going in on a lifestyle standpoint with a life coach approach. We want our clients to become the better versions of themselves. The hot body at the end is an added bonus.
JE: The 2014 WBFF US Central Show will be on May 31. What are your expectations for this year’s competitors?
DCL: Micah and I traveled to the 2013 WBFF World Championships in Vegas to judge the show and it was amazing to hear the athletes buzz about the Kansas City show. Other than the World Championships, we are the number one show in the organization and we love that. We want to continue to have the US Central Show be the most challenging show and we want the best athletes to show up here. Time and time again, athletes that won in Kansas City do very well on the Worlds stage and get into the Top 10. In fact, we had two world champions this year from Kansas City.
ML: Justin Gonzales (Fitness model) and AJ Ellison (Muscle model).
DCL: I love that this is the place, where we find future world champions! I want to keep that up and I want the athletes to keep bringing it! I would love to see more athletes on stage. The caliber of athletes has been amazing in the last couple of years and I want to see that continue.
ML: Diana and I spend six months out of the year building and promoting the show. We want to give the athlete the best experience possible. We go the extra step to ensure that every single person on the stage has an amazing time and that they grow in a positive way. There are only a handful of pro cards that are given out but each and every one of these people are pros in a sense that they went and accomplished the goal of getting on stage in itself is amazing.
JE: We are four months away from the competition and the two categories that are getting the most buzz are both the Muscle Models and the Diva Bikini Models. Both of you are champions in your respective categories. What will your expectations be for BOTH of these categories?
ML: The 2011 Kansas City WBFF show was the first ever Muscle Model show and we had one of the most insane line-ups that year. That stage was a PRO stage. It has been phenomenal every year. I was thinking about retiring before the Muscle Model category was even announced. However, once I heard about it…. I told Diana and Paul (Dillett, the WBFF CEO & Founder) that I was going to attempt the category and I ended up winning the World Championship and brought the title back to Kansas City. AJ placed third here, got his Pro card in Toronto that year and win the Muscle Model category last year. The Muscle Model category means a lot to me and the category is getting bigger every year. The category is for guys that are too small for bodybuilding but are models that carry more mass. It is the most exciting category on the planet. I love the Muscle Model category and I love watching it!
DCL: On the girls’ side, both the Diva Bikini Model and the Diva Fitness Model categories are pretty much at equal strength right now. We have had incredible champions in both of those categories. We were able to speak at the World Championship and told the athletes what we were looking for. I think the most important thing for both sides is that the WBFF is not about the most shredded person on stage wins. It’s just not how it goes. Yes, you have to be conditioned and have to be in a certain range of body fat for that category. But, the Diva Fitness Model needs to be leaner than a Diva Bikini Model…she has to have a little bit more muscle. You want to see curves, tone, feminine perks and the beauty factor. They also need to walk out on stage and own it! The audience should NOT BE ABLE to take their eyes off you! You have to bring the whole total package…so bring the body and the glamour! Make sure that your hair and make-up are on point. Also, make sure that you practice…so you can look flawless on stage!
One final piece of advice I tell contestants is to let energy exude within you! If girls are up there and they are lifeless, my attention is not going to be drawn towards them, neither is Micah’s. I am drawn to that girl that I just feel that is exuding something so amazing. Also, if they do not get a PRO card or place, the WBFF offers so much opportunity of athletes regardless where you place. There are girls getting placed in magazines that are both pros and amateurs. It does not matter where you placed if you are marketable or a go-getter…you can use this organization to take your career to another level!
JE: Speaking of amateurs, your show is two months out from the 2014 WBFF Worlds. There is going to be addition stress on the athletes that did not get the Pro cards at the Kansas City event but want to compete in the Amateur Division in Vegas. How should athletes approach prepping for Worlds?
ML: I always tell athletes that you need to see yourself on stage. Have a friend or family member film you from the audience and once the show is done, go back and watch video of yourself so you know what you can do next time. I always went into competitions with the thought of competing against myself and this is just a subjective score. I asked myself: “At my very best, can I win?” Two years prior, I was not at my best and it was the same a year later. However, when I hit the stage in 2011…I won! You have to go up on stage with a lot of goals in mind and not just think about the pro card! There are a very few that are going to be given out and you are going to feel so deflated if you did not get one.
DCL: It is always best to just focus on improving from last year and be yourself. There will be some people that will compete for years and never get a PRO card. Or there maybe people that step onto the stage and its just what they are looking for. So, it is not just an “If I just keep competing, I am going to get a PRO card” attitude, it may never happen…but anything could happen. ALWAYS focus on being yourself and presenting the best version of you because it is the best way to stay sane and enjoy the experience!
JE: In addition to all of your goals for both HitchFit and the WBFF, are there any personal goals that you would like to accomplish this year?
DCL: Outside of the gym and the fitness world, our most important thing is our philanthropy work in Haiti. It has a special place in my heart. The underline motivation for everything we do is fitness, but I think what really fills us even more is just to be able to see our kids. We have a school in Haiti and when we come to visit them, they run out and greet us! I think the biggest goal is to continue to find ways to help them and make changes in their lives. Our school is continuing to grow and the goal is to get it to a point where there are 400 children coming in to the school. These children that are coming in from the streets and are too poor to go to the other schools in Haiti. They come to school to get food and a meal and are excited for education. They are just smart little cookies and that is our number one goal is to see the school grow and see these kids thrive.
ML: Sometimes I question what is our path and where are we going exactly. Even if we lay everything out, sometimes our road curves and we are sent in different directions. But our biggest thing is to follow what God’s plan is for us and as we get more successful, we pay it forward by giving back to the things that mean the lot to us.
JE: If you had the chance to meet someone who is interested in getting in shape, what advice would you share with them?
DCL: I would tell them to change their nutrition and start making healthy clean eating choices. Start eating more whole foods and cut the junk out! Even if you are not in a place to start exercising yet, it always works better when you have the combination of eating right and exercising. But, if you are going to start with one thing…it’s nutrition! Cut out fast food and the sugar that is destroying people’s bodies.
ML: I think it is easier said than done. It is something that we always tell clients that start HitchFit or someone who is just looking to transform their life, you have to cut out the negative people, places and things. If you can do that, your life is going to be easier, better and more positive in every single way. If you have people in your life that are holding you down and causing you to go out until 2:00 a.m. drinking three times a week, you are making poor choices and you cannot expect to get the results that you are looking for. To be successful at anything, you have to take the negatives out.
For more information about HtichFit, visit their website: http://hitchfit.com/
To learn more about the WBFF Central Show, click here: http://wbffshows.com/events/kansas-city/