Special Reports

National fitness expert leads community shape-up session in Macon

Michael Banks has a shaved head, dazzlingly white teeth and upper arms the size of country hams.

He also has the ability to draw people out of their beds on a balmy Saturday morning to exercise in the open air.

Banks, a 48-year-old fitness guru and personal trainer based in Salt Lake City, led a free “community workout” Saturday morning at Tattnall Square Park. About 100 people turned out for the event, which had them moving to techno rhythms blasting from a public address system that flanked a small stage. Banks, wearing a wireless headset, was in constant motion as he demonstrated aerobic exercises on the stage, jumped down to walk among the crowd and jumped back on the stage to teach a new move.

Occasionally he let the crowd rest as he dispensed advice on diet and mental outlook.

“My program is based on science,” he told the crowd. “First of all, it’s based on this.”

Banks held up a bottle of water. He recommended drinking a gallon a day.

“If you have a goal and you tell it to people and they don’t laugh, then your goal is not big enough,” he said.

Banks spoke of the importance of avoiding milk and meat and eating foods that come “from the ground.” He challenged the members of the audience to eat a 12-ounce can of corn with the next day’s big meal.

“If you don’t see that meal in your stool in eight to 12 hours, you’ve got a problem with your digestive system,” he said. “If it takes you five days to see your meal, we’ve got to talk.”

According to the Web site for Banks’ business, Body by Banks, he is a former professional football player who worked as an adviser at the Olympic Village fitness facility during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He operates a 20,000-square-foot personal training facility in Salt Lake City and produces exercise DVDs that are sold at Wal-Mart.

Banks came to Macon as part of a new business alliance with Warner Robins-based Zoé Lifestyle, which markets a powdered drink mix made from fruits and vegetables.

Zoé Lifestyle owner Steve Davison, who was at the community workout, said his company is sponsoring Banks as he begins to offer free weekly Internet downloads of his exercise videos.

Banks will mention Zoé Lifestyle products at the end of the videos, Davison said.

Banks said his new Web-based fitness program also includes weekly conference calls with nutrition experts and weekly newsletters. Many of the people who came for the community workout signed up for Banks’ Web-based program afterward.

Terrell Sandefur, a local event planner and publicist, organized the community workout.

He said he picked the date and the place to coordinate it with the Macon Cycling Classic bicycle race and the Moonlight Miles fun run.

Cookie Jackson, 49, said she came to the community workout because she saw it publicized on television.

Jackson, a veteran of many fitness programs, said she exercises for one hour daily.

“I loved it,” she said of Banks’ brand of workout. “It’s unique and different.

“You don’t get bored.”

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