published Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Working out, dining in: Trainer partners with chef to combine eating with exercise

Michael Sylman, left, head chef of Mocha Restaurant and Music Lounge, cuts chicken as Tobe Taylor, right, founder of T2 Fitness, looks on in the Mocha kitchen.
Michael Sylman, left, head chef of Mocha Restaurant and Music Lounge, cuts chicken as Tobe Taylor, right, founder of T2 Fitness, looks on in the Mocha kitchen.
Photo by Allison Love.
  • photo
    Michael Sylman, left, head chef of Mocha Restaurant and Music Lounge, prepares a fish filet in the restaurant's kitchen.
    Photo by Allison Love.
    enlarge photo

About Tobe Taylor

T2 founder Tobe Taylor is originally from Columbus, Ga. He holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he was a member of the varsity football team. He placed first in the 2010 Battle of the River Bodybuilding and qualified for the nationals, fifth in 2008 Battle of the River and fifth in the 2007 Tennessee Bodybuilder competition.

Source: tobetaylorfitness.com

TO PARTICIPATE

Twenty-four meals cost $6.68 per meal or a total of $175.15. For more information, call Tobe Taylor at 762-3484 or Mocha at 531-4154.

Cheri Hudgins felt silly taking photos of every meal she ate then immediately sending them to her personal trainer, Tobe Taylor.

"He wanted to know everything I was eating," Hudgins says. "It did, though, make me well aware of what I was putting into my body."

Taylor, a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football player, is a certified personal trainer and owner of Tobe Taylor Fitness in Chattanooga, is on a mission. He wants to make people healthy inside and out, he says.

While working out is excellent for one's health, it's equally as important to eat healthful foods, Taylor explains. Getting his workout clients to send him photos of what they're eating was one way to evaluate his client's fitness goals, but it was hard to get everyone to do it on a regular basis, he says.

"I needed a better plan and I had to figure out how I was going to execute it," he says.

So he came up with what he calls T2, a fitness program that puts as much focus on eating as exercise.

"How do you get people to eat correctly?" he asks. "It's not necessarily about putting them on a diet but instead it's a plan to eat the right foods.

"You look at celebrities and read about their personal trainers and chefs. That got me to thinking that it would be good to have a chef design healthy low-calorie meals that would be good for my clients. When a fitness plan is paired with healthy diet, it's a win-win situation."

After interviewing local chefs, Taylor selected Michael Sylman, the head chef at Mocha Restaurant & Music Lounge on Brainerd Road, to create and execute his "T2 Fitness Meal Plan."

Mocha advertises itself on its website as a place with "soul-inspired dishes" which, down here in the South, generally brings to mind plenty of salt, oil and bacon drippings. And, while Mocha's daily menu includes such items as Chicken and Waffles and Buffalo Wings, Sylman's fitness menu for T2 is a different beast. It offers 400-calorie meals including tilapia, salmon, chicken and steak while side items run through such choices as spinach, carrots, asparagus, orzo, brown rice and other low-calorie foods.

"I've always cooked healthy meals but never partnered with an exercise plan," Sylman says. "I think it's a great idea, but my main purpose is to provide a meal that's not only good for you, but that it tastes really good."

Taylor says Sylman "puts together the right amount of protein, carbs and vegetables and the results are superb."

The eating plan also focuses on portion sizes, Sylman says.

"People don't realize how important portion sizes are," Taylor says. "A portion size should be no larger than your fist. In fact, we had plates designed that accommodates our portion sizes."

The T2 program launched about a month ago and thus far response is positive, Taylor says.

Client Kim Donah, 43, started T2 in May and now buys six T2 meals each week.

"The convenience is awesome," she says. "It is so nice to leave (Taylor's) class and know you have dinner and you don't have to figure out what to cook. Plus, it is the perfect portion size so you know you are having a healthy meal. The best part is that the food is yummy."

Donah says the low-calorie meals, combined with her four to five workouts each week, has helped in her weight-loss plan. In the last year she has lost 30 pounds, she says, and her goal is to lose another 30.

"The best part about T2 is that everyone is encouraging and doing everything they can to help you obtain your goals," she says.

Taylor says he recommends his clients to work out at least three times each week. He charges $10 for each class, though the first class is free to new clients.

The T2 meal plan is "still in our trial period and we're ready to take it to the next level," Taylor says. "Right now, the average client is signing up for 24 meals at a time. How they pick up their meals varies. They can pick it up however it best suits them. Most people are picking the meals up every other day.

"It's all about creating a new healthy lifestyle," Taylor says.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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