Candace Burney isn’t your average personal trainer.
She not only cares about her clients’ physical health, but also emphasizes nutritional wellness. Once she realized that a clean diet and proper fitness habits were key to a long and healthy life, she poured her time and effort into coming up with the fastest and easiest ways her clients could initiate and maintain a healthy lifestyle, even while juggling everyday tasks. Now, she’s taking her valuable tips to television with her very own show, “Living Simply With Candace.”
As a former health care worker, Burney realized that pharmaceutical medicine did not improve the health of patients, and would oftentimes make them sicker. She grew up in a small Georgia town eating fresh foods and remained active in spite of her physical struggles from being born with scoliosis. She and her family were always in great health, and she knew that if that lifestyle could work for her, it could work for anyone.
In 2002, she began on the journey of teaching women how to eat clean and take care of their bodies. Burney is now expanding her reach to 2 million viewers through her new show — produced by Alvin And Marcia Waters of Mac Productions — that will air on the AIB network and live steam.
Rolling out spoke with Burney about how she overcame her serious medical condition to become a health guru and what we can expect from her upcoming program.
When you worked in the medical field, what did you see that troubled you?
When I worked in the hospital, my job was to fill the patient carts. You have to put the patient’s name on the box, and you fill whatever the doctor has prescribed them overnight. I would go for weeks never having to change a person’s name on the box, meaning they’re in the hospital for that long. With [that job], you don’t see the patient, you just saw the name. But going into retail pharmacy, the patient themselves were coming to the window, and you could see illness on people. You can tell when the person’s not well, you can see it in their eyes, their skin. You can see it all over them. They would come in and have their prescriptions, sometimes many prescriptions. I could see that they would come in and they would take the medicine for so long and the prescription would never change. If the dosage was going down, it meant they were getting better and they needed less medicine, but that wasn’t happening. They would have these countless pill bottles, and I saw so many people addicted to the pain meds. It was a sad thing, and I became very disillusioned with the whole medical field from my point of view because it just wasn’t working — all this medicine wasn’t working.
How did you learn about wellness?
I grew up in Gordon, Georgia; it’s a small town right outside of Macon. We grew up on a farm, basically. Our house was surrounded by three farms on every side. My grandfather had chickens, my mother cooked fresh from the ground every single day, and we were never sick. So I knew what real food tasted like — I knew what real food did. I didn’t come to that conclusion until later. But when I had patients standing in front of me … If you have any sense, you’ll have an epiphany and realize that what people are doing right now is not working. But I understood what the value of real food was about.
I grew up with my great-grandparents. I had [them] until I was 26-years-old, and that’s unheard of. They lived until they were 100 years old — vibrant and beautiful, and [with] clear skin. My great-grandmother still cooked three meals a day. They lived by themselves. She had a garden; she would go in her garden at the age of 90 and pick her collards or whatever it was and go in the house and cook her three means a day. That’s how they lived — they lived from the ground and stayed active. So I realized early on that your body needs food and movement. Those two things will keep you alive and vibrant for a long time.
How did you become a trainer?
I was always active. I ran track in school. At the time, I was done with school, so I wasn’t running track anymore. So I started working with a fitness trainer for my own personal desire. I fell in love with the process because I saw that I had the power to do whatever i wanted to do with my body simply by doing specific things. I’m not perfect; I was always the person that you knew was going to have a Snicker’s bar in her purse. But once I began to take some of the craziness out of my diet and I had a dedicated 4 day a week training regimen, my body began to change amazingly fast. So I realized that if I could get people strong and healthy before they got to the point … I wanted to get people before they needed all the medicine.
In the beginning, I was just doing the training. Over time, I began to develop my own program where I began to cook for my clients. I know that if you do them both together, things change dramatically fast.
Once you begin to change the way you eat and eat cleaner, your body adjusts as it should. You’ll start to taste the sweetness in a carrot. A carrot all by itself is sweet, but you don’t know that because your taste buds have been coated with all this processed stuff. It sounds like a challenge. It sounds extremely daunting. That’s why I created my program of [cooking for] clients. It takes that stress away, you don’t have to think about it, and it makes your body and your mind change must faster.
Does scoliosis still affect your life?
I have limitations. I had to learn how to keep my body healthy and strong, even with those limitations and with the pain that it causes. My body is off-center. I am 10 pounds heavier on one side than I am on the other side because I have this 45 degree curve in my spine and I have this 10 inch rod screwed to my spine, so I have limited flexibility in certain directions. I can’t bend backwards. I can only bend so far to the side — it bothers me all the time. My right hip is higher than my left because of that, so when I walk, I strike the floor harder on one side than the other, and that can cause pain to shoot up your leg and stick in your back.
That’s why my training focuses very much so on the core and on the back. Most people today have some type of back issue, but it really isn’t stemming from their back — it’s stemming from their leg and from their foot and from their abs. We sit most of our lives, and sitting causes an extreme amount of pressure on our spine.
What can we expect from the show?
My days start at 4:30 in the morning, Monday through Friday. I will get a 15-minute workout in every day. I want to show you that it doesn’t require a whole lot of time. You don’t have to go to the gym for two hours. I make the workout things that people can do even if they have injuries and issues. I’ve got injuries and issues, so if I can do them, you can do them.
And that’s what I want to show you — no matter what your limitations are and no matter how busy and crazy you think your day is, there’s no way you don’t have 15 minutes for yourself. Everybody does, even the CEO of the busiest, biggest company has 15 minutes for themselves. But you have to realize that you have to do it.
There’s a fitness aspect, there’s a cooking aspect — it’s your whole lifestyle. We show really quick workouts that you can do at home, some of them don’t take any equipment at all. I show people how to build a nice home gym without spending a lot of money. The meals we show are super quick and super easy. It really shows people that these tiny changes have an enormous impact.
“Living Simply With Candace” debuts Sept. 15 and airs every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. EST on the AIB Network. The show is also available via live-streaming.