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Laurel health and wellness ambassador puts words in print

Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham share a table with Carl Powell's new book at the book launch. Powell said the Seuss classic is his favorite book and he read from it during his talk.
Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham share a table with Carl Powell's new book at the book launch. Powell said the Seuss classic is his favorite book and he read from it during his talk. (Photo by Alex Wond)

Carl Powell was a high school junior in the Pittsburgh area when his father had a stroke in 1977.

"That scared the hell out of me," Powell said. "I saw what effect of not being healthy could do. He was 40 and he never walked again."

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Powell weighed about 250 pounds at the time of his father's stroke but he was able to lose a lot of weight in the next year and was down to about 185 before he graduated from Fort Cherry High School in western Pennsylvania.

Those two events — his father's stroke and his own weight challenges — motivated Powell, who started taking aerobics classes at a Jane Fonda studio in San Francisco soon after high school.

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"I tried my own way of getting fit," said Powell, 54, who began teaching aerobics in California in 1979.

Powell was eventually invited to Japan to teach health and wellness conferences. He later spent eight years in Germany and was able to travel around Europe to teach on health and wellness.

Powell, who owns The Magnificent Body on Sandy Spring Road in Laurel, collected personal stories from those he met around the globe and last fall began to put those anecdotes down on paper. That resulted in his first book, "21 Steps to Magnificent Living," which he self-published in April.

"I have written for magazines before but I never tried to do the whole book thing," Powell said. "People would come up to me and tell me stories. My knowledge on each topic kept expanding. I took notes on all of the people that I met."

Powell said his book is "a living book," and the guide he has used for his own personal development.

On the book cover, Powell writes: "These are all virtues by which I attempt to live each day in my quest to be the best I can be on that given day. I offer these 21 Steps to you as a tool to invoke clear understanding on your journey to happiness, harmony, and inner peace."

Powell had planned to use a publisher for his book, but he was not pleased with the commercial agenda and he did not want his message to be lost in the process. "I kept running into roadblocks with them," said Powell, who did not name the potential publisher.

In his book, Powell offers some of the guidelines he follows:

"Learn to accept life as it comes with a Positive Mental Attitude. Combine your mental, physical, and spiritual energies to create the life you desire. Maintain a blissful and productive state of mind in spite of daily challenges. Add purpose and to your life while improving your outlook of the future."

Mayor Craig Moe named Powell the city's first ambassador of health and wellness in 2011. Moe said at the time that Powell was named ambassador to promote people in the community getting involved in joint physical activities.

"This will help residents and the city, because people will be healthier and not sick as much," Moe said.

Encouraging movement

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Powell's philosophy is familiar to many people in the Laurel area who have taken part in his seminars and classes. A Taijifit, Pilates and yoga instructor, Powell has been certified by the American Council on Exercise and the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America.

Pat Haag, risk management officer and wellness coordinator for the city of Laurel, has participated in Powell's fitness seminars.

"He has the ability to promote a fitness lifestyle in such a way that it becomes a personal goal for all that come into contact with him," Haag said.

Powell has spoken to U.S. military troops based in Germany and has talked about fitness with members of the Laurel City Council. Some of his clients have include gospel legend Dr. Bobby Jones, "Essence" editor Susan Taylor and actor Ryan Gentles.

Several studies have shown that the United States has a high percentage of residents who are overweight. Does that make Powell's message easier to convey?

"Everyone has obstacles" to a healthy life, he said. "It may be time. It may be money. They may have kids. There is always something you can do if you put your mind to it. You can be overweight and healthy. And you can be underweight and very, very ill. It is not how much you weigh; it is body composition."

Powell has scheduled two events in Laurel this summer to encourage people to be more active.

Let's Move at the Lake will celebrate summer with a day of health and wellness on June 21 and July 18 at Granville Gude Park at Laurel Lakes. Beginning at 9 a.m., free classes will be offered in yoga and Tai Chi, as well as walks, games and fitness testing.

"Americans don't have to go out anymore. You can sit in your chair and go to Amazon.com and get anything you want," Powell said. "We have a lazier society. The younger people are much less active than my generation."

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