Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic discussed Houston’s health with Mayor Sylvester Turner, and it is clear that advocates of a healthy lifestyle have a strong ally in the recently elected mayor. As the new administration settles in to lead America’s 4th largest city, Mayor Turner outlined some major initiatives that will turn Houston into one of the most vibrant and healthy cities in the country. He plans to improve access to nutritious food, increase the number of bike lanes and to inspire healthy living by leading by example. The Mayor introduced Samir Becic as the Fitness Czar of Houston to his hard-working team, and we know that together we can make Houston a happy and fit city!
Top 10 Fittest Mayors In US
During the meeting, Samir Becic congratulated the mayor on making the upcoming list of the “Top 10 Fittest Mayors in the United States.” The list is a tirelessly researched report that continues HFR’s effort to rank the fitness of top politicians. These lists are the first of their kind and generate national and international attention. For the 2016 list, Samir Becic personally led a team of researchers to examine all available data on the country’s mayors and made strict decisions based on observable facts and accomplishments.
Samir acknowledged that Mayor Turner has only been in office for three months, but he is confident in his decision to include him on the list. He has known Mr. Turner for over ten years, and recognizes that he is a man of integrity. According to Samir the new mayor “is a man of his word and he delivers on his promises.” As the reader will soon find, Mayor Sylvester Turner is already making huge strides to improve Houston’s health. Becic added “With everything Mayor Turner has planned, I can see him making the year’s end list of Top Fittest Politicians in the US.”
A Healthy And Motivated Mayor
Sylvester Turner proved he was on the right side of the health and fitness revolution before he even entered office. On the campaign trail, Mr. Turner accepted Samir Becic’s challenge to join #PushUpsEverywhere without any hesitation. The mayor-to-be dropped to the floor and delivered 10 high quality pushups for the whole world to see.
Samir Becic started #PushUpsEverywhere to encourage people to workout anywhere, anytime. The movement raises awareness that fitness doesn’t need to be confined to expensive gyms and trendy exercise studios. It is an egalitarian activity that can be embraced by all as a form of leisure and safeguard for a long and healthy life. This message resonated with Mayor Turner, who proceeded to challenge the mayor’s of LA and New York to join the fitness crusade. We are still waiting for them to accept the challenge!
Third Time’s The Charm For Sylvester Turner
Samir began the interview by remarking on Mayor Turner’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Turner, who has been in politics for 26 years in addition to being a business owner, ran in two previous mayoral elections. Coming short in 1991 and 2003, Sylvester Turner finally achieved his dream after winning a tightly contested election in 2015.
Samir complimented the Mayor on his perseverance and noted that only the truly dedicated and driven can maintain focus through such adversity. Mayor Turner’s reply? “I’m a long-distance marathon runner.”
And the wait made him appreciate the enormity of his position and the responsibility of the office. Turner commented that he is thrilled to be mayor of Houston, a city that is “dynamic, developing and moving.”
Samir agreed: “Let’s make Houston the most vibrant city in America!”
To which mayor Turner added: “And the most healthy, and the most fit.”
A Mayor Who Leads By Example
One of the most impressive take-aways from the conversation was Mayor Turner’s commitment to leading by example when it comes and to health and fitness.
Samir expressed concern that too many police officers are out of shape, causing them to rely on their weapons instead of physical strength in tense situations.
Mayor Turner agreed that it is important for the police force to be in shape, and noted that many officers participate in the MS150 Houston-to-Austin bike ride, as well as the Tour de Houston. Not content to just let the police force do the biking, Mayor Turner participated in the 75 mile Tour de Houston bike ride.
The mayor had a similar message for Houston’s teachers. Samir expressed concern that teachers are not always the most healthy role models for the children they lead. In the face of a growing childhood obesity crisis, Samir wanted some suggestions to motivate teachers to get in shape.
Mayor Turner responded that it is important to lead by example, and as leader of Houston he believes it is his responsibility to stay in shape in order to motivate others to be healthy. He also wants to see physical education and exercise put back in the schools, which is something we definitely agree with!
“A Kinetic City, A City That Is Constantly Moving”
Houston bicyclists have a lot to look forward to under Turner’s leadership. Samir asked the mayor to expand on his promise to create more bike lanes in the city of Houston, and we loved his response.
According to Mayor Turner, Houston has about 220 bike lanes right now. He wants to expand that number to 800 and eventually to 1500. He estimates the project will cost the city between $90 million to $115 million.
Turner explained that “there are more people moving into the city and living in the city, and they want to ride their bikes to work, to retail centers, to recreation. And you have to have the infrastructure for that.”
That is why he continues to emphasize the importance of parks, bike lanes, and a walkable pedestrian city. All of which are very important to transforming Houston from one of the fattest into one of the fittest cities in the country. While Houstonians enjoy two of the mightiest parks in the nation- Herman and Memorial- the city ranked 39th out of 50 cities in parks. With fractured sidewalks or, in some cases, no sidewalks at all, it is one of the least pedestrian friendly cities in the country.
These barriers lead to more time sitting in cars and trucks, less calories burned throughout the day, and an overall unhealthy lifestyle. While the initiatives have an initial cost, they liven up communities and save money on obesity-related healthcare costs in the long term.
Mayor Turner explained his motivation for wanting to transform Houston into a pedestrian friendly city: “the whole point is to build a kinetic city, a city that is constantly moving, where people are active and interactive.”
That is the kind of Houston we want to see!
Transforming Food Deserts Into Vibrant Communities
Sadly, healthy living is not equally accessible to everyone. Underprivileged areas are isolated from access to fresh, healthy food. In parts of Houston, people are miles from any fresh produce, so it is prohibitively difficult to eat healthy even if they desire to do so. One report indicated that more than 43,000 Houstonian households are without a car and over half a mile away from the nearest grocery store. How can you provide for a family of five if you have to carry all your groceries on a bus or walk long distances in the heat? Living in a food desert forces residents to eat unhealthy fast food instead of having the opportunity to shop for nutritious options.
Samir asked Mayor Turner if he has any plans to bring relief to these food deserts in order to increase access of nutritious diet for all Houstonians, regardless of income. Good news: he is.
Mayor Turner says that his administration is partnering with local businesses and communities to implement a farmer’s market program, taking farmer’s markets to different areas throughout Houston. Urban farmer’s markets, such as the 5th Ward’s Last Organic Outpost, provide fresh produce for affordable prices and form a deep connection with the local community. They can fill the slack when quality grocery stores or healthy restaurants are not around, and are a great solution to eliminating food deserts.
The mayor elaborated that he also wants to rebuild communities with quality grocery stores and he is willing to use “every economic incentive to convince grocery stores to open in lower economic areas.” There is already some progress, including plans for a grocery store in the northeast and on the south side of town.
All of these healthy initiatives will also help drive retail establishments into areas- after all, a healthy city is a productive and prosperous one!
Sylvester Turner grew up in Houston’s Acres Homes community, where he resides to this day. He is an accomplished businessman and politician, and an alumni of both University of Houston and Harvard Law School. After working for one of the nation’s top law firms, Turner went on to be one of the founding partners at Barnes & Turner law firm, of which he is still a leader to this day. He has also served as an educator, sharing his legal expertise in lecture halls at Thurgood Marshall University School of Law, South Texas College of Law and University of Houston. During this time, Turner also served as an accomplished member of the Texas House of Representatives, where his career spanned from 1989 to 2014. In the legislature he fought for strong schools, quality health care and affordable electricity rates for seniors. President Obama personally endorsed him for mayor in 2015, and he now serves as Mayor of Houston.
Samir Becic is an internationally acclaimed health and fitness professional and received four “#1 Fitness Trainer in the World/US” honors for Bally Total Fitness, where he was fitness director of the largest fitness facility in the entire United States. In 2011, Samir Becic used his extensive knowledge of health and fitness to found Health Fitness Revolution, a movement that aims to spread the message of health and fitness throughout the world in order to prevent disease and improve quality of life. To better accomplish his goal, Becic founded Health Fitness Revolution magazine, the fastest growing health and fitness magazine in the US and the first magazine to rank US politicians on fitness. The lists, such as Fittest Heads of State, attract national and international media attention.