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Desmond Purnell

Meet Desmond Purnell, a reporter with the NFL Network since 2013. Purnell is an Emmy award-winning, seasoned journalist who served as host of SEC Gridiron Live for Fox Sports Networks and also reported from the sideline for Fox Sports. Before that Purnell was sports anchor and correspondent at KDAF-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, where he covered the professional and collegiate teams for more than five years. Purnell brings great knowledge to his sports reporting. Before he was "on the air", he was "on the field". He played football at Mississippi State University.  

Despite logging a lot of miles on the road covering sporting events, Purnell is a dedicated exercise enthusiast. He is a zumba instructor and rarely misses a day teaching classes or training at the gym. Purnell realized long ago if he wanted to maintain the active lifestyle he learned from his father as a child in Mississippi, he would need to make working out part of his daily routine. One of his biggest joys is inspiring others to get fit.

We wanted to know more about how Purnell manages to maintain a workout routine while on the road, and what he recommends for someone who is just getting started. He was kind enough to share a few exercise tips:  

Dawn Tongish: On a scale of 1-10, where do you rank fitness?
Desmond Purnell: On a scale of 1-10, I rank fitness at a 25!!! I believe staying active and staying fit is the key to living a long and healthy life. It is also a great stress reliever. 
DT: What do you do to stay fit? Can you walk us through your weekly routine?
DP: I travel a lot working as an NFL reporter... but on a normal week. I try to get in the gym 6 days a week, three of those days consist of two work outs in a day. I take a lot of group X classes. I find inspiration and motivation working out with others. I take body pump (weight training) classes as well as cycling classes. Some days I may just play basketball for a couple of hours - great cardio! I also teach 3 Zumba classes a week. Zumba Fitness is so much fun, sometimes you forget you're working out, but believe me, it is a work out. I've have students who burn well over 800 calories during an one hour class. 
DT: As a reporter for the NFL Network, you are on move, a lot. Eating right and working out has to be a challenge. How do you eat healthy and exercise on the road?
DP: I hate to admit it but I do not always eat the healthiest of foods. The fact that I travel a lot contributes to that. Not sure if you want to print this but I have the worst diet ever! I am a regular at Chick-Fil-A. It's a shame because your diet is the most important part of staying fit. Trust me, I'm working on it! Sorry!!! 
My diet is a huge reason why I work out as much as I do. Fortunately, most hotels I visit have some sort of work out area. If not, I have no problems going out for a jog. Traveling is a huge part of the job description when you are a sports reporter. I've been doing this for over a decade now. I've become very discipline. Working out is simply a part of my daily routine at this point. Now if I could only have the same mind set when it comes to my diet.
DT: Have you always been fit, or was there a time where you let your routine slide?
DP: Growing up in Mississippi, I was always active. There wasn't much to do but play sports. I have three other brothers who were all involved in sports. My father did a good job at introducing us to athletics, at a young age. So my dad established the foundation. I went on to play high school and college football. Again, once you fall into a work out routine, it eventually becomes a way of life.  
DT: Women seem to shy away from weight training, thinking they will "bulk up". What do you say?
DP: From my experiences, If you mix weight training with cardiovascular training - the muscles become leaner and stronger. Weight training burns fat and increases metabolism. The amount of weight and number of reps is what dictates how bulky one becomes. Again, from my experiences, training with lighter weights but with more reps - mixed in with some cardio is the best way to lean out those muscles. 
DT: Along with your busy work schedule, you are a fitness instructor at 24 Hour Fitness. What does that feel like when you inspire others to get up and move and be healthy?
DP: I joined 24 Hour Fitness in March 2014 as a Zumba Instructor. Knowing people look to you for motivation and inspiration is an honor. When members tell me, taking my class is the highlight of their day or tell me they've lost 15 pounds, that is the greatest feeling in the world! I draw energy and inspiration from those guys when I see them giving great effort. I don't teach at 24 Hour Fitness for the money. I'm there to change lives through fitness. NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders said it best, "When you look good, you feel good." I want everyone to feel good about themselves. It's also a good chance to fellowship and build relationships with people who have similar health goals.
DT: What do you say to the person who wants to get started and just can't seem to take the first step toward a healthier lifestyle and exercise?
DP: Just go for it! People tell me all the time how hard and challenging certain classes look. Heck, I thought Zumba was tough until a friend dared me to take a class and now I'm hooked. I've heard people complain about how sore they've felt after classes. So what! Soreness is just laziness leaving the body. In order to get the results you want, you are going to have to find the time to put the work in. My schedule gets very hectic but staying fit is important enough for me to make time. It's ok to start off slow and eventually build your way up, but you have to take that first step and then stick with it!
DT: If you had to offer one fitness tip, what would it be?
DP: If you don't like doing a certain exercise or workout, quit it and find one that you do enjoy!

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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