College life can be challenging and unrelenting. Between juggling academics, a job, student organizations, and a social life, health and fitness can easily fall to the bottom of our list. This series will feature individuals within Black Vandy who promote healthy lifestyles and share their message with others through social media.
If you walk into the Rec Center on any given afternoon, you’ll hear the usual sounds of the gym - the monotonous patter of feet on treadmills, thuds of weights slamming to the floor, grunts of individuals working to perfect their physique. Yet, on top of all of this commotion, what stands out the most is the boisterous laughter of Alfred as he jokes around with friends between sets. Or his words of encouragement as he helps others work towards their fitness goals. With a friendly wave to every familiar (and not-so-familiar) face, Alfred navigates the weight room with ease like it’s an extension of his home. And in a sense, it is home. For Alfred, the gym represents a place of belonging.
Studying Communication of Science and Technology with a minor in Corporate Strategy, Alfred stays busy on campus. He produces and hosts “8 Minute TV,” a show on VTV. He has a YouTube channel where he films and edits videos that feature some of his fitness tips. He’s also the Publicity Chair for Vanderbilt Public Relations Society, Treasurer of the Digital Media Club, and a member of the Vanderbilt Chapter of National Society of Black Engineers.
Besides being involved on campus, Alfred wrote and self-published, “Gaining Lean Mass on a Student Budget,” an eBook that highlights exercises and diet plans to help the average college student reach their fitness goals. And in the midst of all of this, he still tries to go to the gym seven days a week. How does he do it? Commitment and discipline.
“I like to finish what I start. Most of us have commitment issues and that’s why we can’t keep the fitness goals we set for ourselves. That’s why we start our semesters so strong with a goal of making straight A’s, but halfway through the semester we go on the GPA calculator to see what grade we need to literally survive the semester. So by setting a fitness goal and sticking to it, we’re able to subconsciously get into the habit of committing to things we start, goals we set, journeys we embark on.”
For Alfred, working out helps not only with physical appearance and overall wellness, but it can also develop important skills that are necessary for success in all areas of life. Committing to this fitness journey has taught him how to build a routine and stick to it. Daily tasks developed into routines as he began to organize his schedule and prioritize tasks throughout his day.
“By going to the gym everyday, I’m able to get into the habit of building routines. Being able to say that I’m going to the gym every day and then ensuring that I actually do it helps to outline my days for me. I know that I have to get this or that done before this time if I really want to make it to the gym.”
However, Alfred didn’t always navigate college life with ease. Adjusting to life away from home was challenging. Not only academically, but socially. Navigating the social climate within Vanderbilt was difficult and it did not help being far away from home for the first time. Additionally, Alfred’s father fell into a coma for three months. Juggling academics, social life, and personal challenges became increasingly demanding and his academics began to reflect it. This is when the gym transformed into something more meaningful for Alfred.
“The only thing that was going great for me was the gym. When I hit rock bottom, it was the only thing that went right for me.”
Alfred began to use the gym as a safe haven and has not looked back since. Three years later, the gym is still where he feels at home. Yet, his motivation to maintain this lifestyle has evolved. It’s more focused on sharing the impact that fitness has had on his life. Although fitness still provides an escape from the stress of college life, Alfred now wishes to share his testimony with others. His eBook, “Gaining Lean Mass on a Student Budget,” was his first step into sharing the impact that working out has had on his life. The eBook is now available at no charge to make it as accessible as possible. Alfred also took these tips to the internet with the creation of his own YouTube channel. He uses this platform to share fitness tips, highlight individuals in the Vanderbilt community, and further share his story with a greater audience. The idea that he is making a difference in someone’s life is now his biggest motivation to keep going. His belief is his own testimony of how his fitness journey changed his life fuels this purpose.
“Right now, I’m more concerned about the impact my fitness and nutrition guide has on people, how many lives it can possibly touch, and how many individuals it can change. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what keeps me going. When I fall back, I just look at the journey altogether: freshman year to where I am now.”
And his journey says it all. From struggling through his first semester of freshman year to being one of the most remarkable students in the Vanderbilt community, Alfred’s fitness journey can resonate with a lot of us. College is a time for growth and progress. However, it can also be a time of self-reflection and struggle. Luckily, Alfred found an outlet to let him navigate this period in life. For him, his fitness journey and being healthy means peace of mind.
“I can go from zero to one hundred, with regards to my mood, just from looking forward to going to the gym that day. That’s what my journey means to me. It keeps me going and gives me something to look forward to. So, I encourage everyone to find their ‘why?’ Because that’s a good place to start.”
Outside of the gym, you can find Alfred online through visiting him on Instagram and Snapchat @mr.prah, watching the videos on his YouTube channel, or reading his eBook at alfredprah.com.