AJ Johnson may be known for her roles in such iconic films as “Baby Boy” and “House Party,” but the actress has another big passion that she says she loves more than acting.
Recalling what her father told her before he died, Johnson said to Atlanta Black Star last month he asked her to promise to pursue her other passion: science and health.
“He didn’t see the happy in my eyes anymore as an actress,” she explained. “He didn’t see the passion. He didn’t hear the husky voice that happens when I get excited about something. He basically just said, ‘I want you to promise to pursue your other passions, which is science and better health. Even though I may not survive, help other people with what you know. Don’t let that part of you go to sleep.’
“What you’ve been watching all these years is my commitment to my dad to not let that part of me to go to sleep,” added the star, who said she was 16 when her mom died of cancer and thus she went down the pre-med track at Spelman College.”I didn’t expect it to become a career, I didn’t expect it to become a brand, I didn’t expect it to be more fulfilling than acting at the time.”
It’s that pursuit that had her transforming not only how she eats but the way her celebrity clients eat and treat their bodies too. She counts Gabrielle Union, Lisa Leslie, Terrell Owens and Boris Kodjoe among the clientele who have gotten into The AJ Zone. That is her wellness program that includes lifestyle adjustment programs, retreats and nutritional counseling.
Johnson, who is known to do jumping jacks between scenes on set rather than snacking on catering’s junk food and lying down, shared her tips on how folks can drop the extra pounds and get their bodies into gear for the summer — just like her crop of Hollywood stars have done.
“The way that I get down is a whole other thing,” she said. “The AJ Zone is a whole other level. You’re coming to me. We’re cutting your sugar intake — including fruit. We’re increasing your water, we’re making sure that you are burning more calories than you’re eating every single day.”
However, Johnson says that it’s not just about what you’re putting into your body when it comes to her program, which notably does not offer personal training.
“There’s got to be a spiritual focus that your discipline is built on,” she said. “A foundation of the Hollywood body you see me involved with — including my own — is a sound spiritual foundation. Because when those cupcakes come around or those nachos come out at happy hour, there’s gotta be a reason why when everybody else is saying, ‘Oh my God, pass the plate to me,’ you’re saying, ‘No, thanks,’ and without an attitude. You’re excited to say, ‘Girl, enjoy your nachos!’ And keep it moving.”
Johnson continues to spread her health and wellness passions. She recently appeared at Essence Fest to host 15 Minutes of Fitness with AJ and hosted a sold-out fitness class in London.
“The reason why I’m still in the jeans I wore in high school is because there’s a focus that I have spirit-deep, soul-deep that says, ‘I wanna be the best me I can be.’ This is just how it looks.”