By Alonia Jernigan
Health disparities amongst minorities leave much to be desired. This is particularly true in the African- American community. Andrea Riggs knows this first hand, and for the past 10 years, she has shown America that achieving optimal health can be a tangible goal. Utilizing a three-pronged approach that embraces lifestyle changes, good nutrition and sound fitness principles, she has inspired women in Atlanta and nationwide through her Body Beautiful initiative to achieve better health. In addition to having been seen three seasons on Atlanta’s Biggest Loser, she launched her signature “Get Body Beautiful with Andrea Riggs,” weekly health radio show on Radio One Atlanta, and has shared her expertise on national networks to include Fox, E!, Lifetime, WE and Style Network. In essence, Andrea Riggs is motivating millions to Get Body Beautiful. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Andrea always had the mindset of an entrepreneur. “With one of my loves being journalism, my first sights were set on becoming a news reporter or writer,” she says. While studying business at the University of Missouri, she continued to blaze the path as an 800-meter runner and three-time state champion (in highschool), gaining further recognition as a track and field star. After completing her collegiate studies, Andrea spent nearly 10 years in corporate America as an executive and consultant. But after experiencing her older brother’s demise from cancer at the youthful age of 29, she knew she needed to make a meaningful difference. The fire was given more fuel when she remembered what she witnessed during her college days. “I saw women making extremely poor health choices and bad decisions to lose weight and eating disorders were common to improve performance,” states Andrea. “I even had my own challenges of trying to lose weight to meet Olympic qualifying standards and after my first child.”Determined to be an advocate for change, Andrea launched Body Beautiful, a health and wellness company providing fitness training, corporate and community wellness, motivational speaking and health media services in 1998. Her diverse clientele includes celebrities, executives and homemakers. Andrea’s efforts expanded in 2009 with the creation of Get Body Beautiful, a community initiative that encourages African-American women to achieve better health and participate in fitness workshops and online health tools. A dozen corporations and community organizations partnered with her to initiate Get Body Beautiful. Andrea’s expertise is chronicled in her newly released book, Get Body Beautiful: Lose Fat and Tone Your Body in 30 Days. But outside of assisting others with obtaining the best health possible, Andrea also enjoys the simple things in life. “I love to read and write, and I love hanging out with my kids – ages 7 and 9 – and watching their talents.” Watching old comedies is among her favorite pastimes; “I Love Lucy” and “Carol Burnett” are at the top of the list. And contrary to what may be the popular perception, Andrea is no stranger to good eating. “I’m the ultimate foodie, so I’m always out to prove that healthy food can actually taste good. I’m not that fitness person that’s gonna tell you not to eat.” Her favorite dish? “Anything that tastes good,” she laughs. Andrea’s immediate family also includes her husband, Michael.