Fans of rapper Paul Wall are already familiar with his beautiful wife Crystal, but best believe, this first lady of Houston Hip Hop is making her own mark too. Crystal’s own MixFitz Studios have opened up a whole new world of healthy living for dozens of women, starting with her MixFitz brand of dance-inspired workouts.
When we talked with Paul about his dramatic weight loss back in 2010, he spoke on his choice to undergo Gastric Bypass surgery. At the time, Crystal also dropped a lot of weight through a combination of healthy eating alongside her husband, and the couple appeared to be unstoppable.
After moving to California for a stint and then transitioning back to Houston, Crys admits that she lost track of her goals for a spell, putting back on pounds she’d worked so hard to lose. But she slowly got back on her game with Zumba, then quickly fast-forwarded her life in the fitness world to become a true inspiration to others.
In this exclusive UrbLife Get Right feature, we find out how Crystal Wall pushed through her weight loss challenges, why she was motivated to create and expand MixFitz, how her family has been affected, and much more!
How did you get into being healthy start with the whole Zumba movement? And why did you move on from Zumba?
Crystal Wall: Originally, working out was not really my thing. In high school I was a cheerleader for half a semester. I was never a runner or basketball player, but I love to dance. Everyone is California is on a healthy kick, and that’s where I heard about “organic foods” and I started delving into it.
In 2009, Paul had Gastric Bypass surgery so we had to change up the way we ate as a family. We eat big and we love food, even to the point where my mother-in-law was kind of worried about our relationship. She was worried about him not eating as much [after the surgery]would change the dynamics of who we are as a couple, just because we love food.
We had to improvise, that’s all… incorporating our vegetables. So I learned how to eat better when I moved to California, but when I moved back to Houston I went through a little depression and gained all my weight back. I was bored, my kids were older, I couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to do, I felt lost, like I didn’t know myself anymore you know? So I gained weight, and when I went back to 200 pounds I said “Enough is enough”, and that’s when I started doing Zumba.
When I started doing Zumba I noticed that felt better, I started losing weight really quickly, I was a lot happier. I had a place for my kids to go that I felt comfortable with at the gym, and I had a support system within my little Zumba community. That pretty much made me want to share that with people that I knew. My friends were always like, “I don’t wanna dance to that music! Girl y’all in there doing nothing.” And then once they saw me dropping the weight then it was like, “Oh, I wanna see what this Zumba’s about!”
Then when they would go, sometimes the complaint would be that they didn’t want to dance to Latin music the whole time. With Zumba at the time, the rules were you had to do 70% Latin music and 30% anything else. Usually Hip Hop was not high on the list of things people would teach in Zumba. I just started incorporating things that we do in the urban community in the club, or stuff you see Beyoncé doing.
I grew up taking Jazz classes, I was always in ballet, and I wanted to incorporate some of the stuff that I learned. Even African dance classes. I just wanted to do what I felt right doing and that’s how we created MixFitz. It’s a mixture of a little bit of everything, but it’s also kind of our own style. We’re kind of outlaws; we don’t really fit in the box. This is a room full of all different types of women from all walks of life, and they are there for the same reason, to get fit and healthy.
You could go to any gym in the city, but they choose to come there because it’s like a sisterhood. It’s a lady gym, and it happened organically. In our studio you don’t just come and work out, you come and have a support stem there. Everyone is there to empower one another. There is no shade.
With MixFitz, have you gotten to the point of implementing eating plans and advice for changing diet in addition to exercise?
CW: Yeah, we have this thing called the 45 Day Challenge. I got the idea because when I first started losing weight, I would go on this 30 day periods where I would go 30 days without soda. For me, after the 30 days, day 31 I’m like “give me a Coke!” You know you can do your 30, but if you can do that extra 15 days, then you can do a little bit more. You might be able to do 60 days. So it’s the 45 day challenge of being your best self.
At this point, I think it’s on TV so often the whole health and fitness thing… looking better, feeling better, there’s a peel for everything, there’s all hype around what to eat and what not to eat. There’s all kind of things that you can try. I think we all know what to do. The one problem that we have is finding that will power to let go. I think it’s a fear too.
With me, I was always scared of what I could be, and I didn’t know it until I leaped in the direction of something I was scared to do. When I did it, all these doors started opening and my life started changing, I started changing, I grew. People are afraid to make that first step, so the 45 Day Challenge is something we do at the gym to get it started, challenging women.
We put them in a group of six women, so you’re not alone. You have a team of people to depend on. We give you a mock-up food plan, which basically tells you your food groups and what you should have and what to avoid. Basically the kind of stuff a trainer is going to give you if you got to a trainer. But also we give them a menu kind of, like here’s a few ideas of things you could make.
We like to eat, everybody wants flavors of food, nobody just wants to eat carrots all day, and nobody should. You should have a balanced diet, but I think people have a problem with portion control and we push portion control, big time. Portion control, drinking your water, and trying new things like juicing, because it’s important.
I don’t think it’s important for people to straight-up juice, because I tried that for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t good for me, but in the end I got the jitters sometimes, and discovered later that you can eat while you’re juicing like that. I like to tell them to just try juicing as maybe a breakfast supplement, but keep eating along with it. All the stuff I learned along my way with losing weight and battling this shit. That’s what it is, a battle.
What have been some of your challenges in the business of health?
CW: It really hasn’t been a challenge of this business itself so much, it’s the challenge of running a business in general. I was a stay at home mom. In college, marketing was a major, but I switched to early childhood education. I didn’t have a plan for this, it all happened organically. We needed a place. My classes grew, and it was time. Having that place it all happened organically.
Now I have nine instructors working under me, and we’re about to start certifying other instructors. I’m ready to open up more locations. Not just that, there’s such a strong social community online on Instagram and Facebook, and so many women hit me up so often that I have all these ideas and think we need to make it more interactive for the women who can’t get to these classes. That’s what I’m working on right now.
So you’re working on a website that can help you create that interactive experience aside from social media?
What are you teaching your kids now about being healthy? What do you feel they are picking up from your experience?
CW: One day I was running late and they were hungry, so I pulled up to KFC. My kids have not eaten KFC in three years. My son said “ What are you doing??!” [laughs]I said “You’re right baby, I’m gonna pull out.” I felt so bad.
That’s one thing they learned – not all food is good for you. Of course they learned portion control because we stress that, especially to [my son]Will because he’s an eater, and I have to tell him to back up from the table and run it off. They are learning to be more physical, whether they play sports or not… just stay active.
How have you and Paul, with his busy schedule also, been able to maintain your relationship amid all the growth that you’re going through?
CW: Prayer! [laughs]Prayer and balance. We work together, it’s definitely teamwork and it’s not always easy. There are moments where we both have things to do. It’s crazy, we have a lot going on in our personal lives. A whole lot of prayer, teamwork, and communication.
We have to communicate, and that’s one thing better about us. The older we got, the better it got – learning how to talk to each other about things. We both come from different backgrounds. People are raised different, so everybody communicates differently. But that’s one thing that has helped us, learning how to communicate with one another. Thank God we are friends. He’s not just my husband, he’s my homeboy, so I can talk to him like he’s my homeboy.
What would you say is the number one goal with the gym, your business and for your fitness?
CW: My number one goal with my gym is to keep growing my business. I would like to really get that interactive thing going with my website. I really want to have videos online and I want to travel. I want to take MixFitz across the country. My personal goals are just to be happy, to live in the moment, to do more yoga, to love my babies more, just to enjoy my life, and be more forgiving to myself.
What’s the best piece of advice you would give someone who is planning to get fit?
CW: To just do it, set a goal. Sometimes setting as goal helps you. What happens is, everyone goes in the month of January because everyone is on the “New Year, New Me” kick. Then, come February they lose like 10 pounds, and then its Valentine’s Day, and everybody’s boo’d up or eating bad. The March happens, and people are still boo’d up in Spring. They come back in May, because they are trying to get Summertime fine. My advice for someone would be to keep at it, keep a routine.
You don’t have to do the same thing every day. You can even go walking, just stay active. Don’t just fall off completely. And to try new things, because sometimes trying something different really helps, because it gets you out of that rut of doing the same thing every day. I started doing yoga and it changed my life. It worked different muscles; I got a lot stronger, a lot leaner and a lot more clear. I say try new things.