One look at Charles LaSalle and there’s no mistaking what he’s about: Fitness. His body is practically a billboard for the benefits of working out – the arms, back, shoulders, pecs, abs, all perfectly sculpted and coming together to create an image of a real-life Adonis. You see him and probably think to yourself: He must workout twice a day and eats a bowl of soup, once a day. The former is true on some days, but the latter couldn’t be further from the truth. “Our country is obsessed with diet,” says LaSalle, founder of the New York fitness company, City Gym Boys. “But we should be obsessed with getting people to move their bodies and live active lifestyles. To be clear, LaSalle does not begrudge any one’s diet or approach to eating, it’s just he doesn’t have one himself. LaSalle will be the first one to tell you he loves McDonald’s French fries just like the rest of us, and just like the rest of us, he will indulge himself in a large order of those fries. But what makes Charles’ indulgence different is what he does before and after he eats those fries. “I move,” Charles says bluntly. “Whether it’s in the gym lifting weights or running outside, I’m always moving.” The results are not only apparent in his outward appearances, but also his list of accomplishments.
LaSalle, who was born to Cuban and Jamaican parents, grew up as a skinny kid in New York City with dreams of being an actor. The problem was, he was as shy as they come. But after being asked to participate in a high school fashion show, LaSalle got the bug for the bright lights and went to South Africa to pursue a career in modeling. He was successful, but also, as he explains in his book “Get A Bangin’ Body,” unfulfilled. LaSalle writes: “I came to realize that I never had a true passion for the modeling and the acting. The headshots, auditions and rejections just weren’t for me. Even landing gigs wasn’t all that meaningful anymore.” What LaSalle did fall in love with was the active lifestyle of the city kids he was surrounded by in Cape Town, South Africa. “They were all in excellent shape from their moving and dancing, running and singing.” Not one of them was overweight. When I returned home to the States, I was a different man.”
Today, LaSalle is now one of the nation’s leading fitness experts, and one of the best-kept secrets in the fitness industry. Sure he’s been on television as a cohost on the Discovery Fit TV and Discovery Health TV show, “Fit Family.” First Lady Michelle Obama knows who he is as well, which is why he’s partnered with her “Let’s Move Initiative.” And renowned health guru, Dr. Oz has also partnered with him for his Dr. Oz’s Health Corps program. All the while, the City Gym Boys can be found mentoring and motivating members of the Boys and Girls Club on a weekly basis, working with the NYPD Youth Academy which is a summer program in Spanish Harlem for kids 12 to 17 and visiting schools around the country to offer students boot camps, which encourage the kids to stay active and healthy, just like the kids he met in Cape Town. LaSalle’s mission is not about telling people to forget about their diets or to stop paying attention to what they eat. It’s about encouraging people to see it takes more than a diet to not only look great, but also feel great. “I want to make working out cool,” says LaSalle. He also wants to make it accessible, which is why his book “Get A Bangin’ Body” is a focus on body weight workouts. Every one of the exercises featured in the book can be done at home and require no weights. The message, though not overt is core to LaSalle and his City Gym Boys philosophy: Move your body.