Redemption. Rebirth. Reborn. Three different words, yet they all carry the same proverbial meaning.
For some, it means redemption from a bad and checkered past, given the chance to be reborn like a phoenix rising from the proverbial ashes in a spectacular and inspiring rebirth.
Many in the modeling world come from backgrounds ranging from rich or poor, from the proverbial other side of the tracks such as being in and around drugs and addiction. No one is perfect, and everyone has a past. It’s how you recover and revive yourself is what defines you.
No one exemplifies that more that Scranton, Pennsylvania-born fitness model and first-ever ATHLETIX cover girl, Alexis Johnson.
Johnson, whom I interviewed back in December, has the kind of life story that will inspire one to change their own life, as she has going from being a addict of drugs such as heroin, crack, cocaine and opiates to one of the hottest up-and-coming fitness models today.
Blessed with a toned and athletic body with piercing blue eyes, flowing blond hair and a drive unlike no other, Alexis is truly an inspiration for those in the modeling world.
From prison to the catwalk and from being an addict to a reborn angel with a purpose, the 34-year-old beauty is the walking example of a real-life comeback. From fallen angel to fitness diva, Johnson is proof od redemption being a beautiful thing.
After finishing in the top 15 at the recent WBFF Atlantic bodybuilding competition in Mohegan, Connecticut, Johnson has gone on to collaborate with the likes of Status Fitness Magazine and Australian-based gym apparel brand, Liftcorp Apparel, is set to have other exciting projects lined up for what is looking like a killer 2017. Fully in recovery and at peace with her past, Johnson –a devout Christian—speaks openly about her past drug addiction in an effort to better educate the next generation about addiction. Due to the current opioid crisis going on today, she has taken the lead in not being silent.
Below is my Q and A with Alexis as we talk about her past, the dangers of drugs, how to stay fit and motivated and why silence kills.
Name: Alexis Johnson
Birthplace: Scranton, PA
Robert D. Cobb: Congratulations on being chosen as the first-ever cover girl for ATHLETIX fitness cover? What are your thoughts on this?
Alexis Johnson: “Thank you for choosing me to be the first Athletix Fitness cover model!!! I am beyond honored and blessed!!! When Robert asked me to be the inaugural cover model, I was blown away! I worked very hard to achieve all of these dreams and to see them culminate into something is beyond incredible.
I have been given the privilege to work with Robert before and we were able to produce some amazing images for his online website, so to be able to work with him again, especially specially being on the kickoff hardcover copy is so cool and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity.”
Robert D. Cobb: Recently, you’ve had some positive changes in your life, describe those and how you feel they will have a positive impact on you and others?
Alexis Johnson: “Yes!! I definitely have had some positive changes in my life. I recently left my job in order to pursue some other avenues, which didn’t really work out to my favor LOL, but at least I could say I tried. You know how they always say you jump off the ledge to follow your dreams???
Well! I literally did just that and fortunately I had some issues in my life which prevented me from doing so but I can always say I lived with no regrets and gave it 110%. It just wasn’t the right time.
With that being said, I am going back to the restaurant business and starting to write my autobiography while pursuing other avenues in my life which make me truly happy. I do a lot of addiction awareness work which takes up a lot of my time and am working on a huge project now to be released hopefully in September.”
Robert D. Cobb: You’ve been very vocal and contrite about your past, how has being a former drug addict shaped and molded you into the individual you are today, and how did you use it as motivation?
Alexis Johnson: “I am very grateful for being an addict in recovery. It has definitely made me into the woman I am today and I am very proud of who I am. I have suffered through seven major overdoses; twice of which I have flatlined and lost my life. I have been to prison seven times; one of them being a trip to Muncy State Penitentiary. I have buried 10 of my best friends to suicide and heroin overdoses.
By the time I was 27 years old, I had been arrested for 3 DUIs. I suffered from a major heroin, crack, cocaine, and opiate addiction, and also suffered from binge eating disorder which I would then purge because I felt so guilty about the amount of food that I would consume.
Today, I have no issues being vocal about all of this because I feel that silence kills and we need to be more aware of this and educate the public– especially starting with young kids and teenagers about the dangers of the drugs that are on the streets. Unfortunately, you will start to see heroin disappear and be replaced with more potent drugs like Fentanyl and carfentanil, the battle will never end… But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting.
I am grateful for every day I have sober. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall as long as you get back up fighting.”
Robert D. Cobb: Thanks to finishing in the top 15 at the recent WBFF Fitness Atlantic competition, you came away very determined and inspired, what did you glean from the experience?
Alexis Johnson: “The Fitness Atlantic was my very first bodybuilding show and I’m so excited that I made the top 15 even though I screwed up a major pose in the first round LOL– hey lesson learned!! I’ve always wanted to compete in a show and I finally made the decision to do so last year, completely transforming my body as well.
I ended up losing an overall total of 25 pounds if you want to include the water weight.
In 2014, when I first got sober my weight had reached an all-time high of close to 170 pounds– when you stop doing drugs everyday you tend to put on a lot of weight. I was super depressed and I didn’t really know how to deal with it and my eating disorder had definitely reached an all-time high. I had managed to put together two and a half years of sobriety when I had to have a hysterectomy and relapse on the painkillers administered after surgery.
I am currently coming up again on 2 years sober.”
Robert D. Cobb: Any top fitness models you met? If so, what advice did they give you?
Alexis Johnson: “I did get a chance to meet Alex Ulbrich, who was my coach for team Firepower. That was really awesome- she is a WBFF PRO with a ton of experience. We actually met at Dana Linn Bailey’s gym, The Warhouse Gym, about five weeks before my show and train when she was in from Hawaii, which was really super cool, because I got to meet Dana all over again and train with one of the best.
I also got to do a photoshoot with David Ford photography and Status Fitness Magazine which was a whole different experience and on a whole nother level, I am so beyond grateful for that!!!”
Robert D. Cobb: Describe the workout regimen you put yourself thru to get the shape you did to strut your stuff at Mohegan?
Alexis Johnson: “My coaches had me on a very, very strict training regimen.I was doing two-a-days and sometimes three-a-days. I trained myself for the first 12 weeks and then hired Alyx and Sarah at 6 weeks out from my show. I was doing a lot of high intensity interval training and cut back on my carbs pretty much down to a third cup of oatmeal a day.
It definitely worked and was beyond brutal, but the results for my first show were amazing.”
Robert D. Cobb: With summer right around the corner, what workout and fitness tips and tricks can you provide for others hoping to get into shape?
Alexis Johnson: “Make a plan stick to it and be consistent. A lot of people are looking for quick fixes they want to do fad diets or they do it for a week and then give up If you’re looking to get in shape.
It becomes a lifestyle not just something you do for a few days and then decide to try something else and if that doesn’t work then try something else. Keep at it. Hire a coach if you’re serious! I have great ones for you to hire!!!! “
Robert D. Cobb: Describe your current workout routine?
Alexis Johnson: “Currently I am trying to build a little bit more muscle, so I have stopped doing as much cardio as I was. I am doing a lot of high-weight training and mostly at night, and I have added carbohydrates back into my diet- currently at about a hundred and seventy-five grams of carbs a day.
Before my show I was eating about 900 calories a day and barely any carbohydrates so it’s definitely nice to be able to eat again. I have a cheat meal once or twice a week if I want one and if I feel like I want to bite or two of something I go ahead and take it without any guilt. I have also fallen in love with Halo top ice cream– whoever decided to make this needs to be canonized LOL!
I am training all of my muscles to feel your right now in order to be able to get them to grow and try and time all of my carbohydrates before and after my training it definitely helps to fuel my workouts.”
Robert D. Cobb: As someone as stylish and beautiful as you are, describe your fashion sense and style?
Alexis Johnson: “If anybody ever saw me outside of the gym or outside of a photo shoot they would laugh LOL!!! I am currently and always in sweatpants or shorts and a tank top. I am definitely the opposite of high maintenance, and I like it that way!!! I barely wear any makeup, I always have my hair up and I like to be comfortable.
I am always dressed up for work or for photo shoots, so when I’m not doing one or the other I like to be carefree and comfy LOL. People look at me and they think that I’m high-maintenance all the time and I am absolutely not!!! It’s not that serious LOL.”
Robert D. Cobb: Any big projects and plans coming down the pipeline?
Alexis Johnson: “Yes! I have a huge project coming up that’s due to be released in September that I came up with the idea of few weeks ago, but I am not releasing any details on it yet. You’ll just have to wait!
Robert D. Cobb: What advice would you pass on to any women who wish to get into fitness modeling and beauty pageants?
Alexis Johnson: “If you’re serious about getting into the modeling or Fitness industry, make sure it’s something that you really want. You have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices, give up a lot of social events, be willing to eat the same foods over and over again and spend hours and hours in the gym.
I have given up dates, given up relationships, given up time with my family, taken criticism and what not from people who just don’t understand the lifestyle– and that’s exactly what it’s become- a lifestyle.
You have to be able to take constructive and destructive criticism from both photographers and people who have been in the industry, and you have to be okay with it and realize that it’s only there to help you grow.
I have had photographers turn me down because I just don’t have the look that they are looking for, and that’s okay.
Just take it as a growing experience and move on to the next one. You are not going to be what everybody is looking for, but you will be what somebody is exactly looking for. If this is something that you want you have to wake up and be willing to chase it day in and day out. If you have even the slightest hesitation, this lifestyle is not for you. It is 100% sacrifice, but beyond rewarding!!! I wish you luck with it if it is!!!”
Special thanks to Ms. Alexis Johnson for her time and assistance during the Q and A interview process. Images used with permission and are the rightful property of their owners.