DeRusha Eats With Stacie Clark

What's on the America’s “Next Fitness Star's" plate?

Jason DeRusha and Stacie Clark

There’s something intimidating about going to lunch with Women’s Health magazine’s “Next Fitness Star.” What’s she going to eat? (Salad.) Will I look like a gluttonous pig? (Yes.)

Stacie Clark is a 40-year-old Plymouth mom who knocked off a bunch of East and West Coast blonde 20-somethings to earn that title. She and her husband, Chris Clark, own Tiger Athletics, a fitness studio in the western suburbs. They’re also weekly guests on the WCCO-TV This Morning (which I co-anchor).

Our Lunch

My lunch date: Stacie Clark was recruited out of Indiana University to work in fashion for Dayton-Hudson Corporation. She worked her way up the ladder to become fashion director with Macy’s. Meanwhile, her husband was running big programs and setting protocols for heart-rate training at Life Time Fitness. Both left big-money jobs to chase their dream of owning a fitness studio. In August 2013, Women’s Health magazine named Clark its “Next Fitness Star.” She traveled to New York City to get the news and again to shoot her fitness DVD, which comes out this month. Clark is not about fads—instead she focuses on proven strength training that normal people can do at home. I took a group fitness class with her, and I’d call her style “supportive butt-kicking.”

The restaurant: Zelo is one of the most underrated restaurants in downtown Minneapolis. The food is solid, and the service is spectacular. It’s been around since 1999; our server Jonathan has been there for eight years (unheard of!).

What we ate: Clark ordered her go-to at Zelo: the ciao baby salad with grilled chicken breast ($12.50). It’s organic greens, pine nuts, and goat cheese with a balsamic dressing. I ordered the wild mushroom flatbread ($14) with brie, gruyere, and truffle oil and could only eat one slice because I was so paranoid about my waistline. I drank a glass of white wine with no apologies, though.

What she wore: Jeans from Zara, top from H&M, Dolce & Gabbana boots.

For lunch, we returned to a scene from Clark’s former life, a life she led just two years ago when she was a fashion director working in downtown Minneapolis. Back then, she hung out at Zelo. Our server Jonathan immediately recognized her as we sat down to eat a salad (her) and flatbread (me).

You look incredible. You can’t be 40. Age is just a number, Jason. You have to be secure as a person in what you do and what you believe and how you live your life.

Your bracelet says “CONFIDENCE.” How long have you been wearing it? Since we opened our studio in June 2012. I left a six-figure job to start our business in our garage. With two kids! I took my corporate knowledge and built a brand.

You look a lot different at lunch than you do in workout gear. Those are my two passions in a nutshell: fashion and fitness. It’s my lifestyle: performance, style, and function—those things are important.

I see Instagram pictures of you at soccer practice for your 10-year-old son, Caden, and 13-year-old daughter, Addison. The kids still let you hang out with them? (Laughs.) We’re very involved with them, as they are with us. We’re still cool to hang out, for now. (More laughter.)

Every kid is in soccer or hockey in this state. There are more gyms and trainers than ever. But so many kids are still overweight. Why? Too many donuts, the carbonated drinks, the Gatorade. All the unnatural stuff we’re putting in our body. Water and chocolate milk is all you need. You don’t have to be strict about it. It’s just guidelines.

What’s the worst thing you have in your house? There aren’t too many things, to be honest. It’s a conscious decision.

Come on, what’s your vice? Your guilty pleasure? My white wine. It’s not every night, but I like to have a glass of wine before I go to bed.

So if abs are really made in the kitchen, not in the gym, what do you eat every day? I love a protein shake with fruit. Almond milk, put some fruit in there. I’ll have my coffee. A normal day, not to sound cliché, is a protein shake with fruit and coffee. For lunch, I love salad and protein. Will I have something sweet afterwards? For sure. (Pauses.) A bite of a cookie.

We call you a fitness expert on TV. You think I should be labeled a fitness freak?

No, I think you’re an entrepreneur. Fitness is your vehicle. But the lifestyle is the bigger picture. Business owner, risk taker, entrepreneur. You hit the nail on the head. Thank you. That’s a compliment. I’m a business owner. I’m a mom. I’m busy.

Your approach to your life is the same as your approach to fitness. Whether I have two people in my class or 30, you have to bring your game. That’s my approach to life. You have to earn it. Believe. Train. Trust. Triumph.

What changes now that you’re a fitness star? Now I have a platform to have a voice—to continue to influence and inspire others to get fit, be fit, and move with their families. I’m here changing lives on a daily basis. I want to do that on a national level.

Jason DeRusha anchors WCCO-TV’s morning and noon news. He also asks some really good questions.