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Finding Purpose


A local personal trainer finds motivation in helping others.

Michael BantaLiveWellMarch2017Michael Banta, wellness educator and certified personal trainer at Premier Fitness, first came to New Orleans more than 20 years ago. He grew up in the suburbs of San Bernardino, California, and he says he chose the Crescent City because he feels welcomed here. Growing up, Banta’s father (who was disabled) encouraged his kids to run, jump and play as much as possible. “I wouldn’t appreciate this life lesson until later in life,” Banta says. “I began my fitness career in 2002 as an intern at Lindy Boggs cardiac rehab center. I worked with those who just had a heart attack and helped them in their recovery process. I saw firsthand the importance of a healthy lifestyle and exercise.”

Banta originally chose to study wellness for personal gain, but he soon realized after graduation that he could not only help himself but also others. “This endeavor would enrich my life in ways that would create the lifestyle I live today,” he says. “I believe my purpose is to help others.”

In 2014, he began working for Premier Fitness in Metairie. He is certified as a medical specialist, post orthopedic specialist, weight management specialist and core specialist, and he is also certified in functional training. “My wellness teaching experience allows me to look at other aspects of life and how they play a role in our overall health,” Banta says. “Our social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, environmental and occupational wellness all play roles in our health and whether we become ill or diseased in our lives. I not only offer fitness solutions but also lifestyle solutions [for] better health and a happier life.”

His personal diet and fitness routines are based on balance. He exercises four to five days per week, incorporating strength, cardio and flexibility. His diet routine is a basic 80/20 meal plan where 80 percent of the time he makes healthy choices and 20 percent of the time he indulges with choices that don’t restrict his love of foods. “My consistency in both exercise and my meal plan have allowed me to maintain my same weight for over 20 years,” Banta says. “I know when I am deviating from my routine by the way I feel. When I feel bad or depressed, I know I am not eating well or not getting enough exercise. It takes work to be healthy. You may need to ask yourself how much you value your health.”


“Knowing that my purpose is to help others, I know I cannot perform this goal if I am not healthy myself,” Banta says. “I make a conscious choice every day to live a healthy lifestyle. This choice simply makes me feel happy! This is my motivation to continue to stay consistent with my healthy routines. I cannot help others feel good about themselves if I don’t genuinely feel good about myself.”


“I generally don’t use the term ‘diet’ with clients,” Banta says. “Most people tend to associate diet with restriction. I try to eat all foods healthy and sometimes indulgent. I wouldn’t say I have favorite foods. I think eating a good meal is like watching a good movie or having a good conversation with a friend. Eating well allows me to enjoy my day and allows me to have the energy to do that. My guilty pleasures are pizza, cheeseburgers and a few beers during a Saints game.”


“My big success story is the story that is currently happening to this day and continues to happen,” Banta says. “I first met my client almost four years ago. At that time, he was only 96 years of age and had been training with another trainer before me. I had previous experience working with elderly clients, and this trainer thought we’d be a good fit. Today he is a couple of months away from turning 100 years of age, and I like to think I had a hand in that. I think he is a testament to all people trying to start an exercise program or stay on one. He is an example of what people can do if they put their best foot forward. He attains the spirit of drive and motivation that we all need to keep moving forward in life.”


“Advice for those starting an exercise program is this: Ask yourself why are you doing this; who are you doing this for; and will this make you happy,” Banta says. “Simple questions, but most people have a hard time coming up with well thought-out answers that aren’t generic because that is what they’ve been told or maybe read in a magazine article. When you dig deep to these answers, you will find your inspiration for fitness. This will be the motivation for you to continue the journey for a lifetime.” 1909 Airline Drive, Metairie, (504) 304-4200, bepremierfit.com