Mackie Shilstone, known throughout the sports performance industry for his game-changing ideas, chose to dedicate himself to fitness in the early 1980s while working as a graduate assistant at Tulane (where he helped build the university’s first weight room). “I was deciding what to do with my life,” he says.
After leaving Tulane, Mackie began training light heavyweight champion Michael Spinks. He advised the boxer to drink more water and outfitted him in running shoes: unconventional methods based on Mackie’s personal research into the science of sports performance. “We trained for six weeks,” Mackie says. “I built Michael up to 200 pounds. We went against everything that was known in boxing.”
Spinks became a legend, winning the Internationational Boxing Federation heavyweight championship — and word of his trainer spread. “Before you know it, I got calls from Dustin Hoffman’s agent,” Mackie says.
In the years since, Mackie has worked with hundreds of athletes, celebrities and others, including Roy Jones, Jr., Ozzie Smith and Bernard Hopkins. He’s designed health and fitness programs for major area hospitals and opened a series of GNC nutrition stores.
In addition to recently releasing his “Body Shaper” personal training device, Mackie works with Major League Baseball umpires and tennis pro Serena Williams, taking five to six road trips per year with the star athlete.
On What Works — and What Doesn’t
Mackie believes that little changes make a big difference. “Write down everything you eat,” he advises. “You’re not going to eat as much.” He also recommends brushing teeth immediately after meals. “All of these little commitments can solve a problem.”
Mackie notes that walking is the single best thing a person can do for his or her health, and suggests starting with a 10-minute walk per day, gradually adding increments of 10 minutes. He also recommends removing 100 calories per day from your everyday diet. “Every 35 days, you should lose a pound,” he says. “That’s 10 pounds in a year, and that doesn’t include if you start walking.”
Asked to name New Orleans’ biggest health problem, Mackie mourns the city’s high density of fast-food restaurants. “You can literally become loaded up on carbohydrates and become malnourished,” he says.
On the Payoff of Living Well
Mackie knows there are no shortcuts when it comes to good health. “I’ll be 63 on March 16, and I don’t take any medicine,” he says. Strict adherence to a routine — the same type of discipline he cultivates in his clients — helps him stay fit.
Mackie wakes up every morning at 4:30 am and studies the latest issues of eight journals related to his field, including medical and nutrition publications. “I want to be on the cutting edge of all the new philosophies,” he says.
After breakfast, Mackie trains for an hour and a half. This routine is set in stone, whether he’s at home or on the road with Serena Williams. “It doesn’t change. I’m a creature of habit,” he says. “I’ve been training consistently since 1972. It’s part of my life.”
Suggested pull quote/emphasis text: “I made a decision to make a commitment, versus making a contribution,” Mackie says. “A contribution is giving something you have; a commitment is giving part of yourself. A commitment requires sweat equity.”