Dr. April Carter Changing the Healthcare and Fitness Industry
For years, the healthcare and fitness industries have highly encouraged the population to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits such as diet and daily exercise into their routine. As a form of preventive healthcare strategies, April Carter, MD recognizes how effective these methods can be in preventing illness and disease. Understanding the importance of eating habits and physical activity, Dr. Carter made it a priority to educate her patients and the community on general health and wellness.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. April Carter for an exclusive interview.
The health industry has not always been welcoming to women of color. What made you decide to go against those odds and pursue your medical journey?
I am a child of two black professionals who went to school in the 60s so, fighting for success is in my DNA. Additionally, the underrepresentation of women of color in my industry was a challenge that I embraced. I feel that everything that has made America great has come from fighting for it. I’ve always wanted to be one of those women from Phillis Wheatley to Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Michelle Obama, who leads the charge against inequality.
During my residency training in Memphis, I was one of two black women in my class. Going through training was difficult because we were often discriminated against and pitted against each other. There was always this feeling of judgment – that we did not belong. We worked hard and had to prove ourselves more so than the other students. Looking back, despite the circumstances, I realize how these barriers set me up for the future. Today, we are both successful physicians – she went on to a cardiology fellowship, and I’ve become a hospitalist and entrepreneur.
Blacks, Latina’s, and other races of color tend to receive different medical treatment then white patients until this day. What are you doing to change that narrative and what more still needs to be done?
I devote my free time to community health services such as health fairs, health care seminars, and one-on-one education. I encourage women of color to monitor their health and, where possible, get them involved in studies so they can be a part of the statistical data that drives medical research and development. I also try to make sure that I am a bright light for young boys and girls, in addition to mentoring young women of color who are interested in the medical industry.
I have enjoyed organizing health fairs in my hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana. I’ve also done several youth camps before medical school, and during my residency training, I’ve done health fairs in Memphis for those who didn’t have access to healthcare. These are a few ways I gave back and helped people who look like me receive care. Very often, my patients approach me and tell me how thankful they are to have me as their physician, and it warms my heart.
Many of us have a hard time with our health and fitness. Getting up to just get started what are some ways we can all get healthier and more active?
First, be honest with your physical ability; not everyone is a Simone Biles! Second, set realistic goals, consult your doctor, and start a routine. Be sure to give yourself a deadline to achieve your goals. Third, keep moving because it is easier to keep going than it is to get started. And last, don’t quit and don’t over reward yourself when you’re doing well. Too often, people see they’ve gained some progress and think they get a cheat day or get to buy a new Louis handbag. No! You’ve achieved your goals but don’t over-reward yourself. I also encourage people to build a routine around an exercise or activity they love, such as cycling, walking, yoga, or swimming.
In March of 2020, you opened up HOTWORX in Lake Charles a sauna fitness studio. Please explain the difference between your studio and other fitness studios? What makes HOTWORX stand out from the rest?
HOTWORX is a specialty fitness studio where we offer 24-hour access to infrared saunas. The infrared alone is the big takeaway. Other platforms only have the standard gym equipment, weights and no guidance or direction in terms of how to work out. You go in there and figure it out. Each HOTWORX studio has a set number of saunas, and each sauna has a virtual instructor. The instructor will guide you through your 15 or 30-minute routine. The infrared patent sauna has so many benefits and helps with maximum calorie and fat burn, detoxification, sports, and muscle recovery – many athletes use it. It also helps with improving blood pressure and immunity. Infrared has been around for a long time, and we also use it in the medical community for different ailments but now is the first time we’ve seen it combined with exercise.
What is the best and worst decision you have ever made as a businessperson?
The best decision was opening HOTWORX. I am passionate about preventive care, health, and fitness. I feel that many diseases that people succumb to can be prevented by what we eat and exercise. I think the more we can get out there and educate people, the better. HOTWORX plays a part in that.
When I was 20 years old, I launched my first business – a modeling agency. We were a successful agency doing very well, and I had an opportunity to expand into a new market. I was a young entrepreneur who was excited to have a second office in a new city. Unfortunately, I trusted and hired a friend to assist with the expansion. Sadly, my friend lied to our customers, business affiliates, and things just started to fall apart. It took a long time to recover from the ordeal, but I learned to separate business from friendships. That was the worst decision I have made as a businessperson.
As businesspersons, we are dealt with several barriers in leadership roles. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
The first is male dominance which is still present. We must abandon the traditional thinking that male dominance is of value in the business community. The second barrier is not being taken seriously. As women, we’re constantly looked over and underpaid. It’s a barrier that I still face in my industry today. Also, as women, I feel like we’re constantly being judged on a different scale than our male counterparts. We must work harder, stay longer, have more education & training, and be held to higher standards.
Being inspired by others allows us to release the lion inside of us. Who has helped you release your inner lion by inspiring you to be better than you were yesterday?
My parents both continue to inspire me to this day. My dad is still working to improve the community. Many years ago, he was a city councilman and then became the first black president of the city council before becoming the first black legislator from Lake Charles. As a state representative, he wrote several bills still in effect today, benefiting our communities. Two of those bills include free tutoring for low-income families and emergency phone access every two miles along the Atchafalaya Bridge. He also played a crucial part in writing and passing the bill where he had the state of Louisiana redistricted so that blacks could be elected as a judge. After this bill passed, he became one of the first black judges in Calcasieu Parish. He also led the charge on developing beautiful subdivisions for minorities because there were none in the black communities.
My mom has always been there to support me. She was also there to make sure that I didn’t fall and not get back up. When I was in medical school, like other students, I did not have any money, so she’d put together care packages and shipped them to me. She encouraged me to keep going no matter what obstacles may have come my way. There is no way I would have gotten to where I am without their guidance and support.
What are your plans for HOTWORX? Will you be expanding in other cities?
Yes! I am a multi-unit franchisee. I am due to open a total of four HOTWORX locations. The first is in Lake Charles, and I am actively working on building my second location in Houston; my third location will also go in Houston. I’m leaning towards Houston for my fourth location, but I haven’t decided yet. I’m in the early development phases of my second location in Houston. I’ve also started a property investment firm where we’ll be doing real estate in the Lake Charles and New Orleans area. My goal is to build beautiful homes for minorities and make our communities an inviting place for anyone who wants to live there. I’m also looking forward to working alongside my dad and carrying the torch of real estate development.
What is your superpower, or what is your spirit animal and why?
My superpower is resilience. No matter what was thrown at me in medical school, I still made it through. From traveling to a place, I’ve never been and the culture shock, to being temporarily displaced and living in the student lounge on campus, not having any money, and experiencing discrimination, I’ve always found a way to bounce back. The mini setbacks have never stopped me from becoming who I am today. Nothing worked; nothing will ever work. I was destined to be where and who I am, and I’m grateful for that.
My spirit animal is the hummingbird which is associated with freedom. When I finished residency, I bought a Porsche Panamera and changed the plates to MASK OFF because I finally felt free. Free from the critical environment of those who wanted me to fail. Free from the ultraconservative vibes that often haunted me in the hospital halls and my white peers. Just free from all of that – the controversy, discrimination, racism. I just felt free. The hummingbird is very resilient and adaptable to changes. I believe resilience and adaptability are two of my most robust characteristics. I’m also very optimistic and confident in my ability to be of value and I encourage others to do the same.
What do you want your legacy to be?
I want to be remembered as someone who impacted the community and African American women, women of color, and businesswomen. I want to leave a legacy of service and advancement. I want to leave a generation of black entrepreneurs, doctors, and healthcare professionals who know they have the power to make a difference.
Please follow Dr. April Carter on all of her social media platform.
Personal IG: @mspanemera
HOTWORX IG: @hotworxlakecharles
HOTWORX FB: hotworxlakecharles