Buff on the Bluff: MDP Fitness hosts fitness competition, ‘Sunday Funday’ activities

Published 1:31 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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NATCHEZ — A weekend focused on overall health and well-being — mind and body — takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and April 7, in Natchez.

Fred Marsalis Jr., who owns MDP Fitness studio, has championed the MDP Reach initiative, which aims to “educate people from all walks of life the importance of overall health and wellness through fitness and nutritional guidance while advocating for the importance of prioritizing mental health,” he said.

MDP Reach also aims to create fitness programs for special needs adolescents. Marsalis has raised money through his 501(c)3 for $500 scholarships to one student at each of nine local high schools. He also aims to provide free transportation for individuals with special needs to his gym for free programming that provides social and physical activity.

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To meet this goal, the inaugural MDP Open Fitness Competition kicks off Saturday, April 6, on the Natchez Bluff, the first competitive event of its kind in Natchez.

Events include thrusters with Olympic barbells; 160-meter sprints; devil presses with dumbbells; burpees, and the Farmer’s Carry using dumbbells or kettlebells with varying weight categories for participants.

Those looking to compete in the open fitness competition can click here to register.

The cost is $35 per competitor.

Marsalis said those interested should register by Thursday, April 4.

“Event proceeds go to our funding pool for the transportation of special adolescents to these programs,” he said.

Starting at 8 p.m. Saturday is the inaugural MDP Scholarship Gala at the Magnolia Bluffs Casino Hotel Ballroom.

Marsalis said 100 percent of ticket sales go to the scholarship fund for high school seniors from Cathedral, Natchez High School, Vidalia High School, Monterey High School, Ferriday High School, Concordia Parish Academy, Delta Charter School, Adams County Christian School and Jefferson County High School.

The 9 scholarships to be awarded for this academic year are fully funded thanks to the generosity of numerous sponsors, Marsalis said, adding the scholarship application deadline is April 2.

The attendance cost of the gala is $500 per table, which includes six gala tickets and a bottle of premium liquor. Individual tickets $50 per person with complimentary food and a cash bar. Tables are nearly sold out. However, individual tickets are still available, Marsalis said.

The attire is “after 5 p.m.” formal or semi-formal. Jacket and tie are mandatory for men.

Register at mdpfitness.org

The following Sunday furthers the MDP Reach initiative with the Sunday Funday Food and Cigar Festival on the Natchez Bluff.

Lifeshare Blood Center will be collecting blood donations while free medical information and screenings will be provided with Jefferson Comprehensive Medical Center, Magnolia Medical Foundation and Kency Medical Services, PLLC.

Other components of the festival include music, anti-bullying messages, mental health counseling, local restaurants represented by vendors and community fun.

“It’s taken off and I’m excited about it,” he said. “Everything Sunday is completely free. Free coaching and consultations on nutrition, fitness and overall wellness. We will have multiple health and fitness vendors there.”

Other notable participants include Christian Brown, a professional bodybuilder; Shannon Doughty’s Fitness and Alicia Norris of Shareevolution Behavioral Health and Wellness, he said.

There will be activities for children and adults. Velvet Puff’s mobile cigar lounge would provide an adult atmosphere to relax and socialize, Marsalis said.

“It would be off to the side away from the children. It’s a different element that we haven’t had before in Natchez,” he said.

Those from out of town coming for the weekend can call Magnolia Bluff’s Casino Hotel and use the code “MDP24” for a $129.99 per night reservation, he said.

Marsalis expressed gratitude to the many sponsors who helped make the weekend possible.

““For the first year, it has been well-accepted. I’m proud to say we have 24 sponsors secured since December,” he said, listing the title sponsors Visit Natchez; Magnolia Bluff’s Casino; Dan Gibson and the City of Natchez; Concordia Bank; Listen Up Y’all Media; Cheryl Givens; Miss-Lou Physical Therapy; Delta Bank; David Timm, M.D., Pediatric Clinic; and Sabrina Doré of Shelter Insurance Agency to name a few.