Twan Russell

Today, ex-player Twan Russell, of Plantation, is director of youth and community programs for the Miami Dolphins. (Courtesy) (Courtesy / March 7, 2013)

Fort Lauderdale native Twan Russell was an NFL linebacker for seven years, including with the Miami Dolphins. During his playing days, he established The Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation, which provides after-school programs for economically disadvantaged children through 10 centers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

A husband and dad of three kids, ranging in age from 15 to 3, Russell's day job is directing youth and community programs for the Miami Dolphins. He said the programs reach 180,000 children per year, teaching them about the importance of both fitness and education. "If you don't exercise, your brain atrophies," he said.

Q: Why do you keep fit these days?

A: From a vain standpoint, I want to look a certain way, and I want to be healthy. You have so many NFL players after football who stop working out and eating right. I want to make sure I'm getting my exercise in. I'm not perfect, but every day I'm trying to do something.

Q: What's your workout routine?

A: At the Dolphins, we have a group of guys doing Insanity workouts, which is like the P90X. I do that three to four times a week. Dolphins employees can do it every day at lunch. It's a crazy workout. Worse than running. Really hard. Do a 55-minute workout with power jumps, power jacks, skip jumps, a lot of lunges, a lot of aerobics and power, a lot of intervals. We do three to five minutes, then take 30-second breaks.

And I cycle six months of the year, June to November, to get ready for [the Miami Dolphins] Cycling Challenge. That in itself is pretty intense. Go 30 miles a day, 50 on weekends, on a loop by my neighborhood and sometimes by the beach.

And for work, I teach kids fitness so I exercise with them.

Q: What fitness programs do the Dolphins have?

A: Last year, we did 200 events reaching 180,000 kids. We go to schools and they learn about the Dol-Fit program, which is education and physical fitness. We teach kids proper things to eat, play. We tell kids to exercise 60 minutes a day. Encourage them to ride bikes, play on the playground, live healthier lives.

Q: Have you noticed a correlation between fitness and education?

A: Studies say brains work better when you exercise. I read a study that said people who are obese, their brains actually shrink. If you don't exercise, your brain atrophies. There's been a gradual decline in physical education in schools since the 1990s. The more we remove physical education in schools, the more kids are not doing as well on tests or being creative.

Q: Does your family keep fit?

A: Everyone in our house is very active. Our daughter dances 20 hours a week. My son loves sports: football, basketball, lacrosse. My wife's a dancer. She teaches dance to kids at our foundation. My 3-year-old climbs on everything in our house.

At night, me and my 10-year-old and 3-year-old do a little fitness thing. They consistently remind me to do it. Crunches, pushups, walking pushups, lunges, different fun things. They saw me exercising one night and said, "Hey, Dad, can we do that?"

Q: Do you have any physical problems that hinder exercise?

A: Only thing I regret from football is I can't run anymore. I had significant knee injuries. Can shuffle but not lift my knees and pound on the ground.

Q: Do you smoke or have any other health vices?

A: No. Don't smoke, don't drink.

Q: What's your typical daily diet?