To say that alumna April Dupré is a busy woman would be understating the obvious. Her schedule, which includes traffic anchor duties on WWL-TV’s morning show and managing Footprints to Fitness, the health and wellness company she founded and its nonprofit foundation, is Marine Corps regimented.
Her day starts around 2:30 a.m. and by noon, following a nap after the morning show ends at 9 a.m., she is up and running her two organizations.
Dupré, incidentally, is not a coffee drinker.
“I just tell people that I’m working on God and a prayer. That’s what’s keeping me,” said Dupré. “They are both rewarding and what I do is fulfilling."
Dupré founded Footprints to Fitness in 2014 and was hired by WWL in 2017, adding television personality to a resume that already included entrepreneur.
“I live this double life of being an entrepreneur, but then also being a public figure in the city,” Dupré said. “Being on television every day is kind of surreal when I think about it. It’s exhausting, but surreal.”
Footprints to Fitness is a marriage of Dupré’s twin loves of physical fitness and the laissez-faire culture that is the hallmark of her hometown.
As the head fitness instructor, Dupré still teach classes and leads some of the company’s programming.
“We have a small team, but we get it done,” she said.
As a native of New Orleans, Dupré said she understands that the city is known more for its indulgence and extravagance in food and fun than for fitness.
However, she also knew there was a passion and niche for health and wellness in the city not only for residents, but for visitors as well.
“I wanted to mesh the two worlds that I love,” Dupré said. “There is no way that you can tell someone who lives or visit New Orleans that they can’t eat and drink unhealthy food; it’s not going to happen! So, you have to find a way to work around that. We got really, really, creative.”
They call them “Healthy Happy Hours,” and it includes all of the aspects of a New Orleans experience—eating, drinking, music and dancing, Dupré said.
“But we did it in a way that is a little bit more balanced,” she said. “Yep, you can drink. Yep, you can eat. But we’re also going to get you to move and have fun … Many of the options that we would offer for food and beverage there would always be a healthier option for people. New Orleans favorites sometimes healthy with a twist.”
The company revolves around four main program sectors: community outreach in which they collaborate with charitable groups to implement interactive experiences; workplace wellness in which they partner with organizations or businesses to create on-site events; tourism wellness in which they host customized events for conferences or something exclusive, such as a bridal party and CPR training, Dupré said.
Fitness and wellness have always been an interest for her, Dupré said. She jokes that “P.E. and lunch” were always her favorite subjects in school.
In high school, a physical education teacher stoked her interest in fitness.
“She didn’t teach us sports … we learned Pilates, we learned yoga, we did dance,” Dupré said. “We did all of these unconventional styles of exercise.”
The teacher pushed Dupré to become certified as a fitness instructor, which she did, while attending UNO.
“As a college student most of my friends were making $5 an hour and I was making $20 an hour teaching fitness classes,” Dupré said. “I learned so much during my time in college. Had I not had that foundation at UNO, I probably would not have followed through with it all. It probably would have been something that sounded really nice or I might have gotten into it later in life.”
Dupré earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology in 2008 and spent the next eight years teaching physical education at several metro New Orleans high schools. As she had done in college, Dupré also continued to teach fitness classes at gyms and private studios around town.
Dupré said she was struck by the socioeconomic differences in her high school students, some of who were homeless, and her mostly affluent fitness clients.
“The main gym that I worked at was within walking distance from the school that I taught at, and the level of disconnect within the few blocks would blow your mind,” Dupré said. “I’m in uptown New Orleans and on one end I’m literally surrounded by people who could buy anything they wanted … and the other half of the day I’m with children who literally don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. That kind of sparked something in me.”
Dupré decided to create her own space in an effort to expand her level of fitness expertise to a more diverse group of people.
“As a young Black woman I was like, my community needs this so much more,” Dupré said. “How can I bring this level of expertise to them? I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to serve more people and in a more diverse situation and that’s how I started.”
It was about a year later that Dupré said she realized she had actually created “a business.”
“No one else was doing what we were doing in the city,” she said. “We literally are a full-service health and wellness company. We do a lot of on-site programming and we do fitness and wellness events.”
Three years after launching her company, WWL-TV called with an offer to join its morning show after seeing the positive impact Dupré was making in the community.
As part of the morning show, Dupré has to be on set for the 4:30 a.m. start of the broadcast. She also hosts a weekly fitness segment on WWL called “Workout Wednesday” with Mackie Shilstone.
“We bicker like brother and sister,” said Dupré about her on-set interactions with Shilstone. “But it’s very informative because it’s an expertise of ours.”
Being on television has also allowed her to expand her fitness platform and further share the importance of health and wellness, Dupré said.
“It’s brought me so many opportunities, just the amount of people that I’m able to reach,” she said. “It’s just kind of been the best of both worlds.”
Her advice to students, Dupré said, is to try to align your passions with action.
“I always tell people to find what you’re passionate about and then figure out how to make money from it,” Dupré said. “Take a leap of faith.”