On Sunday afternoons, local athletes Stu Babin and Stephanie McNabb talk to their acquaintances and friends in the Bayou Region fitness scene. Huddled around just a shotgun mic and smartphone on the top floor of a Houma dentistry, the two and their guests discuss health, their journeys, what’s going on around town and more.
The setup and idea for the podcast “The Southdown Collective” might seem simple to some, yet it fills a growing need in the Houma-Thibodaux area. From running to cycling to CrossFit and other types of athletics, the local enthusiasm for such events continues to heighten as their participation does too.
Instead of trying to keep up with each racing team’s or any other type of fitness group’s social media feed, there’s now a “one-stop-shop” for local residents with an active lifestyle and those looking to begin one.
“There are so many different groups locally, and it’s crazy because now we have all this information, social media and stuff like that. You would think it would be pretty easy, but I find it’s becoming more difficult because there’s just so many of them,” Stu says. “So the whole idea of putting the podcast together was to try to have a one-stop-shop where we would kind of touch on all these different groups.”
“The groups are inviting. It doesn’t matter where your skill level is or what pace you’re at – they want you to come and join them,” the Houma native continues. “So we thought it’d be good to interview different people and talk about different groups and then try to give them exposure so people can learn about them.”
Highly respected and well known in the Houma-Thibodaux fitness community, the co-hosts belong to several local sports groups.
“It’s family. It’s friendship,” shares Stephanie, who is also a member of the Gator Racing – a long-distance running club based out of Thibodaux. “Through your community groups you build friendships and you all hold each other accountable.”
With only seven published episodes by press time, the Southdown Collective has interviewed Gator Racing and Houma’s CrossFit HomeBrew as well as some of the area’s other most accomplished, determined athletes.
“We’re not going to shy away from other neighboring cities, but there’s just so much talent and there’s so much going on here. We’re just trying to hone in on that,” says Stu, just after speaking with Wally Naquin, a Marine veteran and successful ultrarunner. ”We have a tentative list of people to interview, but it’s unlimited really because we have so many great athletes locally.”
One of the noteworthy athletes the two have interviewed is Dr. Stephen Morgan, who opens up the doors of his dental practice, Houma Family Dental, for them to record the podcast. A fitness enthusiast, Dr. Stephen ran his first marathon when he was just 11 years old.
Even before they interviewed him for the podcast, Dr. Stephen shares, he had believed in the idea of supporting the local fitness community in any way possible. “So if I happen to have a venue to where it can be done – then excellent,” says Dr. Stephen.
“[Houma Family Dental] is a great environment, and he was adamant from the beginning about having a place that we could be consistent and the acoustics would be right,” Stu adds. “It’s really helpful.”
The podcast gives out event results, announces upcoming ones and talks to dedicated fitness fanatics from the area. But the hosts also highlight how it’s a gateway for newcomers.
“We want to make it marketable to somebody that’s just starting out,” Stu says. “It’s a little intimidating just to kind of go up to a group. But maybe if you learn about them a little bit or you hear an interview with somebody on the podcast, then you’re maybe a little bit more comfortable approaching them and saying, ‘Hey, can I join you guys?’”
“When we post episodes on Facebook or Instagram, we always try to put links to any of the groups or the events that are coming up so that people have easy access to them,” Stephanie adds. “But honestly, if anyone is interested in anything fitness, they’re welcome to reach out to me or Stu. If I don’t know, I’ll figure it out and get them in the right direction.”
Episodes of “The Southdown Collective” are released every Wednesday and can be found on all major podcast platforms for free.
To keep up with the podcast, follow its Instagram (www.instagram.com/southdown.collective/) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/southdowncollective) pages.
“Ultimately we want to become a presence, like a fitness news source, I guess you could say, in the community,” says Stu before noting the podcast’s mission statement and how each episode begins: “The purpose of this podcast is to inform and unite local athletes to training, groups, events, and opportunities in the Houma-Thibodaux, Bayou Region.” POV