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Rap Star Nelly: Fitness, Fatherhood, and a Health Foundation

How the chart-topping musician stays healthy while balancing career, family, and advocating for bone marrow donations.

You're now 36. With so much to do, how do you stay fit?

I came up in sports, so being active -- the physical aspect of things -- it's always been there for me. As you get older, you want the odds in your favor, so you watch what you eat and work out a lot more. You start realizing the weight hangs around longer. The older you get, the more self-conscious you should get about your health.

Do you have a regular workout?

If I'm not in album-making mode, I work out five times a week. In album mode, it's rough finding the time. But I always play basketball. Basketball is the best for cardio. It's better than a treadmill, better than running. It's about fun and cardio and hooping with the boys. You release stress; you channel your stress into the game.

What's your best health habit?

My best health habit is going to the gym, even when there are a million excuses not to go.

What's your worst health habit?

My eating habits. I can get away with a lot because I've been blessed with a great metabolism. As a kid, I was skinny. I only got large from lifting weights. I know it gets harder to keep off the weight as you get older, but as a child I always needed to gain weight.

Name one of your guilty pleasures.

Waking up at 3 a.m. and eating chocolate mousse and ice cream.

You have two kids, Chanell Haynes, 17, and Cornell Haynes, III, 12. What has being a father taught you?

It's taught me to appreciate smaller, everyday pleasures, like just hanging out with them. I know they like my success, but there's a bitter side to it, too, because I'm not there as much as they want me to be.

And what are some important lessons you have tried to teach them?

You try to teach them to respect themselves and respect others. You stress the importance of education. I don't know if they have learned that. You can say it to them, but you can't know if they have learned it. Time will tell.

In the past year, you've released a hit single, a new record, an exercise video -- part of the Celebrity Sweats series -- and you've got your own clothing line, Apple Bottoms. Do you ever have time to relax?

I don't look for down time. I don't take that many vacations. Maybe I should. But I have only got so much time. It's hard to slow down when there are always new dreams, new options.

What would you say to someone who is on the fence about signing up for the bone marrow donor registry?

Any time you help people it's a beautiful thing, but people have to want to help, you have to have it in your heart to help.

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