Radical or effective parenting? Controversial Naples couple get grilled by ‘Dr. Phil’

Joy Brown calls out instruction during the warm-up portion of the first day of bootcamp Friday evening at Vineyards Community Park in North Naples. 'Don't take anything personal,' Brown says as she gives instruction before the start of camp. Brown runs Naples Fitness Bootcamp with her husband Demarcus 'Sarge' Brown in Naples. The bootcamp lasts four weeks at four different times. Lexey Swall/Staff

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Joy Brown calls out instruction during the warm-up portion of the first day of bootcamp Friday evening at Vineyards Community Park in North Naples. "Don't take anything personal," Brown says as she gives instruction before the start of camp. Brown runs Naples Fitness Bootcamp with her husband Demarcus "Sarge" Brown in Naples. The bootcamp lasts four weeks at four different times. Lexey Swall/Staff

Naples couple does ‘Wife Swap’

Fitness instructors Joy & Demarcus Brown go ...

— The Naples couple first shocked viewers on an episode of “Wipe Swap” a couple of years ago. Now the founders of Naples Fitness Boot Camp have been asked to explain what some might call radical parenting by Phil McGraw, otherwise known as Dr. Phil.

His questions for them: Have Demarcus “Sarge” and Joy Brown found the key to effective parenting or have their militant training methods finally gone too far? Their extreme approach to child-rearing includes a list of 50 rules and a strict diet of mostly raw foods.

The couple reveals their physical punishment among other topics on a jaw dropping episode of the CBS nationally-syndicated “Dr. Phil” TV show. Sarge and Joy Brown will appear on a previously taped episode, titled “Radical Parenting” this Friday at 5 p.m.

Dr. Phil delved into Joy and Sarge’s nutrition plan, fitness regimen and rigid discipline. The endless list of rules and three step warning system roused gasps from the audience.

“The first time the children misbehave they are warned, the second time they must write 150 times “I will not do ..” and the third time they are spanked,” Joy Brown said.

“The (Dr. Phil) show was interested in what the kids eat, how the kids exercise, our rules, chores and even games,” she said following the show’s taping.

The audience was audibly shocked when Sarge explained to the crowd, “We play a card game. If you lose, you’re doing pushups. Sometimes you’re going to win, sometimes you’re going to lose and sometimes there is a price you have to pay for that loss.”

The children aren’t allowed to read certain books, such as the Harry Potter series, play with friends outside of school or go to the movies. Dr. Phil advised the Browns to maintain balance.

“Dr. Phil talked about balancing discipline and education. We as parents are educating them as opposed to the world educating them,” Joy Brown said.

Joy and Sarge are devout Christians and express concern over allowing their children to socialize with other families who don’t share their values.

“The kids aren’t allowed to just go off and hang out with other kids,” said Joy. After school, the children, ages 8 and 11, do their homework and chores. “Each kid has a list of chores and they do the same things that I do, wash the windows, clean the kitchen, dust, sweep, mop, vacuum and do laundry.”

Physical fitness is a priority and is incorporated in their daily activities. For example, the children must run an obstacle course in the backyard after school. “The way we train our clients is the exact same way we train ourselves,” Joy Brown said.

Successful examples of their own training methods, Sarge can do 75 pushups in a minute and Joy has run a 6-minute mile.

The entire family adheres to a stringent four meals a day diet of primarily raw food. The diet is Joy’s own creation and can be found in her new book, “R3 Diet.” Previously a sugar addict, Joy admits to having eaten a whole box of Krispy Kreme donuts in one day. After seven years of research and testing, Joy guarantees that her diet will lead to successful weight loss.

This is not the first time the Brown family’s extreme lifestyle has been showcased on TV. In 2009, the family appeared in a highly controversial episode of the CBS series “Wife Swap.” In the episode, Joy swapped homes with the Holland family where bacon is a staple and exercise non-existent. The conflict in each household was instantaneous. Sarge took viewer criticism when he threw his son’s mattress out the door because it was improperly made. The episode included an infamous scene of Joy using a baseball bat to demolish the Holland family’s unhealthy food and culminated with the youngest boy, 9-year-old “King Curtis” running away, vowing not to return until Joy left. The ensuing public debate regarding Joy and Sarge’s parenting style swept across Internet blogs and catapulted the episode into one of the most popular of the “Wife Swap” series.

The Browns believe that their parenting style is a mix of love and boot camp style training but they didn’t begin that way. When the children were younger, Joy was seriously depressed. She recovered from her depression and found purpose when she literally dreamt of exercising outdoors. Although Sarge was serving in the Army in Iraq, Joy opened her first boot camp with a mission to promote healthy nutrition and fitness in 2005. Since then the family has built their lives and business around their philosophy of “Four pillars: food, fitness, supplement and mindset.”

The couple is opening R3 Health Club, their first indoor/outdoor club in October. The club will offer raw cooking classes, nutritional education and a juice bar in addition to fitness classes. R3 Health Club will be located at 843 Myrtle Terrace, near the corner of Pine Ridge Road and U.S. 41.

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