Jessica Marcarelli

Jessica Marcarelli

Jessica Marcarelli is a dedicated health and fitness professional who is passionate about helping others make movement a part of life. Jessica is the Director of Corporate Health Initiatives at the Downtown Miami YMCA where she oversees the fitness program and teaches a variety of group fitness classes. She is active in the Miami fitness community where you can find her jumping into classes around town, checking out the latest STAY FIT 305 events, or planning ones of her own!

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5 Running Tips to Stay on Pace While Live Races are Still on Pause

This post is powered by the Downtown Miami YMCA

Hey runners, I see you. I know you are bummed that live running races have been canceled. If things weren't already stressful enough, you might be struggling with the motivation to stick with your training - ask Ally Robinson, founder of Something Runderful and the new Downtown Miami YMCA Running Coach. As an athlete, certified personal trainer, and running coach, she gets it.

“We thrive on goals and finish lines,” says Robinson, “I know it's frustrating, but you can switch your mindset to think how much more time you have to plan, prep, and train for your next race. Utilize this time to become the strongest, fastest, and best version of yourself so when the next live event comes around ... you'll be ready to crush it!”

Here’s Ally’s list of how to stay motivated and focused on your fitness while live races are on pause:

1. Run a virtual race - Live races might not be happening, but the Miami Marathon has gone virtual. So put on your running shoes, grab your Camelbak, and recruit a couple of close friends or family members to cheer you on as you conquer 26.2 miles (without the crowds of people).

2. Switch it up - Start to add different types of running workouts and drills to your weekly routine. Include intervals, fartleks, hill repeats, stair sprint, progression runs, long runs, and recovery runs. Broaden your running skills and make yourself a more rounded athlete.

3. Set a new PR (personal record) - Take this time to improve your speed. Focus on running your fastest 5k or 10k. Once live events can happen again, you'll be flying to the finish line.

4. Incorporate strength training - Adding just a couple of days of resistance or strength training will prevent injury, aid with weight loss, build lean muscle, and make you a stronger runner.

5. Join a running program – There’s nothing like having a coach to hold you accountable. Look for a run training program to keep you motivated on track toward your goals.

Looking for a program to join? The Downtown Miami YMCA is kicking off an all-levels, 8-week running program on January 23rd to help you get on the road to your best 5k. It will include socially-distanced, small group training along with a personalized training plan and one-on-one run coaching sessions. Open to YMCA members and non-members!

There are so many more benefits to running than just getting a medal at the end of a race. Exercise in general has been proven to boost your immune system, and there has been no better time to prioritize your health. So keep on running!

Live races may be paused but the Downtown Miami YMCA Running Coach, Ally Robinson, shares five ways you can stay motivated and focused.

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Dry January

Ask Yourself This Question For Long-Term Success with Dry January

This post is powered by the Downtown Miami YMCA

In a 2021 world, the tried-and-true New Year’s resolutions seem to hit a little different. As you reflect on the past 365 days and look to an uncertain start to 2021, there’s no better time to decide what you’re ready to leave behind and how you want to move into the New Year. While some people took the COVID-19 quarantine as an opportunity to better their health, the stress, loss, anxiety and grief that affected us all didn’t always lead to the same result.

So, where do you start?

In a world full of quick fixes and fad diets, Jessica Santiago, Downtown Miami YMCA Healthy Lifestyle Specialist & Trainer, is far too familiar with these conversations. In addition to being a group exercise instructor, personal trainer, and wellness coach, Jessica has over 15 years of experience in the food and beverage hospitality industry. One resolution she has seen time and time again? Dry January.

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Dry January dates back to January 2013, Alcohol Change UK kicked off their first campaign with 4,000 participants. Fast forward seven years later, 100,000 participants signed up and 4 million took part in January 2020. The intent behind the campaign was created with the best of intentions, urging people to abstain from alcohol for a month to reset after the holidays. Although the big question of the matter is “can a month alcohol-free really make a difference long-term?”

“You might notice better sleep, an increase of energy, more money in your pocket, the list goes on, but in 31 days you will not improve your overall health outcome,” Santiago says. “With the likes of fad diets, cleanses, and detoxes you can’t expect to figure out what works best for your body if you aren’t educating yourself first to a healthy, balanced, mindful lifestyle.”

“My challenge for you, instead of going from all to nothing in a Dry January challenge, look at your current lifestyle,” says Santiago. She encourages you to ask yourself questions such as, “Do I have a healthy relationship with alcohol, my body, with food, my work/home life balance? What can I do to improve it?”

Jessica recommends to start by creating SMART goals for the next 30/60/90 days and even as far as six months and one year goals. “Once you experience your first few wins, the longevity of your health should outweigh any instant gratification because you know where you started, how hard you worked to get there. Building a strong foundation for a healthy, balanced lifestyle takes time, more than the month ofJanuary.”

Wellness doesn’t have to end after 30 days. Limiting your potential is the first mistake we make when evaluating our goals and taking on new challenges. Rewrite the conversation, see how far it takes you.

Need help setting SMART goals? Every new member at the Downtown Miami YMCA receives a complimentary Healthy Living Orientation to assess your current body composition and movement patterns to help you create a personalized pathway to lasting change.

For more information, visit

Dry January dates back to January 2013, Alcohol Change UK kicked off their first campaign with 4,000 participants. Fast forward seven years later, 100,000 participants signed up and 4 million took part in January 2020, and it could grow in 2021.