Yvette Murray

Yvette Murray

Yvette is a native Floridian. She holds a degree in sociology from Florida International University. Her passion for writing led her to a career as a grant writer in the higher education, non-profit, and corporate sectors. Yvette is an avid fitness and health enthusiast and in her spare time enjoys blogging, spending time with family, and traveling.

The Babicka Family
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How One South Florida Family Incorporates Their Love for Family, Fitness, and Philanthropy

It’s been quite a year to say the least and for many of us, we learned the importance and value of relationships, good health, and community.  The Babicka family has been a driving force in South Florida, committed to supporting and maintaining these three pillars, especially during the past year.  

Jonathan Babicka, Executive Director of The Little Lighthouse Foundation, has dedicated his life to helping underserved children and families through various programs and several partnerships with local organizations and facilities. As a longtime fitness enthusiast, he has incorporated a holistic approach to many of the programs offered through the Foundation. This includes Mindful Hour, a meditation and yoga class, the soccer program Just for Kicks, Fit Club, a youth-inspired fitness program, and Move and Groove dance classes. For the past 11 years, The Little Lighthouse Foundation has been nominated as one of the top volunteer organizations in South Florida.

Babicka took his passion for fitness outdoors where he filmed beach workouts and posted them under the name Babeachka on social media. His wife Missy and their two children often joined in as well as other special guests. These videos served as an inspiration and message for families, friends, and followers on the importance of health and wellness while spending quality time in nature with the ones you love. 

At the onset of mandatory shutdowns due to the pandemic last year, Babicka and the staff at Little Lighthouse seamlessly transitioned most of their current programs as well as created new ones virtually in order to continue serving its children and families. They began bringing people together from the community and beyond through their Do Good Feel Good Instagram live programming which takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m.  Since the end of March 2020, Jonathan and the Foundation have aired over 200 virtual programs for their 32 partner facilities and the South Florida community all from his home.  

The Babickas' all-encompassing family approach to living a healthy lifestyle through fitness, mindfulness, and service is driven by Jonathan’s belief that anything is possible through the support and power of community.  To learn more about Jonathan and The Little Lighthouse Foundation, please visit

It’s been quite a year to say the least and for many of us, we learned the importance and value of relationships, good health, and community. The Babicka family has been a driving force in South Florida, committed to supporting and maintaining these three pillars, especially during the past year.

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barre3 Boca Raton

Setting The Barre for Total Body Fitness is barre3 in Boca Raton

Barre workouts have been around since the late 1950s as a way for ballerinas to cross-train. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that it gained popularity in the fitness industry.  This dance-inspired, low-impact, high-intensity workout has evolved since then to include elements of yoga and Pilates. It has become quite the popular total body practice for people of all ages.  Now barre3 has made its way to South Florida, located at 5030 Champion Boulevard in Boca Raton.

The all-female-owned franchise was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2008 and now has 160 studios spanning across the U.S., including Florida with locations in Tampa, Orlando, and Boca Raton.  The company was founded on the premise of designing classes that would increase strength, reduce stress, improve balance, and ensure a mind/body connection. 

Rachel Engstrom, Boca Raton’s studio owner, always had a passion for fitness, but it wasn't until she found barre3 that she realized it was more than just a great workout. She first discovered barre3 while living in Washington DC and dreamed of owning her own studio. When she moved to South Florida in 2018 she realized how much she missed barre3 and the feeling that it brought her, so she decided to open the first studio in South Florida bringing this new approach to group fitness, a great full-body workout, and the barre3 community to Boca.

Her studio offers 60-minute classes by highly-trained instructors. Classes involve the use of small balls, resistance bands, and hand weights throughout the class, and focus on proper alignment with a blend of cardio, strength training, flexibility, balance, and core conditioning. Don’t let the word low-impact fool you. By the end of this hour-long class, you will be drenched in sweat after targeting the hips, glutes, abs, and arms. 

Classes are also designed to include modified versions for each move allowing people of every fitness level to participate and embark on their own fitness journey.  This holistic approach is truly felt throughout the class as the instructor guides you through each phase. You can expect some classic dance moves such as plies and static stretches combined with some small-range, isometric movements that will have your muscles shaking and feeling the burn.  Classes end on the mat for some core work and finally a yoga-inspired cool-down for mindful restoration. 

The studio livestreams all of their classes and also offers an on demand library. Currently, the specials for new clients are first class $10, 3 classes for $49 and 2 weeks unlimited for $59.

For more information visit or find them on Instagram at @barre3bocaraton.

Barre workouts have been around since the late 1950s as a way for ballerinas to cross-train. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that it gained popularity in the fitness industry. This dance-inspired, low-impact, high-intensity workout has evolved since then to include elements of yoga and Pilates. It has become quite the popular total body practice for people of all ages. Now barre3 has made its way to South Florida, located at 5030 Champion Boulevard in Boca Raton.

Gina Tolon South Florida Fitness

Gina Tolon Will Get You Fit Through Personal Empowerment

It’s safe to say that many of us at some point in our lives have dreamed of becoming our own bosses, doing what we love, setting our own hours, and building an independent future, but it’s a risk that most won’t take.  However, one South Floridian took that leap of faith. 

Two years ago, Gina Tolon was a single mother of two working at a local company as a sales statistician and reporting analyst. Her dream was to start a business surrounding the fitness industry. Raised by her grandmother, who was an avid fitness enthusiast, Tolon was always active and attended the gym with her grandmother on a regular basis. It was the foundation that would later motivate Tolon to turn her dreams into a reality.

Following the birth of her second child, Tolon decided to go back to school at Florida International University to earn her degree in International Business & Management. Despite  being a full-time mom and student, she still managed to find time to go to the gym, with kids in tow, just like her grandmother had taken her years earlier. It was there that she became friends with a group of women there who always made it a point to mention to Tolon how motivating she was and encouraged her to become a personal trainer.

Tolon’s son began playing little league football and she was left with little to no time to go to the gym so she started exercising at the park during her son’s practice in order to best maximize her time and maintain her fitness routine.  Each week, she would see the other moms just sitting around watching their kids play so she decided to ask them if any of them wanted to join her. A few accepted the invitation and soon she was leading a small group of women in a weekly exercise program.  

Soon after, she was approached by other people at the park who were curious as to what her training involved.  The feedback was incredibly positive with the main praise being how motivating Tolon was and how great it felt to be empowered by other women who were striving for the same goal of getting back into shape.

Tolon eventually received her certification in personal training and CPR. She began doing personal training in local gyms.  Within the initial group of women who started their journey with Tolon at the park, one lost 120 lbs in 10 months, and her testimony and praise through word of mouth quickly spread among friends and family and it was then that FIT with Ms. Gina was born.  When she came up with the name FIT with Ms. Gina, the word FIT became an acronym for what she feels are the key factors in achieving your fitness goals. 

  • Focused In Thoughts
  • Focused In Training
  • Focused In Transformation

Tolon eventually was able to leave her 9-5 and pursue her lifelong dream to help others achieve their fitness goals.  She continued to do personal training at the gym as well as private, at-home training.  Shortly after COVID-19 hit, the landscape of the fitness industry changed dramatically, forcing studios and gyms to close their doors. This didn’t stop Tolon. She quickly shifted focus on how to best serve her clients while in quarantine.  She was also receiving support from her clients, who by then had become like family and developed a very special bond not only with Tolon but among themselves.  They believed that Tolon needed to continue to empower and motivate not only them but other women as well, despite the quarantine and social distance restrictions.

Prior to the pandemic, Tolon had developed a 21-Day Online Challenge in order to expand her clientele. She had clients from Detroit all the way to Amsterdam.  During COVID she was able to broaden the already popular program by incorporating Live Virtual Trainings.  She also started her own line of activewear and fitness accessories.  She has created an environment of encouragement, body positivity, and mindfulness and an authentic connection with her clients, or family as she calls them.

Although Tolon serves those from all walks of life, she has helped to transform the lives of hundreds of women in South Florida throughout her career and now she’s able to reach women worldwide. Tolon has had her share of life struggles and knows how difficult it can be to overcome life’s challenges. Women often get lost in the day-to-day responsibilities of motherhood, marriage, career, etc., and neglect the importance of self-care and personal mind and body restoration. Her approach to getting back to your best self is through healing the mind, body, and soul.  She sends daily texts with words of affirmation to her clients and genuinely cares about their personal wellbeing.

Tolon is also dedicated to giving back to her community. She implemented a volunteer-based Fitness & Wellness Program for survivors of domestic violence at the Women In Distress Shelter of Broward County.  Having experienced abuse and overcoming that chapter of her life, she finds it both essential and rewarding to work with these ladies and share her own testimony. Her goal is to help survivors of domestic violence get back to focusing on healing and caring for themselves by teaching them how to live healthier, happier, and active lives. She's working on building a community of mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually strong FIT individuals. 

To find about more about Tolon, visit

Two years ago, Gina Tolon was a single mother of two working at a local company as a sales statistician and reporting analyst. Her dream was to start a business surrounding the fitness industry. Raised by her grandmother, who was an avid fitness enthusiast, Tolon was always active and attended the gym with her grandmother on a regular basis. It was the foundation that would later motivate Tolon to turn her dreams into a reality.

Float Plus West Palm Beach

The Sensory Deprivation at Float Plus in West Palm is a Must-Try

There are so many ways in which we try to de-stress and unplug from the world: meditation, long walks, exercise, breathing techniques; however, for some, including myself, it’s difficult to completely “shut the brain off” despite these attempts.

Like the body, the brain needs to REST, or Restricted Environmental Stimulus Therapy that is. This form of therapy involves taking away as many stimuli as possible and in this particular case through floating.

Enter Float Plus - located in West Palm Beach, you can experience REST via float tanks that are filled with over a thousand pounds of magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt. The salinity is as dense as the Dead Sea’s allowing the body to effortlessly float. The float tanks are filled with approximately ten inches of water and the water temperature is equivalent to one’s skin’s surface, 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit, making you feel weightless and one with the water. This was my first floating experience and I was looking forward to the deprivation of stimuli for a change and curious about its overall effectiveness.

I was given earplugs and instructions on how to utilize the controls for lighting and music. Once you step inside the tank and close the lid, the healing begins. Initially, my senses were firing off and in overdrive. I was trying to get used to the water and its buoyancy while acclimating to the fact that I was about to experience no external stimuli, sans clothing. Once I shut off the music and lights, I allowed myself to take in my surroundings. After about 15 minutes, I settled into a deeply relaxed state, floating in complete darkness, silence, and utter stillness which brought me to the point where I could hear my own heart beating. The hour went by way too fast.

Following my session, I sat with owner and Maryland native Philip Nuttle to discuss what led him to open Float Plus. A former USTA tennis player, Nuttle was well aware of the importance of restorative conditioning. When he relocated to South Florida, his longtime, childhood friend and ultra-marathon runner came to visit. During one of his visits, he asked Nuttle where the closest floating place was as he needed to go in preparation for an upcoming race. Nuttle had no idea what he was talking about.  They eventually found one in Deerfield Beach and from there, Float Plus was born.

Nuttle felt this was the type of place residents in Palm Beach needed to find an escape from the outside world. He flew to California to do some research on various floating tanks, check out floating places in the California area to gather ideas from a logistical and operation standpoint, and chat with owners to obtain their perspective and guidance. He brought those ideas home and on this fall, Float Plus held its grand opening.

Nuttle expressed that floating provides several modalities that one can tap into such as visualization, in which athletes use in preparation for a big game or competition.  On a physical level, floating produces positive hormonal shifts such as increasing serotonin levels and decreasing the production of cortisol as well as improve overall sleep quality, skin condition, mood enhancement, and the list goes on. Clinical studies have also shown that floating helps those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The majority of Nuttle’s clientele consists of women, veterans, yogis, athletes, first responders, and corporate leaders. Many utilize floating to prepare for a game, a big presentation, life events, or to purely escape the everyday stressors of life. Professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors Steph Curry has proclaimed to be an avid floater and raved how floatation therapy helps him with recovery, long road trips, and visualization.

Float Plus also has a sound therapy room, a sauna, and private showers for an all-around restorative experience. It is also is the only floating business that offers 45-minute float sessions rather than the typical hour, and an open float for those not comfortable being fully enclosed in a tank. To learn more about the benefits of floating, visit their website,

At Float Plus, located in West Palm Beach, you can experience REST via float tanks that are filled with over a thousand pounds of magnesium sulfate, also known as Epsom salt. The salinity is as dense as the Dead Sea’s allowing the body to effortlessly float. The float tanks are filled with approximately ten inches of water and the water temperature is equivalent to one’s skin’s surface, 93.5 degrees Fahrenheit, making you feel weightless and one with the water. This was my first floating experience and I was looking forward to the deprivation of stimuli for a change and curious about its overall effectiveness.

Mind.Body.1 Deerfield Beach FL

Mind Over Muscle is the Key to Cognitive Conditioning

Athletes, trainers, and avid fitness enthusiasts are aware of the importance of maintaining a consistent exercise routine and healthy diet to achieve optimum levels of performance, nutrition, and physical aesthetics.  Yet many leave out a key part of the body that ultimately controls how well we can sustain our fitness goals and overall well being in the long term, our brain. 

Although anatomically speaking, the brain isn’t really a muscle, as it’s mostly made up of gray and white matter, one should treat and train it as if it was one.  Science has proven that much like the muscles of the body, lack of brain exercise leads to loss of strength, size, and endurance. 

Former athlete Nicholas Davenport, also known on social media as “Mr. Mental Muscle”, of Mind.Body.1, was a track and field star throughout middle school, high school, and college. However, something that set him apart from other student-athletes growing up was his thirst for knowledge. His curiosity in the ways science could affect his performance in athletics was something that only expanded over time.  Science fair projects consisted of utilizing his friends as test subjects for experiments involving cognitive and physical exercises.  

Davenport attended Bethune-Cookman where after several changes in majors, he realized his interest continued to mainly focus on behavioral science as he knew this was the key to building the mind and body connection and he eventually earned a degree in Psychology.  Davenport later earned a Master’s degree in Sports Psychology from the California University of PA.

In 2015, Davenport took a job at an addiction center where he had the opportunity to put forth some of his methodologies of cognitive conditioning by working with patient groups on drills that included combining physical exertion with mental stimulation and that’s how Mind.Body.1 was born. Today he works with top professional athletes, military and police forces, corporations, and schools by sharing his integrative and innovative methods for achieving optimum brain health and overall high performance. 

Davenport stresses his approach reveals that it’s not a matter of speed, agility, or strength that determines one’s level of peak performance but rather consistency and focus especially under pressure and the brain is the key to achieving these main components. For example, in certain sports, some athletes have to make split-second decisions that could affect the outcome of their performance or even safety.  This requires utilizing the part of the brain that requires problem-solving, also used for mathematics, cryptograms, and chess to name a few, to consider various solutions. Therefore, the methods used at Mind.Body.1 include simultaneous drills that involve vision and memory skills mixed with physical agility and endurance. 

Mind.Body.1 methods can be widely used not only for high-level athletic performance, but through education within the school and corporate settings, addiction and recovery groups, the active aging population, and those suffering from neurocognitive impairments. The psychological benefits have also proven to reduce anxiety and increase overall focus. This is the perfect program for anyone looking to improve their overall state of mental and physical health for years to come.

To learn more about Mind.Body.1 visit

Athletes, trainers, and avid fitness enthusiasts are aware of the importance of maintaining a consistent exercise routine and healthy diet to achieve optimum levels of performance, nutrition, and physical aesthetics. Yet many leave out a key part of the body that ultimately controls how well we can sustain our fitness goals and overall wellbeing in the long term, our brain. 


How One Olympic Hopeful Prepares for the Ice in Sunny South Florida

Despite the Summer Olympics being postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, the training must go on for those preparing for next summer’s rescheduled Games, as well as those with their eyes set on the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. One local South Floridian is doing just that.

Hollywood native Jared Firestone has been an athlete all his life. He was a star sprinter in both high school and college, winning the District 2A-15 title in 2008 while at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, before heading to Tulane University to continue his career until he graduated in 2012.

In 2014, having retired from competitive sports and during his first year of law school, Jared suffered a mini-stroke. It was during that time he discovered the sport of skeleton while watching the Winter Olympics from his hospital bed. During his two-month recovery, doctors weren’t sure if Jared would ever be able to exercise at all, let alone play sports competitively. It was then that Jared vowed if he was cleared, he would get back to his love for athletics and compete at a high level. After two anxiety-filled months, doctors told Jared he could finally resume physical activity.

Firestone went on to attend Team USA’s Bobsled/Skeleton combine event where athletes are required to test their skills.  In 2015, Jared was invited to Lake Placid’s Sliding School in New York and by 2016 was sliding competitively.  For three seasons he was part of Team USA’s Developmental Program, until 2019 when he decided to fulfill a life-long dream of representing Israel at the Olympics. Once he successfully attained his Israeli citizenship, Jared officially joined the Israel Skeleton National Team.

The Israeli Olympic Bobsled & Skeleton Federation was established in 2004 and had its first Olympian compete in 2018.  David Greaves, President of Bobsleigh Skeleton Israel feels they have built a strong team of highly-competitive and committed athletes going into the 2022 Olympic games and hope to continue the tradition. Much like the unexpected and now all-too-familiar Jamaican bobsled team “Cool Runnings”, Israel’s bobsled athletes refer themselves as the “Frozen Chosen”. 

During the 2019/2020 season, Jared broke multiple Israeli Team records and had impressive finishes in the International Skeleton Rankings, finishing 76th in the world, second amongst rookie sliders competing on the international level. He earned the nickname “The Jewish Jet” from other athletes competing on tour with him.

Skeleton, perhaps considered the lesser-known among its more famous counterparts, bobsled, and luge, is an exhilarating sport requiring a combination of strength and speed to push the sled as fast as possible before launching onto it, and split-second decision making and precision in navigating the rest of the mile-long track head-first. Sliders experience up to 5Gs of force and reach speeds of up to 85mph with no built-in steering mechanism or brakes and their chins just centimeters off the ice. So how does a skeleton athlete from Florida prepare for competition for a winter sport during the offseason?

By April, once the ice has melted, most skeleton athletes spend their summer training improving their push-start. This training involves a combination of sprints, weight lifting, and plyometrics. During the week, Jared’s schedule consists of sprint work two to three times a week at a local track, followed by weight lifting later in the day. Typically the best athletes in this sport are good sprinters with a background in Track & Field, hence Firestone’s easy transition from the track to the ice. 

As far as improving their ability to drive the sled, many athletes like Jared get creative and incorporate mental training as part of their regimen. Jared spends hours each week memorizing new tracks, watching footage from old races, and visualizing sliding down the track, taking the “I can do it with my eyes closed” reference literally. However, in a sport like skeleton, not everything goes as visualized. At 85 mph, one must be ready to make quick decisions, while also remaining calm and focused. To improve these skills, Jared works with Nicholas Davenport of Mind.Body.1 in Deerfield Beach. Davenport is a cognitive training coach who utilizes integrative methods involving physical and mental exercises in order to achieve optimal high performance.

In November, Jared will be traveling to Lake Placid, New York, host of the 1980 Olympics, to begin his winter training on the ice. You can follow his journey to Beijing 2022 at

The training must go on for those like local Floridian Jared Firestone with their eyes set on the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.


Tapping Into the Flow State: Pushing Beyond Self-Limitation with Mike Rosenfeld

We’ve all had those days where your heart and head are just not into it. Whether you’re working, exercising, competitively training, or just living the day-to-day, the struggle to achieve or maintain focus seems impossible, especially during these difficult times. Even the greatest athletes have made known their battles and the methods they’ve used to overcome and take their drive, competitiveness, and performance to the next level.

One such person, who works with some of the world’s top athletes in helping them tap into what scientists call the flow state, shares his methods. Mike Rosenfeld is a Peak Performance mental strength Coach and Breathwork Therapist who works with high-performance athletes, artists, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies providing them with effective tools and strategies essential to achieve high-level success.

Earlier this year, Rosenfeld was featured as a high-performance expert alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Marshall Falk, and Mike Ditka in ​Beyond the Game​, a documentary benefitting athlete education and establishing a legacy of well-being and financial literacy in the sports world. Other accolades include a guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey radio show where he was interviewed by Maya Angelou, Lifetime Network’s The Balance Act, and recognition as a “Revolutionary Change Maker” by Miami’s Sustanatopia, an award given to young social entrepreneurs working to create a positive impact locally and globally.

So what is a Flow State? It is an optimal state of consciousness when we feel our best, think our best, and perform our best.  For many years, we’ve seen elite athletes switch to a higher gear and take over a game. We’ve seen executives able to think, speak, and negotiate with ease and grace.  What occurs in the mind and body that allows one to rise to the next level? Science now confirms it as Transient Hypofrontality (THF), the temporary down-regulation of the prefrontal cortex. THF causes the inner critic and the voice of doubt to be silenced, allowing other parts and functions to take over.

Rosenfeld's personalized method, founded on Positive Psychology, Neuroscience, and the Psychology of Flow States uses four channels to connect you to your strongest self and help you develop a razor-sharp, calm focus where confidence is overwhelmed with certainty and the body and mind effortlessly adapt to any situation making everything around you stronger.

How does one access Flow State?  According to Rosenfeld, Flow can only be possible when internal and external conditions are met. He explains there are four channels to access Flow State: (1) the Five Senses, (2) Thoughts and Perspectives, (3) Environment and social conditions, and (4) Vagal flow alignment.

There are 4 distinct phases in Flow State:

1. Flow Build-up Phase

  • Train hard and push limits
  • Leads to stress
  • Releases cortisol

2. Flow Gain Phase

  • Takes the mind off the problem
  • Relaxes the brain so the subconscious takes over
  • Alpha levels around 8-12 hertz
  • State of energized calm

3. Flow Peak Phase

  • Super-human experience
  • Creativity takes over
  • Feels like you can do anything
  • Alpha Theta order at 7-8 hertz
  • Between the conscious and subconscious mind

4. Flow Transition Phase

  • Flow of the afterglow
  • Flow state cannot be forced
  • You wouldn’t know you were in flow if you intensely remained in that state all the time

Rosenfeld is currently working with boxings’ super welterweight world champion, Jeison Rosario. Rosario’s main focus is building every part of his game: technique, strategy, physical prowess, and mindset, which is where Rosenfeld steps in. As Rosario prepares to unify the world championship on September 26th against Jermell Charlo, they are working together to ensure all aspects of his training are aligned.

To learn more about the methods of achieving the Flow State, visit:

Mike Rosenfeld is a Peak Performance mental strength Coach and Breathwork Therapist who works with high-performance athletes, artists, and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

South Florida Studio Turns Up the Heat on Your Favorite Workouts

We’ve all experienced those great workouts that leave you covered in sweat and there is something to be said about the energized and revitalized feeling following those sessions. Now there’s a studio that helps you feel the burn both inside and out. 

Launched in 2017 by Planet Beach Spray & Spa tanning salon entrepreneur and former bodybuilder Stephen Smith, HOTWORX is the latest innovation within the fitness industry that infuses both the benefits of infrared energy and heat with exercise. The patent-created infrared sauna fitness rooms offer three-dimensional training that results in users achieving an intense workout while reaping the health benefits of infrared energy such as increased calorie burn; detoxification; improved circulation; pain relief; and anti-aging and skin rejuvenation.

Janine Halprin, owner of the Fort Lauderdale location since 2019 and a lifelong fitness enthusiast, wanted to find something to invest her time in once she and her husband became empty-nesters. They came across HOTWORX and loved the concept and now with 300 members, they are excited to see interest quickly spreading among the community.

The studio includes personal infrared sauna fitness rooms equipped with a TV monitor for your virtual instruction. The 30-minute, pre-recorded, virtual-based isometric workouts include Hot ISO, Hot Yoga, Hot Pilates, Hot Barre None, Hot Warrior, Hot Core, Hot Buns, and Hot Bands. For those seeking a real burn, they also offer 15-minute, high-intensity workouts that include Hot Cycle and Hot Blast (total body, HITT-based workout).

HOTWORX also has a designated area called the FX Zone equipped with weights, ropes, and other equipment that members can use in between their infrared workout sessions. This area is also equipped with a silent trainer video displayed on a monitor demonstrating various routines recommended for the FX Zone area.

RELATED Earn Your Burn at HOTWORX Pembroke Pines

The concept behind HOTWORX has proved to be the perfect solution for those seeking to get back in the gym while maintaining social distancing.  The studio is also open 24- hours allowing members to visit the studio any time with a personal pin code giving them access to utilize the infrared sauna fitness rooms, take any of the classes since they run in 15-30 minute intervals, or enjoy the FX Zone long after staffed hours to accommodate their schedules.

There are three South Florida locations, Miami (Dadeland), Pembroke Pines, and Fort Lauderdale.  Pop in now for a free session and Earn the Burn.

HOTWORX is the latest innovation within the fitness industry that infuses the benefits of infrared energy and heat with exercise and it's in South Florida.

Miami Beach

Should the Miami Fitness Industry Get a Slice of the Stimulus Pie?

As the number of Coronavirus cases rose in South Florida over the recent weeks, tension also began to rise, not only among residents but businesses who are once again finding themselves in limbo due to the second round of mandatory curfews and shutdowns.

Nearly $1billion in COVID-19 aid has been allocated to Miami-Dade, yet the struggle continues between the Mayor’s office and local cities and municipalities on how these funds should be allocated. Approximately $474 Million has been marked as unrestricted funding to be distributed to local government entities that have incurred expenses due to COVID-19 and to aid those directly impacted by the pandemic.

Many news sources speculate that massive layoffs are imminent within the hospitality industry, which is considered a crucial source of South Florida’s economy. But what about the masses of small, local businesses that have been the foundation of economic prosperity in South Florida? Some, after many years in business, are closing their doors and new businesses that opened right before they pandemic never had a chance. Where does the fitness industry fit in during these times of economic calamity?

Prior to COVID-19’s arrival in South Florida, boutique fitness studios, health and wellness events, and personal training were on the rise with many of them being first-time business/franchise owners. The devastating impacts of the pandemic and the back and forth waves of re-opening then closing again has left these business owners with little hope of survival. Right now, the only solution seems to be to request local governments that they be included in discussions pertaining to COVID-19 relief funding, hence, the creation of the Miami-Dade County Wellness Coalition.

RELATED Gym Owners Form Miami Wellness Coalition to Speak with Unified Voice

“The financial implications of our industry are severe,” said Guido Trinidad, Owner & Head Coach at Peak360 Fitness in South Miami. “We are operating at approximately 50% of the revenue we normally did before COVID-19. Our expenses certainly have not dropped by that degree. If the government is bailing out other industries; the health and fitness industry should not only be included but at the top of the list."

South Florida non-profits are being encouraged to partner up with other local non-profits in an effort to leverage their resources and donations. In many cases the health and wellness industry works hand-in-hand with the hospitality sector by hosting events at their hotels, setting up personal training for guests, inviting fitness instructors to teach various classes, as well as maintaining a permanent relationship with gym owners and franchisees to take up permanent residence within their hotels.

RELATED This Miami Gym Owner is Lobbying Congress to Include Fitness in a Coronavirus Bailout

The fact of the matter is that politicians need to see past the immediate reparations the stimulus will provide to their communities but rather view the long-term effects it will have through a holistic lens. Everyone, at some point, will be impacted by this pandemic in one way or another and the stressors that come along with it. Data is already reflecting huge spikes in mental and physical health crisis, food insecurity, and education. Many are and will seek out resources to improve their overall wellbeing, beyond the walls of the healthcare system and who better than the health and wellness industry, as the essential group that they are, to serve them.

“Health, fitness, and overall wellness are the most natural and proactive measures we can take to defend, fight, and beat COVID-19,” said Trinidad. “Shouldn’t our local government invest in the local businesses that not only stimulate the economy, but more importantly, are on the front lines leading our community towards building stronger immunity against this virus.”

Nearly $1billion in COVID-19 aid has been allocated to Miami-Dade, yet the struggle continues between the Mayor’s office and local cities and municipalities on how these funds should be allocated.


iCRYO Brings on the Chill to Sunny Florida

A new health and wellness franchise offers a cool, holistic approach to overall body wellness and recovery. iCRYO, which first opened in 2015 and is headquartered in Houston, is making its mark on the cryotherapy industry and quickly growing in popularity with 80 new locations planned to open throughout the U.S.

Cryotherapy originated in Japan in the late 1970s and was developed by a rheumatologist as a way to treat muscle and joint inflammation. Over the years it was discovered that using this rehabilitative cold therapy was also effective in treating other ailments and disorders such as migraines, anxiety, insomnia, and various skin conditions.

Now, South Floridians can enjoy the benefits of cryotherapy and other holistic body recovery services at iCRYO. iCRYO Fort Lauderdale is family-owned and run by Phil Gatti, Nancy Bartlett, and their son Chris Gatti. Both father and son are former athletes and quite experienced in the health and fitness industry. Nancy, who runs the accounting and bookkeeping side of the company, was also a former, competitive bodybuilder during a time when women were just beginning to enter the once male-dominated, fitness-enthused world.

Phil, a former minor league baseball player, opened his first gym in the mid-1980s in New York and remained in the industry for years eventually transitioning into personal training, fitness consulting, and nutrition counseling for people from all walks of life from athletes to seniors.  His son Chris was a college football player and, like many athletes, suffered a sports-related injury.  Both knew the importance of body recovery and overall wellbeing and decided to go into business together with a goal of combining health and fitness with a holistic approach.  iCRYO made perfect sense.

The recovery and wellness center offers a variety of services  Their whole body cryotherapy is among their most popular. This type of therapy sets off the body’s natural fight or flight response to accelerate recovery and decrease inflammation throughout the body. While in the chamber, you have the option to listen to music, move around, or stand still and meditate. Following 2-3 minutes exposure of extreme cold temperature, you will experience not only a rush of energy, but muscle/joint pain relief, and several other positive physical and mental benefits.

If you’re not yet sure about braving the cold, you have the option of trying out their localized cryotherapy, which concentrates on specific parts of the body where you’re experiencing pain or discomfort while reaping the benefits of improved skin conditions and minimized appearance of scarring. The same goes for their cryo facials which bring the addition of tightened skin, reduced fine lines, improved collagen production, and migraine relief.

Following these chilly services, you can warm up in their Infrared Sauna. This safe and effective therapy utilizes Infrared heat, the non-visible part of the sun’s spectrum that allows you to enjoy the benefits of the sun, without exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. Regular visits of 30 to 40-minute sessions can release harmful toxins, increase blood circulation, burn calories, improve overall skin tone, and much more.

If you’re looking for some relaxation in your recovery journey at iCRYO and enjoy the benefits of receiving a massage, you must try their compression therapy. This system concentrates on your legs, hips, or arms using attachments that release compressed air to massage these targeted areas. Benefits of this service include the elimination of sore muscles, blood circulation improvement, reduction in lactic acid, and overall muscle recovery.

Another non-invasive service offered at iCRYO is body sculpting. During one of these slimming sessions, fat cells are destroyed and flushed out through your lymphatic system resulting in fat loss and improved skin appearance that take place almost immediately and over time depending on the individual. Free consultations are offered to find out which body sculpting plan is best for you.

If you are looking to boost your immune system, IV Infusion therapy is another service you can enjoy.  With over half a dozen IV cocktails offered, iCRYO’s specially-formulated infusions and vitamin shots assist with strengthening your immune system, anti-aging, improving athletic performance, alleviating hangovers, reducing fatigue/low energy, and much more. iCRYO works with its own medical director to deliver the best source of vitamins, minerals, and hydration for maximum absorption.

Miami residents will soon be able to enjoy the many services and benefits at iCRYO as the Gatti family plans to open another location in the Brickell area later this year. Once you visit, you’ll never want to chill anywhere else.

iCRYO is a new health and wellness franchise offering a cool, holistic approach to overall body wellness and recovery in South Florida.


New Fitness Franchise CITYROW Steadily Rowing Its Way into South Florida

With so many new fitness concepts emerging, it's almost impossible to keep up with the latest trends.  However, one that is quickly making waves is interactive indoor rowing.

What once was the lone, obscure, and least popular exercise equipment collecting dust in the dark corner of the gym, a new, innovative, and more advanced rowing machine has made landfall to take its place.

These water resistance row machines consist of a large water tank located in front of the machine and with every stroke, you feel the realistic sensation of pushing through the water, ultimately giving you a tougher workout. The benefits to this low-impact, aerobic workout include increased endurance, toned upper and lower body muscles, stronger core, better posture, and enhanced metabolism and energy. In other words, you burn a lot of calories while building strength!

The first-ever, free-standing rowing studio in Florida has opened in West Boca Raton.  CITYROW had its official grand opening on February 8th.  The studio's owner, Dan Root was present for the ribbon-cutting.  Root and his wife relocated from Indiana to Fort Lauderdale two years ago. After many years in the automotive industry, Root, an exercise enthusiast and avid runner, wanted to open a business that centered around his passion for fitness. 

Root learned about CITYROW when watching The Today Show one morning.  He discovered the show's staff were members of CITYROW in Manhattan.  He decided to make the trip to New York City to take a class and was immediately hooked.  After many months of planning, Root was the first to open a location in Florida.  Root also plans to open a CITYROW in Fort Lauderdale within the coming year.

I also had the opportunity to meet and briefly interview CITYROW’s founder and CEO, Helaine Knapp, who was also present at the ribbon-cutting.  I asked Knapp, who was in the software business prior to starting CITYROW, how she came up with the idea of opening her own club and franchise. 

"I was a consumer of boutique fitness and after suffering an exercise-related injury, I needed a low-impact workout but also craved high-intensity and an experience that would change my body," explained Knapp.

So, in 2014 the first CITYROW opened in Manhattan.  “We partnered with WaterRower to design an exclusively branded CITYROW Rower," said Knapp. "The black-stained, wood version rower features a custom-built Bluetooth monitor that includes data specific to CITYROW’s programming." 


The 50-minute class I participated in consisted of approximately 15 people and the instructor.  This blended class incorporated both timed rowing intervals as well as mat work with light to medium weights.  You slowly work your way up to a faster, more intense workout on the rowing machine while maintaining the required pace rate. 

Although it feels as if you are working as a team when rowing, the goal is actually achieving your individual best in meter distance.  I have to say though, I often found myself trying to keep up and staying in sync with other rowers which maintained my motivation throughout the more intense parts of the workout. 

This is definitely a full-body workout that utilizes every muscle and core strength to achieve the best results.  Despite eating a full breakfast prior to taking the class, I found myself ravenous following due to the number of calories I burned.  I highly recommend taking their free class so you can see for yourself.

To learn more, visit or check out the local West Boca studio on Instagram at @cityrowbocaratonwest.

The first-ever, free-standing rowing studio in Florida has opened in West Boca Raton. CITYROW had its official grand opening on February 8th.

Club Pilates|Club Pilates

Fast-Growing Franchise Club Pilates Offers More Than Just Reformers for South Florida

Club Pilates is an independently-owned franchise with approximately 700 locations nationwide and continually growing, with many of them popping up all over Florida. Despite its massively shared name and concept, when you walk into their studio, you don’t feel that “chain” vibe. Club Pilates offers a small, sophisticated, intimate studio setting that makes you feel comfortable and connected with your group class.

RELATED Club Pilates Continues South Florida Expansion in Coral Gables

There are currently 24 locations spanning all the way from Jupiter to Miami which proves that Pilates has become increasingly popular over the years and those who attend regularly are quite devoted, much like those who dedicate their practice to yoga. Club Pilates offers its members a holistic approach to this every-popular fitness culture. 

In the past, I have only taken classes that involved mat Pilates with no equipment so I was quite eager to try out Club Pilates' intro class. One of their newest locations in Parkland opened in December 2019, conveniently near me. Upon arriving, I was immediately greeted by the studio’s owner, Iannetta who, along with her husband, opened their first Club Pilates two and a half years ago in Coral Springs.

I wasn’t sure what to expect other than utilizing a machine that looked both fun and also a bit intimidating at the same time. For those who have never taken a Pilates class, it is highly recommended that you take their 30-minute intro class where the trainer assists you in becoming familiar with the reformer and introduces you to additional equipment often incorporated into the workouts such as a springboard, Bosu ball, and more.

This class is truly beneficial in learning how to use the reformer correctly and effectively and I have to say as someone who works out 5-6 days a week, I immediately felt muscles working that I never felt before. The controlled movements are effective in targeting different areas of the body to gain a stronger core, better balance, and improved coordination, breathing, and flexibility. Once you get the hang of it, you just want to keep doing more.

Club Pilates

Aside from the devoted practitioners, many who attend Pilates classes are those who suffer from sports-related injuries, medical conditions, and other physical ailments since many of the movements are geared towards building strength, improving posture, and realigning the body.

Club Pilates is a membership-fee based studio that offers seven types of classes, all 50 minutes long, and taught at three different levels from Beginner to Advanced. The membership comes with many perks such as attending classes at most Club Pilates studios nationwide except in certain cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Chicago which requires participation in their Destination Membership Program. 

All instructors are certified after completing a 500-hour teacher training course and scholarships are available for those who have practiced Pilates for at least two to three months and are interested in becoming instructors themselves.   

RELATED 10 Must-Try Miami Pilates Studios in 2020

Because this fitness practice is a way of life for many, Club Pilates also hosts monthly, 50-90 minute workshops run by master trainers. In these workshops, participants will become educated on the four core principles of Pilates B.E.A.M. which stands for Breath, Energize, Align, and Move, learn about one’s imbalances, and discover how they can regain their strength, achieve better posture, and improve their overall body and mind.

Whether you’re looking to change up your fitness routine or commit to transforming your overall fitness lifestyle and becoming a part of an ever-growing family of Pilates practitioners, Club Pilates is there to guide you every step of the way.

If you’re in the Miami area, there are three studios located in Brickell, Coral Gables, and South Miami. Broward and Palm Beach County residents can find locations in Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Plantation, Coral Springs, Parkland, and Boca Raton. Get ready to BEAM!

Club Pilates is an independently-owned franchise with approximately 700 locations nationwide, and many of them popping up all over Florida.


Funk&Flow Takes Fusion Fitness to a Whole New Level in Fort Lauderdale

From the moment you walk through the doors of Funk&Flow - Feel Good Movement Space, you’re immediately drawn to its eclectic, zen-like, and all-around funky vibe. From the local artwork strewn about the waiting area and the boombox wallpaper in the bathroom, to the edison bulbs serving as the only lighting inside the classroom, this studio offers more than just a place to come take a class.

Jessi Morris, owner of Funk&Flow, located in Fort Lauderdale, opened the studio two and a half years ago with the hopes of creating an environment and space where people at all fitness levels can express themselves freely through music and rhythmic movement. Morris has an extensive dance background beginning from age 10, extending into her college years in California, and ultimately as a professional dancer with experience in all types of dance such as Hip Hop, Lyrical, Latin, and African.

“I rented space at various studios throughout the years and the one thing I noticed is the friendships that developed in my classes and the lack of space where they can socialize before and after class,” said Morris. 

After finally finding the right place, she’s done just that and more.  Morris has created a space where instructors teach intuitively and students are encouraged to embrace freestyle movement.


Funk&Flow offers classes beginner, advanced, and free-movement classes such as Barre Body, Feel Good and Wind Down Flow, Belly Dance Fusion , Yoga, Hip Hop for All, and, of course, Funk Body. 

The Funk Body class is not only fun, it’s quite intense and you will sweat! There is no pre-selected music; Morris hits shuffle on her playlist and away the class goes. The music is loud, the energy high, and, within minutes, you are fully immersed in a collective and rhythmic dance journey. By the end of the class, you feel as if you’ve just come home from a great dancing night out and that elevated mood remains with you throughout the day.

Perhaps the best part of Funk&Flow is that it’s continually evolving.  Morris is exploring new class offerings that target specific areas of the body as well as curating community live music movement flow and fusion classes that will be launching this spring. 

Morris has also opened up her studio to the community for its members to rent for rehearsals, casting calls, and special events.  Funk&Flow hosts self-improvement events such as a vision board making class and various donation-based classes on certain days. 

To find out more about Funk and Flow, check them out on Facebook and Instagram @funkandflowstudio or visit their website

From the moment you walk through the doors of Funk&Flow in Fort Lauderdale, you’re immediately drawn to its eclectic, zen-like, and all-around funky vibe.

3 Tips to Help You Break Into a Healthy Eating Lifestyle without Breaking the Bank

Twelve years ago, I decided to stop eating red meat and poultry after a friend sent me a PETA video the day before Thanksgiving and I quit cold turkey (pun intended). It not only changed my perception of the food industry and its treatment of animals but also jump-started my journey on eating healthier. I started buying more fruits and veggies and looking for more organic and all-natural products whenever and wherever possible.

Once I expanded my healthy eating habits, Iquickly learned how expensive this new lifestyle was becoming. I sought outlocal farmers markets to purchase reasonably-priced, locally-grown produce,however, at times it was difficult to get to these markets due to distance fromhome, especially during the week after working all day or on weekends due tokids’ extracurricular activities. I also found that local farmstand pricesstill tended to be quite expensive.

Thankfully over the years, we have seen an increased awareness and desire for healthy living evident through organic, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and farm-to-table type eateries, smoothie bars, and local health food stores sprouting up everywhere. This has propelled big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco to start carrying more organic and plant-based foods in order to remain competitive, making it a whole lot easier to buy healthy foods and products without it wreaking havoc on our checkbooks.

Whether you’re just starting out or are a long-time conscious eater, the following are a few tips on how to comparatively shop for competitive prices on healthy foods, ultimately saving you time and money. While some tips may take time at first, once you commit, it will become an everyday routine that you won’t want to break!

1. Comparative Shopping

Regardless of whether you’re single or a family of four, the first thing you should do is plan your meals. This will keep you focused on the main items you need to shop for first and help you stay on budget. Allow for some flexibility to incorporate any sales you may find for the week.

Next, look for print and online sale promotional advertised by your local grocery and health food stores. Most stores now have apps where you can create a shopping list so you can keep track of your items and clip digital coupons. Stores such as Whole Foods offer Amazon Prime members 10% off their grocery bill and access to weekly discounts on popular items. Also, always consider the store-brand products as another way to save at the checkout.

Look for Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) items!This can really save you money as well as allow you to stock up on yourfavorite healthy items.  Look for BOGOproducts that are organic or all-natural first when at all possible, such asfresh or frozen fruits and veggies, plant-based foods such as Gardein,Morningstar, or Beyond Meat, and natural cleaning products such as SeventhGeneration, Method, or Mrs. Meyers.

If you’re a coupon clipper, combining these offers with cut-out and digital coupons will really maximize your savings. Some of these manufacturers also include coupons once you sign up for their e-newsletter, which is another way to stay up-to-date on the latest products, recipes, and healthy-eating news.

2. Groceries Delivered to Your Front Door

Now, I realize that many of you may not want to shop at several stores to take advantage of these savings because let’s face it, you could be spending more on the gas to get there than the actual bargain itself. A great way around this is utilizing delivery services such as InstaCart specifically for those stores located furthest from your home. The small delivery fee is well worth the time spent driving all over town and will balance out, especially if you’re getting a more competitive, bargain price in comparison to other stores. These apps also offer their own coupons, discounts, and credits especially the more you use their services. There is nothing like getting your groceries delivered to your door after a long day of commuting and working.

3. Food Prepping

Food prepping is probably the most time consuming of these tasks however, it will save you time and money in the long run. The best time to meal prep is as soon as your groceries are brought home. If you weren’t able to find organic fruits and veggies, wash them in a strainer with a mixture of distilled white vinegar and water to remove as much bacteria and pesticides as possible before placing them in separate containers in the fridge for easy snacking and packing. The same goes for nuts, crackers, and seeds. The more you prep, the less likely you are to skip a meal, reach for quick, fatty foods, or spend money picking up fast food or eating out.

If you stocked up on certain foods that may go bad before you have the opportunity to eat them because the sale was just too good to pass up, store and freeze them! Products such as bread and fruit will stay preserved longer while stretching your dollar!

These small steps can really go a long way not only in saving you money but also by helping you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for years to come. Happy shopping!

Whether you’re just starting out or are more experienced, the following are a few tips on how to comparatively shop for competitive prices on healthy foods.

Workout||free workouts on YouTube

Working Out at Home is Easier Than Ever Thanks to a Variety of Free Workouts on YouTube

Years ago when I decided to incorporate exercise into my daily routine, I shopped around at local gyms in the hopes of finding the right one and becoming a member. I quickly realized I wasn’t ready to join the widely popular, large-chain gyms that were taking over the industry at the time. Quite frankly, I was intimidated by the muscle-clad men and well-toned women who seemed to be the majority attending these coed gyms. Eventually, I did find a small, all-female, boutique-style studio that met my level of comfortability. It was the perfect setting where I felt I could reach my fitness goals and eventually slowly ease my way into the big gym masses.

However, these dayswith the convenience of the Internet, one has so many options to accommodatetheir schedule and fitness goals until they’re either ready to join the gymscene or choose to make virtual workouts a permanent option. The key is toconduct your search according to your current level of fitness and graduallybuild up your exercise routine. This may be done with the same or variousfitness channels you find that will last throughout your entire fitness journeyor may progressively evolve as you move into your next level of fitness andgoals.

In recent years, I have found quite a few hidden treasures on YouTube. The beauty of online fitness videos is that you can dabble in as many types of exercise workouts that your heart desires. This is how I initially got into yoga.  I tried all types from Kundalini to Vinyasa; it was an amazing way to find the ones I truly enjoyed practicing and was made possible all from the comfort of my living room. The best part of finding these workouts is that they were free.  Eventually some of the workout channels I subscribed to gained massive popularity resulting in some of them switching to paid subscriptions so I would just move on to the next best thing.  

Although I have been a paying gym member for years now, oftentimes my work schedule and parent responsibilities do not allow me to hit the gym or take a class, therefore my fall back continues to be at-home workouts. Personally, I enjoy diverse workouts each week whether it be yoga, HIIT, cardio, or weight training in an effort to avoid monotony and boredom. This is also the most beneficial way for me to avoid my body from hitting any plateaus. 

Sydney Cummings

One YouTube fitness trainer in particular that I have been devoted to for over a year is Sydney Cummmings. A former high jumper college athlete, Sydney brings a wide range of diverse, high-energy as well as low impact workout videos which are posted by 5 a.m. each morning in order to meet the schedules of all her subscribers.  These free videos range from 30 to 60 minutes and consist of specific body-targeted to full-body workouts. 

Cummings offers subscribers the option to join a paid membership called the Sydney Squad, however, her philosophy is to continue offering free workouts to the public in an effort to provide access to anyone looking to get fit. I have personally seen beneficial and transformational results in areas I was targeting since starting Sydney’s workouts. 


Another great fitness YouTune channel is POPSUGAR Fitness. POPSUGAR offers an enormous array of fitness workouts that are hosted by Anna Renderer, in which she brings in various fitness experts and celebrity trainers to run a full range of workouts from your traditional exercise routines to the latest fitness crazes.  Videos range anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes in length.

Like Sydney Cummings, POPSUGAR also offers a paid membership that gives subscribers access to their Full-Body Fusion program.  This four-week schedule of curated, 45-minute or less workouts led by five different expert instructors, span across all types of workout routines to accommodate all fitness levels.

Although theseworkout channels seem to consist mainly of female subscribers, I can say thatboth channels offer extensive workouts that benefit both males and females inparticular in the weight training and boot-camp style workout categories.Whether your goals are short- or long-term, these web-based channels are aneasy, comfortable, and convenient way to begin, increase, or maintain yourfitness journey. 

With the convenience of the Internet, one has so many options to accommodate their schedule and fitness goals with free workouts on YouTube.