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Chef Nicole Miami Meal Delivery
People

Let Chef Nicole Miami Deliver Flavorful, Healthy Meals to Your Door

Eat healthy without the planning, prepping, and portioning that comes with meal prepping. Let Chef Nicole Miami deliver flavorful, well-balanced meals right to your door!

For Nicole Retchin, providing Miami with a healthy meal delivery service is her passion. About 6 years ago, Nicole started small and part-time out of her own kitchen before beginning to rent kitchens, and as the business really took off, she purchased her own.

The meal plans are portion-controlled into two sizes - Lean Machine with meals between 400-500 calories and recommended for someone who is looking to maintain or lose weight and learn proper portion control, and Ultimate Warrior, with meals between 700-800 calories and recommended for people who live an active lifestyle.

Chef Nicole's meals are healthy but not restrictive. They are made with whole foods and real ingredients, without eliminating any food groups. All meals are comprised of lean protein, complex carbs, and vegetables.

Some of her recent meals have included: 

  • Turkey vaca frita with brown rice and black beans, grilled plantains, and asparagus.
  • Dijon salmon over farro with orange-grated brussel sprouts and goat cheese
  • Slow-cooked brisket with cauliflower mac and cheese and green beans
  • Sauteed shrimp linguine with saffron garlic cream over spinach

Nicole loves trying new foods and that inspires her weekly menus, which are anything but boring. There will always be lots of cultures represented with new meal options every week. The menus feature as many seasonal options and locally sourced produce as possible. Nicole also has breakfast and snack options available, as well as kid’s meals.

We love that Nicole acknowledges that food is fuel for your body and you don't have to eat less, you just have to eat right!

"I have been an athlete my entire life running high school cross country and track & field, to training and completing half marathons and triathlons," said Nicole. "I am very passionate about the role proper nutrition plays in overall health and well-being, and athletic performance. Food is fuel for the body and mind."

To order, head to chefnicolemiami.com and check out the menu. Orders are due by midnight on Thursdays for delivery the following week. Deliveries take place on Mondays and Wednesdays across the greater Miami area.  First-time users can get 10% off their first meal plan order with promo code STAYFIT10.

Lastly, be sure to follow @chefnicolemiami on Instagram for all the mouthwatering food pictures and the latest menus.


Eat healthy without the planning, prepping, and portioning that comes with meal prepping. Let Chef Nicole Miami deliver flavorful, well-balanced meals right to your door!

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Zumba Miami
People

CEO Alberto Perlman Reflects on 20 Years of Zumba

Zumba co-founder and CEO Alberto Perlman spoke with The Miami Herald about the evolution of the dance-fitness craze 20 years later, how it survived the pandemic, and what the next 20 years might look like.

Zumba co-founder and CEO Alberto Perlman spoke with The Miami Herald about the evolution of the dance-fitness craze 20 years later, how it survived the pandemic, and what the next 20 years might look like. Check out an excerpt below and find the full interview here.

How has Zumba changed over the past two decades?

The original Zumba class hasn’t changed that much, but what changes is the type of music we use. When we came on the scene, reggaeton did not exist, and as soon as we started hearing these sounds coming out of Puerto Rico, we said, ‘These are perfect for Zumba.’ We were the first ones to bring reggaeton into the mainstream. As music evolves, Zumba evolves — you’re dancing to popular music, and that always keeps you coming back.

How does Zumba compete with new exercise trends on the scene?

Most fitness programs usually live in the space of, ‘We’re better from a calorie-burn perspective, or from a fitness perspective.’ But if you only live in that physical space, someone is going to come along and will build a better mousetrap. Think about the Thighmaster in the ‘90s, or 8 Minute Abs — someone is going to come up with seven-minute abs.

Zumba is similar to yoga in that there is emotion — in yoga you think of zen or flow state. In Zumba we call it F.E.J.: freeing electrifying joy. You get lost in the music, you’re having so much fun that all other thoughts are gone, you’re just there, present in the moment.

And the other piece is the community. In yoga it’s similar as well — there’s a pilgrimage to India, or some sort of yoga shrine. In Zumba, there’s a convention every year, and it’s a magical place. Physical plus emotional plus community is why Zumba is a forever brand.

What is the significance of Miami to the Zumba story?

It’s where we live. It could have only been born here because of the cultural aspect of Miami, the openness to Latin music, Latin influence — Miami is capital of Latin America. Beto’s dream growing up in Cali was to go to Miami. Zumba started when my cousins, my mom, everyone I knew was taking Beto’s class here in Aventura — it wasn’t even called Zumba then, he called it “rhumba-cise.” At that moment something sparked the idea: What if we take this to the world, put it on a VHS tape — this was 2001 — and teach Zumba at home via VHS. What we realized is that the community and class was the true Zumba experience, so we started training instructors, who would come from all over the country and go to Miami and train in Zumba. But Miami is still the root and culture of Zumba. Zumba is Miami.

What will the next 20 years of Zumba look like?

We’re constantly enhancing our technologies to make our instructors more successful. We believe people don’t need another screen in their life. We want them to get together in person, and we don’t want humanity to lose that. Mental health has also come up as a big topic in how Zumba helps — we want to create more moments to help people through any mental health issues.

We’ve also created a new brand, STRONG Nation. It’s a high-intensity training program — but we created a program where the music is scored to the workout. So we create these routines, then create music that completely matches the routines. We want to have an epic feeling, really feeling like a bad-ass. So you’re going to see more STRONG Nation in the years to come.

We also created the Zumba music lab. It’s a production house where we create our own music. We’re working with some of the best writers and producers in the world, and now record labels are coming and saying they want to launch our songs.

This article was originally published in The Miami Herald by Rob Wile and can be found here.

The Babicka Family
People

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.

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 www.thelittlelighthouse.org.

Running in Miami
People

Frankie Ruiz Shares Tips and Local Spots to Run the Wings for Life World Run on May 9, or Any Miami Fun Run

We connected with Miami Marathon Founder and recently appointed Chief Wellness Officer of Miami, Frankie Ruiz to share advice and some of his favorite spots to run in Miami. 

Since the Wings for Life World Run began in 2014, it’s called South Florida home to one of its flagship races. Held in Sunrise, FL for six straight years, runners, walkers, and wheelchair participants have gathered to compete against thousands of others from across the globe at exactly the same time, all while raising millions of dollars for spinal cord injury research.

This year the race will take place via the event App, which means participants can choose their own run location. We connected with Miami Marathon Founder and recently appointed Chief Wellness Officer of Miami, Frankie Ruiz to share advice and some of his favorite spots to run in Miami. 

City Running

Tips
  • Find a route that has public restrooms with water fountains, possibly a public park along your route. If not keep the route close to your house where you can pop in for a pitstop or to rehydrate.
  • Start off real easy, the city can hype us quickly and our pace will pay the price later in the race.
  • Don't pick a route that has lots of turns that can slow you down and confuse you.
  • I prefer to run on asphalt instead of concrete because it just feels a little better on my body but whether or not you choose the sidewalk or the road make sure you are paying attention to your surroundings.
  • Consider designing your route to have some places more open-air from time to time just because city streets with lots of buildings can get extra warm and humid mid-mornings.
  • Wear bright clothes

Frankie’s City Pick:

  • The Underline — This trail starts in the Brickell area and continues under the metrorail.

Ruiz says this is where he plans to run. 

“I am going to be pushing Michael Sayih in his Special Compass racing wheelchair. I am thinking of just staying on the Underline southbound for as long as I can and taking the metrorail back to my starting point. This gives me the most real-life experience possible. Brings back the memories of the in-person race and gets me excited that for 2022 we'll be back doing the same!” 

Beach Running

Tips
  • When I think of running on the beach I think of wide-open spaces and lots of room to spread out so choose the beach if that is what you are looking for.
  • Pick a shoreline or a high side leveled section that has the most compact sand.
  • Be mindful of the sand granules getting into your socks so you may want to lather up using body glide or other chafing prevention product prior to your run.
  • The sun will probably be your biggest nemesis so plan for it with extra sunscreen, white clothes, and head gear.
  • Keep the strides short while focusing on bringing the knees up a bit more than if you were on the road.
  • Practice running the beach for at least 3-4 sessions prior to the race.
  • Consider a hybrid option of running sand first then jumping onto a more stable surface with better sun coverage.

Frankie’s Beach Pick

  • South Beach - Hard Packed Sand Beach - 23rd Street south all the way past 1st Street to Government Cut. These hard-packed sands provide the best viewing stage for all that is Miami and its beaches. 

Frankie’s Other Running Picks

  • Lummus Park - This is one of Miami Beach’s largest concentrations of Coconut Palms set as a tropical curtain of sorts for the Art Deco buildings along world-famous Ocean Drive
  • Venetian Causeway - 360-degree views from the bridges connecting the man-made islands that make the mileage just fly by. The sites of the multi-million-dollar homes and the yachts floating by can certainly help the mind wander.
  • Rickenbacker Causeway - The “big bridge” or more formally known as the William Powell Bridge, will give you the highest elevation in South Florida available to runners

There is still time to sign up for Sunday’s Wings for Life World Run on the App or at wingsforlifeworldrun.com where 100% of registration fees go toward finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.


Naked Nutrition
People

Based in Miami Beach, Naked Nutrition Has Nothing to Hide

Reach your nutrition and fitness goals with Naked Nutrition. A full line of proteins and supplements, Naked Nutrition aims to give you the best ingredients without any of the junk and is transparent about what it puts in its products. The company, which is based out of Miami Beach does not use any additives artificial sweeteners, or artificial colors.

Reach your nutrition and fitness goals with Naked Nutrition. A full line of proteins and supplements, Naked Nutrition aims to give you the best ingredients without any of the junk and is transparent about what it puts in its products. The company, which is based out of Miami Beach does not use any additives artificial sweeteners, or artificial colors.

Stephen Zieminski is the founder and entrepreneur behind the brand. The idea for Naked Nutrition was born while Zieminski was working in finance in New York City in 2014. 

The goal was to bring simple, pure, and high-quality products to a market that was crowded with over-engineered products. Zieminski found that the over-engineering of other products was done mainly to benefit supplement companies instead of the end consumer.

As a former cross country and track athlete from the University of Florida, he was aware of how everything we eat and drink affects our overall health and performance.

“By the time Naked Nutrition was launching consumers were starting to pay attention to ingredients and where food comes from,” said Zieminski. “I thought if people wanted to know where their fruits and vegetables were coming from they’d want the same from their supplements.”

Naked Nutrition launched with five, single-ingredient protein powders which included two of its best-selling products - Naked Whey and Naked Pea. The company was very fast-growing and by January 2015, they were seeing six-figure sales in a month. Zieminski moved back to Florida and chose Miami Beach as the headquarters for Naked Nutrition.

Today, the site has over 30 products ranging from powdered peanut butter and brown rice protein powder, to green superfood powder and collagen peptides. There are products specifically for weight gaining, and products that can be used as meal replacements.

Since the pandemic began Zieminski worked hard to maintain the same rigorous quality standards while still keeping pace with increasing orders. It is during that time that he also led the launch of international shipping for Naked Nutrition and this year will be launching 4 new products.

“Naked's goal is to have a product for everyone, at every time of the day. We are launching a supplement line including multi-vitamins, a hydration product, and a protein powder product that more broadly appeals to consumers. We aim to be a leader in setting trends with new products often, many of which are informed by feedback from customers,” said Zieminski. 

In Miami, Naked Nutrition supplements can be found in the smoothies and shakes of a few local restaurants, including Pura Vida and Pure Green. As a direct-to-consumer brand, the best way to purchase Naked Nutrition products is through their website or Amazon.

Check them out at nakednutrition.com for more information, products, and partnerships. You can also find them on Instagram at @nakednutrition.

Founder Stephen Zieminski


South Beach Track Club
People

Here's Everything You Didn't Know About the South Beach Track Club

We spoke to Matt Rosenberg Passe about a South Beach club without long lines and cover fees. That club is the South Beach Track Club and everyone is invited to join in. Passe is the co-leader and coach of this popular club that meets weekly and is free to join. Check out all of the details below!

We spoke to Matt Rosenberg Passe about a South Beach club without long lines and cover fees. That club is the South Beach Track Club and everyone is invited to join in. Passe is the co-leader and coach of this popular club that meets weekly and is free to join. Check out all of the details below!

1) How did the club get started? When and where? How many members did you have then compared to now?

"South Beach Track Club began as it is currently in January of 2014 after the Flamingo Park Track, on Alton Road and 11th street, was resurfaced and upgraded from the cement track that it used to be into the beautiful track that it now is. When we started, we let people know by a mix of social media and word of mouth - as we do today. We started probably with 10-20 runners per session. We grew to, before Covid-19, up to a max of 75 or so members on a given night, but usually between 40-60 or so. Now during Covid, we have adapted to include social distancing and adjusted workouts to reduce close interactions and are usually in the mid-to upper 30s per night."

2) What is your background in track/running if any?

"I have always loved to run. As a kid, it was always fun to race and run fast, and then I joined the track team at Killian High School my senior year and learned to run the 400m. I ran on the University of Miami track team my freshman year and competed in the 800m. After that, I have always loved to run and to be a part of something fun and athletic that brings people together. I have competed in many 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, and the New York, Chicago and Miami Marathons as well as many triathlons. I have the pleasure to co-coach the club with Mark Gomes under normal non-Covid circumstances. Mark is the former 2016 world masters champion in the 400 meters and is a true expert in the science of training for track and field as well as a good friend."

3) What does a typical "practice" look like each week?

"Each Monday at 7 PM, we start near the start/finish line at the Flamingo Park track and begin with a two-lap warm-up jog, then dynamic stretches and speed technique drills. These days during Covid, we are targeting a total time workout that usually is 25:00 and will feature a variety of speed intervals that are followed by a 100m walk recovery. We also have rolling starts and have designed the workout so that people are not grouped close together during the start or finish of the workout. For example, last night our workout was 800m/600m/400m/600m/400m/ then repeat 200m intervals until a total time of 25:00 was reached (each followed by a 100m recovery walk). Each week is different, and this allows each group member to get the most out of each workout depending on their fitness level and total time. We finish every workout with an intense core workout and a stretch session."

4) What should our readers know if they would like to attend?

"Everyone is welcome regardless of speed or fitness level. We love to bring everyone together to have fun running with fantastic people from all over the world and mix in a lot of encouragement and a personal touch for each and every runner who comes by to join in."

5) Anything else you want readers to know about the track club?

"South Beach Track Club is free, and our workouts usually go from 7 PM - 8:20 PM or so. Free parking is on 12th street next to the track and also in the parking lot next to the pool and tennis courts on 11th street. We can be found on Instagram @southbeachtrackclub and on Facebook at South Beach Track Club. Each workout is posted about before and after on Facebook and after as well on Instagram."

Virtual Miami Marathon
People

Virtual Life Time Miami Marathon Highlights Resilience and Spirit of South Florida Runners

The Life Time Miami Marathon may have cancelled all in-person events in 2021, but its spirit raced on. As events all across the country were being called off due to COVID-19 concerns, Life Time was conceptualizing their first-ever digital experience of Miami’s world-renowned running event. 

The Life Time Miami Marathon may have cancelled all in-person events in 2021, but its spirit raced on. As events all across the country were being called off due to COVID-19 concerns, Life Time was conceptualizing their first-ever digital experience of Miami’s world-renowned running event. 

This year’s Life Time Miami Marathon participants took to the streets over three weeks in January to build their own #VirtuallyMiamiFamous experiences. 

Almost 5,000 athletes from over 50 countries participated in the Life Time Tropical 5K, Miami Half Marathon or Miami Marathon this year. #VirtuallyMiamiFamous participants ran the virtual race from all over the globe, but South Florida runners came out strong, with just about half of the registrants taking part in the digital event from our sunny coasts.

Without the road closures, race energy and cheering crowds, runners had to tap into deeper reserves of grit, willpower, and joy to make it through their solo races this year.

“I really couldn’t imagine running 13.1 miles without the spectacle of race day and the energy of the crowd,” said Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon of @jetsetsarah, a Miami-based travel writer and on-screen host.

In the end, Sarah completed her 13.1 miles near her home and found a deep appreciation for her experience:

“Maybe this morning’s run was a metaphor for life. Sometimes you think you can’t go on, but you find a way to take a few more steps, no matter how slow. Sometimes it seems like the dark is all-encompassing, but eventually the light bursts through. And sometimes, you surprise yourself by accomplishing something you didn’t think you could,” she wrote on her post about the experience.

What initially was a difficult decision for the race organizers ended up highlighting the vitality of our community. Life Time Miami Marathon Co-Founder, Life Time Chief Running Officer, and Miami’s Chief Wellness Officer, Frankie Ruiz noted:

“South Florida runners are unique in so many ways and they reflected that through their enthusiastic participation in the #VirtuallyMiamiFamous experience. Our decision to go virtual was not an easy one for us, but after seeing how our community embraced it and made the most of it, we have no regrets. We saw groups gathering safely to celebrate on their own and we were tagged on social media which helped us share that celebration with the world; the running and racing spirit of South Florida was filled with energy and hope. The runners made it clear that racing lives on to inspire even through the most uncertain times.” 

Without the structure of an official race, #VirtuallyMiamiFamous runners got to be creative in how they got in their miles this year. The Life Time Miami Marathon course usually runs through the scenic hearts of Miami - South Beach, downtown, Brickell and Coconut Grove. This year runners carved out their own paths.

Some participants ran loops through their neighborhoods, some along South Beach, and some people like Joshua Funderburg, a former group fitness manager at Equinox Brickell Heights, ran along the official race path anyway.

Funderburg has been running the Miami Half Marathon since 2016. Now a NASM-CPT, run coach, On ambassador and group fitness manager at Equinox SOHO/W50TH in New York City, he decided to run the actual Miami Half Marathon course with friend and fellow trainer, Sam Jackson. Funderburg even achieved a PR in his #VirtuallyMiamiFamous race for two. Though Funderburg found it special to carry on his yearly tradition with a friend by his side, he did miss the energy of the race.

“The crowds, the family of runners going through the same physiological and psychological things as you give you an edge and plenty of extra adrenaline. The crowds of cheerleaders, whether you know them or not, give you much needed boosts of motivation, and crossing a finish line is an experience like no other, ” he said. “I miss all of that. I’m sure, when we get back to it, I’m never going to take all of it for granted again.”

No matter how South Floridians finished their 5Ks, half marathons or marathons, their resilience was on display this year.

“What really makes [Miami Marathon] come alive and thrive is the positive resiliency of the people that run South Florida,” said Ruiz. “There is no doubt that we will look back 20 years from now and mark the 2021 #VirtuallyMiamiFamous event as a transformational event for galvanizing the community. We believe the challenges the community endured further fortified the appreciation we have for one other.” 

All anticipate the race and community coming back stronger than ever for the 2022 event. 


Ky Evans Fitness Trainer
People

Celebrity Trainer Ky Evans is Sharing His Experience Through the Group Fitness Academy

Ky Evans has a long background in fitness and now he is bringing his expertise to the Miami community. While he can be found coaching at FORM50 Fitness in Midtown, Evans also has a lot going on as a group fitness strategist and Chief Educational Officer for Group Fitness Academy. 

Ky Evans has a long background in fitness and now he is bringing his expertise to the Miami community. While he can be found coaching at FORM50 Fitness in Midtown, Evans also has a lot going on as a group fitness strategist and Chief Educational Officer for Group Fitness Academy. 

Evans, a trained ballet dancer who minored in ballet in college, translated his love of movement to a passion for fitness. In Los Angeles, Evans grew his following and regularly had month-long waiting lists for his classes. His client roster included names like Ronda Rousey, Jonathan Van Ness, and Paris Hilton. 

“I was homeless for a few years in Los Angeles, living in and out of my car up to the age of 34, battling a few demons,” said Evans. “It was group fitness that saved me.  It gave me hope and that’s what I want to instill in everyone else – hope, that if you’re brave enough to fail in front of strangers, you really can do anything.”

Most recently pre-COVID, Evans had been traveling the country helping group fitness coaches and owners through in-studio private seminars. He is interested in giving back to the fitness community by sharing his knowledge, experience, and even missteps with other instructors and studio owners around the world. That was his goal in co-founding Group Fitness Academy (GFA), a source for on-demand online courses and strategy sessions for fitness professionals.

Through GFA, Evans and his team are transforming trainers into “enterTRAINers” by helping them design their own branded workout experience, create their own loyal following, and improve their retention and attrition rates.

“I made a lot of mistakes in my career and I’ve definitely learned from them and now I want to give back and help other coaches not make those same mistakes,” said Evans. “I had to hit rock bottom in Austin and lose everything to realize the purpose of being a true coach.”

While Evans had a phase of never wanting to share his knowledge, he is now happy to mentor coaches, clients, and owners, and empower them. He believes in always being at the service of his community and strives to create an all-inclusive fitness industry where every BODY is welcome. Evans also thinks that there is no greater time than today’s uncertain climate to come together as a fitness community. 

“I’m looking forward to people coming back to workout in studios and gyms.  Don’t get me wrong I love online workouts and education… But there is something that just can’t be replaced by being in person and together,” said Evans, who is planning upcoming rooftop workouts and coaching retreats at the Moxy Hotel in South Beach.

“And of course – I’m looking forward to exploring the fitness and food scene in Miami.  I definitely plan to get out to Muscle Beach and check out a lot of the boutique fitness studios all around. I couldn’t love this community more!  Everyone is amazing – there is so much talent among the coaches, clients, and brands.  I’ve been welcomed with open arms among the fitness community in Miami and I couldn’t be more grateful."

More information on Ky Evans and the Group Fitness Academy can be found on Instagram, KyEvans.com, and Facebook.

Jennifer Ursillo
People

25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2021

We are so excited to announce our “25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2021” list. Scroll down to see if your favorite trainer made the list below, and check out our lists from the past.

Miami is truly blessed with some incredible fitness professionals. From industry veterans to newcomers, the Miami fitness scene is full of talent that is ready to lead us through every set and rep. We are so excited to announce our “25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2021” list. Scroll down to see if your favorite trainer made the list below, and check out our lists from the past.

*25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2020*


*25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2019*


*25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2018*


*25 Miami Fitness Trainers You Need to Follow in 2017*

Rodrigo Garduño - @ro54d

Rachel Robinson - @rachel_fitness

Sydney Miller - @sydmiller

Miriam Ghandour - @mimiyoga_official

Rilde Leon - @rilde13

Jennifer Ursillo - @tribevinyasa

Olivia Fernandes - @mrslivfit

Rodrigo De Ovando - @deovitas

Kim Dorning - @kimmyyogaflow

Zoila Garcia - @zoilagarcia_

Ky Evans - @therealkyevans

Maggie Madrigal - @mad_maggg

Meghan Petchel - @sketch1

Juan Garcia - @juanmoreset

Andreina Baez - @andreinabaezg

Brandon Price - @brandonprice_

Kat Bilanchone - @miamiyogagirl

Cadizsh Norford - @mindmusclemotivation

Jessica Bergman - @jbnymia

Elmer Hickman - @elmer.hickman

Nicole Cucurullo - @cucufit

Adrian Gongora - @mr_gongo24

Rachel Morales - @rach.morales

Daniela Vidal - @spinwithdani

Natali Melani - @natali_melani


Frankie Ruiz
People

Mayor Francis Suarez Names Frankie Ruiz Miami's Chief Wellness Officer

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has named Life Time Miami Marathon Co-Founder Frankie Ruiz, the city's Chief Wellness Officer.

It’s hard to argue that at this moment, no Mayor in America is working harder to improve the future for its residents than Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. COVID-19 is still a threatening and dangerous presence across the country, and very much here in Miami. But Suarez’s courting of Silicon Valley and the tech industry as a whole, has garnered national attention, and has given Miami a renewed sense of business hope beyond the tourism industry.

That sense of hope continued last week, when Mayor Suarez focused his attention back on the health and wellness of his constituents, and named Life Time Miami Marathon Co-Founder, Frankie Ruiz, “Miami’s Chief Wellness Officer.”

“I’ve never had an official sounding title in the public space other than being an advocate for health and wellness,” said Ruiz. “I am excited to work alongside Mayor Suarez to make Miami’s reputation for health and wellness world-class.”

Back in 2003, Ruiz co-founded the Life Time Miami Marathon, which jump started the South Florida running community. Ten years later, Ruiz and co. lead Run Clubs in South Beach, Brickell, Doral, Weston, Coral Gables, West Kendall, Homestead, and Kendall. In an article last year, STAY FIT 305 named Ruiz one of the five people who forever changed the Miami fitness scene in the last decade.

Sure, the Chief Wellness Officer position might be voluntary, but this is a home run appointment for Suarez. Ruiz is arguably the city’s most recognizable face and name in the wellness community, and can help focus the city on the necessary immediate and long-term improvements that will make a major difference.

"I think I can help with not only my ideas, but getting support and momentum for other people's ideas that impact the health and wellness community," said Ruiz. “Our park system could use some attention. Parks aren't amenities anymore, and shouldn’t be viewed as luxury things cities have to offer. In the world of COVID, well-designed and maintained parks are necessities that cities should be offering their residents.”

Ruiz is spot on with his comments. Miami is known for its beaches and weather, but if Suarez’s plan to attract industry leading companies to move to Miami is going to succeed, then life beyond the sand needs to be just as appealing.

“After COVID, the parks, along with a push for health and wellness, should be a city focus,” said Ruiz. “We need to turn our attention to symptom curing solutions, vs problem-solving ideas. A focus on overall health and wellness can make a major difference in everyone’s lives.”

Gina Tolon South Florida Fitness
People

Gina Tolon Will Get You Fit Through Personal Empowerment

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.

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 https://fitwithmsgina.com/


FitFighter Steelhose
People

Workout Like a Firefighter with the FitFighter Steelhose

While the FitFighter fitness program was originally created to help firefighters train with the Steelhose, programs are available for everyone.

As a volunteer firefighter in Long Island, New York, Sarah Apgar was looking for a way to help her department train for live fires. An Iraq War veteran and a fitness professional, Apgar invented the Steelhose to mimic a fire hose filled with water using pieces of a fire hose filled with steel and stitched with resistance grommets. While the FitFighter fitness program was originally created to help firefighters train with the Steelhose, programs are now available for everyone.

"FitFighter began in a Long Island firehouse to better prepare firefighters for their job," says Apgar on the FitFighter website. "Now, we bring that same strength, stamina, and spirit of service to you, whether you're a soldier, CEO, athlete, parent, pro, or all the above."

The Steelhose is a versatile tool that does the work of a dumbbell, sandbag, medicine ball, and sledgehammer in one, giving you all the benefits of your favorite gym equipment in one easy-to-store tool that comes in a variety of weights. The weighted hose allows for a variety of moves including lifting, swinging, dragging, and tossing so that you are working on strength, flexibility, and range of motion in each workout. The Steelhoses are made right here in the United States with real firehose and steel.

Not only does FitFighter improve your fundamental movements like core and rotation, power and conditioning, and grip strength, but it also builds readiness methodology like physical preparation and mental fortitude to help you be your best all-around.

"Our Vision is to make you demonstrably stronger and more ready: for your everyday demands, to assist those in need and to better handle anything else that may cross your path," explains the FitFighter website.

FitFighter is available through an iOS training app and features live and on-demand workouts. Users can create their perfect workout by making a playlist of short exercises to keep the workout fresh.

A portion of sales benefits the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation, supporting wounded warriors, fallen first responders, and their families. Apgar also provides at-cost equipment to FDNY firefighters who need to train at home AND she is also working to keep high school and college athletes in top shape until sports can resume safely.

Check out Steelhose starter kits and membership options at fitfighter.com.  FitFighter will also be airing on Shark Tank on November 13 at 8 pm.

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People

Get Up and Dance with Miami Local Jaana Kunitz

Jaana Kunitz, Miami-local and former professional Latin Ballroom Dancer, is the Creative Director of Body FX, founded in 2016.

The positive physical and mental impacts of dance have been known for years. Body FX channels that in an on-demand fitness workout program that invites you to dance your way into staying in shape from the comfort of your own home.

Jaana Kunitz, Miami-local and former professional Latin Ballroom Dancer, is the Creative Director of Body FX. Kunitz founded Body FX with her husband James in 2016 after retiring from competitive dancing. The Kunitz' wanted to stay active through movement and Body FX was born.

Body FX offers fitness videos, as well as daily email coaching, nutritional support, monthly challenges, and an active Facebook group. One of the most popular Body FX programs, Figure 8, is a dance cardio workout that draws from Kunitz's expertise in Latin ballroom. The program utilizes basic foot patterns of Latin dances such as Salsa, Samba, Paso Doble, and the Rumba.

JNL Fusion, a HIIT focused program aimed at gaining strength, and 6-Minute Body, a time-efficient workout using short bursts of work, are two other programs that are part of Body FX. All of the programs aim to boost your mood while helping you get results. The Body FX subscription allows members to find a balance between the three programs to make the most of your fitness journey.

Kunitz's favorite part about Body FX is the community Body FX has created.

"To date, our private Facebook group has over 140K members! The online community connects Body FX members from all over the world encouraging members to share their triumphs, road bumps, and help motivate and champion others’ success," said Kunitz. "What’s even more special is how our global community has come together in support of one another over during this unprecedented time. With the pandemic-related social distancing measures, many were feeling extreme loneliness and little, to no motivation."

In the future, Kunitz hopes to have her own studio in Miami for in-person classes. For now, join her workouts on the Body FX App or with on-demand access at www.bodyfx.com.

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People

Get Sweaty with Sweaty Girl and Support Breast Cancer Awareness

Karla Perez, Founder of Sweaty Girl Apparel, designed her line of activewear to help women look their best while working out.

Sweat is sexy and Karla Perez, Founder of Sweaty Girl Apparel agrees. Her line of activewear, based right here in South Florida, is designed to help women look their best while working out and doing something healthy for themselves.

Beyond the activewear, which we’ll delve into in a bit, Karla Perez, set out to create an activewear collection to meet the demands of her active lifestyle, that she felt wasn’t being met on the market. She was looking for stylish activewear that was functional for all fitness types and sports.

“Most of the cute clothes just didn’t provide the support needed for the high-intensity workouts I was doing. Oftentimes, I would do a CrossFit class and then cool down with Yoga. Well, I don’t have to tell you what kind of outfit is appropriate for both types of classes," said Perez. "So, out of my frustration with the quality, price, and functionality of the clothes I was buying, Sweaty Girl was born!”

However, in 2018, everything came to a halt when she was diagnosed with bi-lateral breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment and has been cancer-free since 2019. And Sweaty Girl is also thriving.

Sweaty Girl is inspired by the vibrant colors and scene of Miami and brings a dose of bright, bold, and colorful fabrics and designs. One of the most favored features of the collection is the combination of compression fabrics from Columbia and Brazil. They provide just enough to hold you in, yet are soft enough for all-day wear. The line includes tops (sports bras, tanks, tees), bottoms (leggings, capri, shorts) and accessories (hats, towels, face masks) and more.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Karla and Sweaty Girl will be donating a portion of proceeds from the month of October (so hurry up and shop!) to breast cancer awareness charities.  

We’ve included some of our favorite styles for working out and athleisure, however, you can browse sweatygirl.com or follow on Instagram (@sweatygirl_kp) to find yours.

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People

Twerkout with Miami Native Simone Sobers, Creator of Boss Chick Dance Workout

What started in 2013 as a small class in Miami has since grown into a global program with more than 300 certified instructors in over 35 different cities.

Simone Sobers invites you to discover your inner-Beyonce during the Boss Chick Dance Workout.

The Boss Chick Dance Workout (BCDW) combines hip-hop, dancehall, soca, and Afrobeats choreography with signature twerk steps, cardio, and core strength-training for a full-body workout that is meant to empower and boost body confidence in women. What started in 2013 as a small class in Miami has since grown into a global program with more than 300 certified instructors in over 35 different cities.

Sobers created BCDW after recognizing a lack of black female leaders and inclusive environments in the wellness industry. She had already taken her passion for fitness to the next level and obtained her personal training certification from the American Council on Exercise. It only made sense to include her passion for dance.

"I started looking towards forms of fitness that would allow me to incorporate my love of dance. It was around this time that I also started researching health issues that typically affect black women, like heart disease and diabetes, and made the connection that these women weren't participating as much in group fitness classes," said Sobers.

Sobers' strong dance background includes training in classical ballet with Alvin Ailey and studying at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. From teaching dance to aspiring young girls to choreographing music videos for famous artists like J Balvin, Sobers always knew she was born to dance.

"In the second year of BCDW's existence, our participants started referring to my workouts as 'twerkouts' and the learn-to-twerk component was added, which really helped solidify our brand identity as being the first global twerk fitness brand with roots right here in Miami," said Sobers.

Breaking the common stigmas associated with twerking and celebrating the dance’s roots in the rich African culture, BCDW is designed to be an inclusive environment and safe space for women from all walks of life. Classes are for ladies only and include Twerk 101, an instructional technique class recommended for newbies that focuses on learning the 15 signature twerk steps, and Twerkography, a choreography dance cardio class that focuses on learning and performing a twerk combination.

"Boss Chick Dance Workout classes are designed to be accessible to all women, regardless of age or body type. Movements are concentrated on the hips - an area of the body where women store the most stress, tension, and negative energy - resulting in an emotional release that's just as powerful for our mental health as the workout's cardio and strength components are for our physical health," said Sobers. "One of my favorite things about our community is that we've created a safe space for women to connect with other like-minded women, to push and empower each other and provide ongoing moral support."

You can now also take classes on-demand and via live stream. The unlimited plan has a 7-day free trial and after that, it is $19.99 per month.

To learn more about the Boss Chick Dance Workouts or for more information on training to become a certified instructor, check out bosschickdanceworkout.com. You can also find their Instagram at @bosschickdanceworkout.

Photo by Matt Pendleton for Matt Pendleton Photography
People

6 Local Trainers Share Their Thoughts on Teaching Virtually

We asked 6 local trainers what it's like to teach virtually, what they like and do not like about the new format, and if they will continue to teach online.

Since 2020 brought group fitness and personal training online, we asked 6 local trainers what it is like to teach virtually, what they like and do not like about the new format, and if they will continue to teach online even as things start to reopen.

How do you prepare for class?

Tarah Timothee, co-owner and trainer at Revolve Fitness: "[Now] there's a live class taking place at the same time. [Before] the online experience was a bit more intense since the entire audience was virtual. We experimented with various platforms from FaceTime to Zoom and settled on Google Meet because of the sound quality.

Rilde Leon, trainer at Equinox and Echelon: "Preparing for a virtual class is really not so different than preparing for a physical, in-person class. Honestly, the biggest change may be in how much more exercise I actually do myself. Because the energy of the room is much more reliant on the instructor, rather than the room full of people, I've definitely stepped up my game in terms of my own workout intensity. It's also much harder to motivate a group that you can't see or interact with the way you would in person. Preparing classes and playlists that I am really passionate about coaching through has been a big help."

What do you like about it?

Cadizsh Norford, trainer and founder of Mind Muscle Motivation: "I like virtual training versus in-person training because it provides more convenience as far as location and time. It also allows me to showcase, share my experience, and assist those on a national/international level."

Nicole Hoskens, solidcore coach and personal trainer: "I started sharing workouts because I saw people's mood take a hit and there was minimal human connection during quarantine. By posting free, 30 minute workouts, I'm able to help improve people's mood, find creative ways to challenge people physically, and create a small virtual community. These classes have been my silver lining in 2020. I'm able to reach more people than I would in a studio and it has been so much fun to connect with strangers and people I haven't spoken to in a while."

What do you not like about it?

Rick Chavez, kettlebell specialist, and trainer at Anatomy: "I don't like that we all aren't together in the same place doing the class. The energy that comes from being in a room full of people, all moving together while the music blasts, hearts pumping, sweat dripping - I miss that."

Jessica Marcarelli, Miami yoga, and barre instructor: "One of the biggest challenges is the overwhelming options! It's hard to find a platform that is both profitable for the teacher and easily accessible for your students. There are so many class options out there, many of which are free, it's a lot of competition, and people have different preferences. Teaching virtually also loses the hands-on individual attention that you get from an in-person experience and that's one thing I miss the most. I think it's hard for students to get the most out of a class without the teacher able to offer corrections, modifications, and most importantly, hold students accountable to the work which could in turn impact their results."

What is your most valuable tool for online classes?

Aryan Rashed, Owner and CEO of TREMBLE: "The ring light is the best thing!"

Timothee: "[We use a] tripod, phone, portable speaker propped up on yoga blocks, and a Bluetooth microphone."

Hoskens: "Before last week I would have said my ring light tripod, which is very helpful. But my new favorite tool which I recommend to everyone using an iPhone to record is the Xenvo Pro Lens Kit. Prior to their new wide lens, I had to turn my camera horizontally when I was on the mat, and vertically when I was jumping. Now with the widescreen lens, I'm able to keep my phone recording horizontally which creates a more cohesive visual for participants."

RELATED 8 Ways You Can Improve Your Virtual Class Experience

How has it changed how you teach?

Chavez: "In most cases when teaching virtually, you can't see what the people taking class are doing and if they are doing it correctly. It's changed the way I teach by forcing me to get better with my verbal instruction and visual cues."

Leon: "The way I teach has definitely changed with the shift to virtual coaching. I've had to learn how to provide an even more engaging experience because naturally many of us struggle more to self-motivate on our own than we do in a physical group setting. The classes themselves also need to be more inclusive in a sense particularly with respect to movement options and terminology. In-person, it's easy to help each person adjust and modify moves as needed. But virtually, you have to assume everyone out there needs a unique type of assistance and ensure your programming is inclusive of every fitness level. So the biggest challenge has been making sure that everyone gets the same personalized feel even without knowing who's watching or how they're performing. But it's certainly made me a better instructor in the process."

Will you keep doing it?

Norford: "Yes I will continue to provide virtual training and classes even once things become more 'normal' because ever since taking things virtually, the opportunities have been endless and feedback has been amazing! Going virtually allows you to go past where you currently reside and build a community that's infinite which is really inspiring."

Marcarelli: "I will keep doing it! I love that I've been able to reconnect with old students and grow our community across the country and even internationally. At the end of the day, I want to provide my students with options outside of the classroom because even when things reopen we know that life gets in the way. One thing I've taken away from this experience is how resilient we are and with health top of mind I want to offer ways for people to stay healthy no matter what - no excuses!"

Rashed: "Yes, I am continuing to do this for our adaptive fitness program for people with disabilities. This is an amazing way for people living with paralysis to be able to workout without having to get over to a gym, particularly during a time where people with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable."

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People

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

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

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 www.jewishjet.com.

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People

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

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.

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: coachmikerosenfeld.com

Christa Gurka
People

Op-Ed: Confessions of a Miami Studio Owner During COVID-19

Christa Gurka, Owner of Pilates in the Grove, shares her experiences navigating COVID-19 as a small business owner.

To call these last several months unprecedented would be the understatement of the year. I never in my wildest dreams thought that phrases such as quarantine, social distancing, or flattening the curve would become part of our everyday vernacular. Nor did I imagine that I would be forced to close my business for an entire quarter with only a moment's notice. 

So many have been affected by this pandemic. Parents have had to learn to homeschool, teens have forfeited their senior year athletics and graduations, millions have lost their jobs, thousands have lost their lives and there is still no real end in sight. 

As the owner of Pilates in the Grove, a multi-location service-based business, I completely believe it is all of our responsibility to do our part to flatten the curve and do what we can to slow the spread of this virus. I along with countless others made the difficult decision to close both of my studios on March 17th and pivoted quickly to online classes and telemedicine in less than a week. To be honest...I believed this would last no more than two weeks at the time. Boy was I wrong!

We would all be in for a rude awakening. 

We went from competing with only a handful of other high-quality boutique fitness establishments in our area to competing with millions of people offering free workouts online in a matter of a few short days. And I get it ... people didn’t know what to do or where to turn. It was like the hunger games out there ... we were all just trying to survive. 

But channeling my inner Katniss, I felt that I didn’t have the luxury to merely survive. I run a business that not only has goals but commitments. I have responsibilities to myself and my family. I have team members who rely on me for their livelihood. And that requires financial solvency.

In a 2016 study on Pilates in America, 60% of studio owners said they earned less than $50,000 net annually. Studies also show that less than 50% of all boutique fitness studios are even profitable. It has become my mission to help other business owners (specifically women) learn how to operate a more profitable business. 

Much like the restaurant industry, the fitness industry is highly competitive and operates on very very low margins. Customers are always looking for discounts and sales. Enter ClassPass, Groupon, and GymPass. These third-party aggregators trim margins to almost negligible for business owners. 

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

Meanwhile, many fail to realize that in order to provide all of the things that come with a high-quality experience including ample free parking, clean and updated retail locations, state of the art equipment, and the high-quality staff, there is usually a high cost. The costs of commercial space (especially in large cities like Miami), property taxes, software, equipment, and quality labor are not cheap. 

So if even on a good year most fitness businesses are barely scraping by imagine what happens after a mandated shut down from a global pandemic.  

Businesses were forced to shut down overnight ... however, someone failed to relay this information to our landlords or vendors. Rent payments continued to be required as did software costs, utilities, and most other things that go hand in hand with running a business. All while our revenue grinded to a halt in a matter of hours. 

Then came the requests for refunds, freezes, stop payments and more. 

As business owners we were faced with the difficult choice to either terminate their entire team or innovate our offerings, I chose to keep as much of my team intact as possible. I pleaded my case to clients asking for continued support if they found it was possible. And so many of our clients stepped up big. Our community supported us. And my team came together big time to work through these unforeseen times. 

RELATED A Silver Lining in Fitness: A Miami Gym Owner’s Journey Through COVID-19

Fast forward four months. Four long arduous months. Months of applying for loans, negotiating with landlords, restructuring contracts, whittling down expenses, oh ... and homeschooling two teens. 

We are finally given the green light to re-open. By now we have sunk additional money into all of the new measures required to re-open. Updated HVAC units, additional cleaning supplies and services, PPE for staff and clients, new tech to support our virtual platforms, and the list goes on and on. Oh yeah, and did I forget to mention we can only open at 50% or less capacity?

So while costs are up and capacity is down and you have already exhausted all of your government assistance you buckle down and strategize how to be able to ride this out as long as possible. How do you keep your community engaged and your team paid? 

I fight hard to stay the course ... to keep pushing and pivoting and getting creative. Trying to make clients and staff feel as comfortable as possible. Trying as hard as possible not to increase prices or make too many internal changes. But at the end of the day, my rent and payroll do not get paid with well wishes and good intentions (believe me I have tried)  

I speak with dozens of studio owners every day who are closing their doors. And I wonder for those of us that do make it out of this what will the next 12 -24 months will look like. 

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Thankfully pre-COVID business was good. I was in the top 30% of businesses that ran a profitable ship, understood projections and planning, and jumped on government assistance right out of the gate. I let our clients know right from the beginning that we needed support in order to have our doors open when this was over. I was open and honest with my team that we needed to do everything possible to remain financially solvent so we all had jobs to come back to. 

With each and every month that passes, we see less and less attendance in our virtual classes. We get more and more requests for membership freezes and cancellations while at the same time receiving countless “best wishes”, “we are pulling for you” and “can’t wait to be back when this is over”. People are getting tired and bored.

So here comes the tough love part. In order for businesses like mine to still be here when COVID is all over we need more than well wishes. We need support.

And now is not the time for business owners to be shy about asking for it.

If you want to know how to ensure that your favorite locally-owned small boutique fitness business remains open here are some things you can do to help.

Get your butt to class! Most studios are extremely safe places to be right now. We have taken cleaning protocols and physical distancing very seriously. Studios are required to operate at a limited capacity and will keep you safe from the time you arrive to the time you leave.

Sharing is Caring! Feeling great after a class? Loved your private session? Share it on social, and tag us! Tell all of your friends about our online and virtual services ... Post a pic or tell your friends how great it is in the studio. We are not too proud to beg!!!

Pay full price. Now is not the time to bargain shop. Most fitness studios are hanging on by a thread and barely breaking even if at all. Asking for a discount or promotional offer is only adding fuel to the fire. Also, remember you are now getting an even better value with fewer people in each class. In most cases, you are actually being offered a more premium personalized service than before (at the business's expense).

Exercise is BEST right now. It has been shown that being healthy and physically fit is one of the best defenses against this virus. Moving your body and improving your cardiovascular health is critical now more than ever. 

Be Understanding. If you don’t like a schedule change or that you can no longer shower, or that you have to wear a mask, understand that there was likely a reason for it. Ask questions, or better yet ask how you can help. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone - including the front desk staff and studio owners who are on the receiving end of dozens of complaints, requests, and emails.

In the end, most small businesses are doing our absolute best just to keep our heads above water. While most of us are not looking for charity or hand outs we want you to know that we love what we do. We are passionate about our community and want more than anything to be here when we are on the other side of this. 

We are in this together, whether we like it or not so let’s make the most of it and do our best to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever!