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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. 

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.

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. 

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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.

JK_HS 7|ab-sec2-img
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. 

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

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!

Miami
People

Gym Owners Form Miami Wellness Coalition to Speak with Unified Voice

Gym owners organize the Miami-Dade County Wellness Coalition designed to represent the interests of the areas fitness industry.

Back in May, a pool of Miami gym owners, alongside other area health and wellness professionals, dubbed the "Working Wellness Group" by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, met with Gimenez to advise on the reopening of the local fitness industry. Through a series of meetings and calls with the Mayor that have spanned the last few months, the Group realized they were more or less reacting to predetermined decisions vs advising on possible best practices on how to reopen their businesses while simultaneously prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Understanding that they would be more effective if they collaborated and worked the calls and agenda with a unified voice, a subset of owners formed the Miami-Dade County Wellness Coalition to do just that.

"It's pretty simple," said Christa Gurka, Owner of Pilates in the Grove and organizer of the Coalition. "If we speak together with a unified voice, we can be more effective in our communication with local officials."

RELATED Behind the Scenes: The Miami Gym Owners Pushing the County to Reopen

Gurka is not one to sit on the sidelines. To her, this is part of the bigger picture for the fitness industry as a whole, where she is working with a country-wide coalition that is lobbying Congress to include the fitness industry in economic relief stimulus.

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

“It’s the right thing to do,” commented Gurka on her work lobbying Congress. “The fitness industry has been completely overlooked in all of this, and we are an essential part of the communities we serve. We help define community. We bring residents together every day under our roofs. And something needs to be done to help keep these businesses alive.”

But back in Miami-Dade, Gurka and other members of the Miami-Dade County Wellness Coalition want to make sure their voice is heard and know they aren't being passed over. Case in point, the County has already flagged $35 million for a grant program to help the hospitality industry. That money comes from the $474 million Miami-Dade received from the federal government as part of the CARES Act, which must be used by December 30, 2020.

RELATED NYC Gyms File Class-Action Against State After Being Removed From Phase 4

Gurka and others are just starting to meet. If local gym owners want to join the coalition, email Christa Gurka at christa@pilatesinthegrove.com.

Dani Dellarco
People

Op-Ed: Pride is So Much More Than My Sexual Orientation

Pride, to me, is so much more than my sexual orientation. To me, Pride is about having the confidence and acceptance of loving yourself.

Pride, to me, is so much more than my sexual orientation. To me, Pride is about having the confidence and acceptance of loving yourself. Pride is about owning who you are, living as authentically as you can. Whether you are an ally or a member of the LGBTQ community, we can all have pride for who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we intend to go. I truly believe that love should know no gender. I love my partner not because she is a woman, but for the person she is. I love her for her character because she is strong, kind, genuine, and authentic.

The question I get most is, “How did you know?” I think as a kid, I always kind of knew.

As a kid, I preferred shopping in the boy’s section rather than the girl’s section. I had crushes on female celebrities while my peers crushed on male celebrities. In high school, I started to get teased for my more masculine style. I would tiptoe into the men’s section of J. Crew hoping my peers wouldn’t see me. I spent much of my high school years trying to blend in.

It wasn’t until college that I made the decision to come out. Although I had this idea from a young age that I was more attracted to women, I had grown up going to catholic school and learned that being gay was wrong. Going to college, gave me that exposure to the LGBTQ community and the strength to realize there was nothing wrong with being gay. I figured I had two options: fight the feeling that makes me truly feel like me, or just accept and love myself for who I am.

I remember that I had made the decision to come out to my parents on a trip home during fall break. I was nervous, as I knew my dad was religious so I was very unsure how he would react to the news. My coming out was easy, and I fully acknowledge this is not the case for many members of the LGBTQ community. My parents were incredibly supportive and continue to be supportive of the relationship my partner and I have.

Today, I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ community. My partner and I are both fitness instructors and strive to provide an inclusive environment for people to work out. To this day, I still shop in the men’s section, I embrace the things that make me who I am. I am grateful for the Miami fitness community that has embraced me and accepted me for who I am.

Taylor Walker|Taylor Walker|Taylor Walker
People

Heavy and Heartbroken, Yet Hopeful: My Journey as a Biracial Woman

Fitness professional Taylor Walker shares her journey as a biracial woman in America.

Picture this; an 11 year-old-biracial girl dates a white boy for 9-months in middle school. She sees nothing wrong with it because her mommy is white and her daddy is black and they teach love, acceptance, and appreciation for all cultures. When he abruptly breaks up with her, she does what any middle school child in 1997 would do; she has her BFF call him while she waits anxiously on the other phone. When the words, “I don’t want black children ring in her ears," her life is forever changed. The blood rushes from her body, and she begins to question everything she has ever known. If you are wondering, that her, is me.

Taylor Walker

The me today is a biracial mother who runs a successful wellness blog and trains clients from all different ages, races and backgrounds. The me today, get’s to waitlist Barry’s classes and inspire people to be their best and most confident selves. The me today is proud, powerful, and comfortable in her brown skin, but the me today also carries hurt. Deep wounds that re-open with every Black Death being filmed, with news stories of a woman in Central Park using her white privilege and scare tactics in an attempt to ruin a black man’s existence. The wounds re-open when I see the people of color that make up my world hurting, sad, and crying out in pain. What starts as a trickling stream of hurt, turns into a river and that river becomes an ocean; an ocean of hurt that people of color in America have been enduring for hundreds of years.

If you are a person of color in America, you live a different life.

I myself understand that I experience a level of privilege as a biracial woman. My brothers have been called racial slurs and have been stopped and frisked on multiple occasions without probable cause and without any regard for who they really were/are: fathers, successful businessmen, and All-American Athletes.

How? How is the one word on repeat in my mind right now? How is this real life? How are black men and women still losing lives by police brutality? How are we still living in a time where we are constantly judged by our skin color and not by the content of our character? It is all so dark, but within that darkness there is light. What I am witnessing in my feed, in my DM’s and through the constant barrage of texts and calls is that for many Americans, regardless of their skin color, enough is finally enough! What we are seeing play out before us is decades of hurt and anger and cries for change. Although the world feels so broken right now, we are witnessing something many of us have never seen before in our lifetime. Solidarity and support for the black community. Black, white, yellow, or brown, we are all trying to navigate this pain as a community, understand our part and working to find our voices in the process.

Taylor Walker

So friends, if you want to see the change, you must be the change. Even if you are not fighting this fight on the front lines of protests, I urge you to start to build your bridges. Ask your friends and co-workers of color how to be allies. Inquire, read, show up, and make your black counterparts feel equal, seen, and know that every gesture counts. If you take my class or follow me on social - @taylorwalkerfit, let’s have the tough conversations. I always hope to make my clients feel and experience things they never thought possible. As a trainer and woman of color in the most colorful city in the world, my wish is to help you build the strength to be the change.

Friends, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have HOPE. I recently watched a sermon from Miami Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. He spoke of HOPE. He said hope stands for: HOLD ON, PAIN ENDS. So friends, I am holding on, and I am asking you to keep holding on until the pain ends and the wounds heal for all Americans. Keep showing up for the people of color in your life, keep reaching out, look each other in eye, and above all else … choose LOVE.

Christa Gurka|Christa Gurka
People

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

Christa Gurka, Owner of Pilates in the Grove, is lobbying Congress to include the fitness industry in a Coronavirus relief bailout.

Christa Gurka has never been one to sit on the sidelines and react. Her entire career has been built on taking action, doing the right thing, and teaching others how they can apply her learnings. So as COVID-19 continues to decimate the economy, resulting in a 13.3% unemployment rate with over 20.1 million people unemployed, Gurka knew she needed to act. Not on behalf of her own interests as the owner of the wildly popular Pilates in the Grove, but on behalf of the entire fitness industry.

“We were very fortunate at Pilates in the Grove. Taking our offering online was already in the works as part of our 2020 goals,” said Gurka. “But I know other gyms in the area and across the country are not in the same position. We are small business owners that employ amazing people that impact the residents in the neighborhoods we serve. I had to do something.”

And something she did. Gurka is part of the $1 Million mastermind group within Boutique Fitness Solutions, an organization dedicated to helping boutique fitness studios thrive. After her appearance on a local Miami TV segment, Gurka’s group reached out asking if she would help work on legislation that Congress would consider turning into a bill in the House.

“Essentially, the bill was started to provide economic relief for restaurants, but it makes sense for the fitness industry as well,” explained Gurka. “At a very-high level, it would cover a percentage of the difference in losses between a studios 2020 revenues versus their 2019 revenues.”

Gurka and the lobbying group have a long road ahead of them, with little chance of success, but that’s not stopping her from trying.

“It’s the right thing to do,” commented Gurka. “The fitness industry has been completely overlooked in all of this, and we are an essential part of the communities we serve. We help define community. We bring residents together every day under our roofs. And something needs to be done to help keep these businesses alive.”

miami gym owners|Brickell
People

Behind the Scenes: The Miami Gym Owners Pushing the County to Reopen

These Miami gym owners are working with Miami-Dade County to advise the county on how best to reopen Miami gyms.

It started in early March, when a group of CrossFit box owners that dubbed themselves the “Stronger Together” group, created an alliance to share best practices and ideas during the crisis.

“At first it was just about a dozen or so CrossFit gyms that decided to put differences and competition aside, and figure out how to navigate this situation,” said Guido Trinidad, founder of the popular, Peak360 CrossFit in South Miami, and a leader in the South Florida CrossFit community.

RELATED Savvy Miami Gym Owners Are Finding Ways to Drive Revenue During Coronavirus, and Members are Loving It

Organized by Mike Osuna, founder of Train8Nine, and another individual responsible for ushering in the popularity of CrossFit in South Florida via the I Am CrossFit chain, the group quickly evolved into something more as the days and weeks passed.

“We started to meet every week and discuss how to manage reopening,” said Jessica Bergman, owner of Downtown Strength and Conditioning. “But we realized the fitness industry wasn’t being addressed in the reopening plans, it was being left behind.”

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

The group at this point had expanded beyond the CrossFit community to include gym owners of all modalities. Through contacts, the group was able to land two separate Zoom calls with Miami Mayor, Francis Suarez.

“Mayor Suarez was really open and transparent with us,” said Trinidad. “He hopped on two different Zoom calls with us really late at night to give us advice and insight into what was happening. He’s a big fitness enthusiast, and his advice was key to helping us move forward.”

Next came Governor Desantis’s announcement on May 15th, announcing gyms in Florida were allowed to reopen at the discretion of local municipalities. But the Stronger Together group, along with Miami-Dade gyms owners, were left wondering when it was their turn.

Realizing gyms could be left behind without action, the group, through another series of contacts, was able to get in contact with the office of Miami-Dade County Mayor, Carlos Gimenez. They learned a “working wellness” group was being formed to advise on the reopening of local gyms. On May 22nd, the group had its first call with Mayor Gimenez and addressed their concerns.

“We developed some guidelines and proposals for the county to consider to help expedite the discussion and decision making for when gyms can reopen,” said Omar Luna, City of Miami Springs Recreational Director and owner of Springs Athletics in Miami Springs. “We didn’t want to waste anytime.”

On their second call with the County, the group was told that June 8th should be the target reopening date, with Mayor Gimenez mentioning that during his May 29th Virtual Townhall.

“It’s time for gyms to open,” said Bergman. “They need to be given the chance to resume operations safely and responsibly with guidelines just like every other business in the area.”

RELATED 4 Ways COVID-19 Will Change the Fitness Industry

As gyms owners across the county expect to hear good news this week, one lesson can be learned – collaboration not competition is the key to long term survival and success in the new age of fitness.

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People

Learn to Belly Dance, Get Fit, and Have Fun with Helen Blondel

Helen Blondel aims to unveil the mystique of belly dancing while empowering women and girls to feel great about their body with her new online dance course.

Helen Blondel aims to unveil the mystique of belly dancing while empowering women and girls to feel great about their body with her new online dance course.

Blondel recently launched BellyPOP, an online course designed to teach the fundamentals of the ancient art of belly dancing in the safety and comfort of your own home.

Blondel has over 15 years of experience as a dancer and teacher and has won multiple awards.

“I’m really excited about the launch of BellyPOP," explains Blondel. “The focus of this course is to introduce people to the essentials of this incredible art form, while at the same time liberating them from hangups about their body. BellyPOP is designed for women and girls of all ages, no matter what their shape or ability."

The course is focused on teaching newcomers the foundations of belly dancing, and the classes are divided up into easy segments, with each module focusing on an essential pillar of belly dancing skills. Blondel is available to answer any questions from her students with an easy to understand approach and a friendly one-on-one style.

With most people confined to their homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the perfect time to try something new, while remaining socially distant.

“People can’t really go out and attend a dance studio these days," says Blondel. “That’s what makes BellyPOP so great. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or binging on Netflix, you can learn something new that’s going to help you stay in shape, release endorphins and give you more confidence about your body, all in the safety of your living room."

For more information on classes, check out BellyPOP at www.bellypop.co.

People

3 South Florida Gym Owners Share Life During the Quarantine

I got to catch up with three South Florida gym owners to find out how quarantine has affected them and what is keeping them sane.

The gym industry was one of the hardest hit when South Florida cities began to announce business closures in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. One thing we’re learning as this situation unravels is that gyms are not just a place to lift weights, they are a source of connection, community and escape from daily stressors. Gym owners all across the state are working to move their offerings online and continue to cultivate the kind of community that their clients crave.

I got to catch up with three South Florida gym owners to find out how quarantine has affected them and what is keeping them sane. My conversations with these owners were overwhelmingly positive, with underlying themes to the effect of, we’ll get through this, we’ve got to keep moving, we’ve got to keep connecting.

Troy Valls of Move. Lift. Live (@move.lift.live)

Move. Lift. Live is currently offering several free classes per day.

How are things going for you in quarantine?

Oddly, pretty good. We’re in ‘take it day by day’ mode and at the moment we’re good. Time will tell. We took a decision early on to start sunsetting the gym business. We felt like ‘this is going to happen anyway, so let’s just rip the bandaid off now’ and we jumped on it. We started asking questions like: How can we be proactive? How do we adapt? How do we exist? What does this virtual world look like?

What are you up to now?

Before we closed, we opened up the doors for our members to sign out equipment. We are offering a full schedule of workouts 3 times a day, including yoga, mobility, and a discussion group. The discussions include about 10 people, we pick a topic and dig into it. We recognized that people are still feeling really anxious and we feel that for the most part, the antidote is people being able to connect with each other.

How is your community?

Our community has been amazing. Everyone is asking ‘what can we do? ‘They’ve also been expressing worry that their connection will go away. We’re really pushing to maintain a sense of community. When you boil it down fitness is really about healing. People look to fitness and health as remedies, to help them feel better. Fitness increases longevity, mental clarity, strength, courage, and mental resilience. Now we’re just trying to create that in a virtual space.

How was the shift into digital for you?

The shift into digital was pretty seamless for us because we were ahead of it. We recognize that physical connection is irreplaceable, so we’re going above and beyond with our digital offerings making sure people still feel that they have human connection in a meaningful way.

How are you feeling?

Everybody knows that when you step out of your comfort zone that is where you truly find growth and magic. Right now we’re being forced into things we’re not comfortable with. As the community pulls together, the more we support each other, the more we can help people find their true gifts so that they can prevail and come through this.

And what about the business?

As long as we’re still standing, we’re asking ‘what is the most we can do to help?'

Jamie Maitland of The Office (@theoffice954)

The Office is offering free classes at @theoffice954

What are you up to these days?

We have been streaming live mini-workouts outs along with some spin classes. I want our community to feel like they are still able to connect with us on a personal level, so all of the workouts have been real, not perfect, just the way it is.

How is your community doing?

My community is super inspiring, everyone is coming together, even the studios are coming together. People do miss their outing to the gym, though. The workout community is an escape and I love being that for people, but things always change and we just have to move forward.

How are you personally handling the situation?

I’m ready to take on anything that you throw at me on a deeper level. I’m still waking up every day and able to do what I love to do every day, so I’m grateful for that. Perspective and mindset will get us through this. I’m trying not to overthink and am doing my best, it’s one of the four agreements. You have to learn to surf and flow. Things ebb and flow, that’s life, it’s a jungle.

What’s your favorite home workout rn?

Butchering my accessory muscles. Short workouts, but killer. Like doing 1,000 donkey kicks.

Kamps - Ari and Sam Karl (@kampsfit)

Kamps is offering free daily classes through Kamps Live

What are you up to these days?

We’re live-streaming classes on Zoom for free. We’re also raising money for Feeding America, which helps fund food banks across the country. These organizations are feeding the children who are usually fed in public school, it’s so important right now.

How was the shift to digital?

We have been extra cautious watching this materialize, so we closed early on. We didn’t want to be part of the problem. Because we closed early, we had some time to prepare and took an organized approach.

We’ve never done digital, so we face challenges every day. We’re still working on sound and image quality, and interaction. It’s been constantly evolving since we’ve been online, but our digital community is growing - we now have people tuning in to our workouts from all over the globe, it’s inspiring to see.

How is your community doing?

We have a good base of clientele that we see every day and we’re still feeling a sense of community through our free classes. Everyone seems to be doing okay, and we are doing our best to keep everyone in good physical and mental shape throughout this crisis.

What is your favorite workout rn?

All of our trainers bring an exciting and unique aspect to the workout. Elena’s boxing classes are incredible!

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