You’ve Schooled Me!

Who ME?  You ask.

Yes.  Yes – YOU!

Over the last 25 years I have sat at my proverbial desk, holding my mental notebook in hand and jotting down notes in my mind.

And you, my friend, have totally SCHOOLED ME!



First let me back up a bit.  I am an educator by trade.

Literature, Grammar and Composition, oh my …

Back in the old days (haha), I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary English Education and a Minor in Composite Speech & Drama. Ahhh–now you understand my tendency towards sudden flare and theatrics!

After college I taught young, high school minds

—the complexities of proper English grammar

—expanded their communicative world through vocabulary

—revealed the genius behind the literary writings of Shakespeare, Voltaire, Dickens, Hemingway and so many other fabulous writers


—allowed them to use their imagination and research capabilities through composition.


I am a High School teacher turned Gym Rat

Even after trading in my teaching satchel for a gym bag, I still remain an educator — this time of

—body alignment


—planes of motion

—proper and improper technique

—body responses to exercise, nutrition and sleep


I still use theatrics and a flare for the dramatic to get my point across so that my clients will GET IT and REMEMBER IT.

I teach on the daily!  And I LOVE IT.

But, you, my dear clientele, have assumed an EDUCATOR’S role in my life and I a STUDENT’S.

How So?  You ask.

Well … let me give you some up close and personal anecdotes.


WHAT I LEARNED:  Never, Ever stop moving or stop trying.  No Excuses.

Gerardo is currently a mere 77 years young.  When I first met him he was in his late 60’s — sitting on a Spin Bike in that pitch black indoor cycling room at the New Tampa Family YMCA.  His goal?  To achieve EVERY SINGLE THING that the spunky, blonde instructor (yeah, that was me) told the class to do.  Week-in and week-out he was there on that same Spin bike with the same determination.  And voila!  He did it.  He accomplished his goal.

Not long after meeting Gerardo, he had open heart surgery.  Upon his recovery and doctors approval, he joined my outdoor cycling group called Road Rage.  The man never once complained.  Never stopped moving.  Was always there with a huge smile on his face and determination in his heart.

When Gerardo wasn’t in the Spin room or attending Road Rage, he was in the gym – LIFTING.  His actions and mindset are the same now as then.  Always moving.  Never stopping.  He lives a life of continuous fit-ness – pushing himself every step of the way.

Gerardo, I sit at the desk of inspiration as I continue to watch and learn from you.  I am very grateful for the life lessons!  When next we meet we shall DANCE!



WHAT I LEARNED:  Every situation life throws your way deserves a POSITIVE outlook!

Maria started training with me to help improve her mobility, range of motion and overall strength.  You see, life had dealt Maria a case of severe scoliosis from birth which stunted her growth, created an extensive curvature in her spine and left her with 1.25 lungs.

She scheduled her time with me for 5 A.M.  What?  Was she crazy?  YES and that’s part of why I love her.  Her first session found me in my pajamas because my alarm did not awaken me in time.  She gave me 5 minutes to get myself in order and there began our journey together.

Maria landed herself in the hospital a few years later with pneumonia.  After visiting her I was certain I would never see her again because her prognosis was very grim.  She didn’t look like she was going to make it, and my heart sank.  But do you know — that while I was visiting her on that day in the hospital, this frail of body but intensely strong of spirit woman began to ENCOURAGE ME!  A smile on her face, though she knew she was not well at all.

She did indeed make it out of the hospital, owing it in part to her training and the increase of strength she had achieved.  She left with a lifelong requirement of oxygen — dragging that oxygen tank behind her like a suitcase.  She is no longer able to drive and is now required to rely on the help of her husband and others.

The smiles are still there.  The “bright side” mentality remains.  She is a beam of light wherever she goes and with whomever she comes in contact.  Maria, simply put, you AMAZE ME in every single way!



WHAT I LEARNED:  To NEVER, EVER give up.  Always keep fighting! 

I met Victoria not long after I moved to Colorado.  I was working, at that time, at a local rec center teaching a variety of classes and personal training.  She and her 10th-grade daughter walked into class and unbeknownst to me, it was her daughter’s idea that they try taking classes together.

Victoria’s husband had recently passed away from cancer and Victoria and her 4 children had to watch him slowly decline.  I’m not sure, but her youngest daughter, Rachael, may have taken it the hardest and it was Victoria’s mission, nay her privilege, to assist Rachael in any way possible to help her cope.

So — off to classes they trotted — dealing with “crazy Michele” (yeah, again, that’s me) and the varieties of “torcher” I put them through.  We connected on an energy level and a mindset level that kept Rachael and Victoria coming back for more, despite my change of venues (when I re-opened business for myself and quit working for “the man”).  Always early morning.  Always ready to work.

Victoria fought then – for her children, for herself – and continues to fight now.  For them.  For herself … through becoming an empty nester, to watching her children flourish and granting them opportunities galore … through shoulder surgeries and skin cancer removals to running races and spending precious moments on the mountain skiing with her kids … through college graduations and marriages to learning what her new normal looks like as she faces this next phase of life.

She’s a fighter, this one.  And Victoria, I know I’ll find you in the trenches alongside me spurring me on to always fight the good fight no matter what I may face.



WHAT I LEARNED:  Change is possible and HARD WORK always pays far reaching dividends.

Roderick came to the original LivFit Studio in Tampa, FL after it first opened in 2009.  He had just taken his life into his own hands after undergoing a doctor recommended surgery for his obesity.  He was told that if he did not DO SOMETHING, he would be on a path towards mortality.

After his surgery, Roderick had A LOT of work to do.  He was responsible for the continued process of weight loss and healthy living — and he took his responsibility very seriously.  His goal?  To become half the man he was … LITERALLY.

Roderick showed up at 5 A.M. to participate in strength training sessions on the Total Gym GRAVITY machine.  He would get in the pool during his lunch break and return to the studio after work for Kickboxing and Core Conditioning sessions. When I arranged a runner’s club, Roderick joined, even though he had to walk part of the way.  When the doors were open, Roderick was there.

Roderick began to make HUGE STRIDES in his desire to become half the man he was.  He would pair himself with me to run sprint cycles during certain sessions.

“You gonna let a little girl beat you, Roderick?”  I’d challenge him.  And he ACCEPTED the challenge by adding just a bit more speed!

Until finally we decided to run our first race together — side by side — the entire way.  We signed up for the Swamp Dash and it was on that day, running alongside Roderick, I knew without a doubt that he was never, ever looking back and that he would continue to put in the work to reach his goal.  The following year we ran the Super Spartan obstacle race in Miami — there was nothing that could stop him!

Roderick — you DID IT.  You became half the man you were when I met you.  Total admiration, my friend, for this incredible life lesson of embracing change and NEVER ONCE QUITTING on the hard work – no matter how long it takes to accomplish the desired result.



WHAT I LEARNED:  Falling down always means there’s opportunity to get back up!

Deana was part of the Wednesday morning CRAZY SPIN CLASS club, led by yours truly.  We tackled the woes of the world in that class and we used the assistance of some aggressive – possibly angry but definitely motivating – music to get the work accomplished.  A painted BLACK room with glowing black lights and a slightly angry instructor (yes, also me) made this the CRAZY class.

Deana also joined Road Rage, the outdoor cycling club I started.  It was on a day that I was unable to attend that Deana crashed — hard!  She was drafting at 24mph behind another cyclist and their tires bumped.  Deana was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital as a Level 1 trauma for spinal and brain injuries.

Deana has fallen down in other ways as well — like many of us — through life events that brought her to her knees.  But in watching Deana through it all, one thing holds true!  Deana never determined that she would EVER STAY DOWN!  She brushed off the dust, wiped away the blood and tears (literal and figurative) and has gotten up every single time — even on that bike!

I took notes, Deana.  You have led by example through many hard knocks.  What a teacher you’ve been on the subject of Falling Down / Getting Up!  Much respect, my friend!

Five Stories … a LIFETIME of Lessons

Thank you

 – not only to the 5 people above – but to so many others of you who have taken me to school and back with your teachable moments, your outlooks, your difficulties and the beautiful way in which you’ve handled this thing called LIFE.  

I have watched you … taken notes … learned from your setbacks, even your mistakes … and have developed quite a textbook of golden treasures from so very many of you.

I may have taught you a thing or two about fitness, health, wellness, but YOU, dear friends, have taught me immeasurably more!

Like I said,


and I could not be more grateful for the learning curve!

Much Love,

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