I was on vacation in Sarasota, Florida, a couple of weeks ago visiting my brother and his family. I’ve been down there a few times now and have happily made the Sarasota YMCA (the Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch)—which is just a few miles from their neighborhood—my home away from home (away from home). What an amazing fitness facility and what an incredibly talented staff.
It doesn’t matter what time I’ve gone or what class I’ve selected, the place has always been a beehive of activity with a very positive vibe and a strong community feel. There are people of every age (including my 20-month old niece, who gets well taken care of in the child care center while her Mom is doing yoga or cardio or while her Dad is playing racquetball) doing a host of different activities at any given time.
I am especially impressed by the group exercise programming and staff. The array of classes and sheer number of instructors is mind boggling. Wellness director Gillian da Silva and wellness coordinator Jennifer Hawkins do a brilliant job of scheduling and showcasing both the staff and menu of classes. There is a wonderful board of photos and well-written bios for each instructor just outside the main group ex room. I somehow found the instructors who taught my classes to be more approachable because I was able to read about their interests, certifications and fitness specialty areas before I even took their classes. I felt like I already knew them a little bit. Group Ex directors take note—use this subtle method of marketing your instructors to members to create a comfort level among participants.
Over the course of a few days and in addition to use of the cardio facilities and gorgeous 50 meter pool, I attended Slow Sculpt, mat Pilates and Muscle Works. Thank you to the very lively and fun Barbara, Beth and Noshayah for sharing their considerable knowledge and enthusiasm with me and others during these classes.
On a final note, I’ll say that I was incredulous as to how well-ordered the considerable amount of equipment in the main group ex room was. The resistance bands were impeccably hung by color, the dumbbells were racked in the proper slots (which never happens in my gym); the body bars were stood by color like little soldiers in their proper bins…and everyone respectfully put things back exactly where they found them. Maybe when participants find things in order, they take the time to put them back, too? Try it at your facility and let me know if it works!
I’ll be back in Sarasota for another visit soon and will look forward to seeing my newfound friends there again! Thanks for your hospitality.
Anyone who knows me out there well understands that I could wax on forever about food, recipes, wine and the culinary arts in general. I try to go to at least one cooking class per month to keep myself in the game. Wednesday night I attended a terrific class with IDEA Fitness Journal art director Esther Coit, who shares my food passion. We are both fairly accomplished cooks, so it’s not always easy finding a class that is different enough to justify the money and time, but we scored a bulls eye last night when we picked “An Evening With Rancho La Puerta Spa and Deborah Schneider.”Schneider, a San Diego chef and cookbook author, recently collaborated with spa legend Deborah Szekely on a new book, Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta (2008, Stewart, Tabori & Chang), from which the evening’s recipes were derived. Szekely, who founded Rancho La Puerta in the 1940s, was honored in 2007 as our first Inner IDEA Inspiration Award recipient.The book itself is a visual feast, with photos that glisten and pop off the page, and that will seriously make you drool if you haven’t had a meal recently. If the 8 recipes Schneider prepped from the book are any indication of the rest of the content, I’ll say now the book is a total winner. I won’t go through the entire menu, but will mention that for dessert we had “midnight” chocolate cake with coconut ice, chocolate drizzle and peanuts a la mode. This is spa food, people. Schneider told the class that she “eats like a lumberjack” whenever she’s down there and inevitably comes home 5 pounds lighter. This speaks volumes about the powerful equation of whole, organic foods—lovingly prepared—plus focused physical activity.The recipes we tried had a largely Mexican influence (owing to the spa’s Baja roots and the influence of Rancho La Puerta Chef Jesus Gonzalez), and were infused with color, crunch and outrageous flavor. I can’t wait to dive into the book and try my hand at some of the menus.Do you go to cooking classes? Do your clients? What have you learned that has been of value to you as a fitness pro? Did you know IDEA has been covering nutrition and food issues for many years now? Our “Food For Thought” section in IDEA Fitness Journal is devoted to food and nutrition news and science. We also have a monthly food focus and a featured healthy recipe every issue. You can access these any time by going to the Online Library and typing the keyword “Recipes” into the search bar. We have more than 5,000 articles in the Library that are ready and waiting for you.Meantime, what food issues would you like to see covered? Let me know by adding a comment to this blog.Bon appetit!
The IDEA editors have been blogging and video logging (vlogging) our events for a few years now. However, I wanted to share thoughts and observations with you on a more regular basis, so our intrepid web developers set up this blog for me. Welcome and thanks for reading! I’ll look forward to hearing your feedback and insights.
Plank and push-up progression.
Master motivator Todd Durkin puts attendees through the paces with a fun "Partner Tag" drill in his "Train the Joes Like the Pros" session at the 2008 IDEA World Fitness Convention.