Michelle is a personal trainer, nutrition specialist and yoga and mat Pilates instructor. She’s also a wife, mother and breast cancer survivor who is past the half-century mark. Which means, Michelle has been through it all in the realm of fitness and eager to share her professional expertise and real-world experiences with her clients and class participants so they can achieve their goals and be well for a lifetime.
Michelle teaches a number of virtual classes with TAW - Tone 'n Flex, Postural Strength, Foam Rolling, Cardio Conditioning and a newly added class, Feel Better In Your Seat, a total body class designed to reverse the effects of prolonged sitting!
We asked Michelle a few questions about fitness, life during the pandemic, her new puppy Jasper, self care tips, fun facts and much more. Check out her answers below!!
What inspired you to start teaching group exercise?
I started out my professional fitness career as a strictly one-to-one personal trainer - transforming lives one at a time. Personal training is extremely rewarding and I still love doing it. But, I also wanted the opportunity to reach more people. I branched out to include group training and haven't looked back. There's nothing that matches the camaraderie and team spirit you tap into in a group fitness class.
What are your favorite types of classes to teach and why?
Though fitness has been a focus for me, personally, all my adult life, I didn't become a professional until my 40s. I saw a gap that needed filling in the fitness industry. There's a lot of focus on hard-core workouts that appeal to, predominantly younger, fitness enthusiasts and not enough out there to appeal to the middle aged population who really don't aspire to a killer workout or a killer body, but need help incorporating fitness for general health and well-being into their busy lives. Which is a long way of saying that I enjoy teaching back-to-the-basics classes where I can reach those who have had a difficult time finding their place in the fitness universe.
What have you most enjoyed about teaching virtually?
Without the constraints of travel time, I've been able to take on more classes and clients on a weekly basis than I ever have before. And time zone differences become an asset rather than a barrier.
Tell us a little about yourself, outside of fitness.
I'm a foodie - I love to cook and try new foods that other people cook for me. I also love being outdoors.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself!
I love shoveling! I was born and raised in New England and consider it the best place on Earth. When we moved to New York for my husband's career in 2005, it was a big adjustment for me. (For those of you outside of the Northeast, New England and New York are rivals in every way.) We don't get as much snow here near NYC, so I celebrate a good, old-fashioned shoveling task whenever I can.
What advice would you give to someone trying to stay active during the pandemic?
I think the biggest motivating factor that has been largely removed during the pandemic is accountability. We are told not to go to the gym or fitness studio and not to be in close proximity to people outside our household. So, now there's no one asking you, "Hey, Susie, why weren't you in Michelle's Tone 'n Flex class today?" Or John and Jim aren't able to do their weekly Saturday morning jog anymore. With no one to be accountable to, it becomes too easy for Susie, John and Jim to skip more and more regular workouts, replacing them with sedentary habits. So, reach out to those people whom you used to workout with and become each other's fitness accountability buddy.
What are some self care practices that have helped you throughout the last year?
Most of you have some version of my scenario: I have a husband working from home, a daughter in college who was home from March to August and, again, for the last month, and a daughter in high school who has been hybrid with a lot of emergency all-virtual weeks sprinkled in. I'm also an introvert. The lack of personal space and alone time has been the biggest struggle for me, by far. I try my best to find moments, when everyone else is busy in his or her own corner of the house behind a close door, to find my own space where I won't be disturbed and just enjoy the quiet. Other times, I've just gone for a long drive - sometimes with music on or sometimes in silence. I need that time to decompress and be in my own head for a while.
What is something that brings you joy?
We adopted a 3 month old rescue puppy in July. I think it's safe to say Jasper has brought a lot of chaos, love and joy into our home at precisely the right time.
What are you most looking forward to post-pandemic?
Oh, so many things. My extended family and my best friend are all in Massachusetts and my in-laws are in Chicago - I can't wait to see, and hug, all of them. I miss going to restaurants, shows and sporting events. I look forward to doing all of those things without a mask. And I look forward to having the house to myself for big chunks of the work week. But, the thing I am most looking forward to is both of my daughters returning to normal school and social lives again. This pandemic has stolen a lot from me but it doesn't even come close to comparing how much it has stolen from them.