In this edition of The Pro Project, CBI Unbound’s ongoing get-to-know-an-industry-expert series, we present New York City’s Mario Godiva.
He is a master trainer, international presenter, and the official U.S. spokesperson for Kangoo Jumps, the Swiss creator of rebound footwear and innovative group rebounding classes. He brought Kangoo group workouts to America.
Godiva has been certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) of Sherman Oaks, California, as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer, and has been tapped as an expert by top media outlets such as CNN, The Today Show, The Dr. Oz Show, and Fitness magazine. In addition, he holds certifications in, and has conducted training for, Zumba and TRX, and other organizations.
Godiva is also a singer, actor, dancer, choreographer, and model, and can be found each week teaching innovative, spirited, well-attended classes at notable clubs such as Equinox, New York Health & Racquet, and 24 Hour Fitness.
How did you become such a dynamic instructor? And what’s your advice to those hoping to replicate your success?
It’s been a process; I constantly look for opportunities to increase my knowledge, often looking to different venues for inspiration. For example, while I’ve participated in track and football, I’ve also studied musical dance and theater. Staying open to different things has made me a unique hybrid capable of many things.
When teaching group fitness, I aim to make each class a definitive experience, a "wow." To do that, I plot out everything beforehand––from music, to cueing, to deciding how I’m going to engage participants.
And always, I'm extremely present. Something as simple as greeting people, or helping them put away equipment can be memorable and effective. Good instructors may teach a great class and may be well liked by members; great instructors consistently go above and beyond.
To create a team of such superstars clubs need to foster an environment that is supportive, offers recognition and encourages growth. When people feel good about themselves, they’ll do the best job they can.
Who are your role models and what have you learned from them?
Lois Miller is my personal role model. She has worked in the industry for over 23 years, serving as the regional fitness director for Crunch Fitness in Chicago, and as a leading instructor for Equinox. When nobody else took me seriously, she believed in my potential and encouraged me.
She taught me that if you’re passionate, persistent, and truly believe in something, you must never take no for an answer. That lesson has shaped my career.
Professionally, I admire Chalene Johnson, a leading instructor, fitness entrepreneur, and motivational speaker. She is genuine, empowering, fun, engaging, compassionate, motivational, and gorgeous––I could go on. Honestly, if I could do a tenth of what she does, I’d be happy.
Tells us something about your life that is unique, and perhaps, surprising.
I am the oldest living member of my family. I lost my mother at 16 to a seizure disorder, my aunt and grandfather succumbed to heart disease, and my grandmother perished in an electrical fire.
Also, I was an overweight child.
Despite that, I’ve made a conscious choice to be positive, inspiring, and motivational. I live each day to the fullest because I know, first hand, that you never know how long you have in this world.
In your view, what can the industry do to get more people in clubs and exercising?
Clubs need to focus more on community outreach by hosting special events, races and competitions to engage and motivate people.
I am, for instance, part of a great program, Shape Up NYC, a partnership between Equinox and Mayor Bloomberg's office. We provide free fitness classes in recreation centers, hospitals, schools, and other organizations. It's an amazing program and I believe it can, and should, be done on a national level. Thousands have attended classes this year.
Going forward, what can we expect from you?
My major goal is to build suite of internet-based videos and a music club that features Kangoo fitness instruction, motivation pieces, and “how-to” items. I’m creating a related smartphone application.
I am planning to make available a continuous stream of content to guide, and inspire my followers the world over. I am particularly excited about this project.
Eventually, I’d also like to launch a chain of boutique fitness studios that would offer multiple training options, including, of course, Kangoo. I would enjoy creating an excellent atmosphere that is open, accepting, empowering, and fun.
But ultimately, no matter what I do, I hope to personally touch and inspire as many lives as possible.