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Entries in Mia Coen (37)


‘Out of the Mouth of Babes’

Winners all: Armin Rassipour, 7, Mike Robinson, Brooke Larson, 9

By Mia Coen

Mike Robinson, the owner of MZR Fitness in San Luis Obispo, California, is used to teaching adults how to lose weight and stay fit at his personal training facility, which he describes as “a life enhancement and fitness center.”

Recently, though, he’s been paying a lot of attention to the younger population.

Given all the alarming statistics and headlines about the health of children—ones documenting such things as epidemic obesity, the increased incidence of diabetes and other chronic medical conditions, and, even, reduced life spans—it’s a welcome development.

It’s also one that a growing number of club operators are participating in.

MZR offers a Fit Kids Afterschool Fitness and Learning Program that, Robinson explains, is specifically designed to give youngsters a chance to “experience level-appropriate fitness workouts…(while) learning how to be fit in their lives, and how to incorporate that into the classroom.” Among the benefits the program can confer, he notes, are: greater knowledge about fitness; improved coordination, stamina, endurance, and strength; increased mental focus; greater self-esteem and self-confidence; and better grades and personal behavior.

 Last fall, in September, which was also National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Robinson conducted an essay contest open to kids between the ages of 6 and 10, urging them to submit one-page essays describing why exercise was important. Robinson then selected the winners—one boy and one girl, Armin Rassipour, 7, and Brooke Larson, 9—who were rewarded with four free personal training sessions at MZR.  

In his essay, Armin wrote: “I love to exercise because it makes me feel smart. This year, my mom put me into an exercise program, and, ever since then, my grades have gotten better. My mom says that’s because I’m more fit and able to concentrate more. Fitness is also about eating better foods (like more fruits and vegetables) to help give me more energy and to be a happier little boy!”

Brooke, for her part, wrote: “Fitness is not just for adults. It is also for kids. Actually, it is for everybody, because we all need to exercise to feel better about ourselves inside and out. Both of my parents exercise often, and, on the weekends, I usually work out with them. We have a great time getting fit together. My Dad always says, ‘The family that exercises together stays together.’”

The kids’ workouts with Robinson include calisthenics, cardio, and variations on push-ups, dips, jumping jacks, gate swings, crunches, jump-roping, power jumps, lunges, squats, lower-back extensions, planes, and fitness games, such as Red Light/Green Light.

“We do a combination of exercising at MZR and exercising at a local park,” says Robinson. “Fitness is just like anything else—the younger you start, the better it is. If you’re 30 years old, and you’re trying to learn how to swim, you’re going to have a pretty hard time of it. But if you learn how to swim when you’re 5 years old, then it’s going to be second nature for the rest of your life.”

“It’s my hope that other trainers can embrace this idea and adopt this sort of approach,” says Robinson. “We need to fight the good fight and raise public awareness about childhood obesity.”

Mia Coen is a former associate editor of CBI.


Ride the Jumping Jack Wave!

By Mia Coen

If you don’t know her already, you should know social media guru and fitness expert Karen Jashinsky, founder and owner of O2 MAX Fitness, a youth fitness media company based in Santa Monica, California. She’s always rolling out innovative programming for children, young adults, and families. I’ve written about many of O2 MAX’s great offerings in the past year: MAXprom, MAX U, and 12 Days of Fitness, to name a few.

Of course, Karen is always in the loop, and the first person to jump on board for National Kids Health month. (Did you know there was such a thing?)

Next week, on Tuesday, I urge you to find a site (or sign up to host one) and participate in…drum roll…

Let’s Jump!

The Most People Doing Jumping Jacks in a 24-hour Period!

You bet, it’s a Guinness World Record event, and Karen’s company has teamed up with the White House and the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CAHPERD) to break the world record.

So on Tuesday, October 11, a jumping jack wave will sweep the nation as part of National Kids Health month. As an extension of the Let’s Move! campaign, First Lady Michelle Obama will be kicking off the event at the White House at 3pm (EST) on Tuesday. Other people and organizations participating in the event include National Geographic for Kids, National PTA, Jamba Juice, the President’s Council on Fitness Sports and Nutrition, and the family of Jack LaLanne.

Between 3 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, and 3 p.m. (EST) on Wednesday, approximately 10,000 people per state and nation will be doing at least one minute of jumping jacks (without stopping) to qualify for the Guinness Record.

But there’s a whole other element to this world record attempt…

Social media. People from all over the country can submit photos and videos to O2 Max Fitness’ Facebook page to show their participation in the event. It’ll connect people and networks from all over and encourage them to get up and move! Footage of people doing jumping jacks in front of landmarks, schools, gyms, signs, and companies will be compiled into a bigger media project that will showcase all the people and organizations that “jumped” on board.

Do you want your club to jump on board? It’s easy!

Here’s how:

Schools, teachers, students, corporations, fitness professionals, and businesses can get involved by becoming host sites and leaders, responsible for capturing pictures and videos, and signing off on the number of participants.

To register and host a minute of jumping jacks and help break the record, visit CAHPERD’s website or email:   

On October 11, you can visit the O2 MAX Facebook page to add to pictures and videos of jumping jacks, which will be captured and compiled into a bigger media project.  

Post pictures and videos to O2 MAX’ wall by sending a picture or video to or post directly from the wall! Or submit via email:

Last weekend, on October 2, Karen led a jumping jack warm-up at the 6th Annual Santa Monica 5000 Race, an athletic endowment to help fund sports and athletic programs for Santa Monica and Malibu schools. Mike Z. Robinson, our trusty industry resource was there, too! You might recognize him as a contributor to CBI and CBI Unbound.




The Chronicles of Rooster

By Mia Coen

Rooster Racing. They’re a team of Les Mills instructors and avid cyclists who participate in races to raise money for cancer victims and survivors. In my most recent post, Changing Lives Via the Bike, I reported on the team’s success in the LIVESTRONG Challenge—a series of three national races where participants raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF).

I just got the latest scoop. Catching up again with Jim Ray, the team leader and co-founder of the Rooster Racing team, he filled me in on the stats for the race in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But look at these numbers, side by side, as each race is completed!

July 10, 2011: Davis, California Race

Participants: 1,468

Funds Raised: $905,000

Donors: 11,800

August 20-21, 2011: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Participants: 5,104

Funds Raised: $2.6 million

Donors: 30,000

Rooster Racing teammates in PhiladelphiaThe number of participants, funds raised, and donors is growing exponentially! But that’s not the only good news. Ray tells me, “It’s official! Mike Larsen, one of our team captains, won the Individual Messenger Award for the Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly!”

In my previous article, Ray mentioned the possibility of Larsen being a candidate for the award for having reached the most individual donors. Today, I can confirm, that he’s done it! Congratulations to Larsen, Rooster Racing, and the LIVESTRONG Challenge for such an amazing accomplishment!

But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. There’s a third and final race in Austin, Texas in October—but not before the Roosters ride it out at the Fitmarc/Les Mills National Lonestar Event this weekend!

“This will be a gathering of over 1,000 Les Mills instructors, trainers, program coaches, and program directors,” says Ray. “The CEO of Les Mills international will be there, as well as other principals in the corporate leadership. Every one of our fitness programs will be presented in full and attended by hundreds of instructors.”

The Roosters will be the hosts of an old school master class called Best of RPM, showcasing the best music tracks from the past 14 years of the popular Les Mills RPM class.

As the Rooster’s support of LIVESTRONG continues, so will our interest in their amazing achievements!


Changing Lives Via the Bike

By Mia Coen

Meet Rooster Racing.

They’re a team of determined cyclists who believe in the fight against cancer, raising awareness, and getting people involved in “the fight.” Check out their website. It’ll tell you just that. It won’t tell you, however, that they have partnered with Les Mills International—yes, the world leader in group-fitness programming—to raise over $100,000 at three LiveSTRONG events in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF). I began chronicling their efforts in the August edition of CBI.  

I recently caught up with Jim Ray, the team leader and co-founder of the Rooster Racing team. They already have one race under their belt (the Davis, California race in July), and are gearing up for next week’s race in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 20th and 21st. The first race in California brought in a whopping 1,468 participants, 11,800 donors, and $905,000 to support cancer patients and survivors. This upcoming race in Philly should be another tremendous success!

“One of our Team Captains, Mike Larsen, is one of the top fundraisers as an individual for the LiveSTRONG Challenge, Philadelphia,” says Ray. “He has raised just under $30,000. In addition, he's a candidate to be recognized as the top ‘messenger’ for the event by having reached the most individual donors.”

But their efforts don’t stop there. Following the Philly race next week, they’ll be participating in the Lonestar 2011 Event the following weekend, August  27th and 28th. Fitmarc, the South Central U.S. distributor for Les Mills, is supporting the Les Mills National Lonestar Event, a gathering of over 1,000 Les mills instructors, trainers, program coaches, and directors in Arlington, Texas for the largest group fitness event in U.S. history!

At Lonestar, you can take virtually any Les Mills class at this two-day-long Mega Quarterly Workshop. “By the way,” inserts Ray, “the Body Pump class will have 400 sets of weights, barbells, and benches awaiting eager participants. The RPM classes will have 220 bikes. This event will be huge!”

They like to say they’re going old school, because Rooster Racing will be hosting a special “Best of RPM” Master Class and showcasing the best music tracks from the past 14 years of Les Mills’ RPM class. “We’ve already ‘sold’ (collected donations for LAF) over 100 seats for our special Best of RPM LiveSTRONG indoor ride on Friday, August 26th, and we’re well on our way to selling it out at 150 bikes,” Ray says.

Congrats on your success, Roosters! We can’t wait to hear how the rest of your summer goes!


Customizable Class Options for Your Club

By Mia Coen

In the August edition of CBI, I wrote a feature article about different group exercise options for gyms and health clubs (see “Group-Ex-Travaganza!” pg. 50). What I didn’t realize was that—though there’s a seemingly endless amount of choices—each club’s individual needs will dictate the offerings.

This was a much bigger concept than I could’ve imagined. Many factors come into play: demographics, geographical location, population, membership, the size of the facility, the abilities of the instructors, etc. While some clubs may have the space and resources to design their own group ex classes, others might find they make best use of turnkey group exercise programs developed by an outside firm.

In any case, the bottom line is doing right by your club and knowing what your members want. A club that resides in a retirement community may have better luck with an aquatics class or a low-impact session, than with a bootcamp or martial arts class. A club that sits in a posh, fashionable section of town may want to make use of equipment-specific routines devised by manufacturers, in addition to the standby yoga and Pilates. Some programming options could be developed in-house to utilize the geographical location where the club is—for example, if a club sits smack dab in the middle of a field or near a body of water, it may reach out to those outdoor enthusiasts by offering a hiking or swimming class. If you’re not entirely sure which direction to go, you can always reach out to a consultant!

All it takes is having a good sense about what members want. Deliver the best you can and do your research. The opportunities are endless!


In With the New!

By Mia Coen

As you may or may not know, every September, CBI magazine puts out a catalog called Fitness Industry Technology (F.I.T.) Buyers’ Guide.  

This is no ordinary catalog. It contains hundreds of listings from fitness industry suppliers worldwide. You just might drool, smile, faint, or even exclaim over some of the items in this massive assemblage.

Our team has spent countless hours on this project. From editorial and graphics, to advertising and design, we’ve pulled out all the stops. But I consider myself especially lucky, because I was responsible for the New Product Showcase—a special section dedicated to IHRSA associate-members with new products.

This section gives members the opportunity to share their innovations with the world, and I got to manage the editorial! A sweet deal, to say the least. In the section, there are approximately 25 companies with new product launches this year, and crafting copy about their unique products has opened my eyes to the wondrous variety in this industry.

I also thought to myself, “If I was a club owner, this would inspire me.” You’ll be amazed by many, if not all, of the truly innovative new offerings in this year’s New Product Showcase. To name a few: fitness flooring options, sunless tanning, cardio consoles, management software, group exercise and personal training accessories, interactive displays for equipment…

Needless to say, the F.I.T. Buyers' Guide has everything you need to be inspired. It’s coming soon to your mailbox, along with the September issue of CBI.


It's Easier to Be Obese

By Mia Coen
What will that get me? At one particular fast food chain, I can get five chicken sandwiches, three sides of French fries, and two soda drinks. That’s enough food to feed a family of five.
Or…I could spend that $10 on a bag of apples and a box of granola bars. That’s not as appealing as getting five hot meals for the same price.
At a time when middle- and low-income Americans are struggling to make ends meet, it’s no wonder that families are turning to high-energy, high-calorie foods as an alternative to fresh whole foods. They get more for their money to make unhealthy choices.
But why is it that the food nature provides is now becoming a luxury?

According to a recent New York Times article, University of Washington researchers found that, calorie for calorie, junk food costs not only less than fruits and vegetables, but that junk food prices are also less likely to rise as a result of inflation. They surveyed 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle, Washington, area and discovered that the high-calorie, energy-dense processed foods cost an average of $1.76 per 1,000 calories.
And the low-calorie, highly nutritious food? A whopping $18.16 per 1,000 calories.
The data clearly indicates that it’s much easier for someone with a tight food budget to sustain themselves on junk food, rather than whole foods, fruits, and vegetables. The study’s lead author, Adam Drewnowski, reinforces this notion and even adds, “It’s easier to overeat junk food, both because it tastes good and because the eater often must consume a greater volume in order to feel satisfied. Still, even those who consume twice as much in junk-food calories are still spending far less than healthy eaters.”
So, is there a solution in sight? How are we, as Americans, going to reduce obesity rates in this country if healthy foods aren’t available to those without the cash?
Luckily, there are resources out there we can utilize to find answers. For example, DivineCaroline, an advice Website, has a list of 20 healthy foods that cost around a dollar each. A few of the items on the list include, oats, eggs, kale, potatoes, nuts, spinach, tofu, milk, and whole grain pasta.
Education is key to good health. All it takes is more responsibility and less money.


True Impact: Clubs with a Cause

By Mia Coen
In the current issue of CBI, please be sure to check out my feature article, “Doing the Right Thing.” In the piece, I highlight three health clubs and what they’re doing to make a difference in the world.
Fifth Avenue Club in Calgary, Alberta, Canada has adopted a village in Belo, Ethiopia, and has donated more than $150,000 to fund a sustainability project. As a result, the people of Belo have learned how to dig wells and obtain potable water, construct agricultural nurseries for crops, develop irrigation systems, and build and staff medical clinics and schools. Spring Fitness, with three locations in the Spring, Texas area, is showing its support for our troops by extending free six-month gym memberships to all veterans and active servicemen and women, giving them a place to stay healthy and fit.
Healthworks at Codman, in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, works directly with community health centers and medical providers to support patient health and chronic-disease prevention and treatment. It’s a premier health club that provides residents of Dorchester with the resources they need to stay healthy in a community where healthy options aren’t very readily available.
Healthworks member learns how to do a chest presI recently received a really nice follow-up letter from Lauren Broadhurst, executive director of the program, with whom I’d been working closely on the piece. She shared a testimony with me that proved that Healthworks at Codman is making a difference in the lives of its members on so many levels. This is what Healthworks member Lisa had to say:
“When I joined Healthworks at Codman, I weighed about 250 pounds, and now, I’m about 198. I was in a lot of pain and the doctor gave me a prescription to join the gym to see if it would help. I met with a wellness coach and we got a routine started with yoga but I was still hurting. My body was so stiff that I wanted to stop. Over time, the pain started to lessen. I can run three miles outside now, and I come to the gym three times a week. I run here, use my weights, and then I run home. I even do classes. The best part is that I don’t hurt anymore...I went through the battle here to finding my way to healthy. I love this gym! I started with a doctor’s referral and after that I just kept it up. Even after I lost my job, my membership was based on my income, so I could still keep it. I feel great and so much healthier. I remember I couldn’t even do the yoga at the beginning because I was in so much pain. Now you can’t keep me still. I’m on the move!”


Join Forces to Celebrate Memorial Day


By Mia Coen


In the most general sense, Memorial Day commemorates U.S. citizens who died at war—the servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may maintain the quality of life we have today. Let’s take the time to remember them this weekend and celebrate their lives and what they've contributed to ours.


But let’s also remember our servicemen and women every day. Those who return from war have needs that extend beyond the comforts of home and family. They need a place to belong. For some returning from war, their health is all they have. Now, club owners have a chance to make a difference in the lives of active military and their families through the IHRSA Joining Forces Network.


As part of the national initiative, Joining Forces—which mobilizes all sectors of society to aid military men, women, and families—IHRSA has issued a nationwide call to action to health club operators. By joining the IHRSA Joining Forces Network, your health club will aid military families by opening the door to a healthy lifestyle.




On June 1st, the program will be available to military personnel and their families through, where they can search for participating clubs in their area. IHRSA members in the IHRSA Joining Forces Network will offer free memberships to immediate family members (ages 13 and older, where applicable) of actively deployed reservists and National Guard members.


If you’re looking to give back to your community in a way that makes a difference in the lives of military families, what better way than to give them the gift of health?


Will these families be able to find your club on the list?



Coming Soon to your Mailbox...

By Mia Coen

If you've ever worked with me on any number of projects for CBI, (advertising sidebars, feature articles, news items, blog posts, illustrative content, etc.) then you could probably guess that I'm a bit of a multi-tasker. Never before thought possible, I managed to roll out--not one--but two features in the June issue of CBI!

I touch upon two specific topics for each feature. The first, which happens to be our cover story, is about public service and what three health clubs are doing to try and make a difference in the world--from charitable foundations, to sustainability projects, to veteran and military support. 

The other is a case study about the importance of health and fitness assessments and what one club in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is doing to address fitness, health, and overall wellness by virtue of individualized personal training sessions.

It was a lot of work, but it definitely paid off. Looking back now, I think about all the trainers, fitness professionals, and communications specialists I've had the pleasure of working with over the past two months. The work I did on this feature doesn't even match the dedication, perseverance, and professionalism that they put into their jobs on a daily basis.

So, here's a shout out to all my respected friends featured in the June issue of CBI.

Before long, you'll have it in your mailbox and you can read about them for yourselves!