Dancing, fitness and movement are a part of Caitlyn Corradino’s DNA. From a young age she enjoyed the pure, positive energy she felt from her dance classes and it continued through adulthood as she explored other forms of fitness. Her mission has been to bring that feeling to as many people as possible by making “exercise more accessible and sustainable” in NYC – especially for the less fortunate. Caitlyn shares with us her journey of becoming a fitness professional and how she’s now the Founder of the non-profit organization, F.I.T. 4 All.
How long have you been a Personal Trainer?
I have been a group fitness instructor for over five years, and a personal trainer for about two years.
What sparked your passion for fitness?
I was exclusively a dancer from age 3 to age 17. Yet, even as a kid, I always knew that I really didn’t like the competitive or the flashy performance element of dance; I just loved the energy, the release, and the sense of community I felt while I was dancing in a group. During the 15th year of my dance career, I went to a Zumba class for the first time (completely by accident while at a Relay For Life event). As soon as the class started, I could not believe that I had been missing out on dance fitness for so long! Seeing a group of people follow fun choreography together, just for the sake of being healthy and feeling good, was exactly what I’d been looking for. I got my Zumba license as soon as I was eligible to do so (age 18).
What inspired you to pursue fitness professionally?
My professional fitness career happened naturally. Shortly after getting my Zumba Certification, I moved to New York City to start my undergrad at NYU. I immediately started knocking on the doors of all Manhattan gyms and asked, “Can I teach Zumba here? I know I’m only 18, but I’ve got this!” I was very persistent about getting hired as a group fitness instructor, because I thought it would be awesome to have a part-time job during college that I loved. However, it became so much more than my part-time job during college. I soon realized that working in the fitness industry gives me the chance to witness incredibly inspiring personal growth, and that opening the door for my clients to become healthier, happier people is such a gift. Once I started my first official job as a fitness instructor, I was driven to do whatever I could to keep becoming a more motivating, versatile, and skilled instructor; this meant I needed to become a fitness professional. By 19 years old, I was employed by five fitness clubs and certified in five more fitness formats. Now, I teach not only Zumba, but also barre, Pilates, HIIT bootcamp, and, as mentioned earlier, am also a certified personal trainer and registered yoga teacher.
What is your specialty as a Personal Trainer?
I specialize in workouts that are affordable, accessible, and sustainable. While it’s awesome and effective to use cardio and weight machines at a gym, that is not always feasible, and often not the most sustainable workout for every body. As a trainer, I show my clients how to use those machines, but also how to use solely their own bodies to achieve the results they are seeking. I watch my clients develop incredible core strength, endurance, and muscle tone from an equipment-free blend of HIIT cardio, Pilates, and yoga. HIIT cardio stimulates effective energy use, fat loss, heart health, and more. Pilates builds a strong core, lean muscles, improved posture, and more. Yoga fosters a connection between the mind and body, improved flexibility, and more. All three of these exercises are extremely accessible (no gym membership required) and work together seamlessly to support the results that most of my clients are seeking.
Can you tell us about F.I.T. 4 All?
In addition to teaching fitness during my undergrad, I also interned at many non-profit organizations (where I did things like intake counseling and case management). Thus, I was doing case management by day, and teaching fitness at various, upscale studios by night. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the individuals I was serving in non-profit communities could greatly benefit from the classes I was teaching at upscale fitness studios. But with ever-increasing prices, it was becoming impossible for them to afford these exercise programs. I decided to bring free group fitness to the various non-profits I was interning at. Classes received consistently positive feedback and grew in size each week. I wanted to see more communities enjoying these healthy opportunities, so I rounded up a team of fitness instructors and passionate individuals to turn these programs into F.I.T. 4 All. F.I.T. stands for Fuel, Inspire, Thrive. What started in 2015 as me and a few of my fellow fitness instructors coming together to teach one-off classes at nonprofits has now developed into a full-functioning non-profit that provides exercise classes and wellness workshops for individuals at homeless shelters, youth centers, schools, and drug and rehab centers. We also aim to REDEFINE fitness and wellness as something that can be accessible, sustainable, and empowering for ALL. We hold quarterly F.I.T. Fests to raise money to keep our programs running, and also to invite individuals from outside our communities to experience our programs and learn how to redefine fitness for themselves.
What’s been one of the toughest parts of building your own business? How do you try to overcome that?
I recently realized just how easy it can be to let the fear of failing keep you from achieving what you are capable of. Last night, I had a bit of a panic about the ambitious schedule I am taking on for the next few months, and got to a point where I considered dropping things that I didn’t need to. But there is so much truth to the statement, “If your calling doesn’t scare you, it’s not your calling.” If I am not being challenged, I am not growing. And if I am not growing, I am not getting any closer to my goals that I know I am being called to reach. I overcome my fears by remembering this, and by recognizing and appreciating the support that’s all around me (my friends, my family, my F.I.T. 4 All team, and my amazing mentors in the fitness and non-profit worlds).
What’s your ultimate professional dream?
I want to finish the graduate program I am currently enrolled in at NYU, and become a Registered Dietician. With this, I hope to integrate more complex nutrition workshops and nutrition counseling into my F.I.T. 4 All programs. I eventually want to operate my own place, where I can integrate nutrition counseling with accessible personal training, group fitness, and yoga into a holistic healing program. I would love to use a percentage of the proceeds from my profit-yielding studio to continue to fund F.I.T. 4 All programming.
If it wasn’t fitness, what do you think you’d be doing?
If I was not doing what I am doing right now, I would be doing something that involves more traveling. I absolutely love traveling and I studied abroad four times. However, I cannot imagine myself working outside the health and wellness industry– and so even if I were on a traveling career path, I would probably be doing fitness anyway. Basically, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else!
Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
I’ve been to multiple retreats with an amazing yoga instructor named Jennifer Pastiloff. She frequently says, “At the end of my life when I get to one final ‘What have I done?,’ may my answer be ‘I have done love.’” It can be easy to get wrapped up in the minute details of F.I.T. 4 All, of every job I work, of every class I teach, and of every class I take in grad school. But I am able to ground myself by remembering that all I want to do is share as much love as I can; by doing what I love, and by helping others to love and care for themselves more. My mission is to redefine fitness in a more affordable, accessible, and sustainable way. But while this is super important to me, the love, smiles, and fun that come along the way to this mission are ultimately more important.
What’s one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting out their career in fitness?
Try to get just as excited about the journey as you are about the results. Make the journey fun. I recently made a commitment to myself to always get my own morning workout, no matter how early I’m teaching or training someone else. So that means I’ve been at the gym with 5 AM-ers. And I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that many of them appear unhappy and exhausted, and are easily irritated by really teeny tiny things. It’s sad to see. To an extent, we need to take our workouts seriously, especially if we want to start a career in fitness. But that said: what’s the point of dragging yourself out of bed to move your body in a way that you take too seriously to enjoy even a little? Seeing people frown through their morning workouts reminds me how important it is to find at least a little joy/love/silliness in how we move our bodies and how we live our life. Trust that the finish line will arrive soon enough, and remember that no matter where you are in your career, your life is still happening right now! Try to find some corner of contentment in each and every day.
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