My Story


We all have a reason why we sign up and walk into the studio. For many of us, myself included,  there’s something about being in that dark room with loud music that allows us to forget the outside world and focus on us. We all have a history, a story behind why we are where we are and who we are today. This is mine.

I was married, had a child and was divorced all by the age of 30. I am a culmination of my experiences. I am beyond grateful for each and every one of them. My past has made me who I am today.

What you don’t know is that I gained over 50 pounds with my son Karsten and throughout my pregnancy, my marriage was falling apart just as it was getting started. Before I knew it, I was headed back to work with an infant son, a demanding career, failing marriage and a body that was well over it’s ideal weight. 

I remember visiting the Doctor, sad and depressed, not knowing what was going on with me. I was thinking “umm this must be postpartum depression”, and I was feeling
 “I have failed miserably at the young age of 28.” I would lie in bed trying to identify and handle what felt like oppressive depression and anxiety. Truth was I was trying to do it all- caring for my newborn, trying to fix my marriage, provide for my family and stay at the top of my game in a successful career. 

With tears I my eyes I remember thinking, feeling and finally saying to my family Doctor…”I need to do something about this. This isn’t me” She suggested medication; a drug or happy pill that would kick start me out of this funk. I understand that is a viable option for some. But I wondered, what else? She looked at me and said “ Well, Jenn, how about exercise?” 

Now, listen- I’m a former athlete; a competitive athlete, I knew/ know how to train, what to eat to have my body performing at its highest level. Yet, when I became pregnant, I let that go a bit. And when I became mired in a struggling marriage, I found myself in a bad place. Giving up good nutrition, letting go of empowering workouts, does not lead to feeling good about ourselves. Lesson learned☺

For the next three months I committed to getting healthy and focusing on my physical fitness. Three months I would check back in with my Doctor. In the interim, I jointed the local gym, and used fitness magazines as a tool to help guide me on what to do. I would put my son to bed at 7:00pm and I would let my husband know I was going to the gym. 

It was those moments that were for me, an opportunity to challenge myself, to be inspired by others in that gym. That 15,000 square feet building was my safe place, where I could forget the outside world, hit pause on the thoughts running thru my head and focus on me. It was there that I came out of my shell and began to laugh, smile and create lasting friendships. It was a place where everything complicated became simple. I could just be free and be in the moment. The weight didn’t come off nearly as easy as putting it on, but eventually each pound did come off. What I gained was more powerful than what I lost. Every pound I would shed, every muscle I would sculpt, I was returning to ME. This was my journey. I was on a mission to become the best person that I could be not just for me but equally important, for my son.  

Fast forward some ten plus years and today, my mission comes full circle. My commitment and focus and passion to fitness still holds true, yet what’s different is that dark room, the bike or the Balance room is for you. It’s a place for you to be inspiredA spot where you can hit pause on the anxiety, drama and stress in your life. An opportunity to focus on you, to challenge you and to be inspired by others in the studio. A place to come out of your shell, laugh, smile and create lasting friendships. 

When I ride, I don’t ride for me- I ride for us. I want to remind you how amazingly strong, determined and fierce you are. I ride to inspire to you to become the best version of you. I ride to challenge you, to train not only your body but your mind. I ride to help you attain the best life possible. Fitness gave me hope and strength in a point of my life when I was running on empty and that is what I want to pay forward to you. I don’t ride for me- I ride for us. 

Jesse’s Journey

 

 

 

Rockstar Jesse helps sculpt, shape and SHiFT us in her weekly Barre classes. Jesse brings such strength and soul to each of her classes because of the personal SHiFTs she has made in her own life.

After she graduated college in 2014, Jesse learned “the very hard way”  how difficult it is to find time to exercise when carrying a full time job.  Like many post grads  catapulting into the work field, Jesse “opted for drinks and burgers instead of the gym”.

Without the ritual and regime of I fitness, Jesse’s small 5’1 frame suddenly put on 20 extra pounds.“It wasn’t until I had to buy an entirely new wardrobe before I realized that there was a reason none of the my clothes fit anymore. I was lazy and didn’t eat healthy” Jesse knew a SHiFT was needed.

Some of our biggest and bests SHiFTs don’t occur in a straight line.  Moving back to Connecticut led Jesse to take great leaps forward. Connecting with friend and our rockstar Kacey Shepherd Jesse remembered  how she used to run 5 miles a day when she was in college. Always a beacon of encouragement, Kacey asked Jesse if she wanted to run a half marathon with her. As Jesse says, “that was it.” She trained hard for six weeks, and was able to run the race without stopping! That race became the renaissance and soon Jesse was back on track. Spin classes and kickboxing, SHiFTing whenever she could.

Our fearless leader Jenn recognized something special in Jesse and approached her after a kickboxing class. “Have you ever thought about teaching barre?”

Barre became the perfect work out for Jesse. As her body changed for the better, so did her life.  After getting certified she started off teaching 2 classes a week and is now up to 4 !

“Those classes each week help to keep me in check and push me to get in the best shape I have ever been in. I have lost 20lbs since last year, but more importantly, I found my drive to become a healthier and more active person again”

 

Kacey and Jenn inspired Jesse and now in turn Jesse inspires our SHiFT community! Jesse’s journey is not about losing weight, but about gaining a new perspective. Come to one of her classes and SHiFT yourself towards a better you.

Written by SHiFT blogger Emily Webster 

RiSE and RiDE

RiSE and RiDE

The Early Bird gets the Bike! There is no better way to start the day than by hopping on a bike and clipping in early. For many SHiFTers an 8:00 or 9:15 a.m. class is early enough. But for others, while most of the world is still sleeping, our Guilford and New Haven studios are raging with sweat, hard work and motivation at 5:30 and 6:30 a.m!

So just how do our rock star instructors get prepared to inspire a group of riders that just rolled out of bed? 

For GLFD instructor, Hannah the key is getting her SHiFT gear laid out the night before.  Two alarms and a couple cups of coffee later she is ready to go!  Hannah also suggests making a plan with a friend to ride. Inspire a friend and hold yourself more accountable by meeting each other at class. 

NHVN instructor, Michael says his alarm goes off at 4:53 sharp!  Michael’s dog Porter is the first one up, they go for a walk around Wooster Square. Always one to use the energy around him, some days Michael has his headphones in, jamming out to his playlist; but other times he likes to enjoy the peace and quiet.  Michael says this extra hour and a half before class, his sanctity before he hits the Cycle Sanctuary, is key to getting him ready to welcome his morning crew.

Another one of our rockstar NHVN instructors, Kacey, tells us she keeps a book of inspiring quotes on her nightstand. Every morning she opens it to random a page and tries to incorporate the positive words into her class and into her day! Kacey’s positivity is infectious and she starts honing those good vibes by rocking out to her playlist in the car. Now she is ready to get every rider in that room hyped and sweaty!

Our instructors are devoted to starting their day right, so that you have the ride of your life. 5:30 a.m. GLFD rider, Mackenzie Dostie swears an early morning ride is the very best way to get her day started. She attributes that to the inspiration she finds from the instructors on the podium.  Post class she feels ready to kick ass and take on the day…and also ready for a VERY large cup of coffee. The pre and post class rituals of our RiSE and RiDERs is an important component to their success. 

So the next time you go to set that alarm set it and hour early and SHiFT yourself to our early  morning party!

The hardest part is getting out of bed, the best part is knowing what you are capable of at any hour of the day.

Written by Rockstar Instructor Kaila Maus, check out her NHVN classes

Meet Mark

Meet Mark. Loyal, Industrious, Athletic, Competitive, Successful . . .and one who has always struggled with his weight.
54 year old, Mark owns and operates a septic and excavating business, Mark has been married an impressive 27 years and is proud Papa to two grown sons. Mark had tried every weight loss remedy he could get his hands on, from diet to medical interventions to pills. Mark continued to work hard, to remain a diligent husband, father and working 7 days a week at the job. The weight did not come off.
Mark has always been an athlete. Rugby Football and legendary ski trips with his two boys. He was feeling beat up from years of rough and tumble exertion. He also recently, had neck surgery fusing three vertebrae in his neck. When he was at at his heaviest 245 pounds, his SHiFTer wife encouraged him to take the ride of his life.
The first class, Mark describes as “a real struggle” It wasn’t just the physical component. It was in our spin sanctuary that Mark realized something.  His whole life, he had put everything before his own self. The kids, the business. . . Mark wondered if there could be a correlation between finally losing the weight and finally finding time for himself.
“I have lost over 20lbs since that first day in class. Not only do I feel great,  I have more energy. . . my whole being is in a much better place”
Now Mark is SHiFTing 3 to 4 times a week! He enjoys all the different instructors and LOVES that leaderboard. “Being competitive”, explains Mark, ” I like how the leaderboard pushes me to set goals, I like getting my stats at the end of class” Mark remembers the moment when it went from trying to get through class, to trying to increase his numbers.   Mark is a 530am Man. Starting his day SHiFTing, helps him gain that power and peace he needs to tackle the long days ahead.
“SHiFT has not only helped me health wise but also mentally everybody in my life has noticed the difference” Mark is a prime example of how we have to put that oxygen mask on ourselves before we take care of all of those around us. Mark’s capacity to be a devoted husband and parent, Mark’s ability to run his business and work those all consuming hours, Mark’s yen for beating that LeaderBoard. . .it all becomes MORE possible because of the SHiFTs he has made on and off of that saddle towards finding what makes him feel good about himself. It may have started as a way to get physically fit, but immersion into the SHiFT-verse, has led to a body and soul revolution.
Mark says it best . . .
“SHiFT has transformed me from a middle age man and getting older to a middle age man and getting younger”
 
Meet Mark. And get inspired to meet your own potential, one SHiFT at a time!
 
Written by Guest Blogger Emily Webster 

TBT Ally’s Leap of Faith

Have you met our new Rockstar Ally?

We are throwing it back this Thursday and remembering a time when Ally met her own potential and took a leap of faith. Here she is last April in Big Sur, California. This trip, the jump for joy, a culmination of her journey to freedom and fearlessness.

Hard to believe that Ally, was once consumed in self doubt. Ally would worry about what others thought, how she was perceived, and what would happen if she “failed”

It was when Ally felt connected to her body, that her spirit was most at peace. That led her to a career in fitness. The inherent metaphor of pushing one’s self physically helped to soften the inner critic in Ally.  Suddenly she realized there was an excitement and adrenaline to being challenged. Not only was it “ok to fail”, but when one is following their truth, there is no failing !

Ally is most at home in that “dark loud room filled with sweat and community” Becoming a spin instructor changed Ally’s life, helped her release insecurity and find inner trust. That in turn helped our community as we welcome Ally’s beautiful smile and spirit into our studios.

Ally implores us all to remember that taking those leaps of faith, is “how we learn and move forward” Ally’s classes are infused with that tone of inspiration. Originally from Maine, Ally is so excited she took the bold step to move to CT where she has found a home at SHiFT Cycling and Balance. She continues to push herself and finds new challenges like running half marathons. and lets go of any doubt that was once holding her back as she emerges as a true ROCKSTAR!

Join Ally in her many awesome classes and let every pedal stroke be a LEAP toward loving yourself just a little bit more.

Written by guest blogger Emily Webster 

SHiFTing Together . . .meet John and Sheryl Mancinelli

When you enter the SHiFT sanctuary, you are making a commitment – to your body, to your  health, to your well being. Our rockstar instructors recognize your energy, rely on your engagement and often find inspiration by YOUR experience. In the case of John and Sheryl, its not just a commitment to themselves, but to each other, that makes them cause for celebration.

John and Sheryl have been married for an impressive 28 years. They have 26 year old twin boys. Rocco, who lives in Brooklyn and works in the Fashion Industry and Dino who is a Metro North Railroad conductor in North Branford. Dino followed his father’s footsteps. John spent 34 years as a conductor before retiring. Sheryl has owned and operated her own eponymous catering company for the last 28 years! This is clearly a couple NOT afraid of endurance and effort!

Always being active, John and Sheryl, hike and garden and  John runs the CT Chiefs Arena Football Team. In his quest for the best indoor cycling class in town, he found SHiFT. John was burning 800 calories a class, finding nutritional equilibrium and having a blast! So he encouraged his wife to join. Sheryl always one to pursue fitness, instantly loved the uplifting ambience and supportive instructors. Rockstar Nichole once said “tell the pain in your legs to Shut Up!” John and Sheryl laughed together and indeed pushed through struggle to find strength. . and find it together!

Our team has derived much joy in witnessing the togetherness of the Mancinellis. Sarah has noticed how  they share their water bottles back and forth with each other, how they sit next to each other located in the same spots. Chivalry is alive and well in our studios,  John always get Sheryl the wipes for her bike and makes sure she gets her lavender towel before he does.

The Mancinellis find extra motivation to stay in “bathing suit” shape  with their Naples Florida house that they visit every month. But John and Sheryl remind us that one main reason we SHiFT is to get stronger for each other! Wether its strengthening our core in a Balance class, or sprinting in the Saddle while we cycle, we are making a commitment to ourselves and in turn to the people  we love.

Let John and Sheryl inspire you. Bring a bestie, Share a sip, look for the laughter and SHiFT together!

 

Written by guest blogger  Emily Hope Webster

TBT Joanne our Booty Barre, Wanderlust Warrior

It started with SHiFT Cycling and then a few years later we added SHiFT Balance. It takes evolution to start a revolution. We are about progressing not just maintaining and the same can be said about our ROCKSTAR instructors.

Lets throw it back this Thursday and meet Joanne our Beautiful Booty Barre instructor who is all about moving forward. Joanne rocks that form, focus, strength and stability like no other . . .but her journey to get here has been one of many SHiFTs!

Jo is originally from the UK and after graduating she did a prestigious three year apprenticeship as a hairstylist. Within the next 2 years, Joanne had solidified herself and built a great clientele. Success was found, but Joanne describes being “plagued by a wanderlust” Such a poetic way of saying, her fearless heart was ready to make a SHiFT. 

In 1991, nannying brought Jo to the United States. She began her time in Miami with a lovely family. That aforementioned wanderlust? It still nagged on Joanne and so an epic backpacking sojourn across the USA with family and friends ensued. Those three months of traveling by foot and by the rails resulted in a love for California. So Joanne landed on the west coast. Going back to her “roots”, Joanne procured her cosmetology license.
With talent and tenacity, our very own Joanne, worked at one of the worlds most desirable Beverly Hills Salons, the iconic, Umberto.

The best kind of SHiFT occurred in this era of Jo’s life. She became a wife, to Chris, and mom, to Nicholas. Chris worked as a teacher for Beverly Hills High School, but when a job presented itself on the East Coast, ever up for the adventure, still plagued with a touch of that wanderlust, Jo and her family moved back East. And how lucky we are that they did!

Joanne is proud to say “I have worked out as long as i can remember” . . Jane Fonda as a teen, Billy Banks in his original Studio City gym. Chris, too,  had been a personal trainer so being active is an intrinsic part of their family’s lives. As she so admirably declares, excerise is  “second to breathing for us”

In 2012, Joanne began taking Barre classes. It conjured up positive memories of childhood ballet while also motivating her to make another profound SHiFT. Finding a powerful physical and spiritual awakening, a “poise and posture”, Joanne new she wanted to spread the love and share this movement with others. For Joanne, “It is a lifestyle workout. . .everyone can find the best version of themselves.”

Come to any of Joanne’s classes and you will see her wanderlust led her to our SHiFT sanctuary with  perfect synergy. And we lucky SHiFTers get to be transported as she helps us find length and strength core and courage 

We encourage you to SHiFT yourself in bold new directions – in and out of our studio! 

Written by guest blogger Emily Webster 

Maeve Miller – Pedal for Paws

 SHiFT is home to some extraordinary members with extraordinary stories. . . meet Maeve Miller and her SHiFTing family. 

16 year old Maeve is big sister to Flynn and Sloan. She attributes 13 year old Flynn for first discovering SHiFT and then inspiring dad Joe to take a class. Joe is now our unofficial mascot and brings major power and purpose to every class he takes. Along with loving mom Cathy, Maeve’s family includes the very important Toto the cat, and Skip the Dog!

Skip means a great deal to Maeve. See Maeve was diagnosed with Autism at age 6. Though anxieties and disconnect with people surfaced, a beautiful and transcendent attachment to animals was born. Nurturing her love of dogs, when Maeve was 9, Joe and Cathy adopted Skip, just like they had once adopted Maeve! The bond was instant and Maeve and Skip have been inseparable since. This is an extradorinaiy story of shepherding the ones we love towards a path of healing. Joe and Cathy are stalwart and steadfast on this pursuit.

Now a Sophomore in Highschool, Maeve wants to connect more, she wants to attend football games and dances, get a part time job, plan for the future!  Despite her best efforts to engage, anxiety ceases her.  There is one thing in this world, however, that calms Maeve’s fears and quells her anxiety- her dog SKIP. She keeps a photo stream of Skip on her phone and looks at it to help her when she’s anxious. The mere sight of Skip calms and connects her.  . When embarking on an activity she always asks “Can Skip come?” In some cases, he can. In most cases, he cannot.

 But in true SHiFT spirit, there is always hope and possibility around the corner!  When Maeve entered high school, she met a boy with a service dog. His dog helps detect a change in his blood sugar! Maeve was amazed and Joe and Cathy were inspired. Once they found out this boy’s dog was from the  Warren Retrievers –  the noble journey began. Skip can’t come along because he is not a service dog, so just like at age 9, Joe and Cathy new what Maeve needed, at age 16 we are here to get Maeve that service dog companion!

Think of Maeve scrolling through pictures of Skip and now imagine what a dogs presence in school will do for Maeve? A service dog will allow Maeve to be more independent. Mostly, it will provide a sense of calm throughout her day. Lets give Maeve the tools so she will be able to thrive! She’ll be able to face the anxiety with a best friend and companion, a service dog.

 So as you see this is a story of an extraordinary family. Joe and Cathy and all three of their daughters are ROCKSTARS in our studios and in our community. They show the same resilience in the face of resistance that all of us SHiFTers do on our bikes. On February 25th at 1pm  we are going to PEDAL for PAWS and get to work so Maeve will have her well deserved service dog. The event will be epic ! And look for some fun activities including “Beat Joe on that Leaderboard” 😉

Cycling and celebrating – what could be better than that? And if you can’t join us please consider making a donation, by clicking here. 

The SDWR’s motto is “UNTIL THERES A  CURE THERES A DOG”. SHiFT and the Miller Family invite you to come Pedal for that cure. . Pedal for Paws!

 

Written by Guest Blogger Emily Webster 

TBT Laura Luther

Transformations are happening everyday at SHiFT Balance. Transformations are not about becoming a new person but becoming a  better stronger version of who we were always meant to be. Laura Luther’s throw back photos are a perfect articulation of such an emergence!

The  first photo below is Laura in 2010 just three months before she found her love of Group Fitness, and the second photo is just this past Summer in Disney, revealing Laura as the super fit Rockstar instructor that she is today!!!
Laura is proof positive that is never too late to change your life while maintaining the smile and spirit of who you are. Family will always come first to Laura. She is the proud mother of 13 year old twin boys.  Laura SHiFTs her Balance everyday, with her sought after Kickboxing classes, as a full time Spanish teacher, a dedicated Mom, a wife to her wonderful husband of the last 26 years Chris,  and she is in the best shape of her life at age 44. 
Finding strength has helped define Laura’s sense of self and she approaches her varied endeavors with a confidence that she in turn can’t wait to pass on to others. Her 5:00 am classes are filled with like minded bodies looking to tackle the day and the world around with them with fierce determination. 
As we throw it back this Thursday with Laura, we celebrate the changes she made and the smile that she kept the same! 2017 here is to SHiFTing ourselves to that stronger place !!! See you in the studio!
written by Emily Webster – check out her leader board free class on Wednesdays 915

Spotlight on SHiFTer Amy Paris!

SHiFT . . . one definition of this word. . . to move from one place to the other. Today we are going to celebrate SHiFTer Amy Paris who has SHiFTed her size and her story. 

Amy is a beautiful dedicated Guilford mom. A fun loving member of the community who like many, found herself last Spring feeling bereft of energy and comfort in her own body. Insecure about her fitness level and a self declared “non gym person”, Amy credits friend Sarah Celotto and her one on one tutorial session, for helping her feel ready to take her first class. Nervous, Amy approached the class with an open heart, and soon found SHiFTing had become a habit and a wonderful part of her weight loss journey and her life.

“I knew I was hooked”, Amy tells us,” when I actually went back over and over and over again” For the first time ever, Amy was sticking to consistent exercise, and instead of feeling like a chore it felt like a celebration. Not just a “to do” but a “TA DA!”

Amy’s innate love of music found a home in our Spin Sanctuary. She found herself talking to her friends and family about tunes she heard in class and didnt want to miss the next class to ensure she didnt miss out on a great playlist. The music helps the ride become rhythmic and righteous, a reconnecting to that part of us that dances like no one is watching.

But unbeknownst to Amy, we were all watching her. Watching as her smile grew bigger and her waist line grew significantly smaller ! Since March of 2016, Amy has lost over 40 pounds. Thanks to SHiFT, Amy declares “ I eat differently, I love exercising, I have never felt better” The weight loss was a beautiful collateral effect, but what felt just as good to Amy was her mastery of the moves 😉 Starting out Amy SHiFTed mostly in the saddle building up her cardio, until one day she realized she did all the choreography, every jump every tap back. In fact “tap backs”are Amy’s signature move. “Killer but I LOVE them” From reticent to rockstar, Amy is an instructor favorite for her stamina and her smiles. 

Amy also finds her time at SHiFT therapeutic. Through the joy and endorphins, but also through the quiet and the emotions. “There are times when the instructors say something reflective about taking care of you, and how its an accomplishment just to be in the room and its so very true” Amy connects body and soul on that bike, she likes being social in the lobby, hearing stories from the instructors, she once dedicated a ride to a friend in peril. “SHiFT is a family. You get in that room, turn down the lights and deal with everything you brought to the table that day, the energy is amazing” 

Amy is learning everyday, how SHE is a huge part of that energy. Part of what inspired Amy to get healthy was the desire to be a good role model to her daughters. Well Amy you are a good role model to all of us at SHiFT.
We are so proud of your transformation and new body, and are even prouder of your enthusiasm and your kind soul. 

See you on the Bike!

Written by Emily Webster, check out her leader board free class on Wednesdays Guilford 915