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

TBT – Jacqueline Dances Through Life


This week we Throw it Back with Jacqueline! Everyone of us has a backstory and Jackie’s just may surprise you.

Jacqueline was a competitive ballroom dancer from ages 5 to 18 years! Oh yeah thats where she gets her energy, spirit, musicality, and strength. Growing up in a Russian community in Brooklyn, Jacqi had a natural talent that was cultivated through discipline and desire, and she found success at a very young age. Learning poise, presence, stamina and style, Jacqueline travelled the world with her dance partner and came to know the excitement of being an artist and an athlete.

SHiFTs occur when we least expect them. As is the tradition in the dance community, as Jacqueline matured, she began teaching dance to the younger children at her studio. It was then she realized two fundamental truths that would shape the rest of her life. She loves the role of instructor and she loves working with children. It also was a time in Jacqueline’s life when she had to assess other aspects of her well being. Jackie new in order to be a more well rounded individual, she would have to step a way a bit from dance. Ever one to stay uber challenged, Jacqueline SHiFTed from dance into. . .. dentistry! Yep, dance to dentistry 😉 How many of us can inhabit so many worlds? How many of us can recognize when it is time to work new muscles. . .and explore new challenges?  That is the true SHiFT spirit.

When Jacqueline quit dance to focus on school work , she went through what she called a “major depression” Missing the endorphins of music and movement, she discovered the gym “I remember bringing my organic chemistry textbook to the gym, and memorizing formulas while on the elliptical!” Athlete artist student SUPERSTAR was born.

Over achieving Jackie has found a way to incorporate her ambitions and aspirations and we are the lucky SHiFT community that benefits from her abilities. Jacqueline’s life encompasses those discoveries she made long ago. Love of children, Love of instructing. . . Now a pediatric dental resident, and a venerated SHiFT instructor, she is SHiFTing herself to new heights everyday, and taking us along on the worthy road.

“I can’t tell you enough about how grateful and happy I am to be part of the SHiFT fam. The people who comprise it are strong, warm hearted, and passionate. True role models. Being a member of the SHiFT family feeds my soul like my dance studio family did back in the day”

Don’t miss her classes in New Haven!

So lets Throw it Back with Jacqueline . . . dance to dentistry were on Jacqueline’s course to SHiFT. What brings you to the bike?!


Written by Emily Webster – check out her LeaderBoard Free SHiFTB class Wednesdays 9:15IMG_1682.jpeg