Women Are Fitter
Three fitness gurus help people get healthy
Fairfield is home to many gyms, personal trainers, health coaches, and nutritionists. These three stand out for their dedication to inspiring others to get moving & healthy.
Nina Merlonghi: Dancing from Brazil to Fairfield
When she was a little girl in Sao Paulo, Brazil, you would most often find Nina Merlonghi dancing. “I was always moving, doing the lambada and samba, anything just to dance and have fun,” she remembers. Now a certified Zumba™ and Intensity™ instructor in Fairfield, Merlonghi’s main goal is to inspire others to get up and move, and to have fun while they’re doing it.
“I had a lot of weight to lose so I know how hard it is,” says Merlonghi. “I welcome all ages and all fitness levels—ages 4 to 100—in my classes, and as a big dancing family, we all try to feel better about ourselves.” Merlonghi combined her love of dance and her infectious enthusiasm to inspire others to become one of the most popular teachers around. She rents space at the Scandinavian Club in Fairfield, keeping costs low for people wanting to take her classes.
“Nina’s class was my very first Zumba experience. I was instantly hooked. She is so warm and welcoming, with the best playlists ever. I have never had more fun working out. Nina is an excellent motivator and instructor,” says Deann Zane, one of Merlonghi’s devotees.
Merlonghi boasts clients who have lost hundreds of pounds simply by dancing with her a few nights a week, and employing some of her sound nutrition advice. Check her out at punchtheskyfitness.com.
Courtney Cataldo: Have Baby, Will Exercise
Every new mom knows there are some dark days when not only are you feeling isolated, but you are also feeling really out of shape. Courtney Cataldo was no stranger to this sentiment. She loved to work out but she had a new baby she wanted to keep by her side, and wasn’t sure where to go.
“I found a Stroller Strides class when I was living in Stamford,” explains Cataldo. “In a day I was hooked. I got to meet women just like me, going through similar things as I was, and all the while got a challenging workout with my son by my side.” Is there sometimes screaming and crying? Yes. But no one cares, explains Cataldo. Will somebody need to break to breastfeed? There’s a good chance. But again—this group has a shared understanding of all that motherhood encompasses.
So when Cataldo moved to Fairfield, she knew she wanted to purchase her own franchise of the national Stroller Strides program and as a lifelong sports coach, she knew she could teach it. It immediately took off, and now she is the sole instructor of classes 6 days a week, and sometimes up to 20 moms join her, some with two, and a few with three kids.
“With Stroller Strides, I get exercise, my daughter does too, we both get fresh air and we both get social time on a consistent basis. It sure clears the mental cobwebs!” says Aninka Lemasson.
In the warmer months you can spot them at Veteran’s Park, singing “Wheels on the Bus” while power walking and doing intervals of strength and body toning exercises using exercise tubing, the stroller, and the environment. Find out more at seffco.fit4mom.com.
Ginny Romano: Operation: Eat Clean, Train Dirty
Ginny Romano is a shining example of “if I can do it, you can, too.” Fifteen years ago, Romano, a married mom of three boys, wanted to get into better shape. With that goal in mind, and a strong interest in healthy eating and exercise, she sought out certification as a nutritionist and personal trainer.
She now operates a very successful small group exercise program out of her garage—completely decked-out with TRX and the latest in sports exercise equipment. Her popularity has grown by word of mouth, and many Fairfield women swear by her techniques which specialize in helping those with injuries accomplish a good workout.
“I had tennis elbow and needed to find a way to modify my workout, but still work up a sweat and feel great,” Romano says. Her mantras stick with you—i.e. “create one new small habit at a time,” and her blogs are compelling. “Ginny drives you toward your goals through motivation and encouragement in an environment that feels safe and welcoming,” says longtime client Amy Parent.
Her common sense and expertise, coupled with her “we are in this together” attitude make her accessible and ultimately successful in reaching clients’ goals. Her six-week Operation: Eat Clean, Train Dirty program last year resulted in an over 200 pound weight loss for her group over 8 weeks. Check her out at ginnyromano.com and click here for her healthy, energy-boosting smoothie recipe.