Staying Fit and FLI

Our picks for five Fort Lauderdale–based fitness routines to get your mind and body moving

Carlos Alsonso, aka “The Squat Doctor,” helps to build his clients’ strength from the bottom up.
Carlos Alsonso, aka “The Squat Doctor,” helps to build his clients’ strength from the bottom up.

Stronger: Carlos Alonso, Squat Doctor

Bachelor parties aren’t usually where the best ideas originate. But, it was during one of those guys’ trips five years ago when Carlos Alonso’s brand was born. “A buddy of mine called me ‘Squat Doctor,’ and it just stuck right away,” Alonso says of the moniker he uses for his workout program. Before becoming a personal trainer, Alonso spent seven years playing minor league baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies organization. But after a career-ending injury, he started looking for what was next and decided to move to South Florida where his brother, Kiko Alonso, was playing football for the Miami Dolphins. Now, as Fort Lauderdale’s one-and-only Squat Doctor, Alonso trains his clients online and in his backyard, where he’s built a $25,000 poolside gym with all of the equipment you need to target your glutes. 

Carlos Alsonso, aka The Squat DoctorFLI: What’s the best way to get stronger?

Alonso: With a combination of building strength movements in an aerobic and anaerobic sense. I’m trying to first see if we can build up the muscle with weights—just overall capacity to lift a certain amount of weight—and then also increasing repetitions or increasing sets. Then I like to build up to muscle fatigue. So, I train the muscle with overall strength, I train with volume, and then also to muscle failure. 

What does your post-workout recovery look like? 

I work out five days a week, sometimes twice in a day, but I do take recovery very seriously. First and foremost, I try to get eight hours of sleep. I hydrate, I eat a sufficient amount of calories for my output of the day, and I also do a few extra things like saunas
and cold water therapy. 

Beyond strength-building, what’s something everyone should do to enhance their health?

Start spending more time outside. Maybe do an outdoor workout, or even go for a walk, or just be outside in nature away from phones and electronics for a little bit. Theres something about that I find very peaceful lately; its almost like a meditative practice. 

Any vices you avoid or habits people should consider cutting back on?

Stop overdoing the caffeine. Some people process caffeine better than others, but for me personally, [on] many mornings it was the first thing I was putting in my body and yes, it woke me up, but it just ramped up my stress levels. I didnt know how to slow my heart rate down. Maybe find an alternative, like matcha or a green tea. 

Jamie Maitland
Jamie Maitland gets down to business at her gym, The Office 954.

Leaner: Jamie Maitland, The Office 954

Jamie Maitland spent her childhood going to her parents’ office on NE 27th Avenue. In 2019, she had the opportunity to transform the space into a fitness studio—aptly named The Office 954—where she and her team of trainers teach everything from HIIT to spin to boxing. Maitland offers a personal training experience at an affordable price, with maximum class sizes topping out at just 12 spots. A certified nutritionist, Maitland also leads a 21-day reset challenge, joining members in a total overhaul of their diets—eliminating everything from processed sugars to dairy products. This past year, she even launched a health food company that includes a collagen protein shake mix made with Maitland-approved ingredients. 

Jamie Maitland 1FLI: How do you respond to people’s excuses for not committing to a fitness routine?

Maitland: Don’t overthink it and make sure whatever you’re doing you actually like it—even if it’s just going for a walk outside with a weighted vest on. It doesn’t always have to be in a gym. The world is my gym sometimes.

Your program combines exercise and nutrition. Can you do one without the other?

Exercise is king and nutrition is queen—you put them together and you have a kingdom. It just makes sense. If your food’s not right and what you feed yourself isn’t good, you’re not even going to be able to pick up a weight. Everything you eat affects the chemistry of your body. 

Sometimes it’s best to start with something simple. Any advice for people who want an easy way to reset their health?

Start drinking more water. You’re a plant—you need to water yourself. And I know it sounds cliché to say, but it truly flushes every single thing out of your body. 

Jamie Maitland gets down to business at her gym, The Office 954

Nobody likes deprivation, but what’s something we should all stop doing right now?

Stop eating sugar. Sugar is a complete anti-nutrient and it quite literally has zero health benefits. Maybe you don’t think you have a sweet tooth, but are you eating ketchup? Do you eat a lot of hot sauce? Go look at the back label and tell me how much sugar is in it. Even if you’re not the cookie monster, you might be the condiment monster, and you don’t even realize how much sugar you’re eating.

Adriane Abraham
Adriane Abraham

Faster: Adriane Abraham, ROAR Station

At the start of the pandemic, Adriane Abraham wasn’t sure how she was going to pay rent for her fitness studio in Flagler Village. Making a quick effort to pivot, she ended her lease, rented out all of the gym equipment to her members, and started teaching online. Today, it’s hard to imagine Abraham—founder of the Roar Station—ever hit that bump in the road. Since reopening on NE 8th Avenue, her high-intensity interval training studio is thriving once again, with more than 300 members and an all-female team of 13 coaches who lead group strength and conditioning classes.

FLI: How do you respond to people’s excuses for not committing to a fitness routine, like: “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” or “I’m too old”?

Abraham: I always ask, “Are you a priority in your own life?” If you’re constantly pushing yourself to the back of the line, rather than keeping yourself in the front, then you’re never going to feel the way you want to feel or look the way you want to look. It has to be ingrained in your life. It’s not what you do—it’s who you are. 

Roar Station
Roar Station

If you can’t make it to the gym because you’re traveling or have limited time, what are some workouts you can do every single day no matter what?

I always bring a mini band, a jump rope, and a resistance tube on vacation. They’re literally the most easily packable items. You can work out a lot of the lower body with a mini band above the knees—squats, fire hydrants, clamshells, jump squats, bridges. You can use the jump rope for conditioning, and then with the resistance tube you can do chest presses and banded curls. 

Adriane Abraham's Roar StationHow do you personally recover after a workout?

I always add mobility at the end of every workout. Mobility is crucial to being able to maintain your body so that you can continue to train, so I always do four to six exercises with static holds that I incorporate after every single training session. 

I’m also a very avid massage goer. I have a membership at The Now and I go twice a month, and I go to the chiropractor just to get my monthly adjustment. I also do active recovery days and then one complete rest day. You shouldn’t be training seven days a week, so I do an active recovery, like a 30 minute jog or walk one day, and the next day I’m going to get a massage, stretching out, and just letting my body really rest.

Jimmy Barkan leads a class. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz
Jimmy Barkan leads a class. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz

Balanced: Jimmy Barkan, The Barkan Method of Hot Yoga

Jimmy Barkan has been practicing yoga for more than 40 years. In 1980, he had just moved to Los Angeles and was working a bartending job at the airport when he first took a class with Bikram Choudhury. For two years, he took three to four classes every day and earned his certification from Ghosh’s Yoga College. Barkan became Bikram’s right-hand man, often teaching his LA classes while Bikram traveled to India. In 1983, Barkan opened his own studio in Fort Lauderdale “when nobody did yoga, let alone hot yoga,” he says. Today, he instills his own Barkan Method—an evolved version of Bikram and Vinyasa—to the next generation of yoga teachers during training trips to destinations like Iceland, Australia, and right here in South Florida. He’s also recorded more than 300 classes that are available online to his stable of monthly subscribers.

FLI: How do you counter the classic excuses of “I’m too busy,” “I’m too tired,” or “I’m too old” to encourage people to start practicing yoga?

Barkan: The biggest thing is they usually have a performance standard in their mind, and if they’re not as good as somebody in the front row, they may feel intimidated. Yoga is for everybody at any age or any level. You just have to understand where your starting point is and don’t judge it. 

Jimmy Barkan. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz
Jimmy Barkan. Photo by Jerry Rabinowitz

How do you advise students to stay in meditation when it feels like a challenge? 

Dont think you have to sit there for an hour or half an hour. Its too much. Your ego is going to talk you out of it. Just do five minutes, do three minutes, do a couple breaths, and then build from there so you give yourself a tangible goal.

How do you motivate yourself to move on the days when you don’t feel like doing yoga?

Make the decision once, and don’t make the decision ever again. Because you will talk yourself out of it everyday if you’re lying in bed, thinking, “Do I want to go to yoga today? I’m a little too tired.” You’re going to make the commitment to, say, four times a week, which should be the minimum. Five is great. Six is ideal. I’m not a proponent of seven. I like taking one day off. 

Saje Nicole, founder of The BluPrnt, works out on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Photo by Steven Martine
Saje Nicole, founder of The BluPrnt, works out on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Photo by Steven Martine

Mindful: Saje Nicole, The BluPrnt

When Saje Nicole first started modeling, she did everything she could to be a size zero. “I knew how many calories were in everything—a cracker, an apple, a piece of steak,” she says. As she got older, Nicole decided to start using fitness to get the body she wanted, not what she thought the industry wanted. By embracing her curves, she ended up signing with bigger agencies and working with more impressive brands. Then, in 2021, Sports Illustrated featured Nicole in its annual swimsuit issue. “It was wild. I remember thinking, ‘Is this actually happening?’ It was one of the best days of my life.” Before the shoot, she had 30 days to prepare, which is the same amount of time it takes to complete the online fitness program she launched shortly after called The BluPrnt. During the monthlong commitment, Nicole’s protocol includes a mix of meditations, journaling prompts, workouts, and nutrition guides.

Saje Nicole. Photo by Steven Martine
Saje Nicole. Photo by Steven Martine

FLI: If you can’t make it to the gym because you’re traveling or have limited time, what are some workouts you can do every single day no matter what? 

Nicole: I love outdoor cardio. No matter what your goals are, having a good treadmill or a place where you can just run and exercise your heart is so important. Even if I have resistance bands, even if I have weights, I run every single day. 

How do you work on mindset when helping your clients be more active?

We identify how you look at working out. Lets say when you were younger you had to do physical therapy all the time and you hated it, or people made fun of you, or you dont like the way you look. Whatever it is, Im going to help you to identify why you dont like working out and help you to restructure that.

What’s something we should all start doing for our health?

Start taking time to pay attention to your habits. Sometimes we just wake up, start working, you have kids—theres just so much going on that we dont just take time to say, How does my body feel? 

Saje Nicole, founder of The BluePrnt. Photo by Steven Martine

What’s something we should all stop doing to improve our overall wellness?

Stop comparing yourself to other people. I like to be pretty transparent as far as what I eat and what I do, but there are so many fitness influencers and people out there who are not as transparent and theyll make everything seem perfect and like they wake up like this. And it will mess with you. Stop comparing yourself. Stop judging yourself. Just learn how to be patient and loving with yourself. «

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