Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Fitness and Diet Expert Charlene Ciardiello Shares Her Secrets


Christine Peake/peakPRgroup

Fitness expert Charlene Ciardiello seen working out in her Santa Monica neighborhood.

1. Why fitness? Were you an athlete as a child?

That's a very good question. "Fitness" itself was never a thought, but I always had a passion to challenge myself in body, mind and soul. As a child, dance and sports helped me strengthen my discipline and mind, building my confidence and self esteem. It wasn't until later in life that I realized that "Fitness" wasn't just pushing your body to its extremes, but also a balance in lifestyle and a therapeutic outlet for the soul. That's was my life motto is "Shut Up and Move" - it's about overcoming the obstacles that we ourselves or others impose on us and mentally accepting that we can achieve more; it's not just about challenging our bodies.

2. What do you think should change in the American diet?

I think that the American diet is like everything else in America; success measured by size. It encourages us to eat bigger portions, resulting in consistent unhealthy eating habits. While I do believe that everyone deserves to indulge, the American diet glorifies constant over-indulgence. Everyone's body is different and once someone finds a nutritional approach that fulfills their unique needs, they'll find that their body and soul rejoice when they find a customized diet designed for them - with the occasional indulgence, of course. We all seem to strive to be different, yet, the American diet imposes a false superiority on gluttony.

3. How can parents guide children to a healthy lifestyle?

Like everything else in life, when it comes to diet, parents need to be a role model and instill the values of balanced and nutritional eating habits. Just as important, parents also need to encourage their children to be active so that they physically realize the impact the physiological and psychological benefits from challenging and developing their bodies and minds. Now, this is a lot more difficult that it sounds. Most parents both work full-time jobs and don't have the energy to either prepare healthy meals, or even take their kids to the park. Nonetheless, the impact they can have on their children having fulfilled lives, beyond a good education, rests on their ability to find the time and energy to lead their children into the right direction.

4. What are the true benefits of exercise and how does it change with age?

Exercise is different for everyone and at different ages. It's true that maintenance becomes more difficult with age as our metabolism and muscle memory decline. Contributing to the complexity of exercise is that all body types are different and depending on one's goals, the most efficient approach, regardless of age, can vary widely. However, what will never fail over the long-term, young or old, is a plan that seeks to correct muscle imbalances, whether we are born with them or they are self-induced (i.e. sitting in front of a computer all day, or years of incorrect squats) that can lead to bigger problems either later in life or earlier as in the case of incorrect form. Nonetheless, regardless of age, exercise will always be a constant pursuit of "perfection" in mind and body that exuberates our soul - and, yes, our ideas of "perfection" change as we age as well.

5. What changes would you like to see in the school systems?

Despite all of the criticism that Michelle Obama's school wellness properties have received; I admire and exalt her efforts. It's no secret that the less fortunate suffer from obesity; malnutrition has a direct effect on mental development and their ability to overcome their circumstances. I agree that we need to educate all parents, at all income levels, on the benefits of a balanced and healthy diet which simply leads to superior learning capacities, higher confidence levels and greater chances of success. Nonetheless, for the unforeseeable future, soda by volume will remain cheaper than juices and milk; and, unless they are encouraged in school, many children will not realize the benefits of a physically active lifestyle and a balanced nutrition. If we want to enhance our society and its individuals, we need to start with the fitness and nutritional lessons that are imposed on children eliminating the handicap imposed by their income level.

6. Tell us about the charity you aligned yourself with in Venice.

That's a great follow-up question. Not everyone arrives in the world in the ideal situation; however, they still deserve a chance to find their own place and have a chance to make a positive impact. To help them get there, it takes people to want to invest in the common good; people, like myself, that have a passion for inspiring others. I decided to combine my love for fitness and love for humanity by working with safe place for youth to make a transformative impact in the lives of local, forgotten youth. My goal is to empower the resilient spirit of the homeless youth by providing immediate and lasting solutions. Through personal fitness and my blunt message "Shut Up and Move" I hope to revive self-confidence and strength in the less fortunate youth that will help them find a positive outlook on life and realize their potential, seeing past any short-term obstacles that might hold them back.

7. How can people get involved with the charity?

You can log onto the website to fill out the application to volunteer. The community centers volunteer hours are Tuesday/Thursday 2-5pm. If you don't have the time, you can also make donations directly to the program or indirectly through my website where half the proceeds of apparel purchases or a "Fit Kit" training session is directed to the charity.

8. You must train clients all day - is it exhausting?

Andre Cohen

Charlene warms up the crowd on Santa Monica beach for charity Puma Relief Run for This Time Foundation

It's not exhausting because it's my passion, even though my clients might disagree while I'm telling them to "Shut Up and Move" - HA! I've been training clients for 10 years, and it's only cemented my belief that my purpose in life is to inspire people though fitness. Every person is different and I have close relationships with all of my clients; the satisfaction in watching them improve themselves and find happiness through their own sweat and success is rewarding - I feed of it!

9. What is your goal?

Aside from always pushing myself just as hard as others, my goal is to remain humble. Regarding nutrition and exercise, it's essential that I constantly enhance my education of new advances and techniques. I enjoy helping people, and, to do so, it's important to not let pride stand in the way of my development to keep abreast of, understand and utilize new techniques.


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