Get GLUTES or Go HOME with the 10 Best BUTT Exercises!

Get GLUTES or GO HOME! – Maria Pontillo, DPT

Standard day at the office and I am always amazed when I ask my patients or clients to do a bridge exercise and they look at me like I am a crazy lady. A bridge!? Then I am even more amazed when the marathon runner, soccer player, and/or crossfit athlete is unable to activate the glutes to fire into hip extension to perform the bridge with correct technique. And we wonder why we have such a high prevalence of knee and back injuries! As a Doctor of Physical Therapy for almost 5 years now, I have encountered far too many “cases” of poor glute control resulting in serious, debilitating injuries, so therefore, I dedicate this blog post to the BUTT. As Dr. Kevin R. Stone, an orthopedic surgeon at The Stone Clinic and chairman of the Stone Research Foundation in San Francisco states in a recent article, “This decade, 2010-19, is the age of the butt. What physical therapists and trainers alike have noticed is that people can have strong quads and hamstrings, even strong abs, but still be quite weak in the gluteal muscles of the butt. When they are weak, the spine and pelvis are not supported properly and poor mechanics result in back, hip and knee pain.”

To really understand the importance of glute strengthening, lets start with a touch of anatomy. Unlike the quadratus lumborum (a lower back muscle), when you hear “glutes” mostly EVERYONE knows EXACTLY where its location is. This isn’t a coincidence. Not only is the butt one of the most prevalent features of the human being, it is the STRONGEST (supposedly) muscle in the body. The glutes are made up of 3 muscles: glute medius, minimus, and maximus. Combined, they function to contribute to major functions of human life. The gluteus maximus’ primary role is hip extension, and is most active during force production with a bent knee, for example, when rising from a seated or squat position and when climbing stairs. The smaller, glute minimus and medius contribute to these actions, but mainly, they are the primary stabilizers of the pelvis, and the more stable our pelvis, the less chances we have to injury.

So why is the strongest, and most powerful muscle in the body becoming one of the main causes of injuries amongst a vast population of people?? Lets start with the sitting epidemic.


As most of us know, any muscle that is inactive for a period of time WILL gradually decline in effectiveness due to neglect, ie “atrophy.” When you are in a seated posture, the glutes are completely inactive, and basically “go to sleep,” hence why spinal researcher Stuart McGill terms this “gluteal amnesia.” With inactivity of our glutes, other muscles (hamstrings and lumbar extensors) will kick in to compensate for the lack of glute activation. The problem is, that these muscles aren’t designed to be “prime movers,” and they’re designed to support the action of the glutes. As a result, injuries such as low back pain, hamstring strains, hip and knee pain will insidiously or abruptly arise.

Other causes of glute weakness can be strictly due to a muscular imbalance from overtraining the quads and abdominal muscles, which is also termed, our “anterior compartment.” Something commonly heard: “But I go to pilates, spin class, run, and ride my bike for hours. How can I not be strong enough?” The answer is the lack of posterior compartment strengthening. Think of the glutes as the foundation of our core, and without strong glutes, we become vulnerable to poor mechanics and balance. It isn’t just the athletes and fitness enthusiasts that suffer from the “dead butt syndrome.” The elderly are victims too! With the gluteus medius muscle being our main stabilizer while we walk, you can understand how a weak glute medius can create an instability while walking, or even standing, thus putting the elderly at a higher risk to fall!

It isn’t only weakness that can contribute to poor glute control, but our hip flexor (the muscle that pulls our hip forward/up) flexibility plays a major role in allowing maximal glute activation. With tight hip flexors we are limiting the ability to extend the hip back and thus, restricting our strengthening capabilities. This is extremely relevant for cyclists, spinners, rowers, and “sitters” that are prone to be in a flexed forward position for prolonged periods. The solution: stretch your hip flexors!

This concept of posterior compartment strengthening, or glute training to prevent and treat back, hip, knee, and even ankle injuries seems simple. There is even more scientific evidence arising to prove these theories. Yet it still seems misunderstood or even worse, ignored! Keep in mind: the glutes can’t get “too strong.” In fact, the stronger they get, the more powerfully they contract and the more we are protected against low back, knee, hamstring, and groin injuries.  Even if this blog post inspires one person to start being proactive towards glute training, then I am a happy camper. Check out these 10 useful BUTT exercises to help kick start you to get your BUTT in gear! Now get up off your BUTT and start today!


Perform all of these exercises at a high repetition with light resistance when just starting out. Once you build your strength and stamina then begin to add more resistance and decrease rep counts.

1)   The Bridge: Lay on your back and lift your hips off the floor. Add in a stability ball or switch to single leg bridge to add a dynamic challenge.

The Bridge

Lay on your back and lift your hips off the floor


Try single leg bridge to add a dynamic challenge

2)   The Squat: Shift your hips back then bend your knees as if you are going to sit into a low chair. Be sure to keep your torso upright and your knees behind your toes. Return to the standing position and engage your glutes (i.e. “squeeze your butt).


Shift your hips back then bend your knees as if you are going to sit into a low chair. Be sure to keep your torso upright and your knees behind your toes. Return to the standing position and engage your glutes.

3)    Dumbbell/KettleBell Swings: Grab a single dumbbell or kettlebell hold at the end, begin by shifting your hips back (just like in the initial squat position) and thrusting the hips forward without hyperextending the lower back. Avoid bending the knees more than 5-10 degrees throughout the entire sequence. The power and momentum from your glutes will “swing” the dumbbell/kettlebell to shoulder height or above (not recommended to go above shoulder height with any shoulder pathology).


kettlebellswing24)    SuperMans: Begin in a quadraped (on all four extremities) position and lift opposite arm and leg while keeping the hips squared to the floor and keeping head in alignment with the spine. Be sure to engage the abdominals to prevent passive hyperextension in the lower back.


Begin in a quadraped (on all four extremities) position and lift opposite arm and leg while keeping the hips squared to the floor and keeping head in alignment with the spine.

5)    Standing or Laying Hip Extension: Starting in a standing position press the leg back behind you with a straight leg and avoid forward trunk lean. Perform the same action in a prone (laying face down) position. Add a resistance band or ankle weight for an added challenge.


Starting in a standing position press the leg back behind you with a straight leg and avoid forward trunk lean.

6)    Standing or Laying Hip Abduction: In a standing position lift the leg out to the side and return back to starting position. Perform the same action in a sidelying position. Add a resistance band or ankle weight for an added challenge.

In a standing position lift the leg out to the side and return back to starting position.

7)    The WalkOut: Wrap theraband around ankles and step side to side in a slight squat position. Avoid sidebending from the trunk and keep a tall alignment in the spine.


Wrap theraband around ankles

Step side to side in a slight squat position.












8)    The ClamShell: Wrap the same theraband around your knees and lay on your side. Keep both feet contacting and open the knees away (similar to a “clam shell” opening). Keep hips squared to the side and avoid turning the hips out.


Wrap the same theraband around your knees and lay on your side. Keep both feet contacting and open the knees away.

9)    Butt Presses: In a quadruped position (same as supermans), bend the knee and left the leg while pressing your foot toward the sky. The action comes from the hip, so avoid kicking from the knee.


In a quadruped position, bend the knee and lift the leg while pressing your heel toward the sky.

10)  Hip Flexor Stretch: Kneel down into a lunge position with one leg forward and the other leg back. Shift the pelvis forward and contract to glutes to feel a pulling/stretch sensation in the front of the hip and down the thigh. Perform 20-30 second hold for 3-5 sets.


Kneel down into a lunge position with one leg forward and the other leg back. Shift the pelvis forward and contract to glutes to feel a pulling/stretch sensation in the front of the hip and down the thigh. Perform 20-30 second hold for 3-5 sets.

For more articles and tips, be sure to follow me on InstagramFacebook and Twitter as I provide authentic health & fitness tips, tricks and host various fitness events in the South Florida community!





Looking Back: Celebrating 1 Year of Maria Pontillo’s ‘Fitness with Maria’ Brand

I honestly have no idea where the time has gone but suddenly it’s 2014 and WordPress recently informed me that my ‘Fitness With Maria’ blog just reached it’s one year anniversary! This may not be a big deal to some, but it’s exciting to reminisce on how far my fitness brand has come. Whether its helping my physical therapy patients complete rehabilitation programs, instructing 10+ group fitness classes per week, working with my amazing virtual clients, or staying in touch and engaged with everyone online, I must say, it’s been a fun and wild roller coaster! Ill admit it’s been tough squeezing it all in. Working 14-hour days going from one job to the next, eating lunch in the car, having dinner at 10pm, just to wake up the next morning at 5am to do it all over again hasn’t been “easy,” but hey – nothing worth having comes easy, right? The point is, I love what I do and inspiring others to achieve healthier lifestyles is what it’s all about to me.



A little less than a year ago I introduced my personalized Virtual Workouts via live video streaming and now, it is a new workout format that is really catching on and more importantly, helping people be active and get healthy! Looking back at my little idea to launch a group fitness workout online and watching the interests expand into an actual “thing” is like a musician hearing his song on the radio for the first time. I cannot wait to see what this year has in store as I am looking forward to many new workout programs and ideas to come!

Over the past year, I have seen my Sweaty Sunday Funday Beach Workout turn into a successful event that has become a fun way for many fitness enthusiasts to add some spice to their fitness routine’s all while enjoying the beautiful Fort Lauderdale beach! The turnout since I started has literally quadrupled and thanks to so many inspiring and awesome fitness clients, my little beach workout with just a few people has now turned into a regular monthly event!! All of the credit and success of my customized beach workout goes to the dozens of committed people who participate. If you are reading this – you rock! You’re the one’s that put in the hard work and dedication! It’s awesome finding so many like-minded individuals who are focused on bettering their health in the South Florida community. Helping others and giving back has seriously brought me so much personal joy and happiness; and for that I say THANK YOU! I am super excited for the next beach workout Sunday May 4th with a special Sneaker Drive donation for Remar USA Christian Ministry, a church in Fort Lauderdale that my father, Frank Pontillo is a pastor for and helps with various community service projects for the homeless.


Sweaty Sunday Funday with Maria Pontillo, DPT


–       December 2013 I launched my first-ever community service workout charity event with Jay Lawrence and YouFreshNaturals, and raised over $500 for the MercyCorps charity with 100% of the proceeds to go towards the Victims of the Haiyan Typhoon!

–       I launched my ‘Rep It Up and Roll it Down’ Workout Program, which has received great notoriety from people on YouTube and Facebook!

–       I became a certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (click here to see me helping a fellow patient with K-Tape), and in return helped numerous physical therapy patients better heal and cope with physical injuries.

–       I am proud of my two articles that were featured in Nova Southeastern University’s 2014 Wellness Made Simple Magazine: “K Tape Trend” and “A DPT Explores Mobility Training”


–       Workout of the Week: Weekly Video Tutorial Workouts, which will be posted on my Fitness With Maria YouTube Channel.

–       Launching mini-series of fitness and health education regarding physical therapy, injury prevention and healthy living.

–       More charity workout events including a Sneaker Shoe Drive for Remar USA Christian Ministry, which will be hosted during my next Sweaty Sunday Funday Beach Workout on May 4th! Remar is a church in Fort Lauderdale that my dad is a minister for and helps with various community service projects.

–       M3 Maternity Mom Meltdown with Maria: This will be a new workout program geared towards new mom’s who are ready to get back in shape after giving birth. I am hoping to launch this in the beginning of June so be on the lookout via email and social media!

I am so excited about all the awesome events and workout programs that I have in the works for the rest of the year and I hope you are too! We all live busy lives, but it is important to dedicate a little time each day to keeping yourself healthy and happy. Eating healthy, having a little alone time and spending just an hour a day doing physical activity will make the difference between living an unhealthy, stressed out life and a happy, positive and active life! Remember: “Fitness is not a trend, it’s a lifestyle!”

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Get Fit This Spring With Maria Pontillo’s Virtual Workouts

Maria Pontillo virtual fitness workouts

This Sunday it’s that time of year again – we will all lose an hour of sleep and spring the clocks forward in preparation for the Spring season! With spring weather in full effect here in South Florida, many people are looking for affordable and convenient ways to get fit for the Spring and Summer seasons!

Starting March 11th, I am excited to kick off a 4-week Spring Break Virtual Workout Program via free video streaming technology! With nearly 10 years of experience teaching group fitness classes and providing personal training, I am utilizing free video streaming technology to provide clients in Florida, as well as other states across the country, with affordable personal training sessions. Over the past year, I have offered virtual personal training sessions, or what I refer to as virtual workouts a few times a week and it has garnered real results for numerous clients. Each virtual workout consists of a 45-minute high-intensity, total-body circuit training workout via Google Hangouts; this way they get real training sessions for almost half the price of a traditional one-on-one training session at a gym.”

This new virtual workout program is not only cutting down on clients’ waste line and budget, but I make sure each workout session is performed safely with a focus on injury prevention techniques. One of the great aspects of this 4-week program is that client are actually getting a two-for-one deal because I am a physical therapist and a fitness trainer. I usually wouldn’t recommend this kind of program for a trainer who doesn’t have a physical therapy background or for someone just starting out in fitness training, but with my educational background and years of experience teaching group classes with 20 to 50 participants, it works great for me!

If you are unsure about how the virtual workout program works and whether or not it truly deliver results, don’t worry—for a limited time, I am offering an exclusive 1-session deal for new sign ups!  Simply visit and fill out the contact form with your personal information to inquire more details.

With four simple clicks onto Google Plus, you will easily be able to log on and join Maria’s Virtual Workouts every week, regardless of how tech savvy you are! In addition, each Hangout can hold up to 8 participants; with my Apple TV and flat screen television, I am able to workout with each group and easily monitor them for proper form while keeping them motivated.

As more and more Floridians go online to date, shop, network and learn, doesn’t it only make sense that new technological capabilities help us get in better shape too?! Just about everything we do in our day-to-day lives has a technological component – now I can confidently say personal fitness training does as well In a major city like Miami or Fort Lauderdale, people don’t always have the time to dedicate two hours commuting to and from the gym in addition to working out. With my virtual workouts, I am able to maximize each client’s time by entering their home through a Smartphone, computer or Smart TV.

In addition to each workout, clients receive nutritional advice and motivational support. This means, instead of spending up to several hundreds of dollars on a gym or CrossFit membership, people can workout online with me and receive a fresh, new and challenging workout two to four times a week.  Another aspect that makes this new workout format great is that I can group clients in different sessions based on their fitness goals and needs—which is great for me as a trainer and helps connect clients with other individuals with similar goals”

maria pontillo personal training virtual workouts

If you are interested in trying this 4-Week Spring Virtual Workout Program, check out the dates and times of the sessions on the flyer listed above. There are still a few more days left to sign up — visit my website and fill out the form and I will be in touch with you within 24 hours! Can’t wait to hear from you all! In addition, make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and ‘Like” my official Facebook Fan Page



A Need For Better Fitness Industry Standards

Human beings have pursued fitness since their primitive nomadic days when they went on hikes and hunting trips to gather food and water for their families and tribes. Fast forward to 2014 and the way humans pursue fitness has evolved drastically. The evolution of what is now the fitness and health industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry that offers more information, better technology and smarter science behind the way in which we all workout. Although this is positive news for the global economy and even more so for many people striving to live a healthy & fit lifestyle, I am here to talk about the increasing number of inexperienced, uneducated fitness professionals who have entered the fitness & health field, leaving people like me frustrated and hungry for better fitness industry standards.

Think about it: how many people do you know who have been injured while working out at a local fitness studio, Orange Theory Fitness class, Crossfit box or sports event? With the rapid growth of various group fitness programs, the number of personal injuries caused by exercising has continued to drastically increase over the years. This injury trend isn’t a coincidence either. As a physical therapist treating up to 10 patients per day at an outpatient sports rehabilitation clinic in South Florida, I have witnessed first-hand the many injuries caused specifically by poor fitness training, inadequate program design, improper mechanics and a lack of recovery. These types of problems usually happen when a personal fitness trainer or instructor isn’t performing their job to the best of their ability.  If an instructor isn’t doing their job properly, it is usually due to lack of proper education and/or experience. As this dangerous, yet preventable, trend continues to develop within the fitness industry, it’s time to demand better educated and more experienced trainers!

Social media (particularly instagram) has provided a platform for many uneducated, inexperienced individuals to strut their stuff online as ‘fitness gurus.’ This has led to a selection of watered down “fitness professionals” in the market. What’s even worse is that these instagram ‘fitness gurus’ make it harder for reputable professionals to prosper and make an impact. With a free instagram account, a couple of abdominal flexing ‘selfies’ and a four-week personal fitness certificate course, you’ve got people positioning themselves as the best trainer in town, when in fact, they have little to no expertise in the field.

One fitness professional that I consider the real deal is Katie Chasey; she is the founder and head trainer for the RXBound training team and serves as a coach, programmer and instructor, with a specialization in Olympic lifting, among many other specialties. Chasey and I share the same frustration with the rapid growth of the fitness industry. Chasey recently published an article titled ‘The Cost of Competition: When Bad Programming Puts Athletes at Risk” which identifies the fitness market as a “quantity over quality” arena and clearly explains why this new fad is bad news for fitness enthusiasts. One of the primary reasons why this trend is occurring at such a rapid pace is due to an increasing demand for group fitness and group trainers.  Facilities are under pressure to keep up with the demand, which is leading to more and more under-qualified and inexperienced trainers being hired. I’m not saying that this applies to most trainers, but with group fitness exercise programs becoming so popular, it appears to be happening more often now in 2014 than just a few years ago.

Poor program design is becoming common not only due to a lack of knowledge and experience, but also because of pure laziness. Something as simple as over (or under) prescribing rep counts for certain exercise formats can attribute to a serious injury, which may result in the need for long-term physical therapy or surgery. Over the past few years, it seems as though society has been conditioned to accept and trust any personal trainer who is in great shape, regardless of their educational and work background. I think it’s time that this norm change.

The Current State of Fitness Instructors

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fitness instructors and personal trainers need nothing more than a high school diploma and a “certification” to begin working. Due to these subpar standards, little time and money is required to enter the market, and has ultimately led to almost 300,000 fitness instructor jobs in the United Stated in 2012. This trend has lead to an overpopulated industry with average trainers and uneducated instructors. The BLS has also predicted a faster than average growth rate for fitness professional positions between 2010 and 2020 with a 24 percent expected progression.

Although I am in support of industry growth, in an effort to help everyone achieve healthier and more active lifestyles, I would love to see more trainers further their education. Would you trust a medical physician who didn’t have a Doctorate of Medicine? The same applies to personal trainers; by putting an uneducated and inexperienced instructor in a group fitness setting, with 20 to 40 participants, all of different fitness levels and strengths, it is understandable why that class could produce mediocre results and cause several unnecessary physical injuries.

 The Evolution of Personal Training & Group Fitness

Personal one-on-one fitness training sessions were considered the ultimate way to get in shape a few years ago. A certified trainer would design a fitness program according to a client’s baseline fitness assessment results. Although it may vary depending on the client’s goals, a general outline of this test consists of a series of measurements of a client’s resting heart rate, body composition, muscular endurance, flexibility, range of motion and motor skills.

With an unpredictable economy and job market, many people turned to personal training because they ‘liked working out.’ To make matters worse, personal trainers started transitioning to group fitness business models, which enabled them to train more clients per session, resulting in a higher profit margin. From a business standpoint, this makes sense; however, with an uneducated and inexperienced trainer, the results can be disastrous. This evolutionary change in the personal fitness arena has led to dwindling standards when it comes to proper technique and programming.

 A Call For Better Fitness Standards, Programming & More Education

Just as medical doctors, psychologists and lawyers spend nearly a decade in school learning and studying their craft, I believe the same should apply to personal fitness professionals. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from Florida State University, a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Florida International University, and several certifications in specialties related to the physical therapy and fitness, I know the difference between an educated trainer and a fitness guru who “trained hard,” then decided to take a course in personal training. My purpose is not to look down on anyone but rather to encourage trainers throughout the industry to enhance their credibility! Fitness and health is my true passion and it’s disheartening to see others lack expertise, care, and compassion about their profession. It diminishes the hard work, education and authenticity of individuals like myself who have dedicated almost all of their life to studying and working in the industry.

If you agree that more trainers should have more experience and education, make sure to share this blog post with your friends online.  Also, make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as I provide authentic health & fitness tips, tricks and host various fitness events in the South Florida community! The next time you see your group fitness instructor, make sure to ask him or her what their educational and work background consists of. Venture out and try different workout regimens – the more you workout and more you expose yourself to, the easier you will be able to spot a great, qualified trainer.

Maria Pontillo, DPT Offers 5 Simple Injury Prevention Resolutions to Follow in 2014


As a licensed physical therapist and certified personal trainer with 10 years of experience in the fitness arena it is common to witness ahigher incidence of exercise related injuries during the earlier months of the year.  Furthermore, expert injury prevention tips for people working on their new year fitness goals is appropriate.

The new year marks a time where many individuals are on a mission to conquer their fitness goals, whether it be to lose weight, tone up or just become regularly active and become healthier. Before getting started, it is important to understand how to implement a new fitness regimen that will lead to improving one’s health without causing harm or physical injury. A sports or physical injury can derail a person’s fitness aspirations, and eventually lead to serious depression depending on the severity.  Whether it be a mild or serious physical injury, the good news is, injuries can be easily prevented with a few simple prevention methods.

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, losing weight is the number one New Years resolution for many Americans. I have seen first-hand that many people have a high level of enthusiasm the first few weeks of the new year when working out, which is great and makes me very happy! Unfortunately, this level of determination typically leads to a physical injury due to the strenuous demands placed on your body in a rapid effect.  In an effort to help people reach their 2014 fitness goals safely and efficiently, I have designed a list of tips to follow that will promote weight loss and muscle gains, while preventing injury.

  1. Start out with an expert – When getting started with a new fitness regimen, it’s important to get familiarized with the basic fitness fundamentals.  An experienced personal trainer is educated to design a strategic workout plan that will follow a safe, balanced and diverse routine. In addition, personal trainers are qualified to conduct fitness assessments in order to determine your baseline measures of body mass index (BMI), resting heart rate and blood pressure, aerobic fitness level, body composition, lung capacity, flexibility and strength. 
  2. Track your progress – Start out with a fitness journal and record your current weight, measurements and strength capabilities as this will help you determine how far along your fitness level has grown.  Taking a photo before you start a new fitness regimen and throughout the process will be extremely helpful as well. Finally, logging every workout including weights, sets and rep counts is a useful strategy to assist with monitoring strength, cardio, and endurance progression.
  3. Set realistic goals – Although many people are filled with great enthusiasm to get fit in the New Year, it’s important that they start out slow and gradually work their way up. Try to stay conservative when choosing a starting workout intensity level as well as a specific exercise class, and the duration of  time you exercise for.  Whether you are starting to get into jogging, running, swimming, circuit training or weight lifting, remember to gradually increase in the intensity overtime – otherwise, the risk of injury is much higher.
  4. Warm up and cool down –  The number one cause of injury is due to lack of warming up or cooling down.  It is important to spend a minimum of 10 minutes performing a dynamic warm up routine to prepare your muscles, ligaments, and joints before going full fledge into your workout.  Again, this is where expert advice is crucial in performing a safe and effective warm up sequence prior to the actual workout.
  5. Stay hydrated – Water is an essential component when it comes to achieving real fitness results and without it, gym-goers can experience serious dehydration problems. Mild dehydration can cause headaches, increased fatigue levels, or decreased urine or sweat output, while severe dehydration can make the brain swell or even cause a seizure.  Although many people know to drink eight to ten bottles of water per day, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends men get about three liters of water per day while women drink 2.2 liters. Of course it’s important to note that these numbers increase the more active you become.


For more physical therapy and fitness tips, follow me on Instagram & Twitter! Feel free to email me with any questions and visit my official website for more details about my physical therapy and personal training services.

Maria Pontillo, DPT Explores How The Virtual Workout Experience Will Put You in the Best Shape of Your Life in 2014

maria pontillo virtual workouts fitness 2014

With over ten years of experience with group fitness teaching and personal training, I am excited to introduce a unique personal training experience to people across the globe regardless of their geographical location! In early 2013, I began brainstorming how I could  reach more people, regardless of where they live, and help them achieve their fitness goals. This lead me to create a unique workout method that offers a technologically advanced twist to traditional personal training; a workout method that I refer to as virtual workouts. Although some people may be intimidated by technology and fitness, participating in my virtual workouts is easy!

With the decline in workout DVD’s combined the popularity of YouTube and the saturation of pricey personal trainers, working out via live video streaming technology seemed like a no brainer to me! Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to log on and workout with clients in the comfort of their own homes via a free video streaming application while providing them with a 45-minute total-body, high-intensity workout, several times per week. Social media and access to the Internet has rapidly changed the way we live and connect with people; this is even true within the fitness arena. As technology continues to revolutionize the way we work and socialize, it only makes sense that it also helps people across the world become healthier, more fit and better educated.

With a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and several certifications in personal training and group fitness instructing, I have been through the New Year’s Resolutions phase many times! Every January I see dozens of new files show up at the gym or attend my fitness classes. Unfortunately, the crowd usually diminishes by the end of February. What is the reason that people lose track of their fitness goals after only a month or two? Could it be that aren’t seeing the results they want? Many of them do not get into a set routine or don’t have a coach or trainer encouraging them. The reason may vary per person, but one thing is for sure — my virtual workout program has allowed my clients to eliminate excuses and  “roadblocks” and achieve real fitness results.

In honor of the new year, I am currently hosting open enrollment for my New Year 2014 Virtual Workout Program. I want to help people create realistic fitness and health goals that they can achieve and most importantly, maintain.

There are several important factors that are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The first would be to have a coach or trainer that you trust and believe in. So many people call themselves personal trainers or fitness instructors these days, but it’s important to choose a fitness professional that has authentic credentials, credible experience and provides constant positive motivation.

Although virtual workouts are a new concept that’s slowly changing the way people receive personal training, it is the most efficient (for both your time and your wallet) way to reach your fitness goals! If you are interested in my 2014 New Year Virtual Workout Program, but still unsure about all of the benefits that such a fitness plan could offer, check out these 8 tips for reasons to join!

1. Eliminate travel time — When you have the luxury of working out in the comfort of your living room, you will find yourself saving significantly on weekly travel costs (i.e. – gas, wear and tear on your car). You will also not have any excuses for “not making it to the gym.” If you live in a big city like Miami, LA or New York, this could save you several hundreds of dollars in a year!

2. Motivational support – One of the greatest benefits of working with a fitness instructor is the motivational support that they provide. Much like your doctor or therapist, you need to be able to trust your fitness instructor. I have worked with hundreds of people in South Florida and across the country who relied on me to help them reach their ultimate fitness goals.

3. Set a routine – This concept is simple, but is one of the key reasons why many people fail to achieve their fitness goals every New Year.  With my virtual workout program, we will design a schedule of two to four classes per week that you will attend with me. Just like getting a new job with unique hours, my program will become a part of your regular routine and will become second nature to you.  Making fitness a part of your lifestyle by creating a set schedule is key to becoming the healthy and fit person you want to be in 2014.

4. Achieve high-intensity interval training – Commonly referred to as HIIT, high-intensity interval training uses alternating bursts of intense exercise combinations to “trick” your body into challenging itself while burning more calories. This workout strategy is also a great way to increase aerobic capacity, which will ultimately strengthen the heart muscles, assist with increasing your metabolism, which will lead to weight loss.

5. Nutritional advice There is so much misinformation out there regarding the best and healthiest eating alternatives. With the help of a dietician colleague of mine, as a part of my virtual workout program, I offer weekly nutritional consultations to discuss each client’s food journal, what foods to stay away from and what foods to start incorporating into your diet.

6. Track your progress – Tracking and monitoring my virtual workout clients progress is key to the success of the program. It is also helpful for the psyche to see some sort of change and improvement that provides an added boost of motivation as time goes on. Simply joining a new gym in the New Year will not necessarily enable you to drop those extra pounds and get in the best shape of your life! You need a coach, a schedule, someone to motivate you, guide you and monitor your progress over time. Remember, a goal without a plan is simply a dream. 

7. Become accountable – Anyone that has taken even one of my fitness classes can tell you that I don’t slack off in any facet of my life. I instruct between three and five fitness classes per day and every single one of them are just as intense and fulfilling as the next. I don’t know how to give anything less than 100% and I make sure to instill that same value in my fitness client’s attitude when it comes to their fitness goals.

8. Maximize your workout & minimize your time – Many people spend hours in the gym and see little results. It’s important for anyone reading this blog post to understand that just because you are walking on that treadmill for 60 minutes does not mean you are really challenging yourself or reaching your maximum heart-rate. With my 45-minute virtual workouts, you can literally roll out of bed, turn on your computer or Smartphone, and complete an intense, calorie-torching workout before 8AM!

Now that you are more familiar with the benefits that my virtual workouts offer, let’s connect! Whether you have additional questions or are positive that you want to sign up and get in the best shape of your life in 2014, email me and let’s get started: In addition, make sure to check out my website and follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for daily fitness tips and motivation!


Maria Pontillo’s Beach Workout Event For Charity Raises Awareness & Money for Typhoon Haiyan Victims

maria pontillo

I am excited to announce that my first-ever Sweaty Sunday Funday Beach Workout for charity turned out to be a huge success with over 60 attendees and a pretty big crowd of spectators interested in joining future workout events! In addition to the great response and engagement received on Sunday, we raised almost $800 for the victims affected by Typhoon Haiyan while enjoying Fort Lauderdale Beach’s wonderful weather and atmosphere. My goal for this charity cause was to surpass $1,000 and in an effort to hit that goal, I am still collecting donations for the rest of the month. Before I give you all the juicy details of the event, click here to check out all the awesome action shots and group photos taken by photographer extraordinaire, Alex Dumas!

maria pontillo charity collage

This three-hour long charity fitness event was essentially a spin-off of my popular monthly beach workout: Sweaty Sunday Funday Beach Circuit Workout.  This time around, with the holidays right around the corner, I wanted to add a charitable component and make it bigger and better than ever!  In turn, I partnered with Jay Lawrence, owner of You Fresh Naturals, a Miramar-based gourmet butter company, and Liza Muravyeva, owner of Miami-based Sila Voli Fitness, which provides personal training and nutritional counseling. Liza offered dietician advice about healthy eating options, and gave away healthy recipes and free consultation sessions via prize raffles. In addition, she also did body fat testing for several attendees. Jay gave away jars of his delicious gourmet coconut butter during the prize raffles and even provided fruit and water to everyone after our 90-minute workout. Finally, we had Richard Gionatti, owner of Bubucheek apparel gear at the event selling Bubucheek hats. For every hat that was sold, he donated a portion of the proceeds to my Mercy Corps fund.

Before and after the three-hour long event, I conducted fitness challenges for prize giveaways! Extra kudos to Jason Mach who won the pull up contest with 45 straight pullups (let me clarify – not Kipping pullups either)! Andrea March came in first place for the handstand contest with an epic 52-second hold (WOAH!). Congrats to strong lady, Ivana Gagula who stole two records for a 3:56 minute plank hold and 10 undergrip pull-ups! We saw an impressive record by Leah Winterwoods with 12 overhand pull-ups and awesome job to Pat Wilkie to for winning the male pushups with a total count of 110 – yikes! Carole Coyle killed the female push up contest with a total of 67! Congrats to everyone who currently holds the fitness challenges records, and I am so proud of all the runner ups and everyone who participated and gave their all! Be ready for more fitness challenges in future events as I am always hosting or partaking in 5K’s, spin ride classes along with other outdoor workouts!

The energy and excitement that was received for this event has motivated me to continue doing major fitness events in Fort Lauderdale and even Miami, with the goal to offer a charitable component while promoting my fitness and health mission!  Make sure to look out in 2014 for another Beach Workout Charity Event that will benefit another different charitable cause!

100% of the proceeds collected this past Sunday are going directly to my Mercy Corps fund for victims affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Mercy Corps is a non-profit group that helps people in the world’s toughest places survive crises. They have an exceptional track record and that is why I chose the organization. Mercy Corps’ relief efforts in the Philippines are particularly focused on helping displaced children that have been affected by the typhoon. Since the disaster struck, they have delivered food, cooking supplies and hygiene kits to families struggling to recover. Although $1,000 may not sound like a lot here in America, it can do so much for young, innocent children and families who’s entire lives were displaced and wiped out.

Everyone who showed up and participated in my 90-minute workout received a high-intensity, total-body, circuit training partner workout right on the sandy beachside of Fort Lauderdale. One of the reasons I personally enjoy exercising outdoors is because it allows us to get out of the musty, cold gyms and get some fresh air!!  Not to mention the heat, wind, water and sand — it adds an extra level of intensity that makes the workout more challenging! We did an arrangement of workouts including skipping in the sand, burpees, hurdle jumps and sprints, which everyone in the group dominated! As a part of becoming a healthy and fit person, it’s important to make exercising enjoyable. The only way to truly become fit is to make it apart of your lifestyle. Exercising regularly is much easier when you are doing it with other like-minded individuals because it keeps you focused and makes exercise a part of your daily routine! Plus, working out in a group, especially with a partner, is a great source of motivation!

maria pontillo charity event

If you live in South Florida and are interested in attending one of my upcoming Fort Lauderdale Beach Workouts, email me and let me know you would like to be added to my email list. In the mean time, don’t forget to click here and check out all of the awesome professional photographs Alex Dumas captured throughout the entire event. In addition, you can always follow me on Instagram, “Like” my official Facebook Fan Page and follow me on Twitter where I always announce the latest fitness and health events that I am hosting or partaking in!