The FITNESS TRAINER
BY DONNA CRARY
Take one look at Rosalind Neilen, owner and fitness coach of Rosalind’s Fitness Studios in downtown Stuart, and you quickly realize that staying fit has been a central focus of her life. Her youthful looks defy her age. At 67, she enjoys training her clients so they can be in optimum shape.
“I do a prescription of fitness that is realistic,” she says. “I like to focus on the everyday person and help them for one hour, two to three times a week. They walk in the door and say, ‘Tell me what to do, Rosalind.’ Two to three hours makes a big difference in their lives.”
Neilen received her fitness certification back in 1990. Around that time, she was working out at the gym and made her own exercise wear because she thought it was too expensive to buy retail. She sold her clothing line at 3rd Street Fitness in Stuart and worked there as a receptionist. It wasn’t long before she decided to change her career and was hired, working as one of the gym’s fitness trainers. Later, she opened her own fitness studio.
With 30 years of experience, Neilen stresses the importance of reviewing a client’s medical history before training them for the first time. She encourages her clients to call and schedule an appointment, and then sends a form for them to fill out. This provides her with vital information that determines whether they are ready to safely begin a fitness program.
“After I have read their PAR-Q, I will have determined whether or not they’re ready to come into the studio,” she says. “If your form says you’re on heart, blood pressure or cholesterol medications or anything that is life threatening, I need to get a doctor’s OK. I don’t want you to come in, yet, and I have to say, ‘Sorry, you need to get the OK from the doctor first.’ ”
After assessing and talking to her clients, Neilen structures an exercise program to help them achieve their fitness goals. Listening to her clients, she emphasizes, is an important part of being a wellness coach.
“Let’s say a client comes to my studio and wants to lose weight,” she explains. “I would ask why do you want to lose weight? It may be because you have a pair of jeans that you haven’t been able to get into since COVID, and you want to get back into those jeans. So I would come up with an action plan to help you get there. I discourage a timeline.”
Although she is not a certified nutritionist, she educates clients on having a well-balanced diet that leads to a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, Neilen suggests her clients complete a food diary for several days to see what they are consuming. She says that this becomes life changing and can aid in improving their appearance.
Neilen’s clientele typically ranges in age from the 40s to 80s. Each age group has specific fitness needs that she addresses. Her training involves more of a functional approach with older clients. She has helped them become more fit so they can keep up with their grandchildren, be prepared for ski trips or just be in better shape for everyday activities.
Since the pandemic, Neilen’s goal has been to maintain a COVID-free environment at her studio. She follows Florida Department of Health guidelines to ensure her clients are exercising in a safe place.
“We do small here,” she points out. “Right now, we don’t have more than four in a class. Prior to COVID, the most would be 10 to 13 people. About 99.9 percent of my clients wear masks.”
In addition to her work as a fitness trainer, Neilen finds time for other interests. In 2016, she re-discovered her artistic self. She took up painting and focuses on acrylic abstracts and collage.
In 2019, Neilen was nominated for a Martie Award by the Arts Foundation for Martin County that recognizes outstanding artistic achievement. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Court House Cultural Center in Stuart and the Lighthouse Art Center in Tequesta. Neilen also enjoys mentoring children at the 10th Street Recreation Center in Stuart.
“When I got into fitness and had my own place, I always said that I wanted to give back from day one,” she says. “That meant being more involved with the community.”
At the 10th Street program, Neilen instructs K-12 youth in fitness classes and teaches them about preparing food and adopting healthy eating habits.
To broaden their horizons, Neilen has inspired local students to perform at the Lyric Theatre and has arranged special field trips that have exposed them to the arts. Middle school and high school students were able to see American painter Titus Kaphar, a MacArthur Fellow, give a presentation at Temple Beit HaYam in Stuart. When the Norton Art Museum reopened, she coordinated a day trip that included a tour of the museum and hands-on instruction with art.
“The Norton is such an amazing place and it’s in our backyard,” she says. “I really wanted to take the kids, and the City of Stuart made it happen. The Chef’s Table donated bag lunches. The kids were so excited. I could feel where they were coming from because as a kid, I’d been there. It was just beautiful.”
Whether she’s working as an artist, mentoring children or training clients, Neilen leaves an imprint that is felt in her community. And she has no plans of slowing down.
“I do not have to work — it’s a 100 percent choice,” she says. “I love my work and my clients. I enjoy building relationships with them and we’re more like family. This is really a cool place. This is like my home away from home.”
Occupation: Owner of and fitness trainer at Rosalind’s Fitness Studios
Lives in: Port St. Lucie
Family: Husband, Mark Neilen; daughters, Shalonda, 49, and Blair, 39
Education: An associate degree in fashion merchandising from The Arts Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Hobbies: Painting and collage, sketch writing and improvisation. She started a local improv group called TOAST and is involved with BIPOC and Belvedere in Palm Beach County.
Who inspires me: “My family — my girls and my grandkids.”
Something that most people don’t know about me: “I have two great-grandchildren.”