Our Athletes of the Month for August are husband and wife duo, Daniel Olano and Wilmarie Ortiz! At a time when many are losing their fitness routine and gaining the “quarantine 15”, Daniel and Wilmarie have committed even more to their fitness, doing workouts in the gym and at home. The gym closi
ngs haven’t even slowed these two down. Daniel is only 12 workouts away from making the 2020 Yearly Committed Club and Wilmarie isn’t far behind him. The bar to make the club is at 180 workouts for the year in case you were wondering. Wilmarie does have the leg up on Daniel in total workouts as she joined our fit family a few years earlier. She is only 30 workouts away from the legendary 1000 Workout club. Daniel and Wilmarie always have a great attitude towards learning, and bring great attitudes each day. Check out their athlete of the month post and hopefully you can pick up on some tips to help gain some momentum back in your fitness journey. Thank you Daniel and Wilmarie for being such awesome members of our FitTown Family!
Describe your work and family life for us? A brief background of where you’ve been and how you guys met?
Wilmarie: Daniel and I are both from Puerto Rico. We met in college (University of Puerto Rico) when we were both pursuing our Bachelor’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering. One day, Daniel was looking for a parking space and he saw that I was walking across the student-designated parking lot. He offered to give me a ride to my car so he could take my parking spot as he was running late for class. Apparently, we took some classes together but I didn’t know it at the time. After that, I would see him everywhere which didn’t happen before…Was it coincidence? We started to hang out more often and the rest is history. To this day, I think that he gave me a lift to my car for my class notes and to copy my homework!! ☺
We both moved to Connecticut when we graduated college. We worked in different business units but for the same parent company (UTC now RTX). We lived in CT for five years but it was too cold for me. Thankfully, Daniel got a job offer in sunny Florida and we relocated here nine years ago. Initially, we used to live in downtown West Palm Beach but moved to Jupiter (Abacoa) seven years ago.
Daniel and I both work at Pratt & Whitney, which is an aerospace manufacturer of aircraft engines. I am a Project Engineering Discipline Manager for one of their Commercial Programs. My team has direct responsibility in the design and support of certain parts of the engine. In layman terms, we do stuff to keep airplanes flying safely and not fall from the sky. Daniel works as a Test Engineer lead. He manages various teams that build and tests the engines we manufacture. They basically try to break the engine on the ground to make sure it doesn’t break in the air.
We are both pretty busy at work but at the same time we are really family oriented. We don’t have kids but our immediate family all live nearby so we spent a lot of time with them.
What do you do for fun? Any hobbies?
Wilmarie: I love the beach. It’s my peaceful place. I also love Pilates. I’ve being doing reformer Pilates for almost two years. I started Pilates for core strength and stability as I suffer from back pain but it’s become one of my favorite things to do (besides Fit Town of course!) for the positive impact it has made on both my mind and body. I also love traveling as most of our vacations revolve around food and wine!! Both Daniel and I are foodies at heart!
Daniel: My hobbies have changed along the years, but now days I mostly spend my time offshore fishing, bodyboarding, snowboarding, paddle boarding, making coffee and, obviously, working out. I also play some golf here and there as well.
Were you both athletic growing up? Did you guys play sports?
Wilmarie: Not at all. I played volleyball in Middle School for a short period of time and that was it. I was drawn to books instead of sports. Plus, stage fright always got the best of me as I was really shy growing up.
Daniel: Growing up I was the typical Phys-ed loving child. I would definitely prefer doing any athletic activity over any academic activity and still do. Unfortunately, I injured my knee (ACL partial tear and meniscus tear) when I was a senior in high school. This started a long 10 years of being inactive in any athletic activity that led to significant weight gain and muscle mass loss. It took me 10 years to have it accurately diagnosed and taken care of through surgery.
In to the sports I played, I mainly gravitated to action sports like skateboarding, bodyboarding, in-line skating, etc. However, I did play organized sports through high school. I mainly played basketball and soccer. I wasn’t one of the top athletes on either of them, but was a regular in both.
What did you do for fitness before FitTown/CFPB?
Wilmarie: I started my journey towards a healthier lifestyle in my late twenties. I thought that because I was thin, I was healthy and in shape but in reality I was just “skinny fat”. I never broke a sweat, was a picky eater, ate junk food and pretty much didn’t have the incentive to work out and get in shape because I was “skinny”. As I grew older, I knew that I couldn’t keep that up. My catalyst for change? I’d like to say I did it for my health as I have a family history of cardiovascular diseases but since this is all about being honest; I wanted to feel better about my physical appearance. At first, I started with home workout videos (Billy Blanks Taebo was my favorite!!), and introducing vegetables to my Puerto Rican diet which consisted mainly of rice and beans. After that, I traded my home workouts with a gym membership and I have been active and focusing in my nutrition ever since. It sounds easy now, but the transition to a healthier lifestyle was no easy fit. I was picky with my food, not a “natural athlete” and in all honesty, the whole concept of exercising and sweating was not too enticing for me. It wasn’t an immediate shift in behavior it was more gradual… baby steps.
Daniel: For about 4 years before I joined FitTown/CFPB I had been doing crossfit workouts at my work gym with a couple of buddies. They took care of all the programming and helped me a bit with coaching so I just “showed up”. Prior to that, I had been doing the traditional bodybuilding type workouts for about two years after I had my knee surgery. These usually included bench press, curls, using elliptical machine for cardio, etc.
Were you doing group fitness classes before or was this your first experience with it?
Wilmarie: FitTown was my introduction to group fitness classes. I will follow along whatever Daniel was doing at the gym or did my own “programming” which consisted of the same routines over and over again.
Daniel: If you consider doing it with a group of 3-4 persons, yes. Like I mentioned before, I did about 3-4 years of functional fitness type workouts. The workouts had a similar format to what we do at FitTown, but with very limited equipment, lacking the Austin-quality-level programming and short of the great community/family we have at FitTown.
Do you have a memorable experience of first starting?
Wilmarie: I remember that in one of my first workouts at FitTown, one of the movements was jump rope. I was so uncoordinated; jumping too high, doing a double jump for each turn of the rope, timing was off… in hindsight perhaps I was aiming for double-unders instead of singles right of the bat! Needless to say, I didn’t finish the workout because there was a time cap. Now fast track to the present time and I love workouts with jump rope! Side note… I still need to up my game in those double-unders, though!
Daniel: I avoided squats all my life due to limited mobility that I attribute to my knee injury. My first squat when I started functional fitness workouts was terrible. It took me a long time before I could even break parallel. All barbell movements felt really awkward and unnatural for me. I thought I would never be able to even hold the barbell in the front rack position without choking myself. Now all barbell and Olympic movements are my favorite (except thrusters… if we can rid those that would be great!).
What are your most memorable accomplishments or milestones so far in your fitness journey?
Wilmarie: I joined FitTown back in 2013 but my attendance was never consistent due to my work schedule…At least, that was my excuse at the time. It wasn’t until three years ago (2017) that I really committed to improve my fitness and nutrition. Daniel and I were following a paleo diet for the most part but it was not sustainable. We were very restrictive with nutrition during the week and very often binge eating during the weekend. During that time, I was part of the 7pm crew (much love!), and the majority of the girls started nutrition coaching and I jumped to the opportunity because I wanted to learn to eat sustainably and get more toned. That shift in mindset was my most memorable accomplishment to date. After changing my nutrition to meet my goals, I noticed an improvement in my performance and I was finally able to get my first strict pull up. Consequently, I also made the commitment to attend 5 days a week but in order to accomplish that I could no longer use my job as an excuse for not showing up. That was around the time that Daniel decided to join the gym and that really help me in terms of accountability and muster the courage to join the 5am CF & 6am BF crews (much love too!).
Daniel: One of my most memorable moments was getting my first muscle-up. It felt great and gave me a big motivation push going forward. I also wasn’t able to do a single pullup, but can’t say that I remember when I got my first one. That’s probably because I used to be able to do them when I was younger so it wasn’t that memorable.
What goals do you have set for the future?
Wilmarie: I saw an improvement in my running as a result of so many home workouts during quarantine so I want to keep working in my running stamina. I also would like to finally get the kipping movement on pull ups.
Daniel: I want to get jacked and tanned! JK… Lol. Maybe Clean 225, do my first ring muscle-up and get 50 dubs UB before the end of the year.
What is something you’ve struggled with or had to overcome in your fitness journey and how did you do it (or are still doing it)?
Wilmarie: I strained a lower back muscle a couple of years ago and as a result I suffer from lower back pain from time to time. I’m really careful and mindful of my posture when lifting weights with the barbell. I think that’s the reason that lately I have been more inclined towards the BeachFit workouts because they are more focused on cardiovascular endurance, and improving core strength while still using DBs for strength. I also do Pilates on the side.
Daniel: I struggle with having sugary and heavily processed food around me and not caving in and stuffing my face. I have very little control when I have that type of food around me. This was one of my main struggles during my early fitness journey days as Wilmarie had not started hers and I had to deal with having Oreos, Coca-Cola, ice cream and other junk food around the house. What I did back then to help me control eating junk food was to start tracking what I ate. I used an excel spreadsheet which had a similar formula to what Weight Watchers used. It was basically a point system where you would have a daily point allowance and the points for each food item would be calculated based on calories, fat and dietary fiber. When I started this I continued to eat the same junk food, but started noticing that I was always starving. Taking the engineer approach, I set out to solve this problem. I started to put together a database of the food items I usually eat with the calculated points. I then started to combine food items that I could eat throughout the day taking into consideration the satiety and my liking of the food item. Little by little I started taking out all the junk food because it had high point values but very little satiety. In other words, I had to start eating healthier food items in order to not feel starving all day while staying within my point allowance.
Do you guys keep each other accountable when it comes to working out, eating better?
Wilmarie: We are both pretty obsessed with going to the gym as it’s already part of our routine and our stress relief mechanism. Our accountability it’s more related to food. The problem with both of us is self-control and mostly with sweets. MyFitnessPal really helps but the only fool proof solution is to not have sweets around the house and to avoid Costco for these types of treats. For the most part we have learned to stick to our macros. If we have a bad nutrition day where we don’t track, this is often because one of us decided to have a cheat day and the other just ends up following along.
Daniel: Yes, we shame each other when we need to. Especially if one of us misses a day at the gym the other tends to brag about how good the workout was. Same goes for nutrition.
And be honest, are there Sugarwod score comparisons going on over dinner?
Daniel: The Sugarwod score is something that I tried getting Wilmarie to start using for a long time and she would tell me that she doesn’t care about the score as long as she knows that she put in a good effort. I explained that the score is not necessarily to compete with others but to have some kind of gauge of your performance. It is also good for keeping a record of what you did last time in a particular workout so you can plan accordingly when you repeat it. She started logging her scores during the first gym shutdown and I think it was a game changer for her. She now has a better idea of what to work on to improve her next score. We like to think that we don’t compete with each other, but we do… we definitely push each other without saying anything during a workout. It’s that silent push when you are a few reps ahead, the other is pushing to catch-up while you are pushing to increase the gap. In the end we are both like “wow, we did good compared to other scores”.
Do you have any mottos, or daily routines or habits you find especially helpful?
Wilmarie: My new motto in life is to be present in the moment. I know it might sound cliché, but personally, even though it feels like the days blur together, this slower pace as a result of the pandemic has given me time to self-reflect. Before the pandemic, I was so “busy” with so many responsibilities at work and with family matters that I didn’t have time to stop and think about what was really important. During these times, I have been able to commit myself even more to the things that really matter, which are my relationship, family, friends and fitness/ health. I really like my job but I was missing the balance that I have been able to achieve while having the opportunity to work from home.
Daniel: Tracking macros is key in the journey. You can kill yourself in the gym, but if your nutrition is poor you are swimming against the current. You may see some progress, but nothing compared to the progress you would see by having your nutrition dialed in.
Some of the relevant mottos I live by: “Just show up”, “If it fits in your macros, have at it”, and “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone it, People Like Me!” Lol
What advice do you have for the person on the couch who might want to start?
Wilmarie: It might be intimidating at first but muster the courage and do it. Start with baby steps and at your own pace. Believe me; the benefits of just that first step toward a healthier lifestyle outweigh all the feelings of doubt and apprehension.
Daniel: I would say that they have to treat this as a lifestyle change from the beginning. As they start their journey they have to keep in mind that this is a cyclical and iterative process where you make changes as you go, seek to optimize your progress, and do it all over again. In other words if something is not working you change it and try again. I would start with the “low hanging fruit” like making sure you are sleeping well, drinking lots of water, moving around, etc. If you fall off the wagon because you went on vacation or just had a binge eating day, weekend or even a week or two, just pick up where you left off and remind yourself that this is now your lifestyle. If I were to start my journey all over again I would definitely focus more on my nutrition from the beginning. It wasn’t until recently that I was doing one-on-one coaching that I figured out that one of the things that was holding me back was not eating enough. If I would have known that I would have this problem at some point during my journey I would have started it sooner. This is the best “problem” I can have.
What do you enjoy most about FitTown Jupiter?
Wilmarie: I don’t think that I can pinpoint one thing that I like the most about FitTown. The facilities are top notch, the availability of classes gives you flexibility, all the coaches are super nice, and know their craft. The community is super encouraging and friendly. I have made really good friends along the way which makes the whole experience even better!
Daniel: The community/family. It’s great to have all the nice equipment and facilities to workout. However, what I value the most at FitTown is showing up and feeling like you belong there while also feeling that you contribute to making this a very special place.
Thank you Wilmarie and Daniel for being amazing members of our FitTown family!