Maryanne Cappellino
A Fitness Instructor
Who Shapes Up Your Life


By Kathryn Radeff
Cover Photo by Cheryl Gorski


A good fitness instructor is one that easily transmits energy. A good instructor is electric, full of passion and enthusiasm, and able to transmit all of that energy to the students.

Maryanne Cappellino is just that sort of instructor. Fun, challenging, exciting and innovative are just a few words used over the years to describe her workout programs. But what’s really unique about Cappellino is not only her commitment and dedication to shape up your body, but how as a positive spokeswoman for physical activity, she inspires, raises awareness and helps people see the true value of physical fitness. Her winning style and personality truly keeps a class full of fitness enthusiasts attentive.

“So many times, we intend to exercise but don’t actually engage,” says Cappellino, a nationally certified exercise instructor with over 20 years experience teaching group exercise and personal training. “I want to help people close that gap between intention and action. Sometimes it’s as simple as just taking a new look. Old thinking, like exercise is no fun, it takes too much time or didn’t work for me before, often keeps people from actualizing a fit and energetic future. We can all strengthen our beliefs in the benefit by replacing that with a more positive attitude and better understanding!”

Cappellino, an accomplished artist, writer and presenter in the topic areas of exercise, stress management and life balance, first became interested in fitness after the birth of her second daughter, Amy, now 25, as a way to get back in shape. “At the same time my mom was in frail health,” she says. “She had rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, and also had great difficulty moving without pain all her adult life. She made me appreciate being able to move freely.”

Then, about the same time her dad had a heart attack and bypass surgery. “This made me even more committed to an active life,” she says. These events, in the early 80s, led Cappellino to a new direction in her life. “I have been teaching classes, running, and speaking to audiences about the value of physical activity ever since.”

Over the course of her career, Cappellino has taught step, spinning, kickboxing, body sculpting and also dance-influenced workouts.

“As fitness evolved, so did I,” says Cappellino, who began to run distance, setting her sights on completing marathons and long cycle events. “As an artist I love creating my classes, using fun and inspirational music and choreographing moves that flow and establish a pace to build strength and endurance.”

These days she teaches eight classes a week at the Buffalo Athletic Club on Transit Road. She also works with the “Silver Sneakers” program designed exclusively for 50+ offered to members of Independent Health, besides working with the BAC and American Heart Association in raising awareness to the risk of heart disease and stroke in women.

Cappellino says her focus is “keeping up to date on new trends” in the exercise field, and by doing that, she has maintained her status for years as one of the best fitness instructors in Western New York. Her husband, Gary, supports the work she is doing and is proud of how far she has come in the industry.

In addition to another daughter, Kelly, 27, the Cappellino’s have an adorable daughter from China. They adopted Mia, now 8, when she was 3—and they have been inseparable ever since.

“In the afternoon, I wait for Mya’s smile as she gets off the bus, help her with her homework or cart her to her activities, including dance, violin, and figure skating,” she adds.

After adopting Mya, she left a full time position and established her own business, “Creatively Fit,” with the purpose of providing corporate wellness workshops and lifestyle coaching.

Her weekdays, that often start at 5 a.m., are filled and productive. “I keep the weekends for my personal training, meeting friends for a long run, tending to the house, running errands and finding time for my husband.”

Cappellino believes strongly in the importance of fitness to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke as well as manage weight, have better posture, build stamina, confidence and self-esteem. Between trying to balance work and family, she continually focuses her time and energy on designing fun, new workouts.

Her focus is in the teaching aspect and it’s important to her to do this well. During the years, she has developed her own approach to choreography. Her objective is to make exercise fun and accessible to people.

Cappellino is now teaching a brand new, versatile program at the BAC called Katamibar, which works the core musculature of the body including the lower back, shoulder blades, pelvis, buttocks, shoulders, legs and back. It combines ideals and philosophies behind Pilates, dance, gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, sports conditioning, and more.

“The BAC is one of the first in the Northeast to offer this class,” says Cappellino who also serves as a spokeswoman for “Be Active New York State,” designed to promote physical activity. In l989, she also founded a “Kids Run,” and continues to contribute to the administration of the program offered each spring by Independent Health for Western New York families.

We all know that exercise makes us look and feel great, and will increase our energy, vitality, as well as overall quality of life. During summer months, early sunrises, balmy breezes, and longer days all make it easy to maintain an exercise program. But when temperatures drop, sometimes our enthusiasm also drops. Don’t let shorter days and harsh weather conditions discourage you or interfere with your workout routine. With the right choice of exercises and just minutes a day, you will see big results in your life.

“To fit exercise into your schedule means that you are prioritizing are on the ‘to do’ list,” explains Cappellino. “You set goals and achieve them, and then set some more. By doing this, you become a positive role model for others as you teach by your example. It fosters a positive attitude, provides energy in reserve so that you don’t feel wiped out at the end of the day. You also experience valuable fellowship with others as you run, cycle, take a group exercise class, and meet in the exercise arena…you buffer stress!”

As a fitness professional, Cappellino is continually praised for her unique style, choreography and her dynamic power. Teaching fitness classes is her passion and a personal expression. It is in this forum where she communicates with people her love for fitness, music and movement. “My goals are to continue learning and offering the best classes that I can – ones that are current, effective and fun,” she says.

Cappellino remains as enthusiastic and passionate about exercise today as she did 25 years ago when she first started instructing classes. “I understand the challenges to get fit and stay fit…even the most avid exerciser struggles from time to time with motivation, life balance and the snooze button. But you can gain benefit and get started again at any age.”

She also stresses the age defying activity of exercise. “You look younger, feel younger, think younger, walk with more energy, stand with better posture, and sleep better.”

Her book on the subject, Move Me: A collection of stories to fuel the spirit and reveal the benefits of physical activity was written to inspire others to move physically and have fun. Other projects are currently underway, including a series of books for children about the importance of exercise, a series of fitness tips for teens, a motivation CD and a play.

“I hope that in my day to day walk, I send a message through my books, lectures or classes that “You can do it! Move more and feel great!”

Fortunately, for Western New York, Maryanne Cappellino is someone who, in her everyday life, makes a very special contribution to the community. She is dedicated to improving and enhancing the quality of life for everyone, and takes that commitment to heart.

In 2003, Cappellino was awarded the New York State Physical Activity Coalition Chairman’s Award for successfully addressing the physical activity and health needs in the Western New York community.

Maryanne Cappellino
Photo by
Maryanne Cappellino
Photo by
Front: Left to Right: Joann K. D’Amico, Maryann Capppellino, Anna Lisa Grasso
Back Left to Right: Barb Shilling, Charles Huylen , Linda Schifferle

Photo by
  If you want to really improve your shape and fitness, combine calorie-burning aerobic activities—like walking, running and cycling—with weight training at least twice a week. Experts say that combination works better than aerobic exercise or diet alone.

• In a recent study, 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, 15 minutes of strength training five times a week and low-fat eating resulted in a loss of ten pounds of fat and a gain of two pounds of muscle in eight weeks. Those who followed a low-fat diet and did 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, by contrast, lost only four pounds—and gained no muscle. You can use hand-held weights or start out by lifting one-pint water bottles.

• Weight training—which will delay bone and muscle loss—and stretching, can make you feel pretty good about yourself. A recent study from scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign suggests that older adults who stretch and lift weights three times a week have better self-esteem than people who walk. Weight training also has therapeutic value. People with bone or joint ailments like osteoporosis and arthritis are the ones who will benefit most from maintaining strength and range of motion.

• Yoga is great for you! Researchers show that prolonged stretching – in the form of yoga – with moderate aerobic exercise and diet control will reduce cholesterol and significantly reverse hardening of the arteries.
• If you hate exercise, then try something different. Take a walk around the mall, garden or go for a bike ride around the neighborhood. . Boost your activity by climbing stairs.

Here are some other tips:

• When you dine out, make wise choices. Drink a glass of water before
meals. Water takes the edge off appetite, giving you more control over what—and how much—you eat.

• At home, eat from a small plate. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits
and vegetables. Switch from two-percent to skim milk. Politely turn away treats offered by friends and family. Switching from regular to diet cola helps you drop 15 excess pounds in a year. Slash calories and fat in eggs by using only the whites.

• Set specific goals, such as “I will exercise five times this week for 20
minutes,” or “I will eat only healthy snacks.” Be sure to make your goals attainable.

As research continually reveals, small changes in your life can make a big difference! So put your heart in it. Options are endless. Whatever you choose, the key to real fitness and staying motivated, experts say, is to find a workout that you enjoy. Having fun has numerous health benefits.

In Western New York, a variety of workout and wellness programs are available to help you shape up and stay healthy, from losing weight to gaining inner peace:

• The Buffalo Athletic Club has been offering numerous aerobic and flexibility classes since 1980, including Step Aerobics, Kardio Kick, Pilate’s and Yoga. The club now has six locations, including the area’s only facility designed exclusively for women. Phone: 716-631-3800.

• Body Shaping By Sandy is Western New York’s largest fitness company. In business since l987, Sandy and her staff offer the best in group fitness classes, on-line personal training, weight loss programs, corporate fitness, as well as exercise video and DVD sales. Phone: 716-568-0246.

• Curves for Women, located at a variety of different locations in WNY, provides a fun, 30-minute workout program for women and also offers nutritional information.

• Fit Physique Women’s Fitness in Kenmore also offers dance classes, including tap, ballet and jazz for both adults and children. The fitness aspect of dancing is now well-recognized as a favorite recreational activity that burns calories, strengthens muscles in hips, thighs and calves, and like any weight-bearing exercise, builds stronger bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis. Phone: 716-877-1105.

• Sheila’s Fitness Jam is now offering prism health & fitness sponsored Pilate’s and Yoga, as well as a variety of other fitness programs at convenient locations throughout the Buffalo area. Phone: 716-741-4554.

--Kathryn Radeff is a feature writer for Woman’s World magazine. Following a 20-year career as a fitness instructor and dance educator, she now specializes in writing about health and medical issues.

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