On the Town: Building better fitness for foster care kids

Bodybuilding champions Ray and Rachele Rivera, owners of Burbank's Fitness is Art, staged a community fitness expo at their Magnolia Boulevard studio last week.

The event, which gave participants the opportunity to test their physical skills through a rotating series of challenges designed by the studio's fitness gurus, also benefited Counseling4Kids, which provides in-home mental-health therapy services to children in foster care throughout the Burbank area.

Along with getting an intimate, hands-on look at the Fitness is Art facilities, which include the only Movestrong fitness system in Los Angeles, those attending last week's fundraiser were also introduced to the many programs the Riveras offer including indoor/outdoor boot camps, Pilates, L.A. Combatives — which is a martial arts program that features self-defense, weaponry, and close quarter combat.

They also offer a facial fitness workout, and their popular Fem Defend program — a women-only self-defense class taught by Jaime Barton.

Rachele Rivera, who worked as a trainer for 17 years with a national gym chain, says she and her husband established Fitness is Art last January as an alternative to impersonal corporate gyms.

“Fitness is Art is unique because we are a family,” she says. “We know all of our clients on a first-name basis. We even know their kids' names and their dogs' names because we really care about them.”

Explaining that their programs have been designed for those who don't respond well to what can be an intimidating corporate gym culture, Rachele Rivera points out that she, her husband and their trainers work closely with clients so that they won't get turned off as they try to enhance their health and fitness through workout regimes.

Among the special guests on hand at last week's fundraiser, which included a buffet lunch provided by Kiki and Gianni Neiviller, the owners of Los Angeles' popular Il Capriccio on Vermont restaurant, were Neslie Akkol and Lisa Rose Christie of Counseling4Kids, who provide advocacy to at-risk children and families and mental health services to abused and neglected children and youth in the foster care system.

Other special guests included Virginia Cruciano, Mandy Schneider, Viviana Soto, Esther Neiviller, Diane Brewington, Sherri Servillo, Gregg Gorski and Susanna Velasquez.

For more information about Fitness is Art, visit FitnessisArt.com. To learn more about Counseling4 Kids, visit www.counseling4 kids.org.


DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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