Today we’d like to introduce you to Dara Mazzie.
Dara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved here from New York in 2000 to teach elementary school. I loved my job, but when the recession hit in 2008, my district starting laying off teachers with tenure, like me. In 2010, I was RIF’d and had to figure out another way to earn a living. A student that I had been tutoring asked if I could get him into as good a shape I was in, and that was my very first personal training client! I really loved it because I felt like I was still teaching, which is my passion, but it was just a different subject. I gutted out my garage and transformed it into a training studio and built a decent clientele strictly from word-of-mouth. I found I was really good at what I did, but that the exercise alone wasn’t enough to get my clients the results they wanted, so after I earned my personal training certification from NASM, I went back and earned my Fitness Nutrition Specialist certification as well. I built a website to create visibility on line and starting blogging about nutrition.
By 2012, my business was thriving and I was loving my job! But I was also very sick. A mysterious, undiagnosable pain from my neck down to my hips plagued me for 2 years (2010-2012). No doctor, prescription, acupuncturist, masseuse, chiropractor, or exercise helped. I was in an immeasurable amount of pain and had no idea why. There was nothing physically wrong with me. Doctors told me it was psychosomatic, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression…and I was put on all sorts of prescription medications that did not help. I was devastated. I was a division 1 athlete in college and considered to be a pretty tough chick…I wasn’t making this up. In 2012, I met a functional therapist who told me I needed to start eating a high fat, low sugar diet. I thought he was crazy but I was desperate so I tried it. My pain started very slowly going away! I started devouring nutrition books, blogs, and research, trying to learn everything I could about how food affects bodily functions and how I could heal myself with food and lifestyle changes. This lead to me taking on more and more clients who needed nutrition coaching in addition to personal training. I am so passionate now about combining exercise with proper nutrition to enhance the quality of life for my clients. It has become an obsession. I went back to The Gray Institute and earned my Certification in Applied Functional Science and am currently applying to enroll in the Health Coaching program at the Institute for Functional Medicine.
My goal is to not only help my clients reach their external, physical goals, but to help them function internally at optimum capacity through nutrition, lifestyle changes, and supplementation. I now take my clients to the grocery store after workouts to show them how to shop, I go to their homes and clean out their kitchens, I show them how to cook, and I develop individualized nutrition programs that not only help them lose weight, but to heal their ailments and help them feel more alive! I now feel like those 2 years of pain I was in has helped me become a better health coach. I now know by the way, that I was not making that pain up! I had some serious nutritional deficiencies that weren’t recognized by conventional medicine doctors, that I corrected with nutrition… and I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease in 2016.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
NO. I was devastated when I was laid off from teaching. I had a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in education. It was all I knew. I had hip surgery in January of 2010 and was told I wouldn’t have a job the following school year while I was lying in bed recovering. I became depressed and gained almost 40 pounds (I included my before and after photos).
The first 2 years while I was building my business, I barely made enough money to pay the bills and I got very sick with a mysterious pain disorder. I experienced firsthand how awful private insurance coverage is. When I was a teacher, my coverage was fabulous! I had no idea what the rest of the country was complaining about…now I do. This mysterious pain disorder (later diagnosed as Lyme disease) was debilitating, but I somehow still had to work through it because I was now a business owner, and there was no one to pay me for my sick days. If I didn’t work, I didn’t eat. I really don’t know how I made it through those first 2 years, but I believe that traumatic experience has made me a stronger and more resilient person.
I was asymptomatic for a few years after changing to a high fat, Paleo style diet, but in 2015 I was hit hard again. Luckily I found a Functional Medicine doctor who figured out what was wrong with me and I was diagnosed with Lyme disease!
As far as client retention, I haven’t had many problems with that. I am very fortunate I guess. I think it is because I love my clients so much and they can feel my passion. They know I will do anything for them…they just don’t want to leave!
Please tell us about Dara Mazzie Fitness.
I am certified in Applied Functional Science, so I specialize in helping my clients function in their lives better. I am also a weight loss specialist, no certification for that, I am just very good at getting the job done! I am a one-woman show! I most proud of the fact that I have built something very special from scratch. My proudest moments are those when a client’s life changes because of my guidance. There is no better feeling in the world than to see a client like Michellen (pictured below) who was told she was infertile, lose 70 lbs. with me and get pregnant! Or to train a newly engaged woman who is stressed about looking her best on her big day, and getting her to look amazing in her wedding dress so she can relax and enjoy the day!
I am best known for getting my clients, especially women, to lose body fat, especially new mommies and my brides-to-be. They are my favorite clients because they are totally on a mission! They listen to my nutrition advice and get drastic results! My new mommies can come in for a workout and I will hold their newborns in a Bjourn while they train (picture included) or I will entertain their kids while they get the job done. I will literally do ANYTHING for my clients.
I am also known for my ability to create workouts and nutrition plans that are individualized. No cookie cutter workouts or diets. I put a lot of time into creating programs that are tailored to the individual needs of my clients. My clients NEVER come in and do the same workout. I keep things new and fun and get them results.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I love to cook and I think it may have started with my parents. On Sundays, my mom would get up early and put up a pot of sauce. The whole house smelled like onion and garlic sautéing in olive oil. The smell was so good it would get me out of bed early and I would run to the kitchen to watch my mom finish making the marinara sauce. I am Italian, so we had sauce every Sunday. It was family day and we weren’t allowed to see friends. We spent time together as a family and in the late afternoon we feasted on spaghetti and meatballs and marinara. My mom would never write down the recipe, but would tell me the secret to a good sauce was to make it with love. My sauce doesn’t come out quite like hers, but it’s pretty darn good! I loved Sundays. Then my dad would make breakfast and I remember standing on a chair at the stove watching him make scrambled eggs. I remember stirring the eggs and him telling me that if I wanted the eggs to come out nice and fluffy, I had to smile at them while I stirred. It still makes me giggle thinking of the two of us staring at the eggs with ear-to-ear grins on our faces, we must have looked silly. But still to this day, I make all of my dishes with love and smile while making my eggs.
- Address: Redondo Beach, CA 90277
- Website: daramazziefitness.com
- Phone: 3105292680
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @daramazzie
- Facebook: Dara Mazzie Fitness
- Twitter: @d_mazzie
- Yelp: Dara Mazzie Fitness