CeCe Marizu comes from an extensive sports background and mindset from her years as a competitive swimmer at the highest collegiate level in the Big Ten. She helped open Equinox’s 100th club as the Group Fitness Manager and helped co-create classes on New York’s newest monument; The Vessel. Along with managing and group fitness, she’s a NASM certified personal trainer and was formerly a trainer on the digital platform called Daily Burn. She has been interviewed by Shape Magazine for the benefits of a pool workout, featured in Dr. Oz the Good Life for a no excuses workout, and made appearances on Good Morning America and local NYC stations relating to fitness. Her passion for health comes from the ability to change and grow by the simple choices we make and the idea that we can invest in time. She believes life is like a race… You have to be willing to put yourself out there or you’ll never know what it feels like to win.

So we really want to start from the beginning with you. You have such an impressive career as both an athlete and a fitness leader. Can you take us back to your first moment as a kid when you felt inside your heart or guts that you were an athlete/competitor; and what was that moment? What sport were you in or activity were you doing?

That’s going so deep… Hmmm. I started racing when I was six and I fell in love with the competition. I won the Nevada State Championship for swimming when I was 8 (in 8 and under) and from then I was really hooked. Swimming was a release and a good investment of time for my parents who both worked. Swimming was my third parent. The one that taught me that I would have to dedicate time in order to see results beyond a pool.

Did you have some heroes growing up as a female in sports. If so, who and why?

I’ve always loved sports because of my dad (I think he wanted a boy… he will never say that though). I was obsessed with the Boise State Broncos where my dad went to college. I would tell people Michael Jordan came to visit me when I was in pre-school on campus (It was Chris Childs who had an impressive career himself). So I guess my first icon was Michael Jordan. However, my first “sports” hero was probably my age group swim coach who was a Chinese Olympian. She won silver in the 200 meter butterfly in the 1992 Olympics. Your coaches play a huge role in your life and you don’t realize it till later on. She was the example I needed to see at a young age to know that perseverance pays off.

We know swimming is nearly a religion. You swam competitively through college. First off: what was your dedication like to be able to complete all the way through high school to college and what traits or skills do you think the sport gave you to find yourself leading fitness for the coolest fitness brand, Equinox now?

Swimming really is nearly a religion for most of us as you know. They say it’s one form of meditating since we can actually disconnect from the outside world in a pool. It really was a mental challenge just jumping into the pool every morning before the sun came up in college. You really have to have a deep desire to be great, not just at swimming, but at all aspects in your life. Swimmers to me are the hardest workers I know. We’re dedicated, relentless, and approach each day ready to take it on. I still have an internal clock inside of me that gets me up in the morning before the sun too. I’m thankful I learned what time management was all about at a young age thanks to swimming. It’s helped a lot in my fitness career. I never have an excuse that there aren’t enough hours in the day. We all have 24 hours and make conscious choices on how we spend our time.

You have been on air talking about routines and other behaviors of a successful mentality to achieve a person’s fitness goals. What is your 1-on-1 message to our readers about personal wellness in 2020? Can you give us a perfect way to approach our workouts this year, or even a “Must Do This” class or exercise?

Sometimes you have to do things you don’t love… I tell people they should have fun when they workout (and I really do believe that), but you should incorporate functional moves into your routine. Never deadlift? Why? Try it and if you don’t know how then ask someone for help. I hear women all the time tell me they don’t want to lift because they are afraid of being “big” and in my head, I wonder if they are afraid of osteoporosis too. I have faith people will see the value in workouts beyond the mirror. I also hope people know it’s not just about physical health, it can also be about mental health. Get uncomfortable and be willing to try new things. Approach your workout as a health routine. Beyond an apple, a day, grab a weight and be great to keep the doctor away.

The health & wellness industry is a massive industry and thanks to social media, youtube, and boutique gyms you can pretty much tailor your personal fitness journey any way you want. That can also be intimidating. We have a buffet of options, and not all of us are built the same way or share the same income. Access is a tricky thing today. Maybe we can’t always afford all the organic food, or the cool group fitness class, or even the latest dry-fit tech clothes. What would you say to our reader that is discouraged about some of these challenges, or excuses about getting on with their fitness goals this year?

The quote, “health is wealth” is really true. I think sometimes it’s hard to see the value in investing in something like organic food or a gym membership, but it might be worth it in the long run. I always look for things I can cut out that I don’t really need. I’m not a big partier, but when I do go out sometimes I can’t believe I get a drink that costs over $15. I could have bought two servings of wild salmon for about the same price at the store. Want and need are two different things and sometimes that is hard for people to separate. I would also say make your nutrition your priority. That is the hardest part to master. Then think of your fitness routine. For instance, walking is free… Walk more when you have the chance. Once you’ve decided you need more than just walking, add push-ups in. Then just keep asking yourself what more you can do. Then you might end up at an Equinox one day and realize it’s not just fitness, it truly is life.

In our short time getting to know you, it is so clear the kindness and generosity that you exude at Equinox. Do you have a favorite author, podcast, or place where you find the personal motivation that influences your leadership style?

I tend to look at coaches when it comes to motivation and leadership. Tony Dungy is a coach I have admired for many years. His book Mentor Leader was a book that I was thankful I read when I was in college. It went beyond servant leadership. He talked about humility and making sure each individual did their own growing. I also have always used Coach John Wooden’s messages and his pyramid to success. You have to create a foundation, a base. The last coach who left an imprint on my mindset was Jimmy V. I’m reminded that you should think, laugh, and cry every single day. Life can be short, but it can also be really full.

Can you tell us what a Group Fitness Manager at the largest Equinox does? (In a nutshell)

It’s working with the best in the industry and it’s the opportunity to connect with people with completely different goals. It’s something different every single day.

The most rewarding part of your role at the Hudson Yards location?

Knowing that I get the privilege of going to work where people are trying to become the best versions of themselves.

Can you give us any hints of what is to come this Spring/Summer with your programs? Maybe new classes, pop-ups etc?

Equinox is always trying to be innovative, but my lips area sealed. But do know Equinox always comes out with something new. They never settle.

When you are not living and breathing health & wellness; what do you enjoy doing on a day off in the city?

I am the definition of a homebody… I am usually at home on my couch with my finance, pup, and Netflix. In the summer we are way more ambitious though! We try to get as much park action in as we can. We’re always on the go in the city when we work, so when we can just sit and appreciate each others time it is really nice.

Words to live by?

Love and gratitude are all you need. Truly.