Meet Callie Durbrow, Anthony Ortiz and Lauren Hefez, three standout fitness experts with one thing in common: They’ll help you reach your goals and have fun doing it.
Soul Train | laurenhefez.com
When Lauren Hefez talks about almost anything—how she takes her coffee, the cold weather, socks—it’s impossible not to notice her natural, easy enthusiasm. It’s a glow she can’t seem to shake, even if she’s just finished putting her 8-month-old son down for his first nap of the day.
That sparkling disposition is part of what makes her one of Somerville’s most popular trainers. Her
classes at Soul Train are a mix of cardio and high-rep light-weight exercises with a distinctive dance feel, and they’re all about letting energy out.
“I go in there, I dim the lights and we just have a party,” she effuses.
Hefez came to training through Zumba almost 10 years ago—before it was the craze it is now. Always a dancer, the then-college student fell in love with teaching. Even after she graduated and landed a communications job, her favorite part of the day was leading her 6 p.m. class. Eventually, she built up her following and launched a full-time fitness career.
Hefez’s energy is one of the things that keeps people coming back—and looking forward—to her classes. “I’m very excitable, and I’m genuinely happy for my students,” she says. “I think they feed off my energy.” But it’s her communications background that sets her apart in the fitness world beyond Greater Boston. Hefez has a YouTube channel with almost 600,000 followers, and she’s recorded a vast number of at-home how-to videos, many of which are accompanied by blog posts.
This makes her available to people around the world, but it’s also appreciated by locals who may not be able to get to her classes because of childcare, travel or brutal New England snowstorms.
Hefez envisioned creating a global reach on YouTube from nearly the beginning of her training
career. “I think that’s just my personality. I like to go big,” she says, cracking her infectious smile. “If I can make people happy and change their lives here, why not everywhere?”
As she’s built her business and strengthened her brand, Hefez has earned additional fitness training certifications. She now offers a mix of group classes, one-on-one training sessions and even some less-obvious workout opportunities like bachelorette parties. “Oh, they are so fun,” she beams.
And the sincerity and perseverance she’s put into the community—both in Somerville and online—has come back to her. When her son was born premature this past spring and spent more than three months in intensive care, Hefez and her husband received an outpouring of well-wishes from
people here in the area and around the world.
“The support from people I don’t even know has been incredible,” she says.
“We ask our clients, ‘Could you work out like this forever?’” explains Callie Durbrow, founder of Durbrow Performance Training in East Somerville. It’s her goal to have clients answer this crucial question with a heartfelt, “Yes!”
The cornerstone of Durbrow’s mission is to foster a supportive environment while helping clients build a sustainable new lifestyle that extends beyond the gym. The Durbrow Performance website promises results in 90 days—but this is more than a kick-your-butt workout that ends after a few weeks. Durbrow creates lasting results by honing in on the accountability factor that can come with tight-knit small group workouts, which are complemented by services like nutritional counseling and regular goal-setting sessions.
Years before Durbrow founded her own gym, she was largely doing one-on-one personal training. Over time, she began to group her clients’ solo sessions together. She realized that her trainees fed off of each other’s energy—they were more invigorated, more motivated and simply having more fun than when they were alone.
“I thought back to when I was an athlete,” she explains. “We always trained as a team. I was inspired working out with my team.”
Durbrow wasn’t the only one who thought it was more fun. With the encouragement of those close to her, she took the plunge and founded her own gym in 2010 with that small-group athletic training model in mind. She’s since expanded to employ four other trainers while growing her client base. And her team has stood by her all the way. The longest-standing Durbrow Performance trainee started working with her eight years ago, predating the brick-and-mortar building.
While clients at Durbrow Performance gain the social accountability and support of a team, they don’t lose out on individualized attention. Part of joining Durbrow is receiving regular guidance and personal goal setting along with your workout package. Moreover, Durbrow and her trainers are sure to give individual attention to each member’s fitness levels. “We tailor to the individual who joined that day [in addition to] the veteran member who has been going for six months,” she explains.
The community building doesn’t stop at the threshold of the gym, either. Every month, Durbrow Performance offers a charity class where clients and newcomers alike can come work out and give a donation to a featured nonprofit.
Rx Strength Training | rxstrengthtraining.com
Anthony Ortiz has always been active and energetic. Even as a kid, he spent his days biking, playing tag and wrestling. Over time, running around and roughhousing with friends evolved into a love for organized team sports: floor hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer. He became increasingly interested in what he could accomplish physically and mentally when he trained.
But it took a little time for Ortiz to see this passion as a career. “After high school, I didn’t really know what career path I wanted to take,” he explains. He was in the gym every day, but this felt natural to him. It wasn’t until others kept asking what he actually did in those daily workouts—and how he was achieving his goals—that Ortiz started to think fitness training could be his livelihood.
Today, Ortiz has combined his love for working out and his inherent ability for it with his love of helping others meet their own goals. And if you think because he works at a strength training gym he sticks to old-school ideals, think again—he also has a ferocious appetite for learning new training techniques and an enthusiasm for innovation.
“The industry is constantly changing,” he says. “New research, new training techniques … It’s important to have an open mind and to always keep learning.”
As winter sets in, you’ll find Ortiz ready to train you with a warm smile at Rx Strength. And when winter snow gives way to spring, Ortiz’s outdoor boot camps—a huge hit with clients—will be in full bloom. “I’ve had people from ages 17 to 65 take it and love it,” he says of the boot camp-meets-summer camp class. “It requires minimal equipment, we play games, run hill sprints, timed miles or even run through the park—literally.”
Like much of Ortiz’s work as a trainer, these camps upend notions about what strength training can look like. And Ortiz is a far cry from the hard-ass drill sergeant you might be picturing—he’s friendly and thoughtful, and he isn’t afraid to tell his clients how he feels.
“I genuinely care for and love every single one of them,” he says simply.
This story originally appeared in the January/February print edition of Scout, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Somerville (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.