In a Williamsburg fitness studio with “Straight Up” by Paula Abdul blaring overhead, Caitlyn Corradino encourages her students.
“Keep that energy up,” Corradino shouts over the music.
Corradino has more energy than most people — one day last month, she interviewed a potential new member for her non-profit team, met with someone to discuss business models, managed a handful of donations, attended class, studied and then taught two fitness classes in Brooklyn.
“Being a grad student, a non-profit director, a fitness instructor, a personal trainer, a sister, a daughter, a friend and a girlfriend is hard,” Corradino said. “In a typical day, I play all of those roles.”
Corradino, founder of Fuel, Inspire, Thrive 4 All, a non-profit with the goal of making fitness more affordable and accessible, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from NYU in 2016 and is now a master’s student studying Clinical Nutrition. With her two degrees, the 22-year-old hopes to make FIT 4 All a holistic organization that helps low-income individuals foster their well-being through fitness and nutrition.
After spending her undergrad career working at fitness facilities such as Equinox and LA Fitness, Corradino soon realized low-income areas lacked these resources. This led her to begin working with The Coalition for the Homeless and the University Settlement House. She described her fitness classes as an easy and stress-relieving way to help people thrive.
“At night, I would go to my paying jobs, and I would be serving these super wealthy clients who had access to all of these stress-relieving opportunities,” Corradino said. “I made it a point to get the services I was doing for them to low-income communities.”
The New Jersey native became interested in working with underserved communities in high school, when she began teaching youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities at fitness studios in her area. On her 18th birthday, she received her teaching certification. From there, her passion and commitment to fitness and health grew.
“I always knew from my experiences in high school that I would eventually use my skills and experience as a fitness instructor to bring fitness, dance and yoga programs to those who could not afford to use health clubs the way that more privileged individuals could,” Corradino said.
She has even been able to share her passion outside of the United States. After studying abroad in Shanghai, Sydney and Florence, Corradino spent part of her senior year serving as a site leader for one of NYU’s Alternative Breaks groups.
Corradino and a friend led a group to Nicaragua, where she introduced new fitness strategies to at-risk youth groups. In addition, she spent winter break in her first year serving in the Dominican Republic, spending two weeks working on community development projects in a small village. In the evenings, she taught Zumba to the young girls in the village.
“We would dance barefoot in the middle of the street using a small speaker [loaned] to us by a man who owned a nearby bodega,” Corradino said. “Seeing how happy the simple Zumba classes made these girls was incredible.”
Steinhardt senior Hannah Lochner works with Corradino at FIT 4 All. Lochner referred to Corradino as a dreamer, but one who is able to put forth the work to reach her goals.
“[Corradino] is one of those people who gets an idea or has a dream and actually is able to create it,” Lochner said. “FIT 4 All is an example of that — she went from teaching classes to different communities and realizing there was a need for more affordable fitness classes.”
Now, Corradino is working on expanding her non-profit beyond her background in nutrition studies. Since August 2016, she’s collected more than 800 pieces of activewear to donate to those who cannot afford it. And recently, FIT 4 All launched its Affordable Fuel series, which features healthy recipes from other fitness instructors and community members.
“There are low-income individuals who come to my fitness classes regularly, but they do not understand how to eat in a way that is healthy and affordable for them,” Corradino said. “I want to acknowledge that when improving one’s health, exercise is only a piece of the puzzle.”
Steinhardt sophomore Rayna Epstein met Corradino last year in a Women and Mental Health class. Since then, Epstein has seen Corradino grow in both her work and her personal life, calling her an inspiration and a joy to watch.
“She brings her full passion and attention to every zone she enters into, and her enthusiasm is contagious,” Epstein said. “Her energy and zest come from her determination to fuel her mind and body, thrive in her own domains of life and then inspire others to do the same.”
Email Jessica Martinez at [email protected]