By: Matt Neatock
A picture says a thousand words. And when you browse the studio-caliber cycling workouts that are the result of the union of MYX+Openfit, trainer Miriam Alicea hopes her picture compels you to give her sessions a try.
“I feel like our riders choose workouts based on our photos," Miriam said in a recent interview with Openfit. “It's sort of a window into who we are as instructors."
What does Miriam's photo say about her? She hopes you find her fun and full of energy, and that this combination will lead you on an enjoyable fitness journey filled with results.
From her guilty pleasures to what she would do if she could start life over, here's your chance to get to know Miriam.
Openfit: What's it like working out with you?
Miriam: My workouts are super fun and intense. I like to think that I am the instructor you come to when you want a structured workout. I'm very mindful of form and progression, but I'm big on energy too. Music is huge for me. You're always going to get great music with heavy beat drops. That's what gets me going. It's going to be very fiery. I'm sassy in a fun way, so I like to make light of a challenging workout.
What do you like about working with beginners?
What I enjoy about working with beginners the most is their growth mindset. Beginners want to try something new because they're still trying to find the thing that works for them. They're very excited, energetic, and open to trying a lot of things. I love that I can teach someone things that maybe they've never been exposed to and help them build confidence. As an instructor, you get to make your mark and positively impact their health and wellness.
Tell us what your hispanic heritage means to you.
Growing up in Puerto Rico was super fun. I was lucky enough to grow up in a pretty tight-knit community where everybody knew each other. All of the kids in the neighborhood felt pretty safe running around the neighborhood playing sports, climbing trees, and hiking knowing we would always be looked after. Those are some of my favorite memories, and they really helped me develop an active lifestyle. We moved to New York when I was 8 years old.
I have always embraced who I am as a Latina woman. Everything about my culture is always forward-facing, whether it's food, cultural traditions, and embracing everything that makes us unique. I think that's always been an important part of who I am as an instructor. If you take my classes, there will be some Latin flavor, especially when it comes to the music.
Speaking of food, do you have a favorite Latin dish?
Oh my God, yes. I enjoy rice and peas. We call it arroz con gandules. That's a big one. You will find that at every Puerto Rican party. There's another dish that I truly enjoy called mofongo. It's fried plantains shaped like a ball or a square. You mash the plantains, blend with garlic and some oil, and then stuff them with meat. I'm a vegetarian, so I use cheese. Arroz con gandules and mofongo with a side of avocado is a typical Puerto Rican meal.
Do you have any guilty pleasures when it comes to food?
I love a buttery croissant, but my guiltiest pleasure is butter pecan ice cream. It's my jam! I can't eat out of the container while I watch TV, or I'll eat the whole thing.
You made an Instagram post about it being OK to say “No." Is saying “No" a form of self-care?
I think that self-care is a way to promote physical, mental, and emotional health. I'm a fitness instructor, so taking care of myself physically is easy in terms of getting exercise. But it's important to slow down to ensure we're taking care of ourselves, and I think a part of that is saying "No" more often. So whether it's a work project where you get in over your head or a friend who wants you to go out on Friday night when you have to be up early the next day, I think we need to say no more often.
I think mental health days are important. That doesn't mean you're taking time off from work, but you're just taking time to disconnect. Spend some time away from emails, avoid social media and enjoy peace and quiet. I like to run without music sometimes. It turns my workout into a form of active meditation.
What's your least favorite exercise?
I find yoga very challenging. I just don't have the ability to practice it as much as I would like to. Strength sessions or squeezing in a run are a priority for me, so I think I'll do yoga another time, and it never gets done. I wish I were better at it than I currently am.
What's your favorite exercise?
As a runner, I enjoy track workouts. They're shorter intervals and a lot more speedy, so it's almost like a HIIT workout on a bike. In terms of strength training, I love anything with kettlebells. Anything kettlebell related is my absolute favorite form of strength training.
What do you think people focus on too much when it comes to fitness?
I think people focus on the things that are cool or the things that they see everyone doing. They focus on things that seem hard because it must be a great workout if it's hard. I think that deters a lot of people from having fitness as part of their daily life.
What should they be focusing on instead?
I encourage people to focus on the things that they're passionate about. If someone's encouraging you to run, but you don't enjoy running, don't do it. Find something else that you love. Find something you enjoy and make that your way to move. Fitness doesn't have to be something that's taking two hours out of your day. Just focus on moving and doing something that feels good for you.
What do you like to do when you're not working out?
I enjoy a lot of outdoor activities — just simple things like hiking and going on walks. I enjoy sports a lot, so I like to get together with friends and play softball and volleyball. Outside of physical activity, I love spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading and listening to true crime podcasts. I'm a big news buff, so I read the news religiously every single night before bed. It's probably not the best thing to do before bed currently, but I've done it for years. If I could do my life again, I would probably choose law enforcement because I really enjoy true crime storytelling and the detail behind the work they do.