It’s been a rough few years. Between the impact of COVID, coupled with the sudden loss of my beloved brother fall 2022, at times it’s more than one can bear. Staying in bed and hiding under the covers does not work. Stuck in revolving cycles of grief, it’s caused me even further harm mentally, physically, and professionally.

I was starting to feel a diminished sense of self and even experienced social isolation. 

January 2023, I’d had enough. I turned to my first-ever personal trainer here in New York. I’ve been into fitness and every kind of sport since my teens. In 2001 I made the move downtown from the Upper East Side. Back then my building’s gym was managed by Alex Reznik. Not only was Alex my personal trainer, but he quickly became a dear friend.

When I launched DOWNTOWN, Alex’s career had expanded even further, he now had his own gym in Fidi, Complete Body, and was ready to open many other locations. Alex was DOWNTOWN’s first Fitness Editor and at the time still my personal trainer. We were both running 100 miles an hour, life happened but always kept an eye on each other from afar. 

When Alex and I spoke in late December 2022, we had much to catch up on in our personal and professional lives.  I was deep in grief from the loss of my only sibling. Alex, who had a son diagnosed on the autism spectrum, was launching a new concept Complete Playground, that’s opening in fall 2023. It will be an all-inclusive family center, with an indoor playground. I was floored and quickly started getting back into work mode, to help get the word out and to help secure the much-needed funding.  Did you know 2.3 % of children in the US have been identified on the autism spectrum?

Alex was there for me, too. He introduced me to Marina Tomakic, a personal trainer at Complete Body. Alex was there to meet us at 7am, to give me encouragement.

Marina Tomakic, personal trainer at Complete Body

After obtaining a degree in Economics from Croatia, Marina’s love for physical activity turned into a passion for movement and health. She pursued continuous education in nutrition and strength training, which turned her passion into a profession. Marina has over 8 years of experience as a personal trainer in various NYC health clubs. She quickly became my rock, personal trainer, conscience, dietician, and cheerleader. 
Our first day, Marina started out with the assessment, with Complete Body’s “In Body Machine” this gives their clients an overall understanding of where we are starting from measures of internal body water muscle and body fat basal metabolic rate. This yields: 
• Faster, better results.

• Proper fat loss and muscle gain.

• Reduced chance of injury.

• Chance to establish a lifetime exercise habit.

• Overcome plateaus.

Complete Body’s assessment includes an in-body analysis and introductory workout customized to my goals. Body weight, measures of body composition, cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular fitness, and musculoskeletal flexibility. Even diet. 

Each day for the first week I sent Mariana a photo of each meal, this gave her an understanding of how and what I ate. Eating badly was never a problem for me, I’ve never been a fan of soda, sugar, candy, chips, cookies, cakes, smoking, alcohol, etc. But, I stopped exercising. I was basically just existing. 

Turning grief into strength: DOWNTOWN Publisher Grace A. Capobianco working with a personal trainer at Complete Body.

By the 3rd assessment, my muscle had already increased and my weight was coming down, by the second week I had already lost weight. 

For the first two days I felt nauseous, but it did not bother me as this has always happened to me if I take a longer period more than 3 months off from any rigorous fitness activity. 

It’s caused by a massive change in our bodies, where the blood flow is moving faster in a short period of time. Since I was not leaving my bed, it was expected. 

By day 3 I was already feeling stronger and the nausea was gone.
It’s your turn. Stop thinking about it, hire a personal trainer. To schedule a consultation, visit