■ BY SUE ERWIN
Dr. Samantha Stone’s goal is to help people understand that a stronger body means healthier days ahead.
Samantha is a fitness instructor in Boca Grande, as well as some other venues in Englewood. She offers a variety of classes at The Gasparilla Inn and the Boca Grande Community Center, and soon she’ll be at Banyan Tree Pilates & Yoga.
Starting October 29, she will be teaching “Boca Buns and Barre” fitness classes every Tuesday and Thursday morning at the Community Center. Using weights, resistance bands and barre technique, the “BBB” class can help class members regain strength, stamina, stability and balance. This one-hour class is for beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts alike.
“It’s good for people of all ages and skill levels,” Samantha said. “There is a lot of core movement and strength training. People can choose to work as hard or as easy as they want. And it really works on balance. One of the leading problems with older adults is falling. So if that can be prevented, then you can prevent a lot of other injuries and unhappiness.”
Some mats are provided, or you may bring your own.
Samantha teaches aqua aerobics at The Gasparilla Inn Beach Club, and she recommends the classes for everyone, especially those coming back from injuries.
“One of my students recently had a knee replacement, and it was great therapy for her because there’s no weight on your joints, so your body can heal properly,” Samantha said. “And you’re still getting cardio, core and strength training.”
Samantha has been a fitness instructor for more than 30 years. She started out teaching classes when she was in college.
“I put myself through school, so it was one of the ways I made money, and I didn’t have to pay to work out at the places I taught,” Samantha said.
She started out teaching floor aerobics in the 1980s and then moved on to step and body sculpting. As the industry changed, she taught high-intensity interval training and also started running, until a knee injury put a halt to that hobby.
Most recently, Samantha has been a fitness instructor in Boca Grande as well as at the Englewood YMCA.
Her father worked for UNICEF, so she predominantly grew up overseas.
The family moved to Connecticut when she was a teenager, and she completed high school in Rowayton, Conn.
After graduating from high school, Samantha attended Virginia Commonwealth University and studied
psychology. She earned a Ph.D from Florida Atlantic University and completed her postdoctorate training at the University of California, Berkeley. She worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years in marketing and research with a focus on adolescent substance abuse. During that time she continued to teach fitness classes on the side. Every time she moved, she would contact local gyms to inquire if any instructors were needed.
“It was a great way to meet new people,” she said.
After several years of working in California, she
accepted a job offer in Atlanta, Georgia, where she met her husband, Jim.
“He’s an awesome guy — we had a great wedding in Atlanta,” she said. “Instead of gifts, we asked our guests to make a donation to a local animal shelter, and we ended up raising a lot of money.”
In addition to being a fitness instructor, Samantha is also a certified professional life coach. With a doctorate in psychology and more than 15 years in the corporate arena, Samantha has more than three decades of expertise and training in the health and fitness industry. She left her corporate job three years ago to pursue this new passion. The move was a natural extension from her former career. A motivated and motivating coach, Samantha helps her clients identify self-limiting beliefs and other barriers that limit their personal growth and success.
“I work with people on various goals they are trying to attain but are having difficulties reaching,” she said. “Some clients are looking for help with health and wellness, weight management, career or other life transitions. Life coaching is different from therapy – it’s very specific to achieving certain goals.”
Samantha started teaching fitness classes at The Gasparilla Inn a few years ago.
“And then I met Debbie at the Community Center, and I started teaching a couple of classes there every week,” she said.
During the summer months, Samantha teaches a private water aerobics class for a group of ladies on the island known as “The Unsinkables.” They get together three times a week.
“It’s a nice little group of about 12 ladies who are here for the summer, and they wanted to continue to exercise when the clubs closed.”
The fitness instructor and life coach holds national certifications as an instructor of water exercise, spin/cycle, body sculpting, TRX suspension and cardio kickboxing.
Samantha has been familiar with Southwest Florida for many years. Her parents owned property in Naples.
“I love Florida. Out of all the places I’ve lived, it’s my favorite. I love the weather, and the people are friendly.”
She’s also a dog trainer for several residents who have dogs on the island. She’s trained one lab named Stella since Stella was ten weeks old, and another dog named Pumpkin.
On top of all of this, Samantha is also an abstract artist. She has a small “she shed” at her home where she creates unique pieces. She works with acrylic and acrylic resin and sold her first painting in February of 2018.
“Much of what I do looks like something you would see from above, looking down,” she said.
Samantha was featured in the Boca Grande Art Center student/member art show last spring. She painted two colorful stools that were auctioned off for charity at the show. Her work has also been featured at galleries in Port Charlotte and Venice.
“A few people from the island came to support me, and that was really nice,” she said.
Samantha and Jim live in South Gulf Cove with their five fur babies. They have three dogs of all different sizes and colors, and two cats. The dogs are Maddie, Yogi Bear and Ledger. The cats are Cody and Jack Bauer, named after the character on the action series “24.”
All of them are rescued pets.
“Yogi is our one-eyed wonder dog – he lost his eye last year,” she said. “All of the animals get along well together.”
When not helping others to achieve their fitness goals, she enjoys biking and beachcombing with her husband and three dogs, and creating abstract art.
Samantha is excited for the upcoming season in Boca Grande and is ready to meet new people as they return for the winter months.
“The people are just so nice here,” she said. “I’ve met some very good friends over the past few years. There are some very warm people here … I love this island.”
Samantha will also be teaching courses at Banyan Tree Pilates and Yoga later this fall. Look for more details in an upcoming edition of the Boca Beacon.
For more information, visit tbylcoaching.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.