SAN DIEGO — Mike Cothrine started Mike's Fit Family, a community of health and wellness that serves students and teachers in lower income school districts, eight years ago. With an initial 36 participants, his program has since grown into a nonprofit that began serving 250 people a week with a program that included interval training and nutrition education for physical health, while also focused on the health of the mind and spirit.
He saw a need to serve teachers and children, and their health, outside of the more traditional gym and health club environment. With the help of funding from the First 5 Commission of San Diego — which promotes the health and well-being of the county's youngest children through health screenings and education — Cothrine's nonprofit has been able to contract with various school districts to provide these services and open them up to more underserved communities. He also uses the fees and donations from his for-profit Live Your Best Life Wellness Studio to help fund Mike's Fit Family.
Cothrine, 44, is also a singer/songwriter with a passion for music and helping people. He took some time to talk about his work in health and wellness, how his nonprofit has adjusted to meeting the needs of those they serve during the pandemic, and his ideal "boring" weekend. (Cothrine's responses were recorded, transcribed, and provided to the Union-Tribune through his associate at Mike's Fit Family, Rachel Hen. These responses have been edited for clarity and length.)
Q: Tell us about Mike's Fit Family.
A: Mike's Fit Family is a community of unity based on the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Eight years ago, I developed a program while working with children, teachers and families in school districts in the South Bay (San Ysidro, Chula Vista). What I noticed from my previous experience is that you have to serve people in mind, body and spirit; you can't leave anything out. Our teachers, obviously, are one of the most underserved populations in our country, so I felt super passionate about that. Also, growing up (in St. Louis, Mo.) without a lot of means, I felt like everybody deserved a chance to be successful, especially our children. So, that's where Mikes' Fit Family started.
Q: Why was this something you wanted to create?
A: I felt like there was a need to serve our children on a higher level; there's a need to serve our teachers on a higher level; and there's a need in our United States, and globally, to serve everyone on a higher level by really meeting people where they are and starting to reach out to people who don't normally have help.
Q: Can you walk us through how your program works?
A: Right now, we have specific school districts that we've contracted with through our funding from First 5 (Commission of San Diego). Through the rest of this year, we want to open our program up to all underprivileged families, teachers and staff in all school districts around San Diego County, so everybody is welcome. On our website at mikesfitfamily.com, we have classes running from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, in the form of interval training and yoga, as well as mindful meditation. This is at no cost. If people want to, and have the means to, invest in the health and wellness of others, they can do that through our Live Your Best Life Wellness Studio (liveyourbestlifews.com).
Q: How does your program address the mind, body and spirit of its participants?