All posts by excelweb

April 2016: Member Spotlight: Marilyn Waters

working the bent row

You won’t hear a lot of women say, “I LOVE lifting heavy!”. April’s Member of the Month, Marilyn Waters, is one of those few. She finds time to come in and train with Pat three time a week while juggling work as a massage therapist and spending time with her big family of eight (2 grand kitties included). When the weather is nice, she goes cruising the back roads of Connecticut and Massachusetts on her beautiful little 1964 Slab Side Shelby Cobra. She also enjoys whipping up delicious meals in the kitchen – in fact she started baking bread at a very young age of 10!

It’s not about being the best…it’s about being better than you used to be.”

Marilyn joined Excel in 2009. She didn’t start with expectations in mind. No “I want to be this or that”. It was more “What can I master or conquer next?”, and each personal trainer that she has since worked with helped her uncover abilities she didn’t know she had. When asked to do something that seemed difficult, her mind immediately says “Oh, NO WAY!” so not to disappoint, she does it anyway. It gives her an amazing feeling knowing she has accomplished something she didn’t think she could. That, and keeping dark places in her head at bay, is one of the many reasons she keeps working out. She loves the feeling of peace and calm that comes after a great workout in Excel, where she has always felt welcome and never out of place. Being in a smaller, personable gym makes her feel at ease, especially when she was just starting. She was feeling overweight and a little out of place then – but she didn’t feel intimidated in our gym.

Marilyn has come a long way since then. From mastering sit-ups to finishing a quarter marathon (“I got passed by a three-legged dog and a guy pushing a baby carriage, BUT I finished!”), she and Pat are now working on improving her balance and building strength.

She has this to say about her trainer:

Marilyn with her trainer Pat

Pat has helped me discover that my body likes to lift. I love that he has mapped out a plan for me and I don’t have to think about how much weight to put on the bar or where to set a machine – if I were to do it myself, I would never work as hard. He is great at motivating and encouraging me to work hard and accomplish things I didn’t know I could. He is incredibly patient and able to switch things up immediately when something hurts and he will always adapt an exercise to accommodate one of my many little injuries while still working toward our goals. We’re working toward being able to do unassisted pull-ups (so if I fall off a cliff, I can pull myself back up – but only if I can get an underhand grip!!!), every step closer to that feels great. But for me the best part is that moment when I realize I just lifted what I couldn’t last week – it makes me feel strong, powerful, and empowered. I can’t thank Pat enough for helping me experience that. 

Patrick adds:

I have been working with Marylin for almost a year and she has made amazing progress working towards her goals of a leaner body, increased strength and overall feeling better! She originally started training with two hour sessions per week and has worked up to three hours weekly. Marylin is one of my hardest working clients and always gives 110% effort! She can squat over 200 lbs and bench press 135 lbs! She can also do over 30 consecutive push-ups and can hold a plank for almost 5 minutes. Marylin has been awesome to work with and I hope to continue to train with her and help her to reach even greater goals!

March 2016: Member Spotlight: Tom Hine

Tom Hine puts a lot of value on his health as evidenced by his faithfully going to the gym almost every day to get on the bike for 45 minutes. His orthopedic issues (replacement knee and two rebuild shoulders) and his stroke don’t hinder him from pedaling away while watching the news on TV. He was diagnosed with diabetes last month and, being the positive person that he is, he is more motivated than ever to maintain his active lifestyle. He understands that with better food choices and portion control, exercising daily will help keep his weight and sugar level down, and hopefully prevent him from taking insulin. Being strong and healthy also allows him to enjoy his other passions including traveling the world with his wife and visiting his children and grandchildren in California and New Jersey. Photography is one of his hobbies that he enjoys while traveling. The picturesque cities of Europe and the splendid beaches of Mexico and the Cape are often featured in his photography. Tom retired in 2011 after having taught 7th grade English in West Hartford for 42 years.

This month’s featured member joined in 2009 and sees himself going to Excel for as long he can. Tom thinks it’s wonderful how our members are very friendly and fun to talk to. He commends our staff for being polite and helpful. We asked Tom what advice he would give to those looking to get started on an exercise regimen and he has this to say: “Don’t increase your workout too fast, especially for people my age (he will turn 70 in November). Listen to your body, and increase gradually so you don’t hurt yourself.”

Ready for Shipping!

We are sending almost 25 pairs of pre-loved shoes for reuse in Africa. Huge thanks to our members for continuously supporting this project. Over the years, we have donated hundreds of pairs to These shoes are kept out of America’s landfills and are given new life in other parts of the world!

For more information, visit

November 2015: Member Spotlight: Vic D’Occhio

Vic D'Occhio picI’ve always been a very active and high energy type of guy.  Although I started going to the gym later in my life, I met Jeff almost 10 years ago.  I started training with him at Bally’s in West Hartford and later followed him when he opened Excel Fitness.  I have been training for many years now, and I have to say, that I’m in the best shape of my life!

I’ve also been training with Pat now for the past year.  Pat and Jeff have motivated me and continue to challenge me with our workouts.  I am exceeding my goals and continue to gain muscle and endurance!   I currently train three days per week now and couldn’t be happier!  I feel healthier, stronger and empowered, and working out relieves a lot of stress for me.  I know that I can achieve anything and overcome any obstacle. I look forward to the future and my continued training sessions.

My Mother who is 84 years old and had a recent back injury is also training at Excel with Heather.   Heather has helped her in so many ways.  My mom has more energy, her flexibility has improved, and she is feeling younger every day!

THANK YOU to all the Excel Fitness Staff!

Excel Fitness trainer, Pat Marcucci adds, “I have worked with Vic for over a year. Since that time he has put on approximately 15 lbs of muscle! He can do 25 consecutive pull-ups and can do a single pull-up with 90lbs attached! He can squat 225 lbs and can deadlift almost 300! Vic can also do single arm dumbbell rows with 100lb dumbbells. Vic is one of the hardest working people I have ever trained. Nothing is ever too challenging for him and he inspires everyone including myself with his work ethic!!!

October 2015: Member Spotlight: Mary Ellen Chute

I have always been extremely active and fit; an avid runner, competing in many half marathons and triathlons. I’ve trained with Jeff and his former partner Shawn for many years to add extra strength training and to help prevent injuries. Mary Ellen Chute pic

In August of 2013 I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I had no idea of how the treatment and ensuing 2 years would change my life. The treatment and side effects (or as I like to call it “collateral damage”) completely impacted what I was capable of physically doing. Because of the intense radiation I lost much of my aerobic capacity. The surgery and removal of all lymph nodes left me with very limited range of motion in my right arm. And the chemo, well, just plain made me as sick as I could ever think of being.

During the time I was receiving chemo, the only place I felt comfortable being seen with my headscarf in public was at Excel Fitness. My oncologist kept telling me how important it was to try and stay as active as possible despite how horrible I felt. If it hadn’t been for Jeff, his kindness, understanding and empathy, I don’t think I could have continued. He allowed my schedule to be as flexible as necessary, working around my chemo “bad weeks”, post surgical treatment, and ensuing radiation schedule.

When my treatment ended and I was trying to get back in “the game of life”, I started to try and take up running again. December 2014, Jeff gave me the challenge of running my first 5K since I had been sick. But, not only did he challenge me to do it, he ran it with me….at my very slow pace….but we finished! I think he knew how important it was to me to finally be able to sign up for a race again. This is an example of Jeff’s commitment to his client’s achievement of goals. He took this outside the gym, on his own time, to help me achieve a goal.

Since then, I’ve also been training with Pat. Both Pat and Jeff have continued to challenge and motivate me; our workouts are both challenging and effective. I consider both Pat and Jeff to be part of my continued recovery program. They are exceptional, knowledgeable and overall enjoyable to work with!

Excel Fitness owner and personal trainer, Jeff Roux adds, “If everyone had Mary Ellen’s attitude, positivity and drive the world would be a better place. I push her in her workouts more than almost anyone, she never complains, she knows the workouts are nothing compared to fighting and beating cancer! I love to see her improve and look forward to all of our sessions, but most of all I love seeing her enjoy life! “

5th Annual Wine Tasting benefiting Making Strides Against Breast Cancer- Hartford

Thursday, October 15th, 2015, 6-8 p.m.

Help Us Kick Off Fundraising for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer- Hartford!!! making-strides

Silent Auction with over $1500 in Prizes from Local Businesses

$10 Suggested Donation: All Proceeds Benefit American Cancer Society Making Strides against Breast Cancer


Live Music Provided By: Lorena Gara


Hors D’oeuvres provided by Butterfly Restaurant and Rooby Dooby Cakes!

Libations provided by Wine Cellars Rt. 4



September 2015: Member Spotlight: Ritch and Annette Cable

Since 1998, when we decided to get more active, we’ve taken a variety of fitness classes at other organizations including strength training and aerobics, besides walking daily. As we have aged we felt we needed a more focused, individualized approach to fitness. We signed up at Excel Fitness in the summer of 2012 after seeing an introductory offer for personal training and speaking with owner, Jeff Roux. Since then Excel has shown us they welcome all no matter the age or ability. There is no sense of intimidation in the gym and everyone seems to feel comfortable working out there. Cable Pic

Ilicia Balaban became our trainer; the first and only one-on-one fitness professional we have ever worked with.  Our first request was to work on core strength as we were going to be Zip Lining on a cruise and would have to be able keep our knees up for an extended time. Thanks to Ilicia we had a great time! Since then she has challenged, pushed, and encouraged us to be stronger and to try exercises we never thought we could do. With the birth of our first grandchild in 2013 she’s developed routines that promote the functional strength and endurance that we need to play and care for him. Throughout the years Ilicia has been with us we have appreciated her flexibility in scheduling and her attention to our surgeries, injuries and aches as she plans and adapts each week’s workout. Throughout it all her sense of humor and genuine caring make every session positive and rewarding!

Ilicia Balaban, C.P.T. adds, “I have enjoyed the Cable’s candid honesty and willingness to try anything since our very first meeting in June of 2012. Annette came in to training with lower back and knee concerns; Ritch with some knee but mostly shoulder issues. Their ability to communicate their individual experience of various exercises coupled with consistent motivation to ‘try something new’ made it easy for me to design routines that benefit both persons while accounting for their opposing limitations. The positivity, lightheartedness, kindness, and commitment the Cable’s have demonstrated throughout our training sessions as well as outside of the gym (they haven’t missed a birthday card yet) make working with the couple a joy and pleasure. Keep up the great work Ritch and Annette!!!”

2014 Charity Wrap-Up

Excel Fitness, an all-access personal training and massage therapy center in West Hartford, Connecticut has wrapped up another year of charitable giving to support community members in need! Throughout the year team Excel Fitness donated gift certificates for a one-month membership, two personal training sessions, a 30-minute massage, and nutrition coaching session to the following organization’s fundraising events: 2014 charity letters

Prudence Crandall Center, American Cancer Society Muscular Dystrophy Association, Community Renewal Team, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, Community Enterprises, West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, Mercy Housing and Shelter, Ryan Woods Autism Foundation, Adelbrook the Children’s Home, West Hartford Exchange Club, Wheeler Clinic, Playhouse on Park, St. Pius X Church, United Way of Central and Northeastern CT, Middlesex United Way, Seabury Charitable Foundation, Knights of Lithuania, Johnny’s Jog for Charity, Survivors of Homicide, YMCA, FOCUS Center for Autism, St. Francis Foundation, CHARLIE’s Ride, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the Children’s Law Center of CT, Bike/Walk CT, American School for the Deaf, ConnectiKids, and the Alzheimer’s Association.

October 16th we hosted our 4th Annual Wine Tasting and Open House to benefit the American Cancer Society Making Strides against Breast Cancer 2014 and raised over $1,500 for cancer research!

Last month we shipped off our 7th box of used shoes to ReRun Shoes for refurbishing and distribution in West Africa!

food drive 2014Additionally, Excel Fitness members and clientele generously donated to our Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive benefiting the West Hartford Food Pantry and our Annual Tons of Toys Holiday Toy Drive benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Hartford!

Many thanks to all of you who have given so generously over the years and continue to make Excel Fitness a great place to work out! We’re looking forward to an exciting, healthy, action-packed 2015!


Excel Fitness Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive 2014










Excel Fitness, an award winning gym and personal training studio in West Hartford, CT  held their 4th Annual Wine Tasting and Open House to kick off fundraising for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer on Thursday Oct. 16th!

Eric Speaker Crew w Jeff and Ilicia

The event was a huge success! Dozens of local businesses donated over $1500 in prizes for the silent auction. Wine Cellars on rt. 4 in Farmington donated wine, beer, liquor, and the time of multiple distributors. Snacks were provided by Butterfly Restaurant and Rooby Dooby Cakes, both businesses owned by Excel Fitness members. Massage therapists Kerrie March and John Meza kept guests even more relaxed with luxurious chair and table massages. The evening also spotlighted a phenomenal guest speaker presentation series. Julie Ackerman, Karen Austin, and Erica Bartol, all breast cancer survivors shared their experiences living with the disease as well as the benefits of physical fitness from initial diagnosis, throughout treatment, and while in remission. Eric Kopp, director of clinical education at ProEx Physical Therapy in Farmington also spoke regarding the benefits of stretching and strengthening muscles in preparation for as well as following surgery.

All in all, Team Excel Fitness raised well over $1,500 for breast cancer research! We would like to humbly applaud the dedication of our members, local business supporters, staff and others in the community that came oJulie and Ilicia 2014ut for the fundraiser. As always it was a fun night, we look forward to the opportunity to make it even bigger and better next year!

Miss the wine tasting but still want to contribute to a great cause? There is still plenty of time to donate to Team Excel Fitness’ fundraising efforts for Making Strides against Breast Cancer! Please visit: