Alternative Fitness



A common theme among members of the First Coast community is the desire to better themselves, both physically and mentally. For many, traditional forms of fitness fail to keep them inspired, often preventing them from results they want to achieve. Staying motivated can be challenging, and finding what encourages you is an important part of keeping up with any fitness program.

Alternative fitness covers a variety of different methods, as many people realize that a disinteresting workout routine is an unnecessary burden toward getting in shape.For Sam Jubran and his son, Jonathan, staying fit is often a result of simply enjoying the great outdoors. On weekends, they can be found biking through the trails at one of Jacksonville’s local parks. “It’s very peaceful out here. It’s relaxing, and at the same time we get a lot of physical activity,”said Sam.Jonathan is involved in various other sports, but says mountain biking is his favorite activity because it works out his whole body.


The great part about alternative fitness is that the possibilities are endless. While some community members prefer to stay on two feet, others take the term alternative to more creative heights. Aerial silk is a form of fitness rooted in ancient chinese acrobatics, often taking its participants well over ten feet into the air. Performers learn to hold strenuous poses while grasping silken strands flowing from the ceiling, drawing from a whole set of muscles most people did not even imagine existed.

Tumbling, twisting, flipping and flying is part of the process. While aerial silk has traditionally been held by a closed group of acrobatic performers, it has been opened to anyone willing to give it a try in recent years.


However daring and intimidating some of the poses may seem, everyone has a starting point, and no one is expected to learn on their own.In fact, the aerial silk community is proud of the family feel everyone has come to experience while members push one another to learn new techniques.“The difference between us and a traditional gym are the different forms of training,” Summer Vyne said. “It is kind of like a personal one on one class, and it is fun.”Mountain biking and aerial silk are similar in that both offer a full body workout, allow participants to regulate their own pace and can be mentally rewarding.

“There is emotional gain and mental gain,” said Tempestt Halstead. “When you come in here, not matter what you are going through throughout the day, it all goes out the door.”

Special Diets




Getting in shape can be hard work. Diet and exercise, while effective, requires a serious commitment before you’ll see the benefits.

There are alternatives… Including what’s called cleansing. Its proponents say cleaning helps with weight loss, boosts your body’s immune system and can help your body function more efficiently.

So, what is cleansing?


It’s basically going on a fruit and vegetable diet for several days with the goal of removing toxins from your body that naturally build up over time.

Annie Tuttle, owner of Watts Juicery, explains why she chooses to juice. “Through the juicing I feel better. I’m a mom of four,” she said, “I don’t feel as tired as I was before. So I mean you get a nice little boost of energy from the juice. It’s a very natural boost of energy.”

Tuttle also explained that juicing is difficult at times but it gets easier after the first day. She said your body resets and it no longer wants fattening foods, like a cheeseburger, any longer.

If you choose to juice you’ll be drinking six 16-ounce servings a day… and that’s it. Nutritionists say any cleanse shouldn’t last longer than five days and there are risks.


“Significantly reducing your calories, which is what a juice fast is gonna do, can be unsafe and sometimes harmful,” Jenna Braddock, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist said.

Braddock continued and said, “What the juices provide are a high flood of antioxidants and phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables that then support the body’s natural detoxification system.”

As with any special diet, you should always consult your doctor before and during the process. It may not be suitable for everyone.



Animal Therapy

Therapy and Service dogs work in ways that redefine the meaning of man’s best friend, providing life changing support and relief for people of all ages and needs.

Although Bristol comes from a generation of show dogs, his owner, Susan Winkler, had a very different vision for Bristol when he became a part of her family eight years ago. — Winkler wanted Bristol to help other people.


To this day, Bristol continues to work as a service and therapy dog and truly lives up to his name, The Honorable Baron.

“He’s on the show stage every day,” Winkler said. “[Bristol] spreads love and joy wherever he goes.”

Bristol is and English Springer Spaniel and became a therapy dog when he was only 10-months-old. He became a service dog shortly after.

People who have mobility issues, anxiety issues or just need extra help and support with certain tasks will benefit from a service dog, Winkler explained.

Bristol’s main job for the past three years has been helping Winkler’s husband, Jack Winkler, with his mobility and providing him with emotional support when he goes through chemotherapy. Mr. Winkler emphasized that Bristol plays an incredibly positive role in his life. Bristol also continues to volunteer in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

“He provides tremendous help and relief that a person couldn’t provide,” Winkler said.

Bristol is a registered American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen and a THD which is an AKC Therapy Dog. When you register a dog through AKC, the owner must select a unique name so there won’t be duplicate registrations – hence Bristol’s name the Honorable Baron, which means “master of the land.”


The process to become a registered therapy and service dog isn’t very long. To receive this certification, Bristol had to pass a 10-step-test which consisted of adhering to basic commands and evaluating his temperament when around people and in public. A service dog certification is similar; however, there are a few additional skills dogs are required to learn.

Lori Coleman has worked at the Clay County Humane Society for 20 years and one of her responsibilities is to coordinate the pet assisted therapy program. She is also an evaluator with Alliance of Therapy Dogs where she administers the testing process for therapy dogs to be registered.

“I can’t think of anybody that wouldn’t benefit from having the opportunity to spend some time with a therapy dog,” Coleman said.

For service and Therapy dogs, their vests are their uniform and they know that once it’s on, they are working.

Coleman is certain that her Australian Shepard, Deacon, thoroughly enjoys his job as a therapy dog because he is always eager to work. She explained that when she holds up his harness, Deacon becomes exited, animated, and even jumps in place, attempting to put the harness on himself. When he’s at hospitals he wanders the hallways and rooms determined to find patients to comfort.


Deacon went through five different homes before he found his forever home with Coleman, who adopted him when he was only one. Deacon is registered through an organization called Alliance of Therapy Dogs and provides therapy to people of all ages with different needs including handicap adults and people in the psychiatric unit at the Orange Park Medical Center.

Deacon recently became involved in a new program called Read, where he visits the Orange Park Library on the first Wednesday of every month to have story time with children of all ages.

Being around Deacon for storytelling provides younger kids with more of a tactile therapy and the opportunity to be around a dog that is non-threatening and friendly. When older kids read to therapy dogs, it gives them the opportunity to read without being made fun of by their peers.

“You can read to a dog and know they’re not going to correct you, they’re not going to laugh at you for not being able to pronounce a word properly,” Coleman said.

“It gives the kids confidence.”

Registering your dog as a therapy dog isn’t a long process but Coleman explained that it definitely takes a reasonably easy-going dog.

Although therapy and service dogs come in all different sizes and breeds and help people of all ages with a variety of needs, Winkler pointed out that there’s at least is one thing they all have in common:

“The Animal is able to provide the comfort, the healing, and the help that sometimes people can’t or aren’t available to do.”