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Located in the heart of Little Havana, Morphe isn't just a fitness studio; it's a wellness spa and "shushi" restaurant. Yes, "shushi", but more on that later. There's a 10-foot bouldering room where you can rock climb through vertically horizontally without the use of ropes and harnesses. There's kickboxing, lifestyle coaching, and personal training. There are massage therapy rooms where you can get everything from a Swedish to a Thai massage, or indulge in everything from reflexology to electro muscle stimulation. There's also a treatment called ultracavitation, or non-surgical lipo, in case the rock climbing wall scares you. But the main fitness focus at this studio is gravity fitness training.
A Gravity Training System (GTS, in short) is an exercise contraption that appears to be an offspring of a Pilates machine and a Total Gym (Chuck Noris's favorite for over 30 years). It features a glide board that slides back and forth on rails, which ultimately taps a central tower that can be set on a variety of incline levels. There are no weights attached to the machine; just you and your body fighting gravity in an infinite variation of exercises, from squats and lunges to plyometric jumps and abs. Forty-five minutes on these babies will give you a full body strength-training workout, while also being easy on the joints.
"The great thing about these machines is not only that you can personalize them to each individual's fitness level, but that in the 10 years I've had then I've never taught the same class twice," says Roberto Santamarina, founder of Morphe Life, professional ninja since the age of seveon, and a finalist in this year's Hottest Trainer Competition.
About a decade ago, he became fascinated with GTS. "My buddy had them at his PT clinic for rehabilitation exercises and I had been looking for something where I could incorporate group type classes for multiple people," he says. After doing some research online, he found that EFI Sports Medicine (which is now Total Gym), was going to be in town doing an expo. "I went with a U-Haul truck, did a 30 minutes demo, and bought all the machines they had," he says. A few days later, Santamaria was teaching classes. This was in 2006, the year he founded Morphe Life in a humble 1920s Spanish home in The Roads.
We bet you're still wondering what the hell "Shushi" is. The dish is a unique post-workout concept thought up by Franco Antonio, which is so good it advanced him to be a semifinalist on Food Network's "Food Truck Face Off." It has protein and a minimal amount of rice along with other Miami-centric ingredients, like plantains and black beans wrapped in salubrious soy paper-based rolls. These 12-piece rolls are available at the shushi counter every hour on the hour from noon to 4pm, or you can get them to go on Monday through Friday.
But this is only one of the edible components Morphe offers. After all, it's part gym, part gourmet eatery. There's also a smoothie bar and tailored meal plans where Santamaria will work with you to design a plan that keeps you from putting on weight without having to forego any of your indulgences. "As long as there's moderation and control you can eat anything," says Santamaria. "Like with the shushi; while you have plantain and proteins and other things in here, it's in such a bite size small quantity that it's actually good for the body to refuel and recover."
The easiest way to pin Morphe Life is Little Havana's one-stop-shop for wellness and fitness. You can spend a whole day there and get your workout fix, lunch, and a deeply relaxing spa treatment. "The key is to create a moderation of everything, from working out and eating healthy to giving your body the treatment is deserves," says Santamarina. "It's about mind, body, and soul balance."