Creating a fitness environment for women

Teresa Marquese, physical trainer and founder of Rock Solid Fitness in San Francisco, said she found her calling when she needed strength to end her old career.

Then a first-year law student, Marquese had been working, as she put it, “in the corporate world,” providing business consulting for a number of San Francisco firms. She grew tired of the field and wanted out but wasn’t sure her body could handle the stress of living outside institutional reins.

“I’d always been physically active,” Marquese said. “But I found that it was needed to be physically able to make that kind of transition.”

Marquese began a fitness boot camp and developed a passion for training. After a while, Marquese, who got an undergraduate degree in education, found herself so capable that the instructor asked her to substitute.

“I saw women coming to me who felt comfortable coming to me,” Marquese said.

Marquese had nominally left her job with the idea of starting a business. Now she saw the opportunity. Analyzing the market at the time, Marquese said she discovered no women-only fitness groups.

In 1998 Marquese founded Rock Solid Fitness, organizing classes right on the San Francisco Bay waterfront at Crissy Field.

She said her aim was to keep classes small to personalize the experience for women, and make them feel more comfortable — especially those who might be intimidated by a large, dedicated group.

“It’s more about community than about fitness,” Marquese said. “What women really enjoy is the friendships that they make.”

Marquese since expanded the program beyond classical fitness routines of weights, stairs and kickboxing to include holistic health coaching, yoga and a new food preparation program.

Even after gaining her juris doctor from New College of California, Marquese — who said she would want to be a rock star if not training women to be fit — decided not to deviate from the joy she had found within her business.

Still, at least once a year, Marquese travels to Honduras to indulge her other joy: scuba diving.

Rock Solid Fitness has a small staff of part-time instructors. Marquese said she has contracted with publicity firms and other agents, but she otherwise handles the business herself.

“It’s like a love affair,” Marquese said. “Just a plain old pursuit of passion.”

<p>Teresa Marquese

Business

New project: Nutritional cleansing

Last project: Writing book about philosophy of fitness/wellness

Essential Web site: dailyom.com

Best perk: Starting every day outdoors

Education: University of Minnesota, New College of California

Last conference: Ladies who Launch Live

First job: Running clock and stats for summer hockey league, age 13

Career objective: Publish book

Personal

Hometown: Brainerd, Minn.

Sports/hobbies: Scuba diving

Transportation: White Toyota Tundra

Favorite restaurant: Millennium

Computer: IBM ThinkPad

Vacation spot: Roatan, Honduras

Favorite clothier: Calvin Klein

Role model: Madonna

Reading: “The History of the Siege of Lisbon,” by Jose Saramago

Worst fear: Being alone

Motivation: Being your best

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