After wrapping up his baseball career, Justin Azzey was off to college. It didn’t take long before he dove head first into fitness while still a student, starting as a personal trainer. Azzey is now a co-owner of Elevate954 – one of the most popular gyms in Fort Lauderdale. We caught up with Azzey for a Quick 10 interview, but you can also follow him on Instagram – @justin_azzey.

Tell us about yourself – where are you from and how did you find your way to the 305?

I was born and raised in South Florida. I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and I love the Florida lifestyle.

How did you get your start in fitness and as an instructor?

I got started in fitness after I couldn’t play baseball anymore. All the years of pitching and damaging my arm caught up to me by the time I got to high school.

Always being a pretty active person, I dove head first into health and fitness and absolutely fell in love with it. By the time I got to college, I worked part-time as a personal trainer until I finished school. After I graduated, I started getting into group fitness as well as personal training, and now I’m currently a co-owner of Elevate954 in Fort Lauderdale!

What is your favorite part of being a fitness instructor?

There are so many things I love it’s hard to pick one. I’d have to say the most rewarding aspect of being a fitness instructor/coach is being able to impact so many people on a daily basis. I take pride in being a positive influence on our members’ day. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping your clients achieve better health, fitness, and improve their overall quality of life.

How do you stay full of energy throughout the day?

There are a few things that help me stay level headed and energetic. It all starts with maintaining a proper diet and getting adequate sleep. If you aren’t rested or fueled properly you can’t perform at your best.

Aside from those big rocks, I make it a priority to practice gratitude every night before bed and reflect on the positive things that happened that day, and set my intentions for the coming day.

In addition to that, one of the things that keeps me motivated and energetic is teaching my clients, members, or trainers something new as frequently as I can. Learning and teaching are two of the things that drive me the most.

How would you describe your classes?

My Classes are built on a few different principles:

1). I believe strength/resistance training should be the cornerstone of any training program. Learning how to properly lift weights and build muscle has some of the greatest impacts on metabolism and overall health.

2). Energy and enthusiasm – when you come into our gym we expect enthusiasm from everyone with a willingness to learn!

3). Be ready to be mentally and physically challenged. You’re promised to leave with a nice sweat.

What is one fitness myth you would like to bust?

There’s so many, but one myth I’d love to bust is that a lot of people think you need to do cardio to burn fat. That’s not the case. What most people fail to recognize is that doing too much cardio and not enough strength training will actually slow your metabolism down. Instead of prioritizing building muscle (and your metabolism), you’re sending a signal to the body to become more efficient with its calories (which is not ideal for burning fat). Lift weights my friends!

Other than where you teach, where is your favorite place in Miami to train?

Honestly, outside of Elevate954, my other favorite place to train is outdoors. There’s nothing better than soaking up that South Florida sun while working on conditioning or mobility at the beach or at one of the many local parks we have.

What is the one thing you do every day to stay fit?

My whole life revolves around it. It’s pretty much who I am. If I had to pick one thing, I’d say I dedicate one hour every day (even Sundays) to moving my body in some way.

How do you practice mental health in your everyday life?

This is something that I’ve really had to make an effort with over the past couple of years. Ever since my father got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer my whole life changed. I went from being happy and carefree to struggling with anxiety and bouts of depression.

Since he passed, there’s been a few things that I’ve practiced that has helped me get a grip on my mental health.

1). Exercise daily. I’m not saying to go do a HIIT class every day, but going for a nice walk or two every day can really help.

2). Practice gratitude at the end of every night and when you get up in the morning. Finding things you’re grateful for, and focusing on them, really helps get rid of negative thoughts and helps put you in the right state of mind.

3). Being involved with my fitness community. I love being able to interact with my clients and members on a daily basis! Being involved in a community can really help with mental health.

What do you love about the South Florida fitness/health & wellness community?

I love how everyone is so uplifting. I’ve met so many fitness professionals especially over the last few years that have been extremely supportive!