Hi, my name is Desiree Winkel, owner and founder of Fitness Coaching. Fitness Coaching is a studio/gym where you can work out with professional trainers. Among the workout programs we offer are boot camps, cardio boxing, weight loss training, group training and personal training.

I often meet new clients in my Fitness Coaching studio, each with his or her own reason for signing up for one of our classes or, in some cases, for some form of personal training. One of my dear clients is Gianni Rabacchi (65) who came to me about eight months ago. I recently met up with him at his office in Simpson Bay for an interview.

One of the questions I always like to ask my clients is: “Why did you choose our Fitness Coaching studio?” I would be lying if I said I don’t want the answer to be something along the lines of: “Because you are good at what you do.” Or, “Because your studio was highly recommended to me.” But when I asked Gianni why he had chosen my studio, he answered that it was just very convenient as it was located so close to his job.


“In October 2017, just after Irma, I was extremely tired and stressed. I had a lot of work to do and the hurricane really made it difficult for me, like for so many other souls on this island. One morning, I woke up with a pain in my chest. It kept going and coming, but around 11:00pm, the pain got severe and I just knew it was a heart attack. My wife was off island at the time so I decided to call an ambulance on my own.

“In the Sint Maarten hospital, they stabilized me but told me I had to go to the Dominican Republic. They put a stent (a tiny wire mesh tube) to prop open an artery (it is left there permanently). When a coronary artery (an artery feeding the heart muscle) is narrowed by a build-up of fatty deposits called plaque, it can reduce blood flow, so I later had to go to surgery for two bypasses. The medical name for heart bypass surgery is coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). It involves removing a blood vessel from the chest, arms or legs and using it to create a detour or bypass around the blockage. This allows blood to reach the heart again.”

Even before (but surely after) the surgery, Gianni had major issues with his arthritis. He was in so much pain and discomfort that a manual therapist that Gianni knew socially helped him back on his feet again literally. Gianni speaks very highly of Martijn Steffens who treated him with a healthy amount of passion. By then, Gianni had lost 20 kilos and did not feel well.

After Gianni started to recover, he began changing his habits. Among other things, he stopped smoking and drinking, stayed away from dairy products for a long time and added exercise to his routine. He confesses that in the first two months, he would think up excuses to keep himself from having to go to the studio, even though he knew it’d be better to go.

Now six months later, he is devoted to his workout program and feels stronger than ever. Gianni said even his posture has changed. He sees his heart attack as a blessing, because, had it not happened, he probably would not have made these life changes.

We at Fitness Coaching think Gianni is an inspiration for others. Although he continues to struggle with arthritis, he can do most of the exercises pain-free and continues to make progress.

If you have questions or need more information about Fitness Training, call 524-7700. We are located on Welfare Road, next to North Eastern Insurance, on the first level of the building. Like Fitness Coaching on Facebook or Instagram.