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Marissa Pizzimenti changed her life and put her passion for fitness and nutrition into The Art of Juicing

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

The Art of Fitness is a place where miracles happen, and one example is Marissa Pizzimenti, who in 10 months, changed the trajectory of her life. However, it wasn’t exactly a miracle, it took hard work, determination and consistency.

“One day I looked in the mirror and felt ‘this just isn’t me,’” she said. However, it wasn’t always that way. A move to Los Angeles – and a devastating set of circumstances – led to a downward spiral during which she gained 75 lbs. in one year.

“When I went to school here, I came to this gym,” Pizzimenti said. “I can’t imagine telling 13-year-old me that I’d be partnering with the Art of Fitness owners Marian Keegan and Fernanda Rocha on a health café in the back, The Art of Juicing. It’s awesome.”

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Marissa Pizzimenti

Pizzimenti emphasized that her discontentment when she looked in the mirror wasn’t about her size. “It’s about whatever size you feel most happy and confident. I’ve always been an athlete and think strong is sexy, so it wasn’t about that. It was about getting back to the girl I used to be. I think I lost her a little bit in L.A.”

Originally from Scottsdale, Ariz., Pizzimenti came here and attended high school. “In Scottsdale, I never fit in. I never found my people, and I couldn’t find my tribe. All the things I was made fun of for in Arizona were celebrated here – including being artistic and creative. I’ve always loved the beach and I grew up with a mom who’s a nutritionist, who taught me that nature can heal your body, so I’ve always been into healthy food. The best way to just be happy and healthy in life is eating right and being active, that was very important in my family. They were all into sports and I thrived on that.”

Eventually, Pizzimenti’s interest in interior design took her to L.A.

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Pizzimenti with her one employee, Nate Brewery, who owns his own organic coffee company, “Brew It Up”

“I attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in L.A.,” she said. “I went there to pursue school while bartending evenings and I loved it, but I made a lot of stupid mistakes. I was involved with the wrong people. I was naïve and got in a terrible relationship that turned physical. It took a year to pull my life back together and later I became engaged to my (next) boyfriend of three years. He passed away six months later due to fentanyl. It was a lot to deal with, he had been my support system. Losing him was very difficult, and I gained even more weight.”

Climbing the Empire State Building stairs

So, Pizzimenti came back to Laguna and lives only two blocks from The Art of Fitness.

“I started working out at Art of Fitness 20 minutes a day, every day,” she said. “It took a year to gain 75 lbs. and then it took me 10 months to lose it – at a healthy rate, eating right. Since I came here to the gym in high school, once I was back in Laguna, I wanted to come somewhere comfortable and familiar.”

Consistency and setting goals were key she explained.

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Pizzimenti was on the Stairmaster every day

“I was on the Stairmaster every single day, starting with 20 minutes,” she said. “I told myself I’d just show up and do 20 minutes once. Then I started the cardio and when you get that endorphin high, your body loves it, and then when I’d hit 20 minutes, I’d do another 15. Then the next time, I’d do 20, and think I’m going to do 45 today. I got to the point where I could do 102 floors (Empire State Building) in 17 minutes and 30 seconds. In the beginning it took one hour. It’s about setting goals.”

Support from her friends at the gym also helped. “I did have a lot of friends – all the people in the gym who supported me and saw me every day and said, ‘Hello.’ Dennis Harris witnessed my progress from the beginning.”

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A third of the way to her goal, Pizzimenti met Cora Kasperski, who would become her mentor. “She was training my mom and I got involved in her gym,” she said. “Since I had already lost 25 lbs., she said that’s why she wanted to work with me – I was doing the work that most people weren’t willing to do. I don’t think what I did was a big deal. It’s not as hard as you think if you give yourself 30 minutes out of your day, every day, just dedicate 30 minutes to loving yourself.”

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Pizzimenti has been running The Art of Juicing since mid-October

Then came The Art of Juicing

“Fernanda and Marian have inspired me for years,” Pizzimenti said. “I remember joining the gym when I was a teenager and finding out both the gym owners were women. I couldn’t believe those two women owned this gym, and that they both had been trainers for years. Back then as a high school kid, they remembered my name when I came in. I’ve found my tribe, women like my mom who have inspired me every day of my life to be a strong woman. Now I have my two business partners who are inspirational women – and I have my mentor.”

The partnership with Keegan and Rocha came about after Pizzimenti’s summer job ended.

She explained, “I was bartending in a restaurant in town which is difficult, but the money is good. I hated being in that environment because I know how bad alcohol is, I’ve done all the research, but moderation is OK. I started to get depressed again towards the end of summer with all the partying and the drinking. Once the job was over, I knew I couldn’t do another service industry job, because at 26 years old, I needed to find my field.”

Just so happened there was a posting for a management position at The Art of Juicing. With Pizzimenti’s knowledge of nutrition, fitness and interior design, it seemed the perfect place to channel her dedication to helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle.

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The menu includes a variety of smoothies and juices

“I put together an entire business proposal,” she said. “Even though I didn’t have the experience, I felt if I could just get in front of Fernanda and Marian, they could see my passion and energy. The proposal included how I would change the interior. It was a beautiful clean slate, but there was nothing hung up and no lighting. I came to the meeting with an entire business proposal on my laptop and gave the presentation. I started in mid-October.”

Not only did she redo the interior, but she also redesigned the Art of Juicing logo and applied her knowledge of nutrition to the signature juices. She offers cleanses, detox and exalts the healing power of Sea Moss. The organic juice bar menu features raw pressed juices, smoothies and wellness shots.

Future plans

Pizzimenti has lots of plans for the future, many aimed toward providing healthy food for high school kids.

“I’ve talked about this with a lot of people in town who work in the service industry,” she said. “It isn’t easy to get affordable healthy food for young people. They have limited availability to nutritious easily accessible food fast. I know from the number of times I’ve worked in this area, if I wanted to eat healthy, I’d have to go spend a bunch of money.”

As a result, Pizzimenti wants to offer healthy foods that can be picked up quickly – bowls and such that students can order ahead of time online or select from prepackaged items they can run in and grab from the refrigerator.

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An inspiration for overcoming obstacles

Other plans include finishing her degree. “I dropped out of college pre-COVID because they were offering limited courses. I still want to go back and get my degree so I can show my kids one day that you can go either way. You can do whatever you want – start your own business, have a degree or both. I never realized I could inspire people in that way.”

There’s no doubt that Pizzimenti’s experiences can help others.

“I’ve worked with people in therapy and self-help, and I like those fields. I’d like to inspire people in that way. I look at the sadness in young girls’ faces (or even people my age) and want them to know that they’re not alone and it does get better.

“I don’t think Fernanda and Marian realize how much this [The Art of Juicing] is a dream for me. If a few years ago someone told me that I would be able to partner with two other women in the fitness industry and grow my own café and my own place of wellness as a way to help people, I wouldn’t have believed it. I think the best thing you can do in life is saying that your career helps people and makes them happy.”

The Art of Juicing is located inside The Art of Fitness at 1080 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach.

They are open seven days a week from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Call 949.464.0203.

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