While Building Muscles
By ML Ball
Photographed by Karen Pearson
Looks can be deceiving. At first glance, Amy Corso seems like a friendly, superpositive, girl-next-door type…someone with whom you could easily share a coffee and a chat. But just you wait.
Watch one of her videos in which she’s demonstrating a series of very challenging exercises, perfectly. Notice her sizeable muscles and supertoned physique. Marvel at what she can do with a kettlebell or a sledgehammer. Quickly, you realize this woman is a powerhouse! And the best part? She can help you become one, too.
To get to this level of fitness, did Amy spend years in a gym? No, actually—in horse barns. Starting as a groom, then becoming a racehorse exercise rider at Belmont, then an assistant breeding manager at Winley Farm in Millbrook, Amy was living her dream of working with horses. But after putting in more than a decade of the hard physical work that horses require, her body was paying the price. Her arms hurt, her back ached and her whole body was saying “enough.”
She knew she needed a change.
A Partnership That Grew Beyond the Gym
Growing up in Clinton Corners, Amy had always been active but hated the typical gym setting. Wanting to heal her body but still stay fit, she found a real connection with George Corso’s personal-training facility, a small studio in Washington Hollow. As she said recently, “I saw his videos and thought, ‘This is different, let me check this out.’”
Soon, Amy started training with George and fell in love with his highly specialized approach to fitness, flexibility and strength training. Years later, she also fell in love with him! They married, had two children and, along with Amy’s two children from a previous marriage, brought the number of Corsos in the family to six.
“I traded the horse industry for the fitness world because this is my passion,” Amy said. “I love the physicality of it, the way the body moves…the same thing I loved about working with horses as athletes. It intrigues me down to the cellular level.”
Seeing Amy’s potential as a top-notch fitness and conditioning trainer, George encouraged her to add group fitness classes to his personal-training business. Diving into this new role, over the next year and a half she took a series of courses and became certified as a personal trainer, then began teaching full time.
Once she joined the teaching staff, “Our personal-training and small group classes started to boom because I added a different dynamic to what George was already offering,” Amy said. “I brought in Spinning, TRX Suspension Training and Indo-Row, and people really responded.”
As the class offerings expanded, so did Amy’s professional certifications. She is a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Level 3 Spinning Instructor and a Black Ranked TRX Certified Coach. She is also certified through the World Kettlebell Club and is trained to teach Indo-Row.
As their next step, Amy and George introduced health coaching to their members, along with a plant-based nutrition program called Arbonne. Through their “30 Days to Healthy Living with Arbonne” program, Amy has helped more than 400 people learn how to eat better and feel better, from the inside out.
“We started offering nutrition education to our members because we found that people would come in and work really hard but then go home and eat unhealthy, or what they thought was healthy but it really wasn’t,” Amy explained. “We want to reach people outside of the gym, too, because we want to see them succeed, as well as our members.”
Soon, Amy and George had a very nice problem on their hands: their business was growing by leaps and bounds and had become more than they could handle by themselves. They started looking for a larger facility to move into, and as luck would have it, Lori Cassia-Decker, owner of Pulse Cycling and Fitness in Millbrook, was looking for a business partner. The three joined forces, and four years ago, FORZA was founded.
“FORZA means ‘strength’ in Italian, that driving force to move and be active,” Amy said. “As our logo, we chose a wolf because it embodies a fierce, ready-to-do-something attitude.”
Yes, a wolf logo is different, but it serves as an effective (Amy’s favorite word) indicator that something different is happening inside. Along with its emphasis on strength training, body-weight training and cardio conditioning taught by highly skilled instructors, FORZA has intentionally established itself as a friendly, welcoming, inclusive place to come work out, no matter your age or fitness level.
“FORZA is not your typical gym,” Amy said. “We see families and friends coming in and training together. All age levels and activity levels. We have little kids sometimes playing in the corner while their mom or dad is taking a class, and they’ll join in and exercise, too. It’s awesome.”
If a FORZA member hasn’t come to class in a while? Amy will reach out and ask how they’re doing, what’s going on, can they come in and just walk to put some movement into their day.
Yet along with this joy, Amy confessed that it’s been hard at times to find a balance between her many roles in life—wife, mother, business owner, fitness instructor, nutrition coach—and her own wellness, her own health.
“When I was teaching 10 to 12 classes a week, I was able to stay active,” she said. “But when we moved locations and had our second child, that changed. We now had a full staff of instructors, and I didn’t need to be out there teaching. I stepped back and took on more of a managerial role of running the day-to-day operation, and my activity level went way down. I had to rethink how to help myself and others stay healthy while juggling a lot in their lives.”
The answer? Using the power and reach of social media.
Facebook in particular has become Amy’s conduit for communicating with busy stay-at-home moms, time-strapped dads, grandparents, students, freelancers…anybody who wants to take care of themselves but doesn’t know where to begin or how to fit exercise into their day-to-day routines.
“I’ve recently started posting videos of things I do at home,” Amy said, “like, in the middle of making breakfast, I’ll drop down and do 10 push-ups. It’s just little clips of information, but you wouldn’t believe the feedback I get. Women tell me, ‘I’m so excited you put that out there. I’m actually sore because I saw your video and started doing what you were doing.’ I now have people asking, ‘How do I do a push-up?’ or ‘I want to eat healthier, can you do a video on that?’”
From Little Things, Big Things Come
Amy’s philosophy—which has resonated with those both inside and outside of FORZA—is that we all should make room for ourselves “in the nooks and crannies of life. Little moments, when put together, can produce breakthroughs,” she said. “We think we need so much time to take care of ourselves, but we don’t. A few minutes here and there can make so much difference. It starts with one little thing. You don’t have to go to the gym for an hour and find someone to watch your kids. Instead, you can make being active part of your lifestyle. Just a few minutes spent on you every day creates balance and wellness in your life, so you can be happier and more effective in your life.”
Particularly for women, this is where Amy is proving to be a powerful inspiration. They see her taking time for herself—her health, her nutrition, her fitness goals—and they realize they can do this as well. They, too, can juggle a million things every day and still make time for what matters to them.
By all measures, Amy and George have accomplished great things with FORZA in four years. Yet, Amy feels they’re just now hitting their stride. As someone who is always looking for more ways to help people attain better health, Amy’s future plans include delving deeper into holistic nutrition.
“I want to get more education, to learn more,” she said. “My goal is to then take that learning and amplify what we’re already doing. I’m excited about what the future holds and what we’re going to be able to do.”
Spreading the joy indeed. Let’s all go grab a kettlebell. For more information on classes, scheduling and instructors or to book a class, contact FORZA Fitness at 845.677.4999 or forza-fitness.com. █