The world influences us in many ways, driving us to create art, to improve ourselves and our surroundings, to help our communities and the people within them.
For some, that influence, or inspiration, comes from nature; for others it may come from their spirituality, heritage or culture. Summer Mirabal found inspiration in the people she influenced at her gym.
"The major influences in the fitness world for me have been a lot of my members, the ones who come in every day and work hard," said Mirabal, who became owner and operator of the FreeWorld Fitness gym, on Doña Ana Drive, a little over a year ago.
"I took over a year ago in April when the former owner and my good friend, Ben Nichols, got a full-time job and welcomed his first child into the world," Mirabal said. The hard work and dedication required to run a business is immense.
"I have learned that owning your own business requires more time, money and energy than I anticipated," Mirabal said a few days before she had to close the gym April 1 due in part to restrictions put in place by the state to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mirabal also listed new leasing arrangements as one of the reasons for the closure, and "the uncertainties of the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and because I needed a break, being that I am a police officer and a mother of two."
Mirabal is no stranger to hard work and dedication. After excelling on the court for Taos High School's Lady Tigers, Mirabal enlisted in the United States Army, going through boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, then on to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. "I was stationed at Fort Stewart, in Georgia," Mirabal said, proudly.
Mirabal credits her military background with aiding her through her law enforcement training next, because of the similarity of the two. "It gave me a slight advantage," she said.
Mirabal is now a police officer at Taos Pueblo. Children at the pueblo have been known to look at Mirabal as somewhat of a superhero: mild-mannered gym leader by day, and bad guy go-getter by night.
Police officers need to maintain a certain level of physical fitness when it comes to their line of work and although Mirabal attributes physical prowess to helping her out of some dangerous situations, it's clear from her response that fitness is so much more than just physical.
"Being a police officer takes a toll on a person mentally, physically and emotionally. Working out helps me reset," Mirabal said.
The role modeling doesn't stop there for this generous woman. Prior to taking over FreeWorld Fitness, Mirabal hosted free fitness classes at the Taos Pueblo Community Center. "When I did, I had an amazing turnout. My biggest class was 35 people," said Mirabal.
The classes were tough but designed to go at the individual's pace. The classes were diverse both in age and cultural background.
Until the gym closed, Mirabal extended this same kind of courtesy to some of her members at FreeWorld Fitness. Some Taos Pueblo tribal youth attended the gym for free. "I had seven teens that got really into it, but being located on the south end of town made it hard for a lot of youth to attend," she said.
Mirabal's story is a classic tale known to many in Taos. She was working 12-hour graveyard shifts behind the badge and teaching fitness classes until 10:30 a.m., but the entrepreneur's day didn't end there.
"Being a gym owner also requires outreach, maintaining and cleaning the facility (and equipment), bookkeeping and many other daily tasks. As a police officer I am also required to be at court, meetings and trainings outside my regular shift hours," said Mirabal.
Taos Pueblo youth are especially important to Officer Mirabal, as she is the mother of two boys. "While strapping up my boots, I always pray I come home to my children safe," said Mirabal.
A working parent is the definition of perseverance. Though Mirabal had to recently close the doors to FreeWorld Fitness, the closure doesn't mean it's the end of line for Taos Pueblo's fitness champion.
"Fitness and helping people will always be passions of mine," she said. "I plan to keep up the Facebook and Instagram page with at-home workouts and keep people up to date with future classes," said Mirabal. FreeWorld Fitness's home workout videos feature easy-to-follow demonstrations of exercises and fitness routines.
Mirabal started the FreeWorld Fitness at-home workout sessions just after the pandemic started keeping us all at home. "In these uncertain times fitness will require creativity and thinking outside the box," she said.
Mirabal's long-term goal is to open up her own gym at Taos Pueblo and offer classes for all ages and abilities, while, of course, maintaining her own self-care and well-being.
For now, Mirabal wants people to know that she will continue to offer free at-home workouts and she is working on a schedule to host classes at various outdoor locations, "once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted."