Melanie Rinaldi is an athlete through and through. She’s an exceptional diver who at one point existed among those at the pinnacle of her sport. While she was with the University of Miami, she won an ACC Championship, an ACC MVP, and All-American Honors. She also won two national championships in her native Canada, and competed in several international tournaments for the National Team, winning four medals and ranking her in top four worldwide. But unfortunately, her body began to feel the wear and tear so injuries started plaguing her. So much so that she narrowly missed making the Olympics twice. But she’s never let anything stop her. Even though she may no longer be diving professionally, Melanie has used her wisdom from the lessons she’s learned to flourish in this second part of her career. This month, we’re speaking to her about Rinaldi Performance— the current love and labor of her life.
Your bio describes your fascinating career as an athlete, but can you tell us a bit more about your professional journey? How did Rinaldi Performance come to be?
I created RP to act on my vision of providing people with a special place to develop into the best version of themselves. Throughout my athletic career, I had the opportunity to visit many facilities all over the world. I became fascinated by the different ways distinct countries provided care for their population. An overall theme– most places had a singular focus, be it physical therapy, pilates, yoga, strength training, nutrition etc… It was often difficult to find high-quality services in different health & wellness areas all under one roof. I wanted to create that. I wanted to be able to provide the best possible service for anyone that came through the door, no matter what they were looking for in this industry.
You come from Montreal, went to school at the University of Miami and then decided to stay here. What made you fall in love with the city? Anything you’d like to say to the community?
The weather and The U! I was recruited by one of the most prestigious Diving programs in the country, and it was an honor to compete for The University of Miami. My two coaches, Randy Ableman and Dario Difazio, became father-figures for me— the amount of care they gave me as a student-athlete shaped me into my best self. The U became my family away from home and still is today.
I also must admit that the spectacular weather South Florida has to offer definitely influenced my decision to stay. I am a very outdoorsy person, and the unforgiving Montreal winters clashed with my personality. I now live and work in Coconut Grove and absolutely love this community. I come from a multicultural background and really enjoy the diversity South Florida has to offer.
Resilience seems a key theme throughout your life’s story. Have any advice for someone going through similar setbacks that may seem out of their control?
You are always in control. No matter the situation, you always have control over how you will respond to any situation. Your reactions are the key to your success or your failure. Setbacks are inevitable, and sometimes unforeseen or unfortunate things just happen. Even so, you have a choice as to how you will handle the situation and overcome any challenges. If you give your absolute best effort, work hard, and make the best decisions you can with the information you have at that moment, your setback will turn to triumph.
Can you tell us a bit about the GYROTONIC® method? How does it work in layman’s terms? How does the GYROKINESIS® method differ?
Simply put, The Gyrotonic method decompresses your body and helps get your mobility and strength back. If you have compressive issues in your spine, pinched joints, arthritic joints, sciatica issues or any type of pain or discomfort due to tension, tightness, trauma, overuse, or compression- this exercises system can help. The difference between Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis exercise is that the former uses specialized equipment to assist in learning and performing the movements. Gyrokinesis exercise only uses your body (similar to yoga or Thai chi), a stool, and mat so it can be practiced anywhere.
How does Gyrotonic exercise compare to other rehabilitation techniques? What does it offer that others don’t? Are there any it may work in great conjunction with?
Gyrotonic exercise is exceptionally versatile and works in conjunction with all rehabilitation and exercise techniques. You can think of it as a positive addition to (instead of a replacement of) movement practices. You can add it to your weight training routine, yoga or pilates practice, rehabilitation or sport because it is a compliment to all movement practices.
An exceptional quality of this system is that it focuses on decompressing the spine, joints, and overall body while strengthening all connective tendons, ligaments, tissues, and muscles especially the stabilizing ones. Moreover, it really focuses on spiraling, turning, and 3-dimensional movements which are vital to a healthy body and often times overlooked in other movement systems.
Are there any common misconceptions about Gyrotonic exercise? Any little-known facts you’d like to share?
Yes, that it is only used for stretching. Although flexibility is highly emphasized in this program, stabilization, strength, and breathing patterns are also highly stressed and all connected. The special thing about Gyrotonic exercise is that you can work out hard to get stronger, stretch to become more flexible, and not feel that compressive pain and tightness which usually arises after a hard gym workout. It is incredibly liberating, stress-stress-relieving, and highly effective in aiding in healing an injured or unbalanced body. It definitely opens up your body.
What sorts of people do you imagine coming through to Rinaldi Performance? Is it mostly for people rehabbing from injury, or is it accessible for anybody looking to get in shape?
Everyone! I have worked extensively with the disabled population in helping their body build strength and release tension from being confined in a wheelchair; Traumatic Brain Injury patients from Jackson Memorial Hospital needing help with coordination and balance; Olympic medalists recovering from injuries or to improve their performance in preparation for the next games.
Since I am certified in Personal Training, Olympic Weightlifting, Gymnastics training and have a 20-year extensive background in fitness and strength training, RP welcomes those who are looking to challenge themselves and get into the best shape of their lives as well.
Have you learned anything throughout this process of being a trainer that you wish you knew when you were an athlete?
Yes! To take better care of my body on a daily basis and not just when I was injured. Also, that everything matters- sleep, nutrition, stress levels, personal and professional life. Most importantly, to maintain them in a state of balance so that I may exude the best version of myself every day.
I see you also offer motivational and mentoring services, what led you to go down that road as well?
I love public speaking and connecting with people. I felt I had learned valuable lessons about determination, resilience, and courage throughout my athletic career that I wanted to share with others. I wanted mainly to express that failure is not always harmful but instead necessary to help push us to the next level and test our determination to succeed and reach our goals. I was fortunate to be surrounded by Olympic coaches and mentors my entire life, and as a result, I gained valuable life lessons. My goal in my mentoring and speaking is to pass those lessons onto the people wanting to learn, grow or change something in their lives and to help them become the best version of themselves.
Who do you envision coming to your mentorship program? What do you believe to be the value of offering such a program?
Everyone from business CEO’s to children struggling or wanting to improve their performance in school, sports or social situations. The value is immense. It is providing a support system outside of your circle that you can connect to for help. I believe everyone should have a mentor in their lives that can help guide them when needed. In my program, we focus on mindset because ultimately, your thoughts control everything. Therefore, if we work on developing a positive mindset, learn coping tools for challenges, and develop a strong work ethic– we can drastically alter the outcome of our future for the better.
Can you tell us anything fun or interesting about yourself? Who is Melanie Rinaldi outside the gym?
I love to have fun, take risks and spend time with loved ones. I speak 5 languages and grew up with a tough older brother that taught me how to play every sport and to be competitive. I danced all throughout high school and was the MVP track athlete 2 years in a row all while competitively training in Diving. I love animals and being outside in nature. I’m a fan of classic muscle cars and have spent a lot of time observing my brother and father rebuild them. I love learning and invest a lot in my education and constant emotional and intellectual growth.