VoyageLA.com Spotlights Big Mike's as one of LA's Most Inspiring Stories!

Link to the VoyageLA Story >

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mike Arnone.

Mike, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My story begins as I approached the age of 40. The slow drip, drip, drip of 5 – 7 lbs. or so of weight gain per year was starting to get out of control, I was tipping the scales at about 235 and had gained over 45 pounds. I started to feel sluggish, less capable and even bending over to tie my shoes caused me to be a little out of breath. Ugh! On top of that, my blood pressure and cholesterol were getting into the “it’s time to do something about this zone” and my doctor was telling me to get on it.

Now, I’ve been in pretty decent shape most of my life, but the same old gym workouts were getting so boring and weren’t working anymore and you know, I just thought I was getting older and thought that meant that my best days were way behind me. On top of that, after playing a lifetime of club soccer, football, baseball, snowboarding and playing on hard-dirt fields, both my knees failed and required serious surgeries. Finally, after the second rehab, I decided that I had to change things in a fundamental way or live out my days’ overweight and disabled. These were not options. But, what to do…?

I needed to try to find a less-impactful way to exercise but still stay in great shape and hopefully looking good. Now, I have lived very near beach my whole life and often wondered if there was any type of program that existed to take advantage of this amazing, but difficult environment. I looked and looked, but no one attempted to use the sand as a dedicated fitness space.

So, to better educate myself, I became a Certified Personal Trainer to learn about fitness fundamentals, proper form and try an array of cutting-edge fitness approaches. Though, every new fitness philosophy that I tried worked for a while, the same old plateaus that I experienced in my gym workouts slowly would creep in. Damn.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, what if I made the cornerstone of my workout program a dynamically integrated variety of fitness approaches (including: high-intensity interval training, unique sand-bag weight training, cutting-edge body-weight exercises, yoga, circuit training, intensive plyometric and plenty more) into an innovative high-octane beach workout that virtually eliminated plateaus and hopefully kept the results coming. BINGO! Before I knew it, muscle-tone that I thought was long gone accelerated and at the same time fat-loss intensified while cranking up endurance to levels that I hadn’t felt since in my 20s. Wow.

Within 6 months, I had dropped all the extra body fat, my muscle-tone was off the charts and even my doctor asked “how the hell did you do it?” Blood pressure and cholesterol moved to athletic levels, knees were perfect and I felt so good, I knew I would never look back. I had found my answer. I’m just over 50 now and have never felt better!

The rest is history, friends noticed my transformation and joined me in my workouts, their fitness levels rocketed and their friends joined and Big Mike’s Boot Camp, The Ultimate Beach Workout was born

Has it been a smooth road?
Definitely a very sandy road, lol. Getting folks to get used to working out on the sand was, at first, a slow process, so I realized that I had to create an oasis out there on the beach and mow provide, water, towels and all the workout equipment that they’ll need to get the job done.

Getting through the shorter, cool days of Winter has been a tough challenge. Over time my Team became a collection of hardy, hardworking athletes that meet me on the sand in the pitch black on the sand. They trust me that much and I have responded by being as creative and innovative as I can to pay them for their trust.

Creating a weight-lifting system was a challenge too—how to provide resistance training without needing to bring ridiculously heavy weights all the way out to the water’s edge. So I prototyped, patented and produced my own re-fillable sand bag system. They definitely get the job done and I’m proud of my sand bags and continue to have a huge commitment to innovation.

Working with the City of Santa Monica has been a challenge. Outdoor fitness companies bloomed huge over the last 20 years and were generally left alone by the city. As the city went through a permitting process, many of these companies disappeared. Only a handful of the truly dedicated companies survived and thrived. I’m proud to be one of the largest and most vibrant outdoor boot camps in Santa Monica! (The #1 Yelp rated Boot Camp in Santa Monica!)

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Big Mike’s Boot Camp – The Ultimate Beach Workout story. Tell us more about the business.
After (2) knee surgeries from a lifetime of playing soccer, and living near the beach in Venice, I explored from Malibu to Playa del Rey for exercises and workouts that could be done on the sand. I found a huge melting pot of fitness approaches from gymnastics, slack lining, martial arts and unique individual workouts that inspired and motivated my own workouts and launched me back into the best shape of my life starting in my 40s and continues into y 50s!

This Fusion of the best, most efficient workout approaches has kept variety, fun and results the cornerstone of the Big Mike’s Program Fun, innovative beach boot camp on the warms sand of stunning Santa Monica Beach. #1 Boot Camp in Santa Monica on Yelp, voted BEST WAY TO BUILD YOUR BEACH BODY by both GQ Magazine and Details Magazine.

Innovative beach workouts that utilize the entire beachscape as Gym space. From 2.5 Mile Beach runs to HIIT circuits and timed Obstacle Courses are workouts like no other and I am the ONLY year-round beach workout in Santa Monica.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think people in Southern California will continue to move outdoors as their gym space because of Programs like mine that make it a real possibility so that they can enjoy the rare freedom that we have to do it.