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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 8, 2016 3 years ago

Power punch

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Mary Dougherty-Slapp doesn't have to look far for motivation to stay fit.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Executive: Mary Dougherty-Slapp, executive director of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange. Dougherty-Slapp runs the day-to-day operations of the organization, and is also a prominent statewide construction and building industry voice.

Diversion: Boxing training classes and one-on-one sessions at Jaco's Boxing and Fitness in Sarasota. Dougherty-Slapp works primarily with Kelli Jaco, who runs the business with her husband, Adam Jaco. Kelli Jaco was an All-American swimmer at Boston University and a professional triathlete for Scott bicycles after college.

Take care: Dougherty-Slapp helps care for her brother, John Robinson, a retired police officer from Long Island, N.Y., with heart disease. Robinson, 67, lives with Dougherty-Slapp. While Dougherty-Slapp is happy, and proud, to care for her sibling, something her doctor told her recently resonated. The physician told Dougherty-Slapp he's seen it many times before, when a caretaker for others neglects to take care of herself. That's big motivation for Dougherty-Slapp.

Get going: Dougherty-Slapp discovered the gym through members of the Builders Exchange; several area construction industry executives workout and train with the Jacos. Dougherty-Slapp started to workout there last year. “I've always done something,” for exercise, says Dougherty-Slapp, 55, but this kind of intense workout has challenged her like few other endeavors. “I wasn't going there only for the boxing,” she says. “It's different every day. You don't know what's coming next.”

Walk this way: Dougherty-Slapp regularly rides something Jaco calls the Amish Treadmill. It's a treadmill that's not plugged in. Jaco barks motivations and countdowns in Dougherty-Slapp's ear while the executive moves rubber with her feet. Says Dougherty-Slapp: “It's all about how much your body can move without the machine moving.”

Great coach: Dougherty-Slapp made a quick connection with the Kelli Jaco, and that's made the grueling sessions easier — if only a little bit. “She's just amazing,” Dougherty-Slapp says. “You have got to love someone who seems like she never has a bad day.”

Every day: Dougherty-Slapp aims to exercise at least five days a week. Two or three days are with Jaco and the other days are at Orange Theory, a fitness center that uses heart rate monitored training programs. “It's easy to make excuses and not go,” says Dougherty-Slapp. “But a friend once told me it's like brushing your teeth. And you wouldn't go a day without brushing your teeth, so don't go a day without exercise.”

Look around: Dougherty-Slapp discovered Orange Theory through trial and error along with her sometimes fitness partner Albani Gustason, membership and events coordinator at the Builders Exchange. Dougherty-Slapp and Gustason tried L.A. Fitness, Crunch gym and Pilates, among other stops, before Orange Theory.

Disciplined approach: Asked what's her biggest weakness, Dougherty-Slapp says “all of it.” But sweets are her true Achilles heel, especially a piece of coconut cake. She doesn't eat red meat, and tries to stick with fruits, salads and fish. “I won't eat processed food,” she says, “and I won't eat something with ingredients I can't pronounce.”

Good eats: The eating side of staying healthy is a continuous challenge for Dougherty-Slapp, made tougher with a busy travel schedule that includes stops in Tallahassee and other parts of Florida. “My body wants to be 300 pounds,” she says. “It's a constant struggle.”

Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon

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