Texas native Shawn Ramirez represents the future of the park and recreation professional. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role as wellness and fitness coordinator for Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation’s Fit2Play After-School Program, and the 40-year-old father of three was recently crowned one of the “Fittest Men on Earth” during the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games, a title anyone who’s worked with Ramirez or enjoyed one of his fitness classes is quick to support. Even Ramirez’s boss, Miami-Dade Parks Director Jack Kardys, cannot help but heap praise on a man he sees as going above and beyond his rank and classification to make a major impact in the community. “As a champion sports competitor and fitness role model, [Ramirez] is awe-inspiring and continues to make great strides in our efforts to help kids and older adults to be active,” Kardys says. We managed to get Ramirez to stop working out long enough to tell us a bit more about his work and his passion for health and fitness.
Parks & Recreation Magazine: What are your professional credentials?
Ramirez: I have a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology/sport science from Florida International University, I’m a certified conditioning specialist (CCS) and I’ve trained as an emergency medical technician (EMT). I’m also a certified L-1 CrossFit instructor with additional CrossFit certifications in CrossFit Kids, Olympic weight lifting and mobility.
P&R: How do you see parks and recreation as fitting in with a person’s overall health and fitness regime?
Ramirez: Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation is focusing on health and wellness as one of the three pillars (placemaking, health and fitness, and conservation) of our community moving forward. We have the green space and now the programs to support this initiative for the people we serve, and I believe what we are doing is going to be the future of fitness for our community. It’s a thrill to help organize the programming at Miami-Dade Parks, because it’s bent on redefining old terminology and shifting the paradigm to build a better, healthier community.
P&R: What’s been your biggest professional challenge?
Ramirez: Fighting the childhood obesity epidemic and influencing the health habits of children and their families.
P&R: What’s your greatest professional success?
Ramirez: Having the privilege of serving on the Miami-Dade team, while their program — Fit2Play — gets recognized as a national model.
P&R: Do you see many others coming into the field who are as well-equipped both in education and experience as you are? Do you see the industry changing in terms of seeking out professionals who are at your level?
Ramirez: I do, firsthand. We have hired wellness and fitness specialists who have the credentials and are qualified to be leaders on this expedition to guide our community to a healthier and longer life. Hopefully, we will continue to encourage other professionals in this field to begin applying themselves to join us on this journey. We’re more competitive now than ever, and expertly qualified, in some cases, more than some commercial gyms. We’ve even got physicians telling us they’re grateful for the services we’re providing — particularly with Fit2Play — because it provides a solution for obesity that can’t be found elsewhere, and certainly one that’s better than any medication.
P&R: What are your top fitness tips?
Ramirez: The simple three: Eat Good — Look Good — Feel Good.
Samantha Bartram is the Associate Editor of Parks & Recreation Magazine.