ColorOcala Contest

Grab your crayons, colored pencils, watercolor markers and cray pas, and join the hot new coloring craze!

Floridians, are you ready to COLOROCALA? Create beautiful art and compete for valuable prizes in Ocala Magazine’s latest big giveaway contest. You could win tickets for four to the Walt Disney World® theme park in Orlando, a family Christmas for four at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, and more. Color us excited!

Our latest contest is specially designed with family fun in mind. With a contest for both children and adults, you and your kids will have plenty to do this summer. And best of all, you can be creative together!

You can always count on Ocala Magazine for the best in news and entertainment, family fun, and fabulous prizes, so let’s get coloring! Show off your artistic side, and you might have a summer you’ll never forget.

Feeling Social?

Visit Ocala Magazine’s Facebook and Instagram pages and Colorala’s Facebook and Instagram pages – and while you’re at it, we hope you’ll Like our pages!

Here’s How You Enter:

You must complete Steps 1 through 4 to qualify for prizes!

  1. Download, print, and color your favorite specially drawn Ocala-themed coloring page from contest sponsor Colorala. (You can download pages as many times as you like.)
  2. Fill out the entry form (below) on the Ocala Magazine website before 6 p.m. Eastern time, July 22, 2016.
  3. Upload a photo of your completed coloring page using the File Upload feature provided on the form.
  4. Post your photo on Facebook OR Instagram before midnight, July 22, 2016. Use the hashtag #ocalamagazinecontest on Facebook OR Instagram in your post. Don’t forget to tag your friends and show off your creative genius!

That’s it. You’ve entered!

Click Each Image to Download a Coloring Page! (PDF Format)

Adult Coloring Page – Thoroughbred
Adult Coloring Page - Thoroughbred
Adult Coloring Page – Silver Springs
Adult Coloring Page - Silver Springs

Children’s Coloring Page – Thoroughbred
Children's Coloring Page - Thoroughbred

Children’s Coloring Page – Silver Springs
Children's Coloring Page - Silver Springs


Entries Are Now Being Judged, Stay Tuned!

Click for Contest Rules

Official Rules

  1. By entering, you agree to abide by The COLOROCALA Official Rules.
  2. All contestants must reside in the state of Florida.
  3. The contest will be administered by contest sponsor 7Hills Communications of Tallahassee, Florida.
  4. Entries must be submitted through the online form located at and all entry requirements must be met before midnight, Friday, July 22, 2016 in order to qualify.
  5. Entries submitted will be screened by 7Hills Communications and/or contest sponsor Colorala of Newport Beach, California, to ensure all entries meet contest requirements.
  6. Ocala Magazine, 7Hills Communications, and Colorala cannot be held responsible for email that is misdirected or undeliverable.
  7. Entries that do not meet all the “Here’s How to Enter” criteria will be disqualified.
  8. 7Hills Communications may, at its sole discretion and depending upon volume of entries, notify contestants whose entries are incorrect and must be resubmitted.
  9. 7Hills Communications will send only properly completed entries to Ocala Magazine.
  10. Completed coloring pages, along with the artist’s name, will be posted on the Ocala Magazine Facebook page and Instagram profile, and the Colorala Instagram profile. If the artist is 12 years of age or younger, the artist’s age also will be published.
  11. Following the conclusion of the contest, a team of fine artists from Colorala will judge the entries and select the winners.
  12. A list of winners will be published on the COLOROCALA Contest official web page, located at; the Ocala Magazine Facebook page; the Ocala Magazine Instagram profile; and the Colorala Color Instagram profile.
  13. Winners must claim their prizes by 5 p.m. Eastern time Monday, August 22, 2016. Any prize not claimed by Monday, August 22, 2016 will be awarded to an alternate winner.
  14. Ocala Magazine and/or 7Hills Communications will make every effort to notify winners via email, telephone, or postal mail within the 31-day prize redemption period. Ocala Magazine and 7Hills Communications cannot be held responsible for winners who cannot be located for notification within the prize redemption period.
  15. Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications will hold all contestants’ personal information except name, age, and city of residence confidential, and will not reveal said information to any third party unless required by law.
  16. By entering, contestants agree to allow Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications to post their names, ages if applicable, and photographs of their coloring pages to social media.
  17. By entering, contestants grant Ocala Magazine permission to publish their coloring pages in Ocala Magazine without remuneration. Published entries will be credited.
  18. By entering, contestants grant Ocala Magazine permission to publish photos of the winners, if applicable, without remuneration.
  19. Anyone employed as a professional artist, or who holds a college or university degree in studio art or graphic design, is not eligible to participate.
  20. Employees of Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications and their families are not eligible to participate.
  21. Each participant may enter the contest only once.
  22. All children 12 years of age or younger in a single family may submit one entry each for the children’s contest.
  23. Only one contestant 13 years of age or older from a single family may submit an entry to the adults’ contest.
  24. Only one prize per family will be awarded.
  25. While we encourage parents and legal guardians to experience the joy of coloring together with their children, contestants 12 years of age or younger must color their own coloring pages without physical assistance from any third party.
  26. All contestants 13 years of age or older must color their own coloring pages without assistance from any third party.
  27. Because children must be 13 years of age or older to have a Facebook or Instagram account, entries from children 12 years of age or younger must be submitted by a parent or legal guardian.
  28. Entries submitted by children 12 years of age or younger without parental supervision and consent will be disqualified.
  29. Contestants must abide by all Facebook and Instagram rules. Ocala Magazine, Colorala, and 7Hills Communications cannot be held responsible for any adverse decisions made by Facebook or Instagram as a result of a contestant’s violations of their Terms of Service.
  30. Contestants may use crayons, colored pencils, watercolor markers, or oil pastels (cray pas) to complete their coloring pages.
  31. Contestants may not use online or electronic coloring apps to complete their pictures. All entries colored with electronic coloring applications will be disqualified.
  32. One grand prize and two honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the children’s coloring contest.
  33. One grand prize and two honorable mention prizes will be awarded in the adults’ coloring contest.
  34. Contestants, or the parent or legal guardian of contestants 12 years of age or younger, must pick up prizes by appointment at the offices of Ocala Magazine, located at 743 E. Fort King Street, Ocala, Florida 34471. Ocala Magazine, at its sole discretion, may waive this requirement for winners who are not area residents.
  35. Winners must present a picture ID to receive their prizes.
  36. Ocala Magazine may, at its sole discretion, require a scanned or faxed copy of a picture ID before shipping prizes to winners who are not area residents.
  37. The Children’s Grand Prize Package is subject to the terms and conditions of the Walt Disney World® theme park.
  38. The Adults’ Grand Prize Package is subject to the terms and conditions of Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center.
  39. While we invite contestants to be fans, liking or following any Facebook page or Instagram profile is not required to win a prize.
  40. No purchase is necessary to win a prize.
  41. All judging/winner decisions made by Colorala Color are final.
  42. All contest decisions made by 7Hills Communications are final.
  43. Questions about The COLOROCALA Coloring Contest must be submitted via email to No telephone calls, please.

Health & Fitness

CrossFit vs Beachbody’s P90X

By: Rick Savage

It’s January and many people will start a new year’s resolution to improve their physical fitness. This year I thought about opening up a debate on a timeless question that I am sure has been argued about in coffee shops, juice bars, internet chat rooms and across the dinner table. It’s similar to asking who is a better athlete: Michael Phelps swimming or Usain Bolt running. The question I want to put up for debate is–what is better: CrossFit or P90X?

The fundamentals behind the two programs are nothing new, they are actually hundreds of years old. The evolvement of the two is similar to how modern Mixed Martial Arts took ancient grappling and striking techniques and created a new competitive sports package called MMA. Both CrossFit and P90X take the concepts of taking different workouts and combining them into high intensity circuit training drills. Both CrossFit and P90X are first and foremost businesses, so their differences are mainly in the look and feel of the physical fitness routines and in the distribution of the end product. Just in case you are not familiar with the two programs I will indulge in some random history.

Crossfit History
The current CrossFit, Inc. was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman and Lauren Jenai. The CrossFit program is the brainchild of Greg Glassman who was a personal trainer during the 1970’s. Greg Glassman got his biggest boost in 1995 when the Santa Cruz, Ca. Police Department hired him as their head trainer to improve physical fitness. He also started his first CrossFit gym in Santa Cruz in 1995.

As Greg Glassman progressed as a personal trainer he found he could do more by training multiple clients at a time and they bonded by the camaraderie. His routine was to mix multiple disciplines using functional exercises to improve overall general preparedness. His cult like following led to a system of affiliated gyms called “boxes.”

The CrossFit games has been part of the culture since 2007. Winners are called “The Fittest on Earth”.

P90X History
P90X is owned by Beachbody, LLC which was co-founded by CEO Carl Daikeler, and President Jon Congdon in 1998. Fresh off of his success with “8-minute abs” Carl Daikeler secured $500,000 from 20 angel investors to start a new business without even having a product yet. He commissioned celebrity personal trainer Tony Horton to create what would become P90X. It was the idea, “build it and they will come.” P90X is an intense at home DVD workout routine that will whip one into shape in 90 days.

Team Beachbody—direct sales network marketing—was launched in 2007 to distribute the products. In 2015 Beachbody On Demand went live which offers their entire DVD catalog online as a streaming service. Their latest products include nutrition and gear.

Tale of the Tape


What is it and why do I want it?
CrossFit takes concepts that have been around for a long time and repackages it in a new and exciting lifestyle. Remember high school physics class and equations like: force = mass x acceleration (measured in Newtons); and work = force x distance (measured in Joules). Those are some of the quantifiable metrics. CrossFit focuses on what they call the core movements of life by training in functional exercises such as gymnastics, rowing, weightlifting, running, etc. Training is usually done as groups in gyms called “boxes”. They differentiate themselves from what some people call “globo gyms”. Urban dictionary defines a globo gym as a large franchise that focuses more on comfortable amenities than on performance results.

Now that I want it, how do I get it?
The best place to start to look is CrossFit’s website The CrossFit community has over 13,000 affiliates worldwide. A list of “boxes” in Ocala is provided below.

Unofficial Endorsement
Actor Chris Hemsworth used a CrossFit inspired workout to prepare for his role as Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.


What is it and why do I want it?
The goal of this product is to provide 12 high intensity workout routines in a DVD package that promises to take the average athlete and give them a ripped beachbody in 90 days. No gym or expensive equipment is required, just a 6×6 foot space and access to dumbells/resistance bands, a pull-up bar, and about an hour per day. The 12 exercises are: chest and back; plyometrics; shoulders and arms; yoga X; legs and back; kenpo X; X stretch; core synergistics; chest, shoulders and triceps; back and biceps; cardio X; and ab ripper X.

The Beachbody brand has gone on to include numerous other DVD workouts, nutrition products such as Shakeology, and gear such as the P90X pull-up bar.

Now that I want it, how do I get it?
Beachbody on Demand is an online distribution service. If you ever used Netflix, Amazon Prime or a gaming service like Steam you have the idea.

Unofficial Endorsement
Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gave P90X a boost when he credited the workout for his fitness while Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012.

So which one is mightier?
Although both are physical fitness regimens they are still very different. The differences are like asking: would I be cooler being a truck guy or a sports car car guy? The result is really up to the end user and what their particular goals are. Both products have grown to be part of a very large ecosystem that is more than just physical fitness. The ecosystems include a lifestyle which provides a sense of belonging to something. If you prefer going to a physical gym and the camaraderie of group training then perhaps CrossFit is better for you. If you prefer training in your home and using the internet for training videos then maybe P90X and Beachbody are better. You can always try both and keep the parts that work the best.


Where to find CrossFit Boxes near Ocala, Fl.

CrossFit Iron Legion

Chalk’d Fitness

CrossFit Pinacle

CrossFit Antics

Crossfit Living

CrossFit Zoo

CrossFit 1088

Zone Health & Fitness CrossFit


Where to find Beachbody P90X products/coaches near Ocala, Fl.

Beachbody has grown to become primarily an online business, and the workouts are done in the home. P90X products can be purchased directly from Beachbody also sells through Certain package deals on “Beachbody on Demand” include Team Beachbody coaches that will be assigned to you and are available locally. Since Beachbody has a direct sales model (multi-level marketing) a Beachbody coach in your area may find you on a social media website or a local hangout. Om

On The Menu


Muddy Lotus Tea
By: R. Jill Fink, MFA

“Be like a lotus. Let the beauty of your heart speak. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.” Amit Ray

Each year, the Marion County area improves through the valiant efforts of our dedicated citizens and leaders. Ocala just got even more amazing. Welcome Kibbie, Sonya, and the spectacular staff at Muddy Lotus Tea, our very first and only ethnobotanical tea and coffee bar. They offer up a beautiful, alcohol-free space for anyone 18 and over who wishes to relax or recharge.

Five years ago, the dream of opening a kava bar started for Kibbie and her partner, Sonya Ritchie After scouring the state, they decided upon our fair city for the location of their store. They chose the 100-year-old building standing at 520 NE 1st Avenue, and a massive renovation transformed the dilapidated structure into something welcoming, peaceful and wondrous. Immediately upon entering, one can feel the calm interior taking them in. There are chalk walls to draw upon, a few interesting hand-painted Star Wars™ figures, a Matrix wall, and a back room for darts and other games. The main room features super-comfortable leather chairs and couches, a floor that emulates water, a “bubble wall,” and of course, the enticing bar itself.

The kavatenders at Muddy Lotus Tea can serve you a variety of diverse, handcrafted drinks created to order. Try the Kava; it’s widely known as “nature’s stress remedy” as it can have a calming effect. It is said to reduce anxiety and insomnia by influencing GABA receptors and stimulating dopamine receptors.

Kava is an all-natural, plant root-based product that normally has a bit of a bitter taste, but it can be flavored with an endless array of ingredients to make tasty combinations. One of the most popular drinks available is the “Nut Job;” a delicious, cold-pressed hazelnut decaf coffee with handcrafted, infused kava. They follow tradition by massaging the oils out of the kava, so you’re getting a pure experience with the best quality ingredients available.

Kratom is another menu choice; it can be ingested as a pre-workout energizer or to reduce stress, anxiety and pain. The “vein” types are available; green, white and red. The kratom at Muddy Lotus Tea is a pure leaf and not an extract or a synthetic. This herbal supplement is indigenous to Southeast Asia and Thailand; it has been consumed there for over five hundred years. It is sometimes used to increase productivity or even boost the immune system. I highly recommend the Orange Lotus, a delectable and not-too-sweet drink made with French vanilla coconut creamer. We also tried the amazing Organic Apple Kratom flavored with French vanilla coconut creamer and a dash of organic cinnamon.

The Cacao Shot was pure organic cacao with a bit of maple syrup. Not only was it divinely chocolatey without being overwhelmingly sweet, it was also full of iron and minerals. Who said supplements had to taste bad?

Several kombucha drinks are also available at Muddy Lotus Tea. This increasingly popular fermented tea is seeing quite a resurgence in the last two years. Popular, yet not very tasty back in the late 90s, the organic kombucha served nowadays comes in many flavor choices. Try it for its antioxidant and probiotic qualities.

Other beverages available are Dirty Lemonade, infused with charcoal for detoxification; hot chocolate, orange juice, ginger ale and lots of kava and kratom shots. Every drink at Muddy Lotus Tea is vegan; they even use vegan whipped creams and flavorings.

They also serve cold brewed, nitro-infused coffee; nitrous oxide drastically reduces the bitterness of coffee. They filter all of the water that goes into the drinks, ice, and even the water used to wash cups, utensils and equipment. Their plastic cups and straws are compostable and their paper goods are recycled and biodegradable.

Senior citizens, Veterans, Service Industry, Marion County Public School employees and City of Ocala employees can enjoy a 10% discount at any time; first responders get 50% off their order. Donate a coat to get a free drink or a pair of socks for the homeless and get 20% off your check. They also offer yoga classes on Saturday mornings, a live DJ and fire-spinning (poi) on Saturday nights, and many more community-minded events throughout the week. Check their Facebook page or their Instagram for all of the current happenings.

As owner/operators of Leather Solutions and being in the high end leather restoration business for over 30 years, Kibbie and Sonya wanted to do even more to help make a long-lasting difference in people’s lives. They have graciously and humbly provide a safe, calm and gorgeous space for all of us to enjoy and a way that we can connect with each other through acceptance. Surround yourself with wonderful music and restful lighting while you enjoy fantastic drinks, great service, and caring people. Stop in today to experience the vibe at Muddy Lotus Tea; your body and mind will thank you for it. Om

Everything Equine

Horse Bits

Round up of new equine happenings in 2019 expected to leave a lasting horseshoe print in Ocala/Marion County.

By Louisa Barton

New Initiative

One of the newer initiatives at the Ocala, Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP) is the Equine Engagement Committee, presented by New Millennium Realty. This initiative brings the true importance of the 2.6 billion economic impact of the horse industry to our nearly 1,500 partners at the CEP, It also helps to encourage the integration of the non-horse world with the horse world, engaging in regular meetings with news and updates and plenty of Equine 101s at local farms and Ocala Breeders Sales. This is all designed to build awareness in our community of the horse industry’s integral role here in Marion County.

New Equine Walk of Fame

I have had the pleasure of meeting with Ocala City Manager, John Zobler several times to discuss the importance of the horse industry and bringing the horse world and our downtown together with a variety of ideas to encourage that. One of those, of course, was our Ocala Main Street Parade of Nations and Breeds held on the downtown square for the past two years, which was a hugely successful event. Moving forward, we hope to add horseshoes and farm plaques in two of our main sidewalks, near restaurants to share our many equine, equestrian and farm claims to fame in Ocala, Marion County. This will provide a way to permanently showcase the many infamous horses and farms in our community-close to some of the best restaurants in our idyllic downtown square. At the next opportunity to replace sidewalks, this is top on our priority list.

Parade of Nations and Breeds

The Parade of Nations and Breeds on the downtown Square has continued to grow from its inauguration in 2017. The 2018 Parade featured the world-renowned Budweiser Clydesdales and drew a tremendous crowd, 8 or 9 deep all along the downtown square. The crowds were able to see and hear about over half of the 61 known breeds of horses that call Marion County home. In 2019, due to the Nations Cup relocation to Palm Beach Masters, the Parade will be held on March 7 at 5pm, in conjunction with the Live Oak International event. The Parade Grand Marshal will be legendary four-in-hand driver Chester Weber. All visiting and local equestrians who are competing at HITS and at Live Oak, in both driving and in the Grand Prix show jumping, will be invited to walk in the Parade that evening. This event will celebrate equestrians and horses alike and showcase why we are indeed, the Horse Capital of the World’.

World Equestrian Center

With World Equestrian Center (WEC) under construction, Ocala, Marion County is fast becoming THE place to be for all equestrians, from every discipline, even in the summertime. WEC will offer a variety of indoor arenas and a world class stadium, hundreds of stalls and a beautiful hotel. There will be restaurants, retail and more. All of this will be climate controlled, making the usually humid summer months, which are not normally not quite so attractive to equestrians for competing, much more appealing. Equestrians from all over the world have already heard about what is to come in Ocala for horse lovers and I believe we will see a very deliberate move by more horse riders to be here year-round, rather than only in the Winter months. We should also see many more diverse events and shows, highlighting all disciplines and many different breeds at WEC.

The Horse Talk Show

The Horse Talk Show, a radio talk show presented by Peterson and Smith Equine Hospital and Palm Chevrolet, has been ‘edutaining’ listeners on all things equine for 5 years on Florida SportsTalk in Ocala. In the last two years, the show added the additional opportunity to listen and/or watch on the Horse Talk Show’s Facebook page. That has become more of a television style broadcast and has grown in popularity with the addition of Digital Savvy as a partner. The really exciting news for 2019, is the show will now be aired on Saturday morning at 7am on 97.3 the Sky. This will increase the listening audience considerably and will be a great next step towards hopeful syndication in the future to other radio stations outside this area. Make sure you tune in and listen and “happy horsing around until next time!”

As Ocala is rapidly growing and becoming an even more popular place to live, work and play, new businesses are encouraged to choose Ocala, for its low cost of living and great quality of life. Also, Ocala does sit logistically in a very favorable position. Remember, not everyone involved in horses makes a living from owning them. Many just own horses for the pleasure they derive from it and all horse owners know that is not an inexpensive hobby. In order to offer the best in employment opportunities with above average salaries, we need to grow our existing businesses and encourage new businesses to locate here. Fortunately, we have tremendous leadership in our community that understand how to manage this growth responsibly. Deliberate planning and development are key to success in the growth of our area. The horse industry is 17 percent of our total economy here, but there remains another 83 percent. If we want high paying jobs and lots of opportunities, we need businesses to choose this area, but we also need to preserve our farms and agricultural areas. It is all about balance and good planning, so that Ocala-Marion County, the Horse Capital of the World, will continue to grow, flourish and prosper in both the equine world and beyond. Om



By Andrea Davis, Rick Savage, Jill Fink, John Sotomayor, and Colt Gatzemeyer


Pop Culture Takeover
By Andrea Davis

Every year there is something new that is introduced in the world of pop culture. 2018 had some hard to beat trends but this is the forecast for what could be our biggest trends of the 2019 year.

Glass- Releasing January 18- This Sci-Fi/Mystery film stars Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and James McAvoy.
Avengers: Endgame- Releasing April 26- Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and more star in this continuation from Avengers: Infinity Wars.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters- Releasing May 31- This Action, Adventure and Fantasy film where Godzilla takes on other monsters including his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sally Hawkins and Kyle Chandler.
47 Meters Down: Uncaged- Releasing June 28- Five divers exploring underwater ruins quickly learn that they are not alone in this Adventure, Drama and Horror film starring Nia Long, John Corbett and Sophie Nelisse.
Star Wars: Episode IX- Releasing December 20- The conclusion of the most recent Star Wars trilogy starring Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega along with other favorites such as Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and others.

TV Shows:
Game of Thrones- Nine noble families fight for control over the Lands of Westeros as an old enemy, the White Walkers, arrive to take claim the land as theirs. The popular series final season is expected to be the biggest hit of 2019.
The Titan Games- This reality-tv type show is hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This show is full of athletic competitions that show based off Johnson’s belief that everyone has potential for greatness. Set to premiere January 2nd.
Snowpiercer- Based off the French graphic novel, “Le Transperceneige” the series focuses on a group who are the last survivors of the planet. They live on a train called “the Snowpiercer” that travels around the globe. This show is expected to premiere in June.
Tell Me Your Secrets-. This show follows a trio of characters, each who comes with their own mysterious and troubling past. One is a young lady who once looked into the eyes of a dangerous killer, another is a serial predator desperate to find redemption and the last is a grieving mother obsessed with finding her missing daughter. Set to premiere in June.
Deadly Class- Set in the late 1980’s counterculture, which follows a disillusioned teen recruited into a storied high school for assassins. This show is expected to premiere on January 16th.

For those that enjoy a good read, take a book from our reading list.

From our local authors:
Amy Mangan- This Side Up: The Road to a Renovated Life– This book is a home and garden editor’s story written with candor, humor and grace, shares the story of a life constantly under construction. As Amy is faced with crisis after crisis, she discovers how to cope, hope, rebuild and move on to a stronger way of life. Her story touches base on job loss, financial shame, home displacement, marital discord, illness and caregiving. Mangan currently has a column that appears in the Ocala Star Banner and has been published in Better Homes and Garden magazine. She will appear at the Headquarters-Ocala Public Library in Meeting Room “C” on January 6th at 2 PM with her book signed and available for purchase.

David Cook- The Way It Was– This book started out as a column in the Ocala Star Banner where David Cook used to work. He spent his time writing about the history of Ocala from the visiting of important people like Elvis Presley to remembering a restaurant called the Brahma. Some of the articles published in his column have been conducted into the book telling tales and memories of Ocala. This book is compiled of over 50 columns and many photographs all telling over 175 years’ worth of Marion County History. As a tribute to Cook, a retired Star-Banner editor and columnist, along with noted historian, the Ocala chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association has recently presented to him its first Lifetime Achievement Award.

Some other books that are expected to be hot on the list are:
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo- A book about a young king who must form new alliances, refill Ravka’s coffers and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.
The Wicked King by Holly Black- The first lesson is to make yourself strong. After the realization that she is the heir to Faerie, Oak must keep her brother safe by bounded herself to the wicked king and make herself the power to the throne.
Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare- When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia, and their friends plunge into a wild adventure that will reveal dark and incredible powers, the true cruel price of being a hero and falling in love.

Here are some tunes that hopefully become hot and not flop (as picked by Dean Blinkhorn, Director of Talent Development for the Ocala/Marion County CEP and Editor/Publisher of Good Life Publications):

“The big news for 2018 were rappers that put out samples and demos on YouTube and other social media sites that ended up going viral.” said music and talent development expert Dean Blinkhorn. “I have to think that that trend will continue as we go through the next year as social media is widespread, and it is the way to reach the audiences better.”

The ones to watch for the upcoming year:
Meghan Trainor who has delayed her new album “Treat Myself” until this year which is expected to release January 25.
Maggie Rogers with her new album that will be releasing called “Heard It in A Past Life” on January 18.
Avril Lavigne with her new album “Head Above Water” which will be releasing in February.
Dido with the release of album “Still on my Mind” set to release March.8th
Weezer with the release of their “Black” Album in May



Honoring Greatness

Football highlights for 2019.
Complied by John Sotomayor

Scot Brantley Trophy Final Four
The Ocala Quarterback Club has announced its finalists for the most outstanding football player/student/citizen for The Scot Brantley Trophy in a six-county North Central Florida area: Marion, Lake, Sumter, Levy, Alachua, and Citrus Counties. The winner will be revealed in February.

Brantley was a member and leader on two Ocala Forest High School state championship teams, an All-SEC linebacker for the Florida Gators, and 10-year veteran of the Tampa Bay Bucs.

The winner will be chosen by a blue ribbon committee on the basis of these qualities which defined Scot Brantley‘s career: On-field excellence, athleticism, academics, leadership, commitment & recommitment, goal orientation, character, faith and conscience.

The Scot Brantley Trophy honoree will be presented by the 62-year-old Ocala QB Club and handed off by the former Florida Gator/Tampa Bay Buc/Forest High School Wildcat star himself at the awards dinner to be held at the The Reilly Arts Center in Ocala in April 2019.

The four finalists are:

Brian Dillard – Lake Weir High School (Ocala)

  • Named 6A Player of the Year from the Florida Athletic Coaches Association District 7.
  • Offense: 55 catches, 1230 yards, 11 TDs
  • Defense: 71 tackles, 13 TFL, 1 INT
  • Verbally Committed to University of South Florida.

Brian Maurer – West Port High School (Ocala)

  • Finished season with Marion County’s single season passing yardage record
    and career passing yards.
  • Season Stats: 280/428, 3,572 yards passing, 34 TDs, 12 INTs
    40 carries, 466 yards rushing, 6 TDs
  • Verbally Committed to University of Tennessee

Kimo Clarke – Vanguard High School (Ocala)

  • Season Stats: 120 carries, 979 yards rushing, 19TDs
  • Verbally Committed to Florida Atlantic University

Trent Whittemore – Gainesville Buchholz High School (Gainesville)

  • Season Stats: 41 receptions, 701 yards receiving, 9 TDs
  • 50 Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 7 pbu’s
  • Verbally committed to University of Florida

Gator Grab
The Florida Gators expected to climb into Top 15 by National Signing Day in February. According to Bud Elliott for SBNation, Florida already has “18 commitments that include 10 four-stars, but it’s who the Gators might add make them attractive.” They include: IMG five-star running back Trey Sanders, four-star Bellflower CA cornerback Chris Steele, Palm Beach FL four-star cornerback Kaiir Elam, and Lakeland FL High School four-star trio DE Lloyd Summerall, TE Keion Ziperer, and OL Deyavie Hammond.

“If the Gators keep their current crop, and add five of the six above, there’s even a shot to climb into the Top 10,” said Elliott.



The Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) continues with unique science and technology programs in 2019 for Ocala/Marion County
By: Laurie Zink

Cyber Theater coming to IHMC Ocala 2019
Cyber Theater is a space adapted from the concept of black box theaters to test the tradeoffs that come from different levels of physical and network access. The cyber theatre will give insight into potential vulnerabilities for operating systems, hardware applications, internet of things, devices, and anything else that runs in your computer. The cyber theatre can also be used as a demonstration space to show how computer forensics can reveal the digital footprints we leave behind.

UWF Partners with IHMC to Develop First Intelligent Systems and Robotics Ph.D. in Florida
The University of West Florida has partnered with the Institute of Human and Machine Cognition to develop a doctoral program in intelligent systems and robotics. The program will be the first of its kind in Florida and one of only a few in the nation.

“We are very excited about this new doctoral degree program,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “The program brings together the strengths of UWF engineering and computer science programs with the expertise of a word class research center, IHMC. It’s a game-changer.”

The new doctoral program aligns with the university’s strategic vision for research that impacts Florida’s economic development and technology enterprise. It will serve the manufacturing, health-care, defense, and other high-tech industries, providing critical support to high-demand career fields.

“I’ve envisioned a program like this for a long time,” said Ken Ford, director and co-founder of IHMC. “It will attract top young talent from around the world. This is such a great move not only for UWF and IHMC, but also for the state.”

According to a 2012 study by the National Robotics Initiative, robotics technology holds the potential to transform the future of the U.S. and is expected to become as ubiquitous over the next few decades as computer technology is today. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook projects a 19% growth rate for computer and information technology research scientists over the next 10 years.

IHMC STEM-Talk Podcast
STEM-Talk is an internationally acknowledged destination for top research scientists to share their findings in a long discussion format. STEM-Talk, with more than 1.5 million downloads, has consistently been in the running for major podcast awards and currently is ranked in iTunes Top 5 in Science and Technology. Beginning its 3rd season in 2019, STEM-Talk will hit its 100th episode later in the year. This spring, Dr. Ken Ford will participate in IHMC’s first Ask-Me-Anything podcast. If you’d like to tune in for conversations with some of the most interesting people in the world of science and technology, you can listen at

IHMC and NASA Develop the Next Generation of Exercise Equipment
The IHMC Robotics Team has partnered with NASA on an exercise machine for long-duration deep-space missions. Now that NASA is seriously considering a manned mission to Mars, the agency is figuring out how to help astronauts maintain their bone density and prevent muscle loss.

“Astronauts who spend extended time in space show signs of accelerated aging,” says Ken Ford, IHMC’s director and co-founder. “But what’s really exciting is that if we find more efficient exercise methods for astronauts in space, these methods are also likely to be helpful to an aging population here on Earth.”

The IHMC team has begun to see that this device could provide a new way to perform resistance training on Earth. IHMC has hired Joe Gomes, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Oakland Raiders, to assist in understanding the science and practice of strength training and conditioning, and to ensure the device can be utilized by all people.

Robot arms pave the way to future productivity
By: Rick Savage

The Latest—Modular Prosthetic Limb
Johnny Matheny of Port Richey, Florida is the first ever to try a mind-controlled arm of the future. It has been developed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and funded with $120 million from the US Government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He controls the arm with his thoughts, sensors on his stump read muscle movement and then commands are sent to the prosthetic arm via Bluetooth. The arm was delivered December 2017 and he had all of 2018 to try it out.

Industrial Servo Arm
FANUC is a world leader in industrial computer numerical control (CNC), robotics, and factory automation. It got its name from the acronym Fuji Automatic NUmerical Control. The College of Central Florida in Ocala has four of them to train the workforce of the future. The college offers two college credit certifications that aids in robotics: Automation and Mechatronics.

Consumer Robotics
Advancements in technology that are driven by the Federal Government and large businesses usually benefit the mass consumer market in the long run. According to the International Federation of Robotics they expect a boom in 2019 for robotics spending. For parents who want to start their children off early the Cornerstone School has numerous STEM initiatives including robotics. Their robotics program covers the age range from kindergarten to the eighth grade. Their two annual robotics tournaments include Robopalooza and Robofest. Robopalooza is January 5th from 8:30am to 4:30 pm.



Motoring Off the Line
By Andrea Davis

Vehicles make things a lot easier from doing household chores to entertainment choices. 2018 had some great options but look at what’s motoring its way off the line for the upcoming year.

A new Porsche 911 has been revealed for the 2019 auto year. It has the same familiar shape that we all know and love but has added a heavily revised range of six-cylinder turbo petrol engines that are more powerful than before. It features a new platform structure with more aluminum in the rear which improves weight distribution. Add in the new rear-wheel steering in the Carrera and Carrera S models for the first time provides the 911 with more agility and an improved high-speed capability.  This model of Porsche offers a 10.1 touch screen informant along with a newly designed center console which provides a newly-designed gearlever, electronic handbrake switch, and a combination of touch-based and toggle-style switchgear for ancillary functions right at the touch of a fingertip.

A new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is under the curtain for the new year. This new model is 450 lbs. lighter than its predecessor and brings with it a new design from the ground up with eight new models and six different engine and transmission choices. Though larger in almost every dimension, this new truck enables more cargo and interior space. The all-new durabed offers best-in-class volume measuring at more than 20 percent of that of its competitors. Select packages on this vehicle will include additional safety features such as front and view park assist, lane change alert with blind zone alert, rear cross alert, and a following distance indicator.

An all-new 2019 Ram 1500 called the Rebel 12 has just been revealed for 2019. This vehicle goes even further with the interior loaded up on more premium features than would be expected in a rugged high-performance truck. Along with premium features, comes a new exterior with sculpted design of high-strength steel as a frame, smart cargo management and advanced technology both inside and out. The new Ram also provides safety features such as guided parking, smart cruising, and eyes all around viewing provided by a 360-degree surround view camera to provide an all-around vehicle picture to make parking, loading and unloading much safer.

A brand-new Ford Ranger is being released, this time tested under conditions more extreme than one would ever encounter. The new Ford Ranger comes with it a potent 2.3L Eco boost which is expected to surpass its competition of other gas-powered trucks in its class. When purchasing this vehicle consider the off-road package, a new feature that when activated, the electronic-locking rear differential locks the axel completely at both wheels delivering the traction needed for that off-road feel. Select models will even assist you with a new feature called Ford Co-Pilot 360 which helps one navigate through increasingly crowded roads and highways. Such features involved with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 include Lane Keeping System, Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic alert, Rearview Camera, and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking.

The Toyota Yaris sedan has a fuel-efficient performance that just cannot be swayed. With a new lightweight body, agile handling and an estimated 40 mpg on the highway this vehicle is ready to prove its efficiency can go a long way and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The Yaris comes stocked with a Low-speed Pre-Collision System and an active safety system so that one never needs to worry about safety while out and about. The Yaris also comes with auto turn on LED lights, heated mirrors with LED turn signals, a 7-inch informant screen, on steering wheel controls along with voice recognition for access to all your tunes.

The new Hyundai Veloster has been redesigned both on the inside and the outside for the 2019 year. It maintains its unusual one-plus-two door layout but now also features a larger door on the driver side and two smaller doors on the passenger side. Using the same type of engine as the Elantra, this 147-horsepower, 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine gives it slightly more edge than its Elantra cousin. Slightly longer than the 2018 model, the new Veloster comes with LED headlights, a 7-inch informant touch screen, the option to upgrade to larger wheels, a rearview camera, lane keep assist, and emergency braking.

While these are not all the vehicles that will be put forth on the market for 2019, these are just a few that expected to make a top notch in sales in the new year.



Food Moods
R. Jill Fink, MFA

Almost everyone in the United States has been on some kind of “diet” in their lifetime, but an increasing number of people are making mealtime choices part of a permanent lifestyle change instead of a temporary switch. Fitness awareness, a need for healthy digestive systems and environmental factors are the trends driving these changes. For instance, vegan fare, herbal drinks and probiotic diets are becoming increasingly popular among adults as well as many teenagers.

Here are five food trends shaping the way Ocala eats.

Veg Out
One of the largest grocery chains in the south, Kroger, recently issued a statement that “More consumers are purchasing better-for-you products and subscribing to different eating styles, from vegetarian to flexitarian to keto and paleo.” Plant-based diets are gaining traction due to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle trend being on the rise as many of us are opting to reduce our overall meat and dairy intake throughout the week. Whether your choice is to participate in Meat Free Mondays, Flexitarian Fridays or going meat- and dairy-free altogether, many dieticians agree that our bodies appreciate and benefit from the change.

Kava is King
The development and consumption of healthier drinks is on the uptake as well. More people are trying kava and kratom in liquid form; these herbal drinks have been used for hundreds of years in other parts of the world, but are fast becoming popular in America. Kava possesses natural compounds that are known to reduce anxiety and stress, relieve muscle tension and help with physical pain. Kratom, indigenous to Thailand and nearby countries in Southeast Asia, can work as a stimulant or a sedative, depending on the type and dosage consumed. Organic kombucha, a fermented tea rich in probiotics and antioxidants, can now be found in flavors such as blueberry ginger and raspberry hibiscus. You can find all three of these drinks and more information on them at Ocala’s first and only kava bar, called Muddy Lotus. Read more about them in this issue.

Low Sugar
Greek yogurt and probiotic, low-fat milk fit into the digestive health regimen, but vegan milks like coconut, rice, almond and oat are making strides on replacing animal-sourced dairy products. Consumers are also demanding low-sugar products or those sweetened with natural, low-carb additives. Honey and agave are increasing in popularity, but coconut sugar, monkfruit and stevia are touted as healthier alternatives; most of which don’t affect the glycemic index of our food intake as much.

A “healthy gut” means great digestion of whatever you eat or drink. Since gastrointestinal issues have become a concern for millions of Americans, going gluten-free is sometimes a choice to avoid minor stomach upset, but for some, it’s a serious necessity due to neurological factors. An increasing number of restaurants in our area provide a gluten-free menu and vegan (or at least vegetarian) choices. Peruse the aisles of Publix or local health food stores such as Earth Origins or Earth Fare to find a growing selection of gluten-free, probiotic and antioxidant rich “superfoods” that fit well into almost every dietary need one might have.



Trends in Training
By Colt Gatzemeyer

The three health related concepts listed below are not new to 2019, however they are increasing in popularity and will provide the user a new stimulus to what they are currently doing. These will be more of a, “next level training” as opposed to a beginner level training.

Intermittent Fasting:
Intermittent fasting is the process of cycling in and out of periods of eating and not eating. Although people do experience weight loss with intermittent fasting, it is less of a diet plan and more of a lifestyle choice to reap some incredible health benefits.

There are different intermittent fasting methods. These are:

  • Eat normally five days a week. The other two days are your fasting days, although you do still eat. Just keep it between 500 and 600 calories.
  • Eat-stop-eat: With this one, you restrict all food for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
  • You eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period — typically 6 to 8 hours — and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. You can do this every day, or a few times a week

Fascia Stretch Training (FST):
It is based on the theory that the potential amount of muscle that you are going to build depends highly on your genetic make-up and the thickness of the fascia surrounding the muscle belly. Performing 7 sets of 8-15 repetitions at the conclusion of your training is thought to stretch that fascia tissue, allowing maximum muscle growth.

Occlusion Training:
Commonly called Blood Flow Restriction training or (BFR). Occlusion training is essentially using a band around your arm or thigh to restrict blood flow, perform 2-3 sets of an exercise with higher repetitions. Then release the band to provide the muscle with a massive amount of fresh oxygenated blood. Om

New Year. New Zone. New You.

New Year. New Zone. New You.

Many people make New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym and get fit. But one local gym—Zone Health and Fitness—is making a resolution of their own. Owner Ben Marciano is leading the way.

“I felt it was important to refocus our efforts in truly creating the best member experience,” says Marciano. “I want each member to feel welcomed and a part of the [Zone] family, that every person [who] walks through the door accomplish[es] the results they desire.”

Fully rededicating their efforts to helping members achieve their fitness goals means taking stock of what they’ve already got, figuring out how they can make it even better, and sorting through the proverbial suggestion box.

Zone’s namesake exercise and healthy living services—called “zones”—provide a wide array of options to push members in reaching and even exceeding their goals. But there’s always room for improvement.

There’s also plenty of opportunity to try new zones. This is an innovative way that members can work out, learn how to be healthier, and most importantly, stay motivated. The change in atmosphere during a workout helps members constantly refocus and drive themselves to success. Zone also has plans to bolster both their community within the gym and their relationship with community. For Zone Health and Fitness, it is about helping the community grow strong inside and out.


Zone Health and Fitness opened its doors in 2014 with the mission of bringing their unique fitness strategy to the people of Marion County. Marciano already had plenty of leadership experience within the local fitness world, including time served as the Executive Director of the Frank Deluca YMCA.

Traci Bracey worked alongside Marciano as the District Executive Director overseeing two locations, Ocala and Taveres, in Lake County. For her, joining the Zone team as the Regional General Manager for both Zone East and Zone West was an inspired decision.

“I worked under Ben for quite a while at the YMCA, and I loved his drive, his heart, and his will. I knew he would be successful no mater what he does,” said Bracey. “We have the same belief system in that we truly want to make a difference in people’s lives.”

One main difference the Zone offers is their various different zones, or fitness areas, that can be tackled as a sort of leveling-up system. This truly sets the Zone apart from other facilities. Members have many zones designed specifically for different athletic abilities and interest to choose from. Group Exercise Zone, new edition XGT Zone, the cult-followed CrossFit Zone, Free-Weight Zone, and more. The Spa Zone is available for massages from a licensed therapist, hydromassage, steam room, sauna, and whirlpool. In addition, the Zone utilizes social media as an educational arena to teach both members and perspective members about fitness, community, industry events, and more.

Members can also find personal motivation in challenging themselves to kick things up a notch.

“One can go to Express [Zone], then cardio equipment, then group exercises, transitioning to personalized group training programs like XGT, and move up to the highest level, CrossFit,” explains Bracey. “It was exciting to me to see the different range of things available to members to achieve their goals in a fitness-family environment.”

Family is another element encompassed by Zone’s unique method for a healthy lifestyle. Not only are the trainers and other staff members a family, members become part of that family when they join. Even the kids are part of the family with Zone’s educational based childcare center called The Blast Zone.

It’s vital for any new business to build a solid foundation to survive.  For gyms, that means building a solid base by gym memberships.

In just four years, Zone has achieved remarkable success in growth through rising membership sales built upon a strong, supportive internal community. This achievement allowed them to open a second location in Market Street at Heath Brook, which just celebrated its first birthday.

It is now time, according to Marciano, to redirect the attention back toward the fundamentals of service—making sure gym members are satisfied by reaching the goals they set when they first signed up for their membership.


This back-to-basics mentality is the driving force behind improving and creating zones. Oiling the machine of the level-up zone system and making a clear path for members is just one way Zone will improve the gym-going experience.

“We walk members through a continuum from point A to point Z,” says Marciano. “The goal is to have members know exactly what they are doing every time they enter Zone to work out.”

A great starting point—the Express Zone. A quick, coach-assisted circuit that can help build a foundation or a way to work out for people on a lunch break. This semi-private room is a great place for beginners or people who have been out of the gym for a while. This unique set up is one of Zone’s signature twists on a motivated, healthy lifestyle, making the Express Zone a place many members can feel good about themselves.

Zone strives to serve and impress members, making sure everything in the gym is up to par. In December, the gym rolled out new models of member-favored equipment such as a new StairMaster. Their suggestion box contained one pivotal point—new plates on the free weights. So, Christmas came early for Zone members—and trainers alike—when fresh weight plates arrived for cleanest deadlifts in Marion County.

Though 2019 will see a continuation of updates like these. Marciano and the Zone team have many new industry-leading perks up their sleeves.

Zone is adding an innovative and interactive group Zone called the XGT Program, the only one of its kind in the state of Florida. This program pairs members with similar physical abilities and goals during a group workout class. With focuses on strength training, cardio and flexibility, members challenge one another to push their limits in a safe, supportive environment.

To further help “the Zone family” reach success, Zone is unveiling a brand-new app to motivate members in their fitness and health journeys. With improved communication between members, Zone brand swag, and motivational accountability as incentives, the addition of an app will skyrocket the gym-going experience.

Evidence shows that eating healthy makes up a large portion of getting fit. One of the newest services Zone offers is Fresh Meals, a partner program providing individualized meal programs for interested members.

These pre-made meals are made for specific dietary needs including vegan/vegetarian or keto, and can target specific member goals such as weight-loss, building muscle, or combating chronic illness. It’s further customizable with choices of one meal each day or all your meals for each week. As an extra bonus they are shipped directly to your home.

“The [Fresh Meals] process is very simple. Members log into the site and purchase meals. We find that the more meals a member purchases, the better control they have over their diet. It takes the guess work out of what to eat and doesn’t leave room for extra snacking,” said Bracey.

Not only is Zone focused on how to use calories, but they’re also invested in getting members the best, most useful calories to boost workouts and push them further toward their goals.


It is vital to Marciano and his team that each and every member feels supported, encouraged, and that they build relationships with established accountability systems to help keep them on track.

“That is done inside and outside the gym — through communication by phone calls and text messages with their trainers,” said Marciano.

If members feel connected to their trainers and befriend other gym members, they are more likely to develop a fitness lifestyle, and regular gym training becomes a way of life.

In fact, forging strong, personal connections with members is one of the most successful ways trainers and staff help.

Assistant Manager Destiny Espinosa was overweight when she started her journey at Zone. But through hard work, determination, and motivation from the Zone family, she applied the training regimen suggested to her and reached her goals.

“When I started working out, I was over 200 lbs. I have since reached my goal and maintained the weight I want,” she says.

Finding members who start where she started and offering them assistance in reaching their goals is what gives her the most satisfaction in her job.

“I enjoy helping others, as others helped me,” says Espinosa. “Its all part of the journey we are on together.”

It’s stories like Espinosa’s and of the members she’s helped that embrace Zone’s most cherished ideal—Fitness for EveryBody. This play on words rings true in every step of Zone’s growth, especially as they march into 2019.

Zone has several staff members specially trained to service members with special needs or physical limitations and elderly members. One of them is Chris Mendoza, a personal trainer and exercise therapist. His goal is to get those members with physical limitations healthy and able to enjoy life.

“I have seen people use their arms and legs again when they were told it wasn’t possible,” says Mendoza. “People feed themselves for the first time in 30 years, people walk for the first time in 10 years.”

Mendoza’s background is in physical therapy. At 21, he worked at Ocala Regional, a trauma hospital. Mendoza is certified in physical therapy, corrective exercise, Kinesiology, exercise therapy, senior fitness, core conditioning, neuromuscular stretching, and Silver Sneakers, a group for senior-specific exercise classes.

Mendoza once walked in the shoes of his some of his members, people who have lost all physical capabilities like bending over or getting down on or up from the floor. As young as he is, Mendoza identifies with older generations who have those struggles due to age.

“I have a learning disability and developed a passion for rehab after I suffered an injury at age 17,” said Mendoza. “Rehab helped me fix my body; I know what it is like to deal with injuries and depression. After my injury, I was down for three years.”

Mendoza is part of Zone’s work with seniors and people suffering from physical and mental issues, including those who suffer from depression due to disadvantages from their weight.

“My goal as a professional is to show people that, no matter where they are in life, physically or mentally, there is something that can be done to improve their physical and mental health,” says Mendoza. “To help those with physical limitations learn that they have full control of their recovery.”

Marciano, Mendoza and the rest of the Zone team have already made strides to make their gym and the member experience as inclusive as possible. Just over a year ago, Zone launched Rock Steady, a boxing program built to combat the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It keeps the mind active while engaging important eye-hand-coordination, balance and more.

“The ability to encompass [a variety of workouts] under one roof means that we really do have something for everyone,” Bracey exclaims.

Marciano agrees. “The goal is for [everyone] to feel part of something.”


In addition to including everybody in their fitness journey, Zone’s mission is to shape lives and strengthen communities, because “when one is well, our world grows stronger.”

Bracey also values the staff camaraderie with in Zone’s two locations.

“I love that I can help the staff develop,” said Bracey. “My role is really to work with the staff to help them reach their personal goals, whether that means moving up in the Zone, or getting better at providing the service they specialize in, such as personal training or exercise therapy.”

When Espinosa applied for a job at Zone, she was going through several transitions in her life and was uncertain of scheduling considerations as a single mother. She felt reassured because Zone really is about family. She accepted the job at the front desk and by her first week, she was already working full-time hours. Over time, transitioned through several positions leading the way to her current position as Assistant Manager.

“I am so appreciative to Zone for every opportunity,” said Espinosa. “It is a family-run business that supports all employees, so that they achieve what they did not even dare dream big enough to achieve.”

“Our staff help shape the lives of our members, the members in turn go out and shape the lives of others,” says Marciano. “We take giving back seriously.”

In 2018, Zone extended the bulk of their giving to organizations that are child focused, such as United Way, the Boys & Girls Club, Kimberly Center, the Arnett House and more. It’s not just the business that gives, the employees join in the mission to help others.

“We are very proud of what we have done over the past four years, having helped numerous organizations in our community,” said Marciano. “Part of our mission is the better we do as a business, the more we can give to make Marion County better.”


Since opening their doors in 2014, Zone has learned a lot about its members. According to Marciano, members must truly feel connected as part of a family and be actively encouraged by other members and training staff. Not only do members’ spirits soar, but so do their results. Zone’s new focus is on building the best staff and programs to keep encouraging people and helping them see results.

The learning will continue as they roll out new ideas and zones to help people reach their health and fitness goals. It is of the utmost importance that every staff and gym member feel welcomed and supported when they walk through the door so that the supportive culture is maintained, in 2019 and beyond.

“There is an indescribable feeling we get when a member not only reaches their goal, but exceeds it. Sometimes this means no more medication, an ideal wedding day, or even simply personal achievement,” says Marciano. “As cliché as it sounds, we really do love and care about the well-being of our members.”


Zone Health and Fitness
524 S Pine Ave

Zone Health and Fitness
Market Street at Heath Brook
4414 SW College Rd #1012

Member Testimonials

I was privileged to talk with several members of Zone who shared with me how Zone changed their life.

“My training activity has been nil for a number of years. I had knee replacement surgery in January 2018, followed by foot surgery at the end of February 2018. I was fairly incapacitated for a while. I ran into Ben and told him I need to go to the gym but I was concerned with reinjuring what the surgeries had corrected. He said he had a trainer that specializes in helping people like you that have special needs. A few days later I signed up and joined. He hooked me up with Chris Mendoza. I trained with Chris three days a week. Initially, I was in bad shape. He suggested a 5-minute warm up on a step climber. At one minute it was over. That gave Chris a good indication where to start. He worked on strengthening my lower body, taking into account my physical recovery and age. Now, I can work out on my own. My goal was to be able to do my daily activities like I had done before my surgeries, like yardwork, my work shop. I am back doing those things, so I am back to enjoying my free time.” ~ Gerald Ergle

“I started at Zone back on September 12, 2018, just shy of three months. That same day, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I knew one of the best ways to take control of this illness was exercise and a healthy lifestyle. I went directly to Zone after I left the doctor’s office. I met Chyanne, who sat down with me and explained the various gym programs, then walked me around to see the equipment. What I did not expect, was that she introduced me to people and other staff. I shared my diagnosis, and everyone was supportive and informative on solutions. It was obviously a very emotional day for me, after all, I was only 39, and finding out I had this illness was very stressful. I started training that day, and have gone every day since then.  I have had a great experience. When I started, I was 165 lbs, and I am only 5’ tall. My goal was to be down to 138 by December 31. I am sure I will reach that goal because I am down to 141. Also, my glucose is down to only 109, which for diabetics, that is very good. The trainers and nutritionists were helpful and offered great advice. I love it there. I call it my ‘home away from home.’ I bring my 8-year-old son, Justin, to the Blast Zone for kids. Many parents don’t work out because they have nowhere to leave their children, or cannot afford expensive daycare. Zone provides all of that in the cost of membership. Justin participates in the junior XGT program, He loves it.” ~ Janet Sanchez (interviewed on Dec 12, 2018)

“My goal was to get in shape and feel healthy again after recently having a child. Childcare services at Zone are a blessing. I arrive early in the morning and I know my baby is in premium level care while I do my workout. I began with regular daily workouts, then I heard about CrossFit, which came highly recommended. I decided to give it a try, and immediately I was hooked. I love the community, the comradery, and the results I’ve seen daily. I dedicated myself 5 days a week to CrossFit. I set my goal at loosing 5lbs not knowing much about how the program worked but surpassed that! I lost 20 lbs. and gained a ton in confidence. I am a better mother and woman because of it. It is amazing! I owe it all to Zone.” ~ Stephanie Burns

“I have always worked out, and have been a member of Zone since they opened, but began to slow down. My workouts became routine and time was limited as I fit in my workouts during lunch breaks. Ben recommended I try a group program called CrossFit. I didn’t think I would like it. I tried it and found a group with my same schedule. I bonded with them, and have been going regularly ever since. This started 15 months ago and has definitely changed my life for the better. I have lost over 25 lbs. of fat and gained over 15 lbs. of muscle. People who have not seen me in while don’t even recognize me, then marvel at the change. My cardiovascular health has also improved. I had some health issues a few years ago. In 2012, I had a heart attack, coming from years of living an unhealthy lifestyle. My cardiologist recommended I do something for my heart. That is a muscle too. CrossFit, in addition to weight training is a cardio workout. That, combined with the nutritional advise proved by my CrossFit training group, doctors and healthcare specialists, changed how I live, which changed my quality of life. I am a mental health counselor and can attest to the therapeutic value physical fitness has on the human psyche. We are a family, and we are united by our goals.” ~ Davieoyn Hopson


New Programs for Maximum Results

Curious about Zone’s new programs Zone? Bring in this article to one of Zone’s two locations for a FREE 5 Day Pass.

Brand New Zone App

“The app has dramatically improved communication with members,” said Traci Bracey, District Manager. The app rewards members for using the facility, allowing them to earn prizes while tracking their workouts. They can check in with the app and log their workouts. Rewards include water bottles, Zone bracelets, Zone sweatshirts, personal training sessions, and even a month of free membership. Members can play the long game and let their points build up to earn the larger rewards.

XGT Program (Extreme Group Training)

Zone is the only gym in the state of Florida that offers this XGT program. This small group training combines weights, cardio, and mobility training for members who are paired up with other members with similar abilities. Training together is a fun, exciting, and energizing experience at Zone. Bring a friend or make a new one.


Members work hard at the gym, but their at-home nutrition might not be meeting standards to help them achieve their goals. The Zone partnered with Fresh Meals, a company that provides customizable, healthy home-delivered meals. Members now have access to Zone-approved diet plans that keep them on track and away from the snacks.

Additional Unique Programs

New Survey: Ever 90 days, participate in surveys via e-mail to constantly improve Zone.
Connection Specialists: Assists members to connect to the Zone that best fits their abilities and goals.
Acunique Scanner: Allows coaches to accurately measure body fat, lean muscle mass, and more to give an accurate picture of health. Measures what the scale cannot, showing you results faster than standard tracking. Om



Solid Foundation

Ocala Magazine’s Person of the Year — Digvijay “Danny” Gaekwad

In 2018, Danny Gaekwad’s new hotel, Hilton Garden Hotel, broke ground in downtown Ocala on the site of the former Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce. The new hotel, due to open in Jan 2020, will feature three restaurants, including a rooftop hotel for scenic views of downtown Ocala, and boutique shops on the ground level, which will forever change the face of downtown Ocala, and increase visitors making the already revamped downtown into a destination.

By: John Sotomayor

Upon the foundation of one convenience store, Digvijay “Danny” Gaekwad built a real estate empire in North Central Florida. He turned the one store in Orlando into three, sold some, and used the money to invest upon more. He acquired more stores in Lake City. He was successful there, running eight stores between Lake City to Lake Butler. In the next eight years, he bought and sold a chain of 26 convenience stores throughout Florida.

That began 30 years ago. It was cheaper to acquire real estate property in rural areas such as he did, but much riskier to operate. Would he generate enough business to keep it going?

That was where and when he learned his most valuable lesson in business — if you are good to the community you do business in and help them grow, the community will pay you back with patronage of your businesses. He knew he would become involved in civic and board appointments, and build a strong relationship with local government and the local Chamber of Commerce. That he would give back through leadership and charitable contributions and events. First, he and his wife had to decide upon a city or town to build as their home base.

Before starting a family, Gaekwad fathered two sons, Karan and Kunal, he and his wife Manisha moved around quite a bit covering territory from Orlando and Lakeland, up to Lake City. Ocala was central, so became their ideal consideration for their base.

“We chose Ocala because it was the ideal size we were looking for,” said Gaekwad, “It had the amenities of a big city, but not the density where one could ‘get lost.’”

Ocala welcomed Gaekwad from the beginning.

“My first day in Ocala, Chuck Cole’s company gave me a great lunch,” recalled Gaekwad. That relationship opened doors. He quickly established relationships, becoming good friends with City Council members and the mayor.

“I knew right then, this was where I wanted to build my home,” said Gaekwad. He made up his mind that Ocala would be the city he would make a lasting impact.

In 2018, Gaekwad broke ground in downtown Ocala on the site of the former Ocala/Marion County Chamber of Commerce, and previously where the historic Ocala House Hotel once stood. The new hotel, Hilton Garden Hotel, is due to open in Jan 2020. It will feature three restaurants, including a rooftop hotel for scenic views of downtown Ocala, with 10 residential apartments on the second floor, and retail shops on the ground level, which will forever change the face of downtown Ocala. It will also increase visitors making the already revamped downtown into a destination. For this reason, and for other contributions Gaekwad has made in 2018, he has been selected as Ocala Magazine’s Person of the Year.

Gaekwad’s Vision

Born in Baroda, India, the son of a judge and the grandson of a Colonel in the Indian Army, Gaekwad loved his new home, Ocala. The schools were ideal for his sons, and the home they built for themselves was comfortable. The only thing that Gaekwad thought could be improved was the downtown area. It was the late 1980s-early 1990s and downtown Ocala was boarded up, the outcome of a poor economy. Having seen what was being done in The Villages — with culturally-driven plazas filled with sounds of music, the sights of artisans, and the smells of culinary restaurants, Gaekwad thought the same could and should be duplicated in downtown Ocala.

“I have always wanted a good downtown, where you could walk with your family for a relaxed good time,” said Gaekwad. “I imagined a place where I could go with friends or family and enjoy a cup of coffee, good food, nice music, these were my dream of downtown.”

Gaekwad’s ancestors ruled the city of Baroda, India for 260 years, developing Baroda to the metropolitan city it is today. Gaekwad knew when he arrived here, that he would contribute what he could to make Ocala a vibrant center for community life that he knew it could be. He had done so through a variety of successful entrepreneurships and civic appointments.

Successful Businessman

Gaekwad’s flagship business is Danny Gaekwad Developing & Investments. That parent company, oversees his real estate investments and his other subsidiaries including NDS USA — a medical billing and transcription company, and his hospitality businesses: MGM Hotels, and DG Hospitality. MGM Hotels and DG Hospitality oversees the Holiday Inn and Suites Ocala Convention Center, and the Golden Spoon winning restaurant from 2010 — 2018, Sky Fine Dining, perched on the highest floor of the hotel, respectively.

Gaekwad has recently added a second hotel right next door to the Holiday Inn and Suites Ocala Convention Center, a new Holiday Inn Express Hotel. He has plans to build a Tru by Hilton in Gainesville, FL and in the process of building a new accelerator in downtown Orlando, which will house in Exchange building at the historic Church Street Station. The accelerator will host a program offering startup businesses with the opportunity to present their business plan to venture capitalists to get investment funding, similar to the popular TV Show, Shark Tank. Gaekwad said he would love to introduce a similar program to Ocala.

Gaekwad’s current real estate holdings include hotels, golf courses, restaurants, campgrounds, automated car washes and commercial retail throughout Florida. A 350-acre Gaekwad’s Villages Mixed-Use Development is in the process of developing 1,100 residential lots, 300 apartments and a four-acre commercial site at The Villages, one of the fastest growing communities in the United States.

Gaekwad’s multi-purpose development, Hilton Garden Hotel in downtown Ocala will be a game-changer. Not only will it have high-end, comfortable rooms to rent, but will have 10 residential units on the second floor, retail shops on the ground floor, another 7,000 square-foot space for retail shopping on a higher floor, and three restaurants within the hotel, including one on the top floor, offering the best views in Downtown Ocala.

“In the future, I would like to add an apartment complex adding to the Ocala skyline, visible from 441, and a grocery store,” said Gaekwad. “Like a Trader Joe’s or Fresh Market.”

For now, Gaekwad envisions the Hilton Garden Hotel taking on an iconic role and presence as its predecessor, the historic Ocala House Hotel once did.

Impactful Civic Appointments

Over the past 30 years, Gaekwad served on the boards of numerous public, private and nonprofit organizations. Since 2009, Gaekwad has been a member of the board of directors of Enterprise Florida Inc, a public-private partnership between Florida’s businesses and government leaders, and is the principal economic development organization for Florida. Its mission, according to their website, is to “expand and diversify the state’s economy through job creation.”

“Governor Scott gave us a goal of 1 million jobs, not an easy task,” said Gaekwad. By our seventh year, we reach 700,000 jobs. BY the eight year, we reached 1.4 million jobs. I am proud to serve on that team.”

Gaekwad is also currently an executive board member and Finance Chair of Visit Florida, the official tourism marketing corporation of the state.

“We had a goal of 100 million tourists, and we reached that,” said Gaekwad. “The best year we had prior was 2007, with 80 million tourists. Our new goal is 120 million tourists. I am very proud to serve on that team as well.”

Gaekwad currently serves the board of director of Florida Chamber of Commerce. In the past, Gaekwad served on several other boards, including former Chairman, Marion County Visitor and Convention Bureau, former Chairman, Marion County Tourism Development Council, former Vice Chairman, Marion County Planning and Zoning Commissioner, former board member, Space Florida, the agency responsible for aerospace economic development in Florida, and former board member, Independence National Bank.


Gaekwad was vacationing in India in January 2018 when he got a call at 1 A.M. from Governor Rick Scott. It would have been 3 P.M. in Florida.

“He said to me, ‘I know you are on vacation however I could not wait to tell you, that I have appointed you to the UCF Board of Trustees, do you accept?’” said Gaekwad. “I thought ‘why would I not accept?’ I replied ‘I would be honored sir, absolutely.’”

In February 2018, Gaekwad was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Board of Trustees of University of Central Florida.

These calls had become a regular occurrence over time.

Over the years, Gaekwad’s companies have created thousands of jobs in Florida and other parts of the United States. His companies contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the economy. In 2016, Gov. Rick Scott awarded Gaekwad with the “One Million Jobs” certificate of appreciation for his contribution “in helping Florida job creators add 1 million jobs between December 2010 and December 2015.”

Other awards and recognitions at the local, state and national levers for his accomplishments in business, and community services include:

  • Asian American Hotel Owners Association Chairman’s Awards (AAHOA is the largest trade group of hotel owners in the world. Its 20,000 members own every second hotel in the United States)
  • Lion of the Year Award
  • Leaders Leader Award, Marion County
  • Community Service Award from the Federation of Indian Seniors Association of North America (August 2017)
  • Pride of India Award 2017
  • Glorious India Chairman’s Award 2017

In November 2018, he was honored by the National Federation of Indian American Associations in Washington D.C. with the Business & Entrepreneurship award.

In late November 2018, Gaekwad was listed among the 45 advisors Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis appointed to the Transition Advisory Committee on the Economy.

In December 2018, Gaekwad received the news he was selected as Ocala Magazine’s Person of the Year.

“I am honored and humbled by this,” said Gaekwad upon hearing the news of his selection.

“God and Ocala have been very good to me,” said Gaekwad. “This is the reason I reinvest back into Ocala.”

Indeed, Gaekwad’s gift of reinvestment will surely leave a lasting impact on the city. His buildings and his leadership contributions serve as his legacy to the city he and his wife years ago chose to call home. Om

Making Gift Giving Great Again


By Rose Derkay

Spreading the magic of the holiday season and watching a friend’s excitement when they open a gift especially from you can truly make you giddy. Gift giving absolutely enhances the spirit of Christmas. Yes, it can be stressful, but we’re here to help you avoid the pitfalls of wearing out your winter heals and soothe those bleary search engine exhausted eyes so you can focus on the true meaning of holiday — family, friends and feasting! So goodbye Google. We’ll be your navigational tool towards wrapping up gift giving success, leaving you plenty of time to focus on all that’s merry and bright.


From hand poured European chocolates, to wines paired perfectly for presents or holiday platters, unique decor for the home enthusiast or memberships to our exclusive art museum, we’ve found something for all those grown up girls and boys that make up your nice list this year.


We’ve all covered the Magic Kingdom and the Universal experience, but when thinking of a season’s pass there’s two nearby places that offer both exceptional value and extreme affordability. These don’t-have-to-drive-too-far alternatives to the wonderful world of Disney are a daily reminder of your Christmas kindness.

The Appleton Museum of Art.  With revolving fine art exhibits both contemporary and classic, and nearly every day access to an incomparable collection of 18,000 European, American, Asian, African, Contemporary and pre-Columbian art and artifacts, a membership to the Appleton Museum of Art tops our gift giving list. Get a membership in your favorite person’s name for $35 ($30 for seniors, $60 for dual or family). Remember a one-day visit to the museum is $10 per adult.

Victoria Billig, Appleton Assistant Director says, “Memberships to the Appleton, are unique gifts that grant access to a world of art – for all ages! Give your family member, friend or business associate 12 months of free admission, special events, discounts on art classes and education programs, and the satisfaction that comes with supporting one of our community’s most important cultural assets. These are just a few of many benefits enjoyed by Appleton members.”

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.  In today’s age of high technology, research shows that our hunger for the natural world still endures. In fact, our connections with nature could just be the best medicine for people of all ages—improving our health, happiness, and well-being (Psychology Today). That’s exactly why Kanapaha Botanical Gardens makes our list this year.

With 24 major collections, and a mile-and-a-half walkway, there’s something spectacular to see on every visit. Gardens of Chinese royal bamboo, roses, herbs, and palm trees are only a few of the cultivated gardens which also include a children’s garden. There are water features with giant Victoria water lilies and Asian snake arums exciting not only human guests, but butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds too. So, give the gift of good mental health and pick up a membership for a friend on your list for $35. Family memberships start at $45 for one adult and up to 3 kids.


Why do we all love chocolate so? It’s a matter of science! Eating chocolate really makes us feel good. Those sumptuous, sweet morsels contain tryptophan that releases serotonin into the brain making us literally feel good. Not to mention it’s one of the best tasting items on this earth. Given our bodies real and visceral reaction to this cacao creation, it makes perfect sense to gift several of your list mates dark, milk or white chocolate creations this year.

Ocala Chocolates & Confections. Sourcing quality European cacao and expertly converting it to chocolate, then hand pouring it into custom molds is both a passion and career for chocolatiers Kerry Anne and Norman Terrelonge. Their custom melt-in-your-mouth candies come in a variety of shapes and flavors including boxes of maple or mint fudge, baskets of truffle varieties, and specialty holiday items for Hanukkah and Christmas with several sizes of Santa and Christmas trees available. Choose your own selections, or have Kerry Anne and Norman guide you through your custom order at 104 East Fort King Street. You’ll be the sweetest gift giver alive.


Whether it’s a true look back over Silver Spring’s segregated Paradise Park, a stroll through hundreds of native wildflowers, a whimsical peek into a local real life or a sweeping view of Marion County history, you’ll find page turners from Amazon Prime penned by local authors that easily fit into your gift giving perimeters.

Remembering Paradise Park.  Both author and photographer, Cynthia Wilson-Graham highlights the segregation of Silver Spring State Park in this bittersweet book that continues to gain momentum. It includes interviews, photographs and vintage ads from the park during its heyday; 1949 to 1969. Described as “an invaluable time capsule, this book vividly describes the joys of Paradise Park, while acceptance and endurance of racist practices are also remembered and voiced,” says Marsha Dean Phelts, author of An American Beach for African Americans.

Central Florida Wildflowers: A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Lake Wales Ridge, Ocala National Forest, Disney Wilderness Preserve. From Wildflowers in the National Park Series, the pages within highlight in picture and word more than 300 common wildflowers found underfoot in the Ocala National Forest and other nearby places. A coffee table contribution, perfect for your flower loving friends.

The Way it Was. A Trek through Marion County’s Past.  Released in early December by esteemed Marion County historian and journalist David Cook, it chronicles the people and events that have shaped our community. At nearly 90, Cook names his book after his Ocala Star Banner weekly editorial of the same title. Cook spent seven decades as a reporter, sports and city editor and editor-in-chief of our local paper. Proceeds from the $25 book will benefit HOPS – Historic Ocala Preservation Society.

This Side Up: A Road to a Renovated Life. This memoir by local writer, editor and marketing guru Amy Mangan equally impresses as a new release. Faced with many of life’s challenges, this Ocalan — whose work has been published in Southern Living, Southern Accents and can be seen often in her column in the Ocala Star Banner – shares her journey through humor, coping, hope and rebuilding which eventually leads to finding a new way home to a stronger way of life.


Home and accessory aficionado Paulette Millhorn, who owns Ivy on the Square Boutique alongside creative sisters Evelyn Nussel and Waica Micheletti, says of her shoppe “It’s an eclectic blend with a lot of girly.” It’s that and much more. With unique statement pieces, including iron throne chairs, distinct wall art, lamps, home accessories and gifts for the gardener, handcrafted art, clothing and specialty jewelry, it’s the place to visit often for stocking stuffers or signature pieces. Ivy on the Square carries Joanna Gaines Magnolia Home boutique candle line which includes diffusers (starting at $9), soft PJ Harlow satin blend sleepwear, Shark Tank success story Sugar Fins infused chocolates and glass, copper and wood Houston Lew collectible art pieces for every life occasion. Gifts from the Ivy will make sure you’re affectionately remembered.


Original artwork by local artists Jaycee Oliver, Julie Shealy, Laurie Kopec, Sandy Sanderson, Margaret Watts, Jan Williams and Meagan Gumpfert will be available in a holiday pop up shop — next to Greiner’s on Silver Springs Boulevard — for two hours and one day only, Thursday, Dec 13th from 6-8 pm. Give something that becomes part of a permanent collection.


Agapanthus has taken root in downtown Ocala. Sandwiched between The Corkscrew and Stella’s, this store’s blooming with a unique selection of gift items, home accessories and name brands like Pandora, Longchamp and Vietri, plus an equally impressive selection of wines. They’ve taken the guesswork out of wine pairing for both your holiday parties and special friends by offering varietals specifically selected and served at the Ocala Culinary Festival. Choose from toxin and pesticide-free Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet, Champagne and more with price points starting at $17.99.


In the mood to get a little creative? Put together a collection of Ocala-made culinary products. All-natural olive salad and tapenade — plus homemade garlic pasta — from Joy’s Gourmet are always available at Saturday’s Farmers Market. The BarbaCuban – Live with Kelly & Ryan’s grilling champ — helps make meats mouthwatering. Celebrate with his All Purpose or Mojo 455 Sauce, easily accessible at Publix. You’ll also find K-N Candied Jalapeños created by Al Simmons of Ocala at Earth Fare and The Olive Obsession. Bobbie Sue’s Country Market on Highway 326 offers homemade jams by Bobbie Sue herself. Round out your appetizing offerings with superior quality fused and infused extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegars, herbs and rubs from The Olive Oil Market next to Shannon Roth downtown.
Still stumped? Take the family on an unforgettable adventure as you spend the evening walking the glimmering downtown Ocala streets, accentuating the night with a Christmas classic! Nothing is more satisfying then watching the little one’s faces light up while the Marion Ballet performs The Nutcracker at the Ocala Civic Theatre (on stage December 7th through the 16th). Or, watch an international array of dancers from Dance Alive National Ballet perform The Nutcracker the Reilly Arts Center on December 11th. Do you have more of a movie-going group? See The Nutcracker and the Four Realms starring Keira Knightley at the Regal Hollywood Stadium 16 Ocala.
We’ve left you just enough time to snuggle up with Santa, relax and sip some eggnog with friends, and enjoy the giddiness of giving gifts while reflecting on what makes Christmas most important to you. Om

Arts and Culture

Artful Giving

Shop local. Shop small. Even better, shop original, one-of-a-kind works of art.

By: Jessi Miller

Dreaming of giving friends and family unique and thoughtful gifts that no one else on the planet has? Save your eyes from screen fatigue and your fingers from searching the keyboard for the hundredth time. Don’t give in to the urge to buy another selfie-stick, VR headset or tablet. Technology is great but there’s more to life and it’s all becoming so, well, common.

It’s time to think outside of the monitor. Original art, created by local artists, is anything but common. A painting or sculpture only happens once. No one out-of-the-country is being paid to make a meaningless piece of plastic that will go out-of-date in a couple of years while putting money into a giant corporation’s coffers. Local artists live among you and their creativity outshines any mass-produced, factory product. Become an art patron for the holidays and give gifts that will genuinely wow people.

Ocala has ample artful giving opportunities for any price range and taste. Here are a few ideas.

Give Artfully Holiday Pop-Up — An Ocala Art Collective
A group of Ocala treasures have teamed up for an art pop-up show, which means not only is the art original, but you can only see and purchase these pieces for a limited time. Talk about a unique gift opportunity! Participating artists include Laurie Kopec, Jaycee Oliver, Sandy Sanders, Julie Shealy, Margaret Watts, Jan Williams and Meagan Gumpert.

The opening reception with whiskey and spirits tasting is Thursday, December 13 from 6-8pm. Hosted at Greiner’s, 405 E. Silver Springs Blvd. in Ocala. The show will remain “popped-up” and open to the public on Thursday, December 13 from 10am-8pm; Friday, December 14 from 10am-1pm; Saturday, December 15 from 10am-5pm; and Sunday, December 16 from 12-4pm.

“The Brick” Gift Gallery
It’s always a pleasure to shop our charming downtown and know that the money stays local. Marion Cultural Alliance’s (MCA) Gift Shop at Brick City Center for the Arts is open year-round and offers a variety of original art items ranging from jewelry to sculpture and paintings, along with the Ocala-famous Horse Fever miniature replicas and mugs. Each item is carefully selected by the Gallery Director with an eye for quality, uniqueness, representation of the area, artistry, and price.

MCA is located at 23 SW Broadway Street, Ocala. Gift Shop hours are Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm and Saturdays 11am-4pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays. For more info visit

Custom Commissions
If you want something more personal, contact a local artist to have a commission made. Maybe you’d like a meaningful portrait of a family-member or pet, or talk to the artist for a while and give them a sense of what your passions and tastes are so they can come up with a masterpiece that suits you perfectly. To hone-in your search time, here is a suggested list of artists that are members of the Marion Cultural Alliance:

Charitable and Artful Giving
Stumped about what style that special someone would like? Charity is always meaningful. Here is a list of local arts organizations that you can contribute to in someone’s name or buy them a membership.

Remember, art lasts forever, it doesn’t need an upgrade plan. It’s a beautiful investment, with many returns including impressed and thankful loved ones, a growing local economy and all that the arts bring to our community. Go forth and shop art! Om

Everything Equine

The Horse Healers

The dream facility of Dr. Alberto Rullan and his brother Willie Rullan, Equine Performance Center offers the best in horse care treatment all in one location, in the heart of horse country.

By: John Sotomayor

The dream of establishing a world class equine treatment center began years ago with the love of a family horse, and a tragic accident.  Brothers Alberto and Willie Rullan were raised on a coffee farm surrounded by livestock in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, a small mountainside municipality located central midwest of the island. As most young children raised on a farm, they developed an interest for the animals. Without a vet in town, their father performed all treatments for the animals, developing a skill he passed to his sons.

One day in 1988, their father rode their best horse, Tauri, a brown horse with a white stripe, beloved by the entire family, out to town. A car on the road hit Tauri from behind, knocking both rider and horse to the ground, breaking their father’s back and Tauri’s leg.

“There was no vet in town, so no one trained to help the horse,” said Alberto. “So, they had to put the horse down.”

Their father spent a year in bed, recovering from his back injury. Alberto was 8. Willie was 4. The boys were distraught by their father’s plight, and devastated over the loss of Tauri. They used to ride him every day, and won prizes for show competitions.

“Tauri was very loving too, very affectionate,” said Alberto.

After the incident with Tauri, Alberto knew he wanted to become a veterinarian specializing in horses. As he grew older, he knew the area he wanted to specialize in was in equine orthopedics and rehab.

In 1998, Alberto attended Penn State University, then specialized in veterinary science at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Alberto Rullan then took a surgical and medical internship to further specialize at Louisiana State University. Dr. Rullan then worked as a veterinarian in Ocala for other practices before starting his own clinic, with his brother Willie’s help.

Together they founded Performance Equine Veterinary Services, located in Summerfield, in 2009, of which Willie Rullan is the executive director. Equine Performance Center was established 18 months ago, after the brothers acquired the Sanctuary. It was open for business 6 months ago.

Horse Haven

A tour across the Equine Performance Center facility reveals a state-of-the-art, one-stop spa for horses that offers every service imaginable all in one location.

“This is a treadmill, just like one for people,” said Dr. Rullan. With one major difference — the treadmill in enclosed in a tub-like apparatus filled with water. “The water increases resistance or decrease the weight of the horse.” The horse floats, placing less weight on the injured leg.

During the tour, a quarter horse was receiving treatment for severe arthritis. The goal is to bring him back to work as a trail riding facility. It will take him 7 months to recover.
The second stop was at the salt water spa, were a Paso Fino show horse was in rehab for a bad injury, that would take him a year to recover.

“The water reaches 44 degrees, and the salt and minerals, which cleans and disinfects, and decreases inflammation,” said Dr. Rullan.

The third stop was a hyperbolic oxygen chamber, which gives the horse extra oxygen during treatment. It serves multiple purposes. The chamber treats wound and fracture repair; bone, joint and other infections, bacterial diseases like clostridium, and post-surgery care, so the horse heals faster.

After a horse races, and needs to recovery quickly for the next race, they use the hyperbolic chamber to recover faster to be ready.

“These are very unique treatments,” said Dr. Rullan. “They are growing in popularity, so in time, there will be more rehab centers in the US and around the world, but right now, there are not many with this caliber of equipment.”

Equine Performance Center is the only rehab in the area with a hyperbolic chamber, and the only facility that with all of the aforementioned treatments together for an integrative approach.

The horse begins with the hyperbolic chamber, then the salt water spa, then the vibration plate. If that were not enough, the facility also has an enormous aquatic pool for the horses to swim laps for muscle conditioning.

Equine Performance Center also offers boarding. If the owner has to travel, and the horses require special care, EPC takes care of them. Even if horses do not require special care, but the owners wish to provide them with Very Important Horse care, they are welcomed.

Horse Sense

The Rullan brothers were ahead of the equine care game. They offered services the equine community did not yet know they needed.

“We knew what we could do for the horses,” said Dr. Rullan. “We have seen many cases where people give up on a horse that could have been saved. We knew we could save them, all they needed was a chance.”

Equine Performance Center serves as the best, and often last resort, a hardship case would get a second chance, when others around the world diagnose termination.

“If a horse owner is told by another veterinarian that their horse doesn’t have a chance, then they know they can come to us and we give them that chance,” said Willie Rullan. “We always have solutions.”

“When a horse, and a horse owner, has the will to get better, the horse will get better,” said Dr. Rullan.

One day while working at EPC, Dr. Rullan received a photo from a family friend. It was a photo taken of him with Tauri at a competition. It was discovered by the family friend years ago and shared with Dr. Rullan, when the family friend figured out how to find him.

“I never saw this picture until it was sent to me,” said Dr. Rullan. “Delivered to me by my uncle.”

Dr. Rullan keeps the rediscovered lost photo of himself and Tauri as his laptop screensaver.

“It reminds me why I am here,” he said. Dr. Rullan sees Tauri in the face of every healthy horse they heal, and he feels Tauri’s presence in the happiness their owners radiate. Om


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