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Santa Cruz Island

Santa Cruz Island

Offshore Southern California are eight islands, wh...

Isla Cozumel: Watersports Fun at Your Own Pace

Isla Cozumel: Watersports Fun at Your Own Pace

Isla Cozumel is a Mexican island with a Caribbean ...

Destination: Connecticut

Destination: Connecticut

“It’s so cold, how can you dive here?”

It’s a quest...

Oases in the Desert: The Lakes of Arizona

Arizona is a state, which is prominent for its nea...

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water: North Carolina’s Frying Pan Shoals

Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water: North Carolina’s Frying Pan Shoals

Recognized as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, Nor...

Whidbey Island: Gateway to Paradise

Whidbey Island: Gateway to Paradise

“The Pacific Northwest, and particularly Whidbey I...


A Curious Story about Shipwrecks, Secret…


The sunset bright and red in the horizon; crisp autumn air chilling; night falling fast; southwest wind leaning into whispers; the Captain, Sinclair,  and first mate, John Virgin, drawing their...

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Home, Sweet Home - Local Diving in Okla…


They say home is where the heart is. The heart may wander, explore, yearn to try something new; but eventually it returns to the warmth and familiarity it knows and...

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One Breath: A Monterey Bay Experience


"The story of this place - this sanctuary - lies hidden by time. It's a story of change revealed by context and perspective: a story born of water and dreams;...

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Kentucky Blues: Music, Lakes, Quarries, …


Kentucky is known for Bluegrass music, Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders, Johnny Depp, Mohammed Ali, Jim Bowie, and Daniel Boone’s adventures exploring, but the one person from this...

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The Colorful World of Georgia’s Gray’s R…


Off the shores of Georgia rests a diverse junction where northern and southern waters meet. Here, where nearby Gulf Stream currents carry a diverse amalgam of aquatic flora and fauna;...

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Santa Cruz Island


Offshore Southern California are eight islands, which offer consistently fantastic diving, kayaking, and hiking throughout the year. Of these, Santa Cruz is the largest and is the most easterly large...

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Destination: Connecticut

Destination: Connecticut


“It’s so cold, how can you dive here?”It’s a question that’s common place for experienced New England divers, and one that I fielded from a dive student’s father, far too...

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Oases in the Desert: The Lakes of Arizon…


Arizona is a state, which is prominent for its nearly unparalleled natural beauty: every year, millions of tourists flock to its bounty of attractions and outdoor activities both tranquil and...

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Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Water…


Recognized as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, North Carolina is a state where divers, spear fishers, and anglers congregate to get some of the best R&R the U.S. has to...

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The Faces of The Fit and Healthy Diver Project

Janna Nichols
Kari Wright
Scott Kessel
Marydarlene “MD” Cieszynski

By Coach Izzy

When Rick Stratton learned about The Fit And Healthy Diver Project, he enthusiastically pledged full support. 300 divers opted-in, 13 applied, 7 were selected, and 4 completed the journey. We were only looking for for a few good divers ready for change.


There was Scott Kessel, a police officer and diver. There was also the energetic Janna Nichols keeping us on our toes. We also had Marydarlene “MD” Cieszynski, battling arthritis and fibromyalgia, showing us how heart and commitment know no boundaries. And finally, Kari Wright, a diver committed to helping kids and her local community.

No diets were given. Instead, participants were coached into understanding their food, the futility of counting calories, and eradicating our abnormal relationship with our sustenance. No exercises were given. Instead, participants learned strategies to keep their training fresh, specific, and progressive. Participants also learned to find their inner power. They understood the senselessness of the punitive approach, its detrimental effects, and the science behind it.

And how rewarding it was to hear of their success! MD Cieszynski summarized her experience beautifully:

“The Fit and Healthy Diver Project was instrumental in getting me moving again. With Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, moving is not always pleasurable. Coach Izzy taught me that I can start, and restart when necessary, with small intervals. I can easily now workout for 30 minutes with his help and advice. I cannot thank Coach Izzy enough for getting me moving again.”

Scott Kessel, a model of punctuality and implementation, had the following to say:

“…Although this has not been a weight loss program per se, during the project I’ve gone from 255 pounds to 236 pounds (I’m 6’1”). I figure that if I continue with my exercise program and eating well, my weight will stabilize where it needs to be. Coach, I truly believe you have helped me find the path to my continued and sustained fitness for the future. Thank you, Sir.”

Who could forget the jocular Janna Nichols? Her participation (along with her sidekick NWGnome Firkenworth) brought lots of smiles. Here’s what the REEF Outreach Coordinator had to say:

“I enjoyed being a part of the Fit and Healthy diver project - it helped push me along with my efforts to get more fit for diving. The sessions covered exercise, sleep, eating and food. The camaraderie with the other participants, and receiving the tips and encouragement from Coach Izzy was a good shot in the arm!”

The enthusiastic Kari Wright completed this incredible cadre. Ever inquisitive and eager to learn more, she shook up her routines, and added new components to her fitness program.

“I was thrilled to be part of The Fit and Healthy Diver Project. Coach Izzy is passionate about health and he minces no words. My takeaways were to tweak my exercise regimen, get more sleep, eat real, whole foods purchased locally whenever possible, and to question popular health advice. Thank you Izzy for grounding me and helping me set up my fitness and health goals.”

I am grateful to these divers for what they taught me to make the project even better. Yes, it was only four participants, so what? If you’ve read The Fit and Healthy Diver Manifesto, you know I seek the few eager to change, not the wishy-washy masses.

All major changes start with the first step. It may be small but it’s the start of greater things. It’s my mission to help my fellow divers become the role models of health we should be. I’m confident that together, we’ll get there one diver at a time.

Happy training and safe diving!
Coach Izzy

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