Interview with Maria Luca

Maria and I have had the opportunity to connect in our home town of Niagara. I was thrilled when she approached me about developing a kid’s camp together this summer. As I’ve gotten to know Maria- I am inspired and in admiration of her energy, drive and passion for community connection. 

Maria has a background in teaching. She completed her B.A at York University and her Master of Science in Education at Niagara University. She is an Occasional Teacher with the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board and when she isn’t teaching she’s running her business Exhale Fitness and Community.  Maria is a Socacize Fitness Regional Master Trainer and Instructor in Niagara and is Canfit Pro Certified as a Fitness Instructor Specialist and Children’s Fitness Coach. She stays current with her training by continuing her education with stress resiliency training, nutrition training and online business courses. 

Exhale Fitness and Community offers a range of services within Niagara, globally + virtually including Total Body Tone- which is a low impact, high results program that focuses on muscle toning and building core strength. Through focused and intentional movement that works your core improving balance and flexibility. First Friday Workshops- combines gentle movement, mindful discussion and interactive healing. Wellness Retreats- which are an extended version of the First Fridays with movement, stories from 3 local speakers, local food and beverages, interactive healing and yoga. 

M: “Exhale came to me ten years ago in 2010 when my engagement ended. As an acronym 

Exhale stands for Elevate Xquisite Heroines Above Life’s Expectations. I still have it on a post-it note on my mirror. At the time I didn’t know what it meant but I was protective of it. I didn’t have any legal ownership of it but I protected it. I was careful of who I shared it with. 

At the time I had a part time job and I told my supervisor. Her response was that I better get my act together before I could help anybody else. I can understand why- at the time I had a lot going on. So I let it go. I didn’t do anything with it. When I did my Canfit pro training you have to do a fitness class to demonstrate your learning and I used the Exhale name. 

In 2017 I finally had someone kick my ass and literally wouldn’t let it go until I registered the 

business name. He wanted me to get lots of clients but I started with a retreat and luncheon 

that year. I realized that it does have a purpose for women who are balancing a lot.” 

As she shared about her programs I was curious about the decision to incorporate 3 speaker 

stories in her wellness retreats. 

M: “We all have our stories and we all have our burdens. There is so much power in sharing 

them. When we can look at someone whether they look like us or not. When we hear 

someone’s stories and find some commonalities and recognize ourselves in their story. It’s so powerful. It really reinforces that we’re all the same, we’re on the same journey. Even though we experience it differently. We’re not alone.” 

I wanted to know her thoughts about maintaining balance between teaching and running a business. For many working with kids can be a balancing act in and of itself, adding additional responsibility can be a challenge! 

M: “Teaching is all inclusive. Being an occasional teacher was a choice because the kids need all of you. The expectations and demands from the administration can be overwhelming. I applaud teachers that have kids because it can consume you. And it has to because the kids need you. Schools are places where some kids go to feel safe.”

My number one thing is sleep. I need to be rested or I run out of patience with the kids. 

You have to be able to meet kids where they are. You have to know them and you have to know their background to a certain extent in order to serve them. There are different styles of learning and part of knowing how to teach them is recognizing their personalities and struggles. So sleep, for me, is important

The other is fitness. Movement set to some good music so I can get a good sweat. It feels like a giant exhale for me. You have to be in a good head state to teach. 

When asked if she had any advice or recommendations for teachers or educators she shared that there is little formal support available for teachers. 

M: “ Reach out to professionals. There are so many sad stories out there that you hear and it can weigh on you as a human. Speaking to your family and colleagues may not provide a 

neutral perspective. You have to find a formal outlet. Look for programs that suit your soul like dance classes, art classes. I know of a lady who went to anger management painting classes. You can’t just sit in the corner of your room and do nothing. You have to take time to process your feelings. You can’t just close the door on them. You can cry, absolutely cry, own them and then say “bye-bye”. Through trial and error- experiment, try different things and find what works. Whether it’s taking a bath, setting up a ritual of getting together on a Friday night with your friends on zoom. I know it’s not always easy but where there’s a will there’s a way. You have to do it for yourself. You can’t help anybody else if you don’t help yourself. It has to start with you.”  If you’re in the Niagara region you can join Maria every first Friday of the month for her monthly workshops- some concepts she has focused on in the past have been balance, wrapping yourself in love, and resiliency. I attended her May First Friday and it was a wonderful experience. She packs a lot of value into one hour- combining movement, reflection and food for thought. Keep your eye out for her wellness retreats and her fitness classes. Socacize classes are available online and Total Body Tone is coming soon to the virtual space! 

She also has lots of exciting projects on the docket such as writing a book and collaborating to develop a kids summer camp! You can find her online at or on IG + FB as Exhale Fitness and Community. I encourage you GO find her and follow her. You won't regret it!