Senior Tori Gazzillo uses her positive energy, motivation skills and love for fitness to help build a community both inside and outside of the Byron Complex.
Gazzillo, and senior Mary Kate Halligan have been the hosts of Prayer Workouts, an integrative way of combining physical and spiritual well-being through organized workout classes, for the past three years.
Gazzillo approached Halligan with the idea for Prayer Workouts during the summer entering their sophomore year. The two had met through a youth group in campus ministries and Gazzillo knew that Halligan would be passionate about both prayer and fitness.
“I very much consider Mary Kate my other half. I tell her that all the time,” Gazzillo said, laughing. “Our friendship is very much built on fitness and God… sharing things that are the foundation for how we both live our lives.”
The dynamic between the two seniors, according to Gazzillo, works perfectly because they both have different ways of working out and expressing their faith. Gazzillo enjoys strength training and praying through the holy trinity, and Halligan prefers cardio fitness and praying through the saints.
Gazzillo, a senior occupational therapy major and counseling and human services minor from Haledon, NJ, was inspired by her older sister’s experience with Hard as Nails Ministries, a Catholic youth organization in Syracuse, NY. There, her sister was given the idea to offer up her workouts for a special intention.
Aside from working out, Gazzillo loves performing and musical theatre, which she is able to do here on campus through LIVA. You can also find Gazzillo on campus as an Orientation Assistant or working in the Center for Service & Social Justice. When she is not busy, she enjoys reading and relaxing in the rose garden and spending time with friends.
The Prayer Workouts, which are open to all faith traditions, have shown enormous development from the time when the two met with a few friends in a racquetball court in the Byron. Still not considered an official club, the group exercise class is sponsored through multiple campus organizations that assist the two seniors with advertisement, facilities, and more.
“Eventually as the program progressed, we got into the aerobics room, got Rec Sports involved, last year we had campus ministries and CHEW involved sponsoring us… it just keeps growing more and more. We’ve had some professors and staff members come so it’s very much a community-wide thing,” Gazzillo said.
Each class begins with a devotional, which is a short daily reading or meditation to promote mindfulness. They use three exercise circuits; core, total body, and leg.
“With each circuit that we do, the exercises remain the same but it’s the intensity that changes,” Gazzillo said.
Both Gazzillo and Halligan are aware that every individual exercises at their own pace and want those who attend to focus on pushing themselves, so workouts are measured in time rather than repetitions.
Steph Adamec, the director of CHEW, reached out to Gazzillo and Halligan proposing that their center, along with Campus Ministries, would donate $5 for each class and use the funds to give back to the Scranton community at the end of each semester.
“We go to a food service warehouse in Carbondale and buy as much fresh produce as possible and we donate it to the St. Francis food pantry so that families could have access to that nutritional wellness that they don’t necessarily get but we were able to provide,” Gazzillo said. “We’ve been able to build a relationship with St. Francis and they look forward to the work we do and seeing us at the end of the semester.”
Gazzillo enjoys the unique dynamic of having individual intentions, sharing those intentions with others in every class, and carrying those intentions out to the greater community through their work with the food pantry.
“I hope it continues even when MK and I aren’t here anymore,” Gazzillo said. “Whether it’s for one year, three years, or 10 years, that’s something that I’d really love to see.”
Prayer Workouts are held every Monday at 7 p.m. and every Friday at 6 p.m. in the Byron Center Aerobics Room.
To meet the other founder of Prayer Workouts, see: Prayer Workouts go beyond aerobics room