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Sarasota Thursday, Jul. 25, 2019 10 months ago

Picture of Health: Raphael Carlisi

The Sarasota resident uses time at the gym to keep himself sharp at his job.
by: Harry Sayer Black Tie Reporter

Raphael Carlisi had an epiphany shortly after moving to Sarasota about a year ago: Most of the people he saw on the street were in great shape.

“I said, ‘I definitely have to do something,’” Carlisi said. “I’ve always worked out with weights, but I felt like I needed to do something more to get that body fat down.”

Now at 215 pounds with self-proclaimed 9% body fat, Carlisi said he’s satisfied with his level of fitness. But his time at the gym isn’t for purely physical benefits. There’s a feeling that Carlisi works to maintain through exercise — he calls it an edge.

That edge can be a tricky thing for Carlisi to define. In any case, it’s a feeling of control and achievement that the 42-year-old car dealership finance manager has tried to maintain since he was 15.

Carlisi, who was born in Ocala, started exercising in high school when he decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. He figured that staying in shape would give him a clarity and an advantage when trying out for the job.

That particular career was short lived. Carlisi left the force after only two years; a high-speed chase with a robbery suspect ended in a major crash that left him rattled. He entered the car industry soon after.

There was one constant in Carlisi’s life during this time of change. He said he continued to exercise and stay in shape as a form of stress relief that has allowed him to achieve his goals faster and more efficiently.

It’s been a productive form of escape for him ever since.

“Fitness for me has always been more of a mental [benefit],” he said. “I saw the physical results and was satisfied. But mentally, for me, it was a relief. … I felt a lot more accomplished, and it gave me something to look forward to it. I felt like I had goals.”

There’s also the matter of making time for the gym, which is often no small thing. Carlisi aims to work out five days a week at the gym and typically averages around four days. He works out the basics, including chest, back, shoulders, biceps and legs, while making time for rest days and cardio.

Although his position at the dealership allows him memberships at a number of local gyms, he prefers Around The Clock Fitness for its “real” atmosphere.

“I prefer [working out] in the mornings,” Carlisi said. “It gets your head right. You have all those good endorphins. You get to work, and you’re feeling positive.”

He makes sure to fit some cardio with a view into his schedule, too. Carlisi runs the John Ringling Causeway early in the morning once or twice every week to keep his head clear.

Carlisi now focuses maintenance. He said he hopes to maintain his current level of fitness and keep his body fat low. The way he has done that is finding a routine and sticking to it where he started off with a few days of exercise and has slowly increased the amount since.

“Find some type of motivation that’ll push you to do it,” Carlisi said. “Create a plan, and stick to it. And don’t go too hard off the bat. Create a two- or three-day obligation that you commit to. No matter how you feel, just push through it.”

As for his diet, he keeps the protein high and the carbs low — grilled chicken and salmon are a priority — but makes sure to treat himself to some pizza or barbecue every week or two. More recently, he has taken up intermittent fasting, where he stops eating at 7 p.m. and only starts again at 1 or 2 p.m. the next day.

“I do it at least five times a week,” he says. “The days I’m off, I’m going to eat breakfast and enjoy myself. It’s very hard to intermittent fast, especially when you’re working out and burning that much fuel. Your body craves you to stuff your face with food. … I’ve noticed a big difference.”

It’s a tricky system full of moving parts and routines, but Carlisi keeps it all going to keep his edge.


Harry Sayer is the Black Tie Reporter for the Observer. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida and previously worked the Black Tie beat for the Observer newspaper in Winter Park and Maitland. You can catch him at one of Sarasota's fundraisers and shindigs. 

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