Most people search high-and-low to find their calling in life. Blayne Soriano had people literally calling, saying: “You should do this.”

Most people shut down, dig in and hang on during a crisis. Blayne Soriano used the pandemic as her moment to open up, offer assistance and hit her personal and professional stride.

It makes sense for a woman who plays against stereotype: a fitness trainer who starts with a person’s spirit; a businesswoman who values personal successes over the bottom line; an entrepreneur always looking for the community angle and the worthy cause.

In her business and personal life, Blayne Soriano can always be found walking – or probably running – the Road Less Traveled.

That’s why she is Yavapai College’s 2022-23 Prescott Campus Alumni of the Year.


A passion for fitness

“I think so many people in business are looking for the wrong thing. I learned a long time ago: if you’re true to yourself and lead by example, you don’t have to ‘sell’ anything.”

Blayne Soriano never sought to be a fitness expert. A Prescott native and Bradshaw High graduate, she graduated from Yavapai College in 2006 and transferred to Mesa State University in Colorado, (now Colorado/Mesa University) earning degrees in Visual Arts Administration and Business. “I started getting into fitness when I was 22 or 23. But I didn’t have a healthy relationship with it, I was falling into the ‘diet culture.’ It wasn’t until later that I started learning about it.”

Married and living in Cancun at the time, she found a complexity to fitness that went beyond fad diets and workouts; it included exercise, nutrition and a holistic, lifestyle-based approach. She also found a community of kindred spirits, in-person and online. “I kind of fell in love with fitness and learning about it. People said, ‘hey, you could do this for a living.’ But I was just sharing what I was learning.”

Then her mother took ill. When Blayne returned to Prescott to take care of her, exercise took on a new importance. “It became my outlet. But I was overtraining – working out four-five hours a day.” Her mother’s death hit Blayne hard, but also gave her a broader perspective. “It taught me life is so short. I’d better do what I need to do.”


Lessons from adversity

Divorced and back in Prescott, she began work as a Crossfit trainer. She found a new community of like-minded people, who valued her ideas and support. “I had gotten fitness certifications and was helping people with nutrition online. I realized, ‘Gosh, the missing link here is shopping and making your own food. If people don’t do that, they’re not going to get results.”

As a favor, she agreed to show a couple of workout buddies how to prepare healthy meals. “I got the groceries. I’m waiting there. But they were boys, 19 and 20, so they were late.” She laughs. “So, I just made all the food. When they got there, I said, ‘Here it is.’ And they said, ‘You should just make this a business.’”

She did. With help from her father and her boyfriend, Blayne began preparing and packaging healthy meals in her home. They were well-received in her community and she began to see a slow build to the business. Cue the pandemic.


Booming under lockdown

At a time when everything ran backwards, Blayne’s calling chose her. “I was building a personal training clientele and training a few girls in my garage. Word got around and people kept asking, ‘Can we get into the garage, too?” Because she had established strong personal ties, clients felt a level of trust with her. “I started training kids who needed something to do. People were saying, ‘When are you going to open your own gym?’”

People were also reluctant to shop, so Blayne’s food prep business took off, too. When most stores, gyms and public places were shuttered, she was packaging healthy meals and coordinating deliveries while people worked out in her garage. “It all just opened up. I thought: ‘How can I make this a win-win? For myself and the community?”

A local gym became available. A client, awaiting military transfer, bartered gym equipment for prepared meals. Things fell into place. “I definitely am a believer in God,” she says. “If it’s meant to be…”

Today, Blayne’s business is thriving on multiple levels. Her gym, downtown near YRMC, is a hive of activity where she supervises workouts with two assistants. Her meal prep business – still expanding, with its own chef – is moving to online ordering. She is recognized as a reliable authority on fitness and nutrition. And her business regularly holds fundraisers for local causes and charitable organizations like Agape House, NoCo Community Kitchen and the Prescott Women’s Shelter.

Through it all, Blayne has stuck with her own program: follow your heart and build through relationships. “Someone asked me the other day, ‘How many [gym] members do you have?’ I don’t know offhand. But I can tell you this girl has lost 16 pounds; this person has more energy; this person has more flexibility. Numbers on a scale aren’t the correct measurement of success. But seeing people change and try harder and show up more – because they’re falling in love with the process and getting results – that’s my favorite thing ever.”