Phyllis Reffo

Exercise Physiologist
Certified Pilates Instructor
Swim Coach

Phyllis Reffo has a philosophy of “Kaizen,” a Japanese term that means, “a little bit of improvement in every way, every day.” Changes that are attainable occur in small increments that add up to transformation.

Fitness has been a major focus of life ever since Phyllis was a young child. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Phyllis rode horses as a teen, but then left home at an early age to pursue an international modeling career that eventually led her to London, Tokyo and Milan. Over the years she took an interest in the financial investment world, where she worked for several years, before moving to Malibu. In Malibu, she got married, had two beautiful girls, and owned a boutique shop while working as a Certified Pilates Instructor.

In 2008, Phyllis decided to go back to college to pursue a more expanded career in health & fitness. While attending Santa Monica City College, she took up swimming to rehab from a knee reconstruction surgery. It was there that she was spotted by SMC’s swim coach, Steve Contarsy, who noticed a raw talent and potential she never knew she had: swimming. To her surprise, he asked her to join the swim team and a couple of years later, she walked onto the Pepperdine-Malibu swim team when she transferred to get her degree in Sports Medicine. At the age of 49, Phyllis became the oldest collegiate swimmer to compete in the NCAA.

In the Spring of 2014, Phyllis did her internship with State of the Heart Fitness in her final semester and graduated in April.
Phyllis continues to raise her teenage daughters now as a single mother and continues to be an inspiration to all who know her with her “it’s-never-too-late” outlook on life. As she says, “As a person moves through the different stages of life, exercise and healthy living often take a back seat to other aspects of life: work, family, child care, elder care, etc. It’s important to remember that taking care of oneself is important to be able to live up to all the responsibilities and demands that comes with being an adult. Exercise and fitness allows us to continue to play. Play is important for our mental state and emotional well being. Fitness is a passion, overcoming obstacles is the challenge – overcoming them and excelling is the objective.”

See this article about Phyllis from the National Collegiate Athletic Association.