Hello everyone! This piece will be the third installment of my newest series titled “Da Hood Prospects”, where I’ll introduce readers to inner-city youth that are rising stars in their respective fields of work. Enjoy, and please share it with your friends.
- This piece is dedicated to Anyelina’s mother, and all her “Angeles”.
- Esta pieza está dedicada a la madre de Angelina y a todos sus “Ángeles”.
When Anyelina was four years old, she helped save the life of a dying stranger, in her hometown of the Dominican Republic.
It was late in the evening, and she was traveling through the city alongside her mother.
Transporting on a motorcycle, Anyelina notices a trail of blood on this narrow, dirt road. Oozing with curiosity, she motioned for her mother to stop the vehicle so they could inspect the area.
As they parked, they heard the cries of someone groaning in pain.
Following the sound, they found the man with his leg caught in the barbed wire that surrounded the road. He had flown off his own vehicle minutes before.
Although alive, he was unconscious and bleeding slowly.
Calm at first, Anyelina became overwhelmed, feeling sympathetic for this stranger nearing his death.
As she weeps, her mother attempts to get the attention of traveling drivers & motorists, who ride past her.
From their location, the nearest hospital was ninety minutes away. The two begin to worry as this man waits in extreme discomfort.
Anyelina’s mother finally contacts her uncle, who lived nearby, for assistance. He quickly arrives at the scene.
Fed up with their pleas for help going ignored, the uncle stops one driver, who had no interest in pulling over.
As the driver steps out of the vehicle, the uncle explains to him that this dying man is in need of medical assistance.
Wanting to go about his day, he tunes the uncle out, not caring for the sob story.
As a last resort, the uncle threatens the driver with his gun, urging him once more to take this stranger to a hospital.
A young Anyelina witnessed this entire episode unfold. She forgot what happened next.
That evening was her first real look at the harsh realities of life.
She questioned why it took such extreme measures for someone to help a stranger dying in front of them.
Never knowing how naturally selfish humans were, from that point on, she dedicated her life to helping others.
Two years later, she crossed paths with the same stranger whose life she helped save.
As they spoke, he expressed his appreciation for the act of kindness she committed that night.
That conversation changed Anyelina’s life and planted the seeds for the person she’d grow to be.
Born in the Dominican Republic in 2001, Anyelina grew up with a large, tight-knit family, in the city of Santiago.
She was an active, free-spirited child, infatuated with nature and the animals that roamed the country.
The Dominican Republic is also where she developed her confidence.
Thin, and underweight for most of her childhood, she still walked with high spirits, despite being surrounded by beautiful, curvy women each day.
Anyelina learned many of the morals and values she lives by, from her biggest role model, her mother.
A fearless woman, her mother was someone that took every task in front of her head-on.
Well-rounded as a young adult, she owned a sandal shop, worked as a party planner, and coached a softball team for the girls in their community.
Armed with a hustling mentality, Anyelina admired her mother’s strong work ethic.
Anyelina would move several times from the Dominican Republic to New York City, where her father lived, ahead of her freshman year of high school.
She enrolled in Frederick Douglass Academy, where she & I both graduated in 2019.
Merely associates during high school, we developed mutual respect following graduation, and became good friends, supporting each other’s endeavors as we navigate our college careers.
For Anyelina, high school was the best four years of her life.
Already a social butterfly, she easily made friends and participated in extracurricular activities, where she gained a number of valuable life skills.
None would resonate with her more, than what she learned while on the track team.
Joining the squad in her sophomore year, Anyelina struggled mightily from the beginning, lacking the proper technique needed to excel in the sport.
Despite the rocky start, she never became discouraged.
Around this time is when she established a relationship with Suki, the team’s captain.
An exceptional athlete, Suki led by example, running as fast as she could during each practice, always trying to push past her limits.
Her drive and determination helped her become one of New York City’s top runners.
Inspired by Suki’s discipline, Anyelina would use that inspiration to her advantage.
Ahead of her junior year, the only thing on her mind was becoming the team’s top athlete when she returned to school.
That summer, she trained each day in Inwood Hill Park, from sunrise to sunset, improving her endurance.
If she wasn’t there, you’d find her at the Joseph Yancey Track and Field, building stamina and increasing her speed.
Her effort paid dividends. When the team reconvened at the start of the school year, her coach and teammates saw a noticeable jump in her performance.
That season, she surpassed the times she had made as a sophomore by a sizable margin, racking up her first award in the process.
Her upward trajectory continued when she became a senior, as she was named the team’s co-captain.
She had come a long way within the track program, from where she first started less than two years ago.
Unfortunately for Anyelina, life would take a turn for the worse.
Midway through her senior year, one of her uncles fell victim to cancer. Her first time losing a relative, his death sent her into a downward spiral.
The next few months were unremarkable. She stopped attending her classes, quit her job, and eventually left the track team.
And being a part of such a large family, the thought of enduring this emotional pain over and over again, scared her.
This tragedy sparked the beginning of a dark, depressing period for Anyelina.
Luckily, Kaizen would become the blessing that lifted her out of that dark place.
The definition of the word “Kaizen”, is continuous improvement within the workplace, as each employee in an operation plays a key component, to the success of the whole.
Originating from Japan, Anyelina discovered the term during the aforementioned “Summer of Redemption” between her sophomore and junior year.
Whenever she needed motivation, she’d return to that term in particular.
As she mourned the death of her uncle, she incorporated the concept into her life.
For over a month, Anyelina would simply post “Kaizen” on her social media, as a reminder to steadily improve.
Whether it was in school, or in her social life, each coinciding day was an opportunity for her to get better.
As a result, she gradually came to peace with her uncle’s passing, even though the thought of him still brings her to tears every now and then.
However, she learned that death is inevitable, and it’s crucial that she lived life to the fullest.
From that point on, that’s exactly what she’s been striving to do.
Anyelina found a new job and eventually returned to the sports scene.
She joined FDA’s lacrosse team as a manager, finding a family outside her own that helped her regain that competitive spirit she yearned for.
The team also consoled her emotionally as she continued to grieve.
Slowly but surely, Anyelina would get back on her feet.
Around this time is when fitness became one of her several passions.
Today, Anyelina works on her body every day, for at least an hour, enjoying the pain that comes with each exercise.
And just a few years ago, she would train alongside friends and associates willing to accompany her.
Over time, she lost patience for workout partners who repeatedly failed to attend sessions.
To prevent her time from being wasted, she began charging people for workouts.
And with that, “Sweat with Angeles” was born.
Officially launching this past Summer, “Sweat with Angeles” is Anyelina’s fitness program, where she changes the lives of her clients physically, and psychologically.
The program’s moniker stems from an excessive amount of sweating clients do from her workouts.
The name “Angeles” (ahng-he-les) means “angels” in English and is also Anyelina’s middle name. She refers to her clients as her “Angeles.”
Thus far, the program has been a success. Currently, she’s training almost thirty clients and is booked for the remainder of this year.
Her program features both indoor and outdoor training.
Outdoor sessions include cardio workouts, which take place at Inwood Park. These hour-long workouts consist of squats, jumping jacks, sprints, very few water breaks, and meditation.
Indoor sessions consist of rigorous weight training, which is performed in a nearby gym.
Anyelina’s favorite part about her fitness program is the body transformation of her clients.
A vast majority of her “Angeles” are women, and most of them notice a significant change in their bodies after three weeks.
These pictures help build her credibility and is proof to potential clients that her training brings desirable results.
She also enjoys getting to know her clients internally.
At times in the midst of a session, some clients give up when exercises become difficult.
At that point, Anyelina encourages them to dig deep and push as hard as they can go.
Some “Angeles” climb these mental hurdles, while others break down, exposing vulnerability.
When this happens, Anyelina becomes comforting and supportive, allowing them to open up to her.
By doing this, it ensures that her clients feel comfortable in her presence, regardless of their emotions.
One of her pet peeves when training, is clients who aren’t committed to the grind and don’t return after a few sessions.
She’s already envisioned how your body will evolve before you begin training.
By walking away from her program, you’re robbing her of that vision.
Anyelina enjoys working with all her “Angeles”, but one, in particular, stands out: her first client, Myangel.
Myangel began her training this past summer, initially struggling to get through workouts.
As the two continued to train, Myangel slowly opened up to Anyelina.
You see, a handful of Anyelina’s clients suffer through personal trauma, which prevents them from reaching their goals.
Exercising with her helps turn that negative energy into something positive.
For Myangel, once she confronted her demons, she took off.
Her body began to change, her diet improved, and she started completing her own workouts at home.
“Sweat with Angeles” helped Myangel grow into a new person, for the better.
I think it’s safe to say that Anyelina is making her mark through her fitness program.
However, that’s not what she ultimately wants to be known for.
Despite fitness being one of her passions, deep down, Anyelina sees herself as a philanthropist, on a daily mission to help others.
“Kaizen By A”, Anyelina’s clothing brand, officially launched in the summer of 2019.
She always enjoyed wearing activewear while exercising but got tired of wearing brands like Nike & Adidas. So, she decided to create clothing of her own.
A nice touch, the brand’s official logo, a gold dragon, is a sign of honor to the Japanese culture.
Although Kaizen By A is an activewear brand, Anyelina says there lies a bigger picture behind the operation.
During our two-hour interview, she explained to me that clothing is a starting base that will eventually fund her plans for the future.
Just look at the brand’s official slogans:
- “One percent better every day.”
- “There’s always room to improve.“
- “Kaizen.” (continuous improvement)
By reading them, you can easily sense the type of mindset Anyelina carries every single day.
You also notice it through the impressive goals she’s set out for herself.
Ultimately, her vision for Kaizen By A is a program that works with youth in the underprivileged neighborhoods where she grew up.
In ten years, she hopes to build athletic compounds across New York City, so its children have a safe place to play sports recreationally.
She also plans on building a school in the Dominican Republic, one that offers students creative freedom, and grants them the opportunity to explore different career fields after graduation, a luxury not common in the country.
Watching from a distance, I’ve seen the steps Anyelina has taken to achieve her goals. She’s the walking definition of Kaizen.
And, Anyelina is well aware of the time & energy she’s been exerting.
She admits that her lifestyle is difficult to maintain, as she enjoys completing multiple projects simultaneously.
Nonetheless, she assures me that she hasn’t reached this success alone.
She credits her accomplishments to an abundance of amazing people.
First, her family, “Seven out of Seven.”
The seven of them (herself, Dee, Mata, Unique, Kiara, Janel, and Maria) met during high school and built a strong bond throughout those four years that still remains today.
The group is supportive & cheers on all of Anyelina’s achievements.
Outside of her fitness program & brand, Anyelina has aspirations to attend law school.
Her reasoning is to acquire the knowledge necessary to maintain the many business ventures she’ll create in the future.
She also wants to utilize that knowledge to battle the politicians in these urban communities and fight for its residents. She hopes to be the voice for those without a platform.
When it’s all said and done, Anyelina wants to be remembered as someone who strives for greatness continuously, while helping others.
And she’s already laying the groundwork for just that.
And in the coming months, she’ll be unveiling a few collections of clothing, with special importance to her.
With all that being said, Anyelina is truly working her behind off to make sure her complete vision comes to fruition.
It’s honestly a sight to see.
I know I speak for many when I say that I’m very excited about what the future holds for her, and Kaizen.
If you made it to the end, thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment if you enjoyed this piece. And please, share this with your friends!
Special shoutout to her family “Seven out of Seven”, Dee, Mata, Unique, Maria, Kiara, & Janel. Shoutout to Davon, Sira, Zujein, Fatima, Aicha, and everyone that’s supported Kaizen. You all played an instrumental role in Anyelina’s success.