Miami Healthy City Guide
Los Angeles may be The United States’ indisputable champion of the healthy eating and wellness scene but other American cities are now emerging from its shadow. Miami is one of them.
So we’ve asked husband and wife team, Claudia Gonzalez and Michel Francoeur - an incredibly inspiring globetrotting duo with illustrious international careers in modeling, acting, TV and business – to tell us why this place is now definitely worth checking out.
Because… this couple really knows their stuff!
Claudia also has a degree in The Science of Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in the USA.
Michel is also a raw vegan chef who studied at the Living Light Institute in Northern California and attended the Matthew Kenney Culinary Institute. He is the co-founder of MAKE OUT, a chic healthy eatery in Los Angeles.
Miami is a place we’ve gotten to know well over the years. It’s indelibly linked to our history – from both a professional and personal point of view – so it holds a special place in our hearts.
It’s where we both started our respective modeling careers and it’s where we fell in love.
Major fashion brands would flock to Miami to shoot in the Art Deco district of South Beach and I got to shoot my first big international campaign here with Diesel Jeans. I also did Marie Claire, Votre Beauté and other amazing fashion magazines.
Michel actually began his modeling career here shooting campaigns with world-renowned photographer Bruce Weber and magazines like Interview, Mondo Uomo, and others.
After transitioning from modeling to TV, I moved from London where I was a MTV Europe VJ to Miami - America’s biggest Hispanic TV market - because I got offered my fist big break and the chance to present “22 Minutos,” my Emmy-nominated show.
Michel and I then lived between Miami and LA from over a year while I was shooting my TV show. So we can literally say that we fell in love thanks to Miami!
Miami, one of the more international cities in the United States, is a fascinating spot because it certainly has changed a lot over the years.
With its seasonally based visitors from around the world and its 70% eclectic floating Latino population, it’s been quite accurately nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America.”
Being a holiday destination, Miami is a playground with fast-fix indulgence for the senses, incredible new high-end design hotels, yachting, a non-stop clubbing and party scene, deluxe shopping, etc.
With its incredible beach-oriented culture, paradise-like climate, beautiful nature and landscape, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is all about the body and mind here…
But the days of models rollerblading and cycling around Ocean Park in their bathing suits - which pioneered Miami’s 90s image as a super healthy, fit and sexy city - are gone. This is understandable in a way since Miami caters to its tourists and visitors.
So the last thing someone wants to hear on holiday in Miami is that they need to refrain and start a diet of healthy habits, work-out every day or go on a cleanse…
As the result, the word “wellness” in the SOBE lingo - yep that’s SOuth BEach - has been more about getting a quick fix in a “vial” than about practicing a healthy lifestyle.
People tend to come here to over indulge and party! Whether it is on food, nightlife or tanning.
So you would think that people don’t really choose to go to Miami for a healthy holiday retreat or a detox wellness escape, right? Well, think again!
The great news is that Miami is changing quickly thanks to a few locals who are spearheading the healthy lifestyle trend and sharing this “goodness” all around!
Here are our favourite players who are creating the health-awareness movement that the locals here have been craving for!
So make sure to check out these little gems that are pioneering the scene that we prefer to call: “The Miami Modern Healthy Makeover!”
This is probably our proudest discovery. I was researching organic food and sustainability for one of my upcoming Miami segments for my Pretty in Green TV series when I came across this jewel. Ssshhhh, it’s my best-kept secret!
Michel and I had the most incredible dinner experience at this organic culinary avant-garde fruit and vegetable farm just south of Miami city in the Homestead area. Chef and farmer Jon along with his girlfriend curated the whole thing and quite honestly, we might as well have been in heaven or Thailand!
They also host farm to table vegetarian soirees during the Miami season, tours and tastings
Every week, they sell their exotic produce. And oh, they even have a food truck offering the yummiest TREATS!
- Coconut Grove Farmers’ Market: This is Florida’s oldest organic market and a place we should all definitely support!
This is the new kid on the block having just opened this year at the Bakehouse Art Complex. It is a cool initiative that mixes artisanal makers and organic produce with of course some great art and music!
This place has been around for years and it’s only getting better and better! A local secret when you don’t want to deal with the craze at the local Wholefoods supermarket. It’s a little oasis where you can have an amazing natural smoothie or a veggie organic burger on the go and stock up on shopping basics.
Having pioneered the organic cold-pressed juice era in Miami, these fun and dynamic juice bars are not only multiplying quickly but also serving healthy organic bites on the go. Whether you are bilingual or not, you’ve got to love their product names and their great taste of course! You can’t go wrong with the ‘El green-go’ juice and one of their breakfast bowls like the ‘El Dragon” to start your day! You‘ll get hooked! Who said vegans don’t have a sense of humour?!
A down to earth wholefood plant-based cafe in the Coral Gables area with a social awareness and nutritionally- oriented philosophy. They also offer healthy nutrition and fitness training programmes with in-house nutritionists and health coaches that are up to the challenge. Athletes are welcomed too!
Still going strong after so many years! But who can blame them? They probably have one of the most beautiful sunsets to watch and practice yoga to, in a breathtaking outdoor setting over looking the bay.
You can’t deny them their sexy holistic vibe with their outdoors mud bath therapy (bikini optional). This is your one-stop wonder in South Beach - from holistic retreats, Ayurveda consultations, full moon yoga to stand up paddleboard (SUP) yoga nirvana, they have it All! They even have raw food vegan bites at their garden cafe.
So “Get your sexy on”…! Literally! They have a wellness/integrative program with that name! Based on transformational exercises and hypnosis, they teach you to become a magnetic goddess or an Adonis. We have yet to try it though… Not sure about hypnotherapy yet…
The hotel just re-opened in 2014 after two years of remodeling to upgrade this Art Deco building. This is by far one of the most exciting and unique newcomers to Miami, with a spa at the top offering Ayurvedic and Shirodhara massages which are all done with natural oils.
Make sure you ask for Annette when you go. She taps into the deeper healing mind body & soul programs too. One of their most popular treatments is Harmonyum, an energy healing and soul development spiritual massage.
There is also a gorgeous yoga space with a good selection of classes curated by Naam Yoga.
And the cherry on top, we’ll say, is the most sought after and awaited happening in Miami.
This fall will see the opening of The Sacred Space Miami in the heart of the design District, an urban oasis of wellbeing and social wellness transformation as well as home to the plant-based eatery White Lotus and The Matthew Kenney Culinary School Miami, a raw plant-based living foods academy.
Both spots are curated by Matthew Kenney, a pioneering celebrity chef in the raw plant-based food movement in the United States and one of Michel’s partners in MAKE OUT.
This restaurant and kitchen will definitely redefine the healthy eating movement in Miami, both from an upscale and quality perspective. After that, standards will be set for Miami as a truly legit avant-garde health hub…! This restaurant and kitchen
Although modern healthy eating and exercising are only catching up in Florida, one thing you can’t deny Miami, is its spiritual side.
We always used to joke around saying that is probably easier to find a spiritual bootcamp than a good organic salad!
Thanks to the multicultural mix of its locals, Miami is at the absolute epicenter of the alternative therapies realm. From crystal healings, colour therapy, aura readings, Qigong, tantra workshops, fire and drumming ceremonies, Reiki sessions, the list of alternative healing techniques is long. If curiosity itches, pay a visit to the Bagua Center and gift shop, where the mystic world awaits.
Claudia is currently working on her TV show and online global media platform and community Pretty in Green, the Sustainable Life in Style, a brand-new destination for all things eco-friendly and in style – design, fashion, beauty and health. Learn more about her here:
As the creative director of MAKE OUT, Michel is overseeing the operations and expansion of the business. They’ll be opening more plant-based cafes soon so make sure you check them out!
Instagram: @MICHEL_FRANCOEUR @CLAUDIAGONZALEZTV
Edited by Chantal Ouimet