Summer Montabone gives her local picks

You may recognize Summer Montabone from her days as a professional fitness athlete. The Jackson Township resident not only won the overall National Physique Committee Ohio State Fitness & Figure Championship and the “Tall Class” of the NPC in Texas in 2004, but she also has appeared in national fitness magazines and on DVDs as a model.

You may recognize Summer Montabone from her days as a professional fitness athlete.

The Jackson Township resident not only won the overall National Physique Committee Ohio State Fitness & Figure Championship and the “Tall Class” of the NPC in Texas in 2004, but she also has appeared in national fitness magazines and on DVDs as a model.

But Montabone, who has retired from professional bodybuilding, says don’t pigeonhole her based on her old life. The mother of two girls still is involved with fitness but says she’s found her calling: Helping people to feel better about themselves.

“I realized after having my children that my true passion was health and helping people with a healthier lifestyle,” said Montabone, who struggled with anxiety and postpartum depression following the births of Lennox, 6, and Layna, 4. “Those (bodybuilding awards) were great accomplishments, but it was not the lifestyle for me.”

The founder of Summer’s Fitness at 8050 Frank Avenue NW in Jackson Township says even her fitness facility, which has trained some of the top bodybuilding athletes including the reigning Bikini Olympia champion since it opened in 2007, has evolved. It no longer focuses on training elite athletes, but her staff of seven looks to help a more general population live a healthier lifestyle.

“I love to coach and mentor my staff at Summer’s Fitness so they can make an impact in the lives of others through fitness and nutrition,” said Montabone, a 1994 Akron Manchester High School graduate.

Montabone said she also has found a global platform to impact the lives of women through Arbonne International, a personal skin care and wellness product company, where she is a regional vice president.

“With my fitness center, I can’t take it everywhere and not everybody can come to me,” she said. “I can take (Arbonne) anywhere, and I’m able to meet people that I never would have had the opportunity to do so.”

MONTABONE’S LOCAL PICKS:
Favorite restaurants:
Bender’s Tavern, Lucia’s Steakhouse and Table Six Kitchen + Bar
Benders: “We appreciate things that are classic or have some history behind them, and obviously the food and the atmosphere we really like,” Montabone said. Her favorite dish is the chef’s special on scallops.

Lucia’s Steakhouse: “We like to frequent local businesses, and at Lucia’s, we love their steaks. They’ve also gotten to know me and my husband, so they take care of you,” said Montabone, who has hosted some of her events at the restaurant. “It’s comfortable to do business with them.”

Table Six kitchen + Bar: “I like that there’s a variety of options and you can make healthy choices there. They have a fun atmosphere, and we have that appreciation for local business owners,” said Montabone, who recently used the restaurant’s interior room for her husband’s surprise birthday party. “Good choices, good food and a good staff.”

Most admired CEO or business owner:
Kay Feagles: retired Raymond James Financial investment counselor, community trustee and founding chair of Women’s Impact. She’s also a member of Summer’s Fitness.
“I’ve just always had an admiration and attraction for females that have gone into uncharted territory and want to make an impact,” Montabone said. “I respect her and look up to her.”

Favorite place to take the kids:
Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and the McKinley National Memorial
“We appreciate the education and the history,” Montabone said. “(Our daughters) like the monument, and they like to go up the steps.” She said her daughters have asked lots of questions about the monument, including “If Donald trump is in there, too, and why does (McKinley) have so many steps leading up to his house?”

Favorite lunch spot:
BAM! Healthy Cuisine
“You can make great, flavorful, healthy options there,” Montabone said. “I met Ashley (Fockler) a really long time ago, and I like to support other female entrepreneurs. She’s super nice, and her place is nice.” Montabone said among her favorites are the sautéed veggie fresh greens with salmon and the buffalo pizza.

Favorite indoor activity:
“The girls love the Sky Zone Trampoline Park. That’s a favorite place,” Montabone said.

Favorite spot to workout:
“Summer’s Fitness, of course. I like to say we are a community. We aren’t just a place to go work out,” Montabone said. “We truly want to make an impact on people’s lives. We transform lives, not just bodies.”

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass