STRONGER FOR LIFE – A Review by Cynthia Flores

STRONGER FOR LIFE – A Review by Cynthia Flores

This new documentary is not just about an internationally known physical trainer with arms stronger than most men. It’s a real “American Dream” story that hits the massive wall of cancer along its journey. A native of Florence, Italy, Ilaria Montagnani arrived in New York City as a non-English-speaking immigrant at age nineteen. She wanted the opportunity that America affords those that dare to dream and work hard for what they want. She quickly fell in love with her new country. Combining her passion for martial arts and aerobic exercise, Ilaria found her gift for teaching others how to stay fit in a different way. Over the next 20 years, Ilaria has overcome many obstacles as a pioneering woman entrepreneur, developing weight-training and fitness workout programs based on martial arts. She is the number one trainer in NYC and has trained over forty-two thousand students in live classes with her methods. She came to America with nothing and built a good life for herself in the big apple doing what she’s passionate about.

Then in August of 2016, Ilaria was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, for most victims, if found early enough, breast cancer is not a death sentence. For an athlete such as Ilaria, however, it was threatening her ability to work, her livelihood, and the motivation for her life.

There was only one question that I had while watching this documentary: When did they decide to make it? When Ilaria was first diagnosed with cancer, were they already shooting for something else? A few of her reaction shots looked staged. Which is not uncommon in some documentaries. However, the footage improves later and looks legit. In fact, the cinematography of Noriko Sugiura is well suited to help tell this intimate portrait of such a strong woman’s fight against this disease.

In Stronger for Life, you feel like you’re a fly on the wall as we see how Ilaria embodies her philosophy that has inspired so many. As she says, “When you develop the discipline to train your body and find the determination to do it even when it’s hard, when it’s uncomfortable, and you push past that, you develop the mental strength to face life’s challenges. Exercise makes you stronger for life.”

I give Stronger For Life a 3.75-star rating. It’s a good study of how this powerhouse of a woman lives her life.


Rated: NR

Selig Rating: 3.75 Stars

Running Time:1hr 15min


Release: July 20th, VOD, and Blu-Ray /DVD

Starring: Ilaria Montagnani, Gabriella Montagnani, Omar Sandoval


The Selig Rating Scale:

5 Stars – Excellent movie, well worth the price.

4 Stars – Good movie

3 Stars – OK movie

2 Stars – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.

1 Star – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.

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