Performer, Fitness Trainer, and Owner of the Connecticut-based fitness studio,
Work It Dance & Fitness, Michelle Abbruzzese is getting people in shape with her DANCE YOURSELF FIT DVD's. The workouts are Burlesque inspired infused with aerobic exercises. Michelle knows first hand what it takes to train the mind and body after being faced with many hurdles in her life. Continue reading her Fitness Files interview below to get a dose of your mid-week motivation.
NMF: Has fitness always been a major part of your life or was there a catalyst/point in your life when you made it more of a focus and priority?
Michelle Abbruzzese (MA): Fitness has always been a part of my life. My mom said ever since I could walk, I was on the go! My mom put me into dance classes when I was 3. In high school, besides dancing, I joined a martial arts team and trained with athletes such as Michael Jai White (Why Did I Get Married 1 and 2, Undisputed 2, Black Dynamite) and Billy Blanks (Tae Bo). In college I became a Uconn Huskies Varsity Cheerleader and was named Captain. After college, I performed with a number of professional dance/cheer teams for Pro (New England Patriots) and semi-pro sports teams. I taught dance at a local gym from 2001-2010. In 2008, I started taking pole dancing for fitness and in 2010, I began to study belly dance. In 2010, my husband and I opened Work It Dance and Fitness, CT's first and only co-ed pole dancing and dance-based fitness studio.
In 2005, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which I am still battling today. Keeping my body fit has been instrumental, mentally and physically, while I battled this disease.
NMF: What are a few of your go-to healthy snacks/drinks that help keep you on the straight and narrow?
MA: My go-to snacks/drinks are as follows:
1. Alkaline water
2. Orgain Protein Shakes (Chocolate, yum!)
3. Dark Chocolate (over 73% cacao)
4. Gluten free banana pancakes with chia seeds and pecans
5. Toasted coconut milk/almond milk blend
6. Green Tea / Pau d'Arco tea
7. Udi's Gluten Free "Everything Inside" bagels with Melt (coconut based butter) and almond butter
NMF: At Nadia Murdock Fit our motto is “Train Your Mind, Change Your Body” so we must ask: How do you train your mind and stay motivated?
MA: That's the hard part for me. I'm a lazy person trapped in an active person's body. It's one of the main reasons I started to teach dance/fitness. If I have people relying on me to be there, it will force me to have to be active too. There are some days that I am literally dragging myself to the studio. When I get there, I bring a positive attitude, high energy, and the clients give it right back. I always feel great once I actually start moving.
If I am doing my own training, it is usually deadlines that keep me motivated. Whether it's a competition, a performance, or preparing to teach a workshop, if I know I have a certain amount of time to prepare, it makes me a more motivated person.
NMF: How do you change your body? What are your fitness favorites?
MA: It is much harder in my 40's to change my body than it was in my 20s and 30s. My fitness favorite is the activity that changed my body the most...pole dancing. I am in better shape now in my mid-40s with cancer, than I was any other time in my life. I nicknamed my style of pole dancing "Vertical Cross Fit" because of how physical the workout is and how fast you can see your body change. It builds strength, flexibility,and fluidity of movement. I was so impressed how I looked and felt, that I opened my studio, Work It Dance and Fitness that focuses on it!
My other favorites are Burlesque; which makes me feel cheeky and sexy while activating the majority of the muscles in my body. I dress up in Burlesque clothes and lower the lights to teach my cabaret-style class. It's so much fun, you forget that you are working out (until the next day when your muscles are sore, lol). My fitness mentor, Ellen Barrett, told me for years to make my own Burlesque Fitness video and I finally did! It's how my "Dance Yourself Fit" video was created!
I also love my Tone and Tighten workout! It allows me to take the skills that I have learned in my many decades of dance/fitness and form an isometric weight training class. I use very light weights, and will incorporate other equipment such as fitness bands, fitness straps, and small rubber balls to perform small, concise movements; similar to what you would see in a Barre class or a Pilates class. The results are more toned arms, legs, abs, and butts! It's much more challenging than it looks! I've had very fit men take my class and jokingly curse my name down the street because their muscles were still shaking! I decided to make my "Tone and Tighten" video in hopes to motivate people of any age and fitness level to become healthier!
For more information on Michelle visit: www.workitfit.com
Training minds, changing bodies!
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