Have seen some of the commercials for the 2016 Olympics this summer in Rio? The Brazilian dancing featured not only looks fun but an amazing workout too! So I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview Brazilian performer Vanessa Agle Isaac. Vanessa is a dancer, choreographer and dance instructor. She is the founder of Vanessa Isaac Lifestyle and Hip Brazil, a lifestyle company, and the director of the Vanessa Agle Isaac Dance Company. Continue reading the Fitness Files interview below to learn more about Brazilian dance and how Vanessa never skips a workout!
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?
Vanessa Agle Issac (VAI): I have been a dancer since an early age when I started ballet, and since my teen years, I have always loved going for long walks. Moving my body has become a habit for me. I used to rollerblade as a kid too, which was wonderful. Exercise (fitness) and sports (besides dancing) happened later in my life while I was in college. Brazilian dance has been amazing for me because it transformed not only my body but the way I feel about my body. It also helped transform me from a super shy kid to a confident woman. It’s so important to feel good in your own skin… it’s my dream for every woman.
I find that when I don’t prioritize my fitness and wellness, everything else gets stuck. My creativity does not flow the same. My immune system really declines and I get more colds and flus. Of course, I gain weight and I don’t feel good about my body, and I have less energy for life…. The good news is that as soon as I go back to my fitness and dancing schedule, everything starts improving again. The body is really amazing! It wants to move… I also find sports are really fun. Soccer, volleyball and stand up paddle… I want to explore more sports. It makes me feel so alive. Of course, nothing beats dancing for me!
NMF: What are a few of your go-to healthy snacks/drinks that help keep you on the straight and narrow?
VAI: Drinks: I love sparkling water with a fresh squeezed lime or lemon and a little bit of stevia, it tastes like a cocktail but it is healthy and refreshing at the same time. I even drink it at happy hour and it’s so good!
Around 3pm “crash time”, I love to drink half cup of orange juice with a half cup of water. You get the vitamin C and energy boost but only half of the sugar from the juice.
Snacks: My favorites are a little piece of whole wheat toast with avocado, a handful of nuts without salt, hummus with veggies or a little piece of pita (I love!), a banana with a little bit of honey on top.
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 body?
VAI: First, I love to dance so it’s easy for me to do that part of the sweat. But when it comes to toning and the fitness portion I have to visualize how I want to feel and look. It’s easy if I give myself little goals like: “summer is around the corner and I want to wear my Brazilian bikini” or “I really want to have energy to teach or perform”….
I have my morning rituals. After my morning meditation, I visualize my day and how I want to feel and what I want to accomplish. When you program your mind everything becomes easier. Most of the time when I include exercise time in my visualization my mind don’t let me down until I get it done. It feels uncomfortable to finish the day without doing it. Everyone should try this technique, it really works, the mind is the boss.
I find the worst part is starting the fitness session, but once you are 10 minutes into it you start loving the feeling of moving because endorphins kick in, you feel great!
NMF: How do you change your body? What are your fitness favorites?
VAI: I change my body by making better choices of what I put in my body and creating new habits. You must have awareness of what you are putting in your body and what the reasons are for doing so. Are you over-eating because you are stressed or anxious? Why are you eating all the junk food? Is it emotional eating? What I always say is “body, mind and soul” work together. If you don’t address the real issues you may lose weight for a little while but you will eventually put it back on. You may feel great and healthy for a few months but it won’t last. So quiet time everyday is part of my program, so can we hear our emotions and know why and when we are sabotaging ourselves (and the reason for it). Getting in touch with your body and mind is a must if you truly desire wellness in your life.
Drink less alcohol and eat less sugar. But no deprivation is my mantra so I believe everyone deserves a treat once a while or life becomes dull. We just must pay attention to the portions and quality of if!
In terms of fitness, I usually like to do several things during the week so I don’t get bored. Dancing always, because it involves the entire body. Dance is a great cardio workout, It’s fun, plus works your flexibility and how you carry yourself. Brazilian dance allows you to really express yourself and move your whole body, you feel it… you feel sexy, you feel the energy, you feel your soul is smiling! Pilates is a great core work out, of course. I love walking and light running on the beach because I get to be outside and sweat… I do it three or four times a week.
I also add some toning exercises everyday: abs, butt, legs, upper-body. Compound exercises, such as squats, are great and a time saver because they work more than one muscle group at time. Usually I mix squats and lunges in my dance routines and videos or during the warm-up too. People don’t even realize they have done so many of them, it’s just part of the dance choreography but the other day the dancers tell me… “ My God Vanessa, my butt was so sore after your class!”
When I really need to step up my fitness routine I just do more intense cardio sessions and more toning exercises. It usually works fast but the key is the intensity and the consistency. No skipping workouts! My daily workouts last anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending how much time I have in the day. The body loves to move…. Live, love and sweat!
- For more information about Vanessa please visit her website www.vanessaisaac.com
- Connect with her socially: Twitter @hipbrazil, IG @braziliandancefitness
Training minds, and changing bodies!
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