The holidays, with their inevitable chaos of parties, planning, and one too many pieces of chocolate peppermint bark, often keep us putting off fitness until January 1st. But what if we set healthy habits in place now to last us 365 days and beyond? Call us crazy, but we think that now more than ever is the perfect time to take positive action. Sometimes all we need is the right person to inspire change, impart wisdom, and introduce us to how capable we really are. Enter Stephanie Vitorino.
As one of the most sought-after fitness pros in the business, Stephanie is truly a force to be reckoned with. With a slew of best-selling signature “Vbody” workout DVDs and packed classes at the prestigious Equinox West Los Angeles, Stephanie has redefined what it means to be strong. She tours the country headlining fitness events and conferences; appearing regularly in the media to share her wealth of knowledge and bright smile. On top of it all, she has just recently launched a series of live and on-demand classes through SpiroFit – which allows you to work out with Stephanie any time, anywhere.
Stephanie’s physical strength is simply a mirror of who she is as a person. Her workouts are challenging, yet always positive with her signature dash of humor. We sat down with Stephanie for some serious fit-spiration to last us through the holidays and year-round.
The Chalkboard Mag: How did you first discover fitness, and how did that initial passion morph from a hobby into a career path?
Stephanie Vitorino: “I was an overweight kid, so growing up was never about sports or fitness, in fact I was always picked last for the team. But then at around 8th grade my P.E. teacher encouraged me to try dancing! My mom enrolled me in classes and that sparked a passion inside of me that eventually led me to fitness. Fitness has been my career for over 12 years and truly is my joy.”
TCM: So many people, women especially, shy away from strength training and the dynamic movement that might not be as familiar as their go-to routine. Why is it so important to incorporate this kind of training into your exercise regimen on a regular basis?
SV: “Strength training and conditioning is essential to staying fit and young. I think more and more women are finding a renewed confidence and self-esteem in showing off their hard earned biceps. Seriously, I can’t tell you how many people stop me to compliment my arms! When I finish a tough workout, I have a huge sense of pride knowing I didn’t give up. So the importance of strength training for women is not only in the bonus of a hard body, but it’s in the gift of self worth.”
TCM: You truly make even the most advanced of moves seem not only accessible, but enjoyable. That energy and positive reinforcement can make all the difference, especially to newbies. How can someone who is just getting into fitness – or wants to try something completely different – muster up the motivation and courage to get going?
SV: “One of my favorite comments by a student in class was “I feel like you kicked my a** but held my hand at the same time”. You should never feel like a workout is a punishment. Instead if you approach it from a place of positivity and unity with not only yourself, but with others than there is nothing you cannot do. That’s why I am so passionate about Group Fitness. It’s a way for someone new to fitness to be around others who were also once intimidated or unmotivated to workout. Surrounding yourself with examples of what you what to be is inspiration.”
TCM: With the holidays approaching, people become so busy with festivities that their fitness routine takes a backseat. Then when Jan 1st hits, there is a boom of resolution exercisers, working to undo the “damage” from the holidays. How can people go into this busy season and still keep themselves healthy and fit…and avoid the crazed frenzy to undo holiday damage once Jan 1st rolls around?
SV: “The key is to be smart about making your workouts stay consistent during this time so that you don’t fall too far off track. I think that today we see more and more people making exercise a big part of their routine that the boom of resolutions to undo damage is an old model of the holidays. But if you find yourself falling into this trap, start now on an exit plan. That should be looking at this time of year as a way to regenerate, renew and reinvigorate yourself and those around you. The way you approach the holidays is up to you. “Keep calm and carry on” (one of my favorite quotes), it works!”
TCM: What do you feel is the thing most overlooked when it comes to someone who wants to change their body – and lifestyle?
SV: “Not being 100% in the moment. Being present is one of the MOST powerful things you can do in life and in fitness. When I workout it’s my time to focus on my body, my breath, the feeling of sweat dripping down my face and losing my breath from pushing hard. That is the way you succeed. Engage in every moment in life passionately, from your workouts to your communication with people at your job and to the relationships you have in your personal life. Just show up with 100% presence in every moment and you will discover a world you could have never imagined for yourself.”
TCM: What is the biggest lesson you have learned from fitness?
SV: ”Fitness has afforded me so much, beyond just changing my body. I guess if I had to choose one lesson it would be that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. I believe that whole heartedly.”
TCM: What is the biggest lesson you hope to teach through fitness?
SV: ”I want every person to know they are worthy and deserving of their best self. So many feel guilty over taking time out of their day to work out because of their job or family, but that is just fear talking. You are worth the time, own it.”
TCM: Favorite exercise and/or piece of equipment?
SV: “Strength conditioning with my own body weight…give me a “burpee to pushup” and I am a happy camper!”
TCM: Favorite way to work up a sweat?
SV: “Can I give you two? At the gym it’s indoor cycling, out with my friends it’s dancing!”
TCM: What is your favorite healthy meal?
SV: “Spinach and Kale salad with grilled chicken, I know doesn’t sound fun…but I actually crave it!”
TCM: What is your favorite no-fuss grab-and-go bite?
SV: ”Raw almonds, I carry them everywhere for a quick snack. Also love having hard boiled eggs on hand.”
TCM: Personal motto?
SV: “Be present, Be fearless, Be optimistic and everything you need is inside of yourself, just trust it.”