Latinas Let’s Move
The inspiration that leads you to your true passion can appear in the most unexpected moments or in the most unpredictable way. Fabiana Ferrarini is living proof of this.
In her case, what pointed her ‘inner compass’ in the right direction was something as simple but as transcendental as a boot camp class she found one day on Groupon.
“And my life has never been the same after that,” she said.
Five years ago, Ferrarini was depressed and overwhelmed. She had just finished college, she was married and pregnant with her second child.
“There was so much going on, my world had changed so quickly. I got very overwhelmed and I was very depressed. Everybody was going off to school and my life had really become a stay at home mom with two kids. It was too much for me.”
She didn’t know what to do but Ferrarini, a young christian, prayed to God every night asking what He wanted her to do. And one day, she went to that boot camp class which introduced her to the world of fitness.
“It gave me so much energy and it made me so happy. It was just one hour of my day but that was all I needed. One hour and I wasn’t depressed and I still had some weight to lose from my pregnancy. So it was just perfect, I felt so good. I felt like I was doing something for myself,” Ferrarini said.
“I started working out and I loved it. I opened my Instagram page because I wanted to record my journey. I felt like so many women are afraid to talk about how stressed they are and how they don’t feel like their life is perfect. I felt that it was important for me to capture that as a mom and as a mom going through my whole fitness journey.”
Currently, she has more than 10,800 followers. On her account, @Fabiana_Ferrarini, she shares free training and healthy meal suggestions. She also has a Facebook page (Fabiana Ferrarini) and a website (fabianaferrarini.com)
The next step was natural. Her hobby was integrated in her daily routine — “It’s something I do every day, like having breakfast,” she said — and she turned it into a career.
She started to do some research on her own and thanks to her background in anatomy and physiology — she studied Biology — it was easier to become a personal trainer.
This was three and a half years ago, when she launched “Train with Fabi” or #TeamFabi, a training philosophy based on her mantra “Celebrate your curves.”
“I creating while thinking of myself. It means love your body, love your progress. Love who you are and celebrate every moment of it. Because if you don’t celebrate it then who else will and how would you feel good about the little progress that you are making? Every step counts.”
In the spirit of being yourself, Ferrarini trains women in the Philadelphia area and she loves her job.
“We all talk about the same things,” she said. “I really enjoy training women because it becomes more like a girls night out and it’s not only about fitness. I think it becomes like a counseling mixed with training.”
According to Ferrarini, training is not only a physical thing, it’s also about health.
“It’s not about the look,” she said. “It’s about how you feel inside. You want to look good but you want to take care of your inside first. Because what’s the point of looking good on the outside if on the inside you are not really healthy?”
Her social media are living proof of the importance of combining fitness and a healthy diet. “If you are working out and you are not eating healthy you are not doing anything because whatever work you did at the gym you undo it with the food,” she said.
Ferrarini’s lifestyle jumped into the national spotlight a few months ago when she participated in a fitness challenge launched by Oxygen magazine, which she won. The prize? Becoming January’s cover girl and the first Latina to do so.
When we asked her about this experience, she had a flashback to her childhood growing up between the U.S. and Honduras.
“I was born in New Jersey but I was raised in Honduras until the age of six,” said Ferrarini. “When I came here, I didn’t speak English, I really had a hard time in elementary school, because the kids made fun of me and I didn’t speak any English. So, little old me being on a cover was one of those dreams that you said ‘oh, I wish I was on a cover’ but that would never happened to me. It was just surreal for me.”
She was happy at a personal level but also as a Latina.
“It really shows that we, as Latinos, are really making some progress,” said Ferrarini. “We are not here hanging out. We are actually putting in some work. So it was a big honor for me, I was extremely proud of myself and I felt really good representing Latinos. It wasn’t easy, It’s not easy doing that. It’s just basically showing that you can break barriers and as long as you really put some hard work in, it you can accomplish what you tell yourself you can accomplish.”
For that reason, her advice is: “I always told all my girls: It’s your journey, it’s your progress, it’s your time.”
“Each body is different, you have to be very patient, you have to always constantly remind yourself why you’re doing it,” said Ferrarini. “It’s important to not only focus on a physical level but to focus on your health. Because without your health you are not going far.”
One of the problems she constantly sees is: “As women, as moms, we forget to take care of ourselves because when we are parents that’s it. You are just a mom now and your life is about your kids. So we really forget to take care of ourselves and I just couldn’t give up and just being a mom. I still wanted to be myself and I still wanted to feel good about myself.”
Elaine Gonzalez, founder of Latinas in Motion, agrees with Ferrarini and also adds. “I think as Latinas we are caretakers. We take care about everything. But how often do we forget of ourselves.”
She started working out because of the desire to lose the extra pounds she gained during her first pregnancy.
“I just did not feel good. I didn’t feel good emotionally or physically,” she said.
At that point, she had no previous experience in any sport but the key to her success was her tenacity.
“I had never been athletic, never went to the gym growing up, I wasn’t a part of any sport,” said Gonzalez “I was pretty intimidate by the gym. So I thought, let me start walking, because you know, everybody can walk. So I start walking, walking became jogging, jogging became running… and I started running a lot and it was great, I felt great.”
However, her turning point was one of the most popular races in the city, the Broad Street Run — which goes all the way down to Broad Street and it’s 10 miles.
“I decided to sign up for a race, the Broad Street Run,” said Gonzalez. “I had never done anything like that before in my life and when I got there there was 40,000 people, so many people. And there was a group called ‘Back Girls Run’. There were a lot of different groups but I noticed there were no groups for Latinas to get together and run. After that I run, I won a medal and it was amazing and fantastic and I though you know, I’m going to create an organization for Latinas so they can come together, they can walk, run… because it is free and you never know if people have money to join the gym, it can be really intimidating.”
One day she sent a text message to some of her friends, inviting them to meet for a run.
“Six girls joining me that Saturday, we went together, we did 2 1/2 miles it felt amazing,” said Gonzalez. “And the Saturday after that it was 20 girls and the Saturday after that it was 30 girls. And little by little we were growing in number.”
That’s how the running group she pictured on her mind materialized into “Latinas in Motion.” It was created here in Philadelphia in 2010 but it spontaneously grew all over the country.
“Somebody from New Jersey called me like ‘hey can I start Latinas in Motion in Jersey’ and then somebody from New York called me… Now we had 13 different states that have Latinas in Motion chapters,” said Gonzalez. “We are in Puerto Rico, we are in Florida, we are in New Mexico, we are in California and it’s so beautiful all these women getting together being active.”
Currently, the Philadelphia chapter has around 300 members, “mostly there are Latinas but not everybody is Latina in the group”, Gonzalez explained.
They don’t all train together. They meet at least once per week in different parts of the city.
“One of the things we try to do is find locations that are convenient for our communities,” said Gonzalez. “So they can be consistent in their workout.”
“The beautiful thing about Philadelphia is that we have so many resources,” she said. “There are a lot of free workouts that happen all over the city and there are a lot of beautiful places to walk, to run… We have so many resources and opportunities to get healthy.”
A few months ago Gonzalez was part of a project called “Philly Powered” launched by the Department of Public Health to encourage people to exercise daily.
Like Ferrarini, Gonzalez shares the idea that physical and mental well-being are connected.
“Exercising not only helps you to be better physically but also emotionally, you just feel so good, like you could take over the world,” she said. “You know like after your workout you feel like Jennifer Lopez. Obviously there are physical benefits but emotionally we forget we need time for ourselves, to take care of ourselves. For example, I’m a wife. I had two kids. I work full time for the School District of Philadelphia. And you do so much...”
Her main advice is the same as Ferrarini’s: “Your journey depends on you. And you can be wherever you are about anybody else but you have to take that first step. If you take that first step of being the best version of you, I promise you get it all and you will change. But you kind of have to get out of your own head and get out there and do it.”
And if you want to start running and you think you could fit in ‘Latinas in Motion’, you can ask for more information about this community on its Facebook page (Latinas in Motion) or its Twitter account (@LatinasInMotion), where they share their training schedule, information and pictures about races.
Everybody is welcome, because as Gonzalez said, this community is made by “different women of different ages, all of them together for this amazing move.”