Micaela Mamede is the woman responsible for taking this photo of me on the “about” section of Grunts and Glam. We met in 2012 at Flight Club’s Sultry Summer Showcase and have kept in touch ever since. She immediately struck me as a creative warm spirit, which turned out to be true. She has danced for most of her life, and currently makes a living as a fitness renaissance woman. I’ve taken some of her pole dancing classes at New York Pole Dancing but she also teaches yoga, ballet barre and a lot more. Her down-to-Earth but also tough demeanor (in other words, you’ll get results with her), is why she has a large following of loyal students. I caught up with her to chat about her fit life full of empowerment and gratitude.
You’re a fitness renaissance woman so help me keep up. What are your teaching specialties and how did you transition from life as a dancer to a fitness instructor?
Thank you for such a big compliment! Pole Fitness is my bread and butter and what I’m most experienced in, but I also teach vinyasa yoga, Unnata Aerial Yoga, Fly Gym, ballet barre, chair dance, endurance, flexibility training and am currently becoming certified to teach Pilates. I have always enjoyed coordinated movement in all its forms, either it be therapeutic, entertaining or athletic. I started dancing when I was 5-years-old–first, ballet, later, Latin rhythms, amongst others. Almost three years ago I “landed” at New York Pole Dancing due to a need to keep dancing, but pole is so much more. I decided to explore and become more educated in my craft: movement. Fitness is just a consequence!
What are some of your favorite things about teaching classes?
Without a doubt, student interaction and student empowerment. There is nothing more gratifying than seeing how comfortable students get in my classes and catching them daydreaming while dancing to my routines. Or to see the bliss in a student’s face after a yoga class. I believe movement heals, not only physically, but emotionally. To be able to provide an hour of “escape” to hundreds of people on a weekly basis is priceless.
What’s your diet like and why does it work for you?
My diet consists of staying away from diets, fads and nutritional trends as much as possible! I am very lucky for having grown up in a country where healthy eating habits are instilled from the get go (Editor’s note: She grew up in Portugal). The women in my family taught me how to cook at a very early age, and I have always been encouraged to eat often, in small portions. A few basic rules:
1) If you don’t recognize it as an ingredient from nature, chances are it’s a chemical, thus, don’t ingest it.
2) Everything in moderation, from pasta to meat, dairy to (natural) desserts, but use and abuse fruits and veggies.
3) Organic, organic, organic everything, seasonal and locally grown products.
4) Cook more. There are so many resources online for quick, healthy and delicious foods. The time it takes to order in and wait for your food, is the same time it takes for you to whip up a delicious salad, or sear some tuna.
5) Don’t think too much about it and RELAX! Exercise, eat as healthy as your knowledge allows, drink lots of water and be happy with yourself, both body and mind.
What are your favorite methods of fitness and why?
Ballet is my passion, I can just tune out and be that student daydreaming in class. Pole fitness is my motivation, my challenge and my ambition. It makes me a better mover in general, strong, flexible and agile. Yoga and Pilates are my rescue, my grounding forces. Different things on different days, although I must say, if your goal is to loose weight and tone up rapidly, nothing compares to pole fitness.
There’s a spirit of generosity and gratitude in you fitness work, where you teach yoga to inmates and do fitness work in the community. Why is it important for you to share that with people?
Thank you again for the compliment, but especially for noticing. I live from the heart, and it seems to transpire through my work. Without getting “too deep,” my belief system stems from ethics, compassion and the notion that we must cooperate and work together. I carry this notion with me at all times.
Talk about your most recent fitness related victory, whether it’s a new pole move, more flexibility, etc, and how did you get to that place?
My most recent fitness related victory has been to teach over 20 hours per week, train for another absurdity and still be able to walk! I got to this place because “I got bills to pay!”
Any advice for people who are newly embarking on a fitness journey?
Do it because it makes you feel good somehow, whether it be because you enjoy movement or because your fitness choices will lead you to a healthier lifestyle. Don’t EVER embark on any journey, fitness or other, because someone, or society, has pushed you to it. Do it for yourself and cherish the ride!
This has nothing to do with fitness, but what is the story behind that beautiful tattoo on your leg?
I’m going to write your compliments on flashcards, and when the going gets tough, I’ll pull one out and smile! Thank you, again! The pink satin ribbons we use in ballet shoes, because ballet has been a part of my life for such a long time, and the hibiscus flower, which grows in my country. Movement and culture/roots: two things that have shaped my life and made me who I am.
What are some of your goals for the rest of the year.
To get through my Pilates certification, which requires an additional 18 weekly hours, and to have the time to go on at least one date!
Is there anything else that you’re working on that you care to share?
Simultaneously, I’m training to teach Climb & Invert with Climb & Spin Inc., so I can knowledgeably teach my pole fitness students how to flip upside down progressively and safely. New Invert Drills and Climb & Invert classes will be added to my schedule soon!
Keep up with Micaela at yogawithmica.com.