From Pilates and Ballet Fit to Step Aerobics and Zumba, Midtown Personal Trainer Vanessa Huaman does it all.
She has 20+ years of dance and fitness industry experience, and we decided to pick her brain to see what we could learn.
Question: How does your experience across several different fitness disciplines help you as a trainer?
Vanessa: While there is some overlap between different fitness disciplines, I enjoy being able to pull from all of them to develop well rounded programs for my clients. Variety is important, not only to keep muscles from getting too used to a particular exercise, but also to add fun to workouts.
Question: One of your specialties is Pilates Reformer training. What are its benefits?
Vanessa:Reformer training is great because it compliments any level or type of fitness program. The equipment is designed to help your body achieve neutral alignment and build a strong, stable core. I have seen incredible strength gains in athletes wanting to take their sport to the next level, as well as beginner-level clients that struggle with proper posture and low back pain.
Question: The Reformer looks a little intimidating. Would it be better to start with a MAT Pilates class?
Vanessa: People often comment that the Reformer looks more like a torture device than exercise equipment! However, the Reformer is actually an easier method because it guides your body into the proper position for each exercise. Reformer also incorporates principles of progressive resistance, similar to changing gears on a bike, so participants of any level can adjust the intensity to meet their needs.
Question: How can you expect to feel after a Reformer session?
Vanessa: Unlike MAT Pilates, which focuses mainly on core muscles, Reformer helps to build overall strength through the arms, legs, and core, through strengthening and stretching weak and tight muscles. The best thing about it is that it is challenging, yet gentle on the body. Most people who have never tried it before say that it helped them “discover” muscles they haven’t used in a long time.
Question: How does Pilates fit into an overall fitness program?
Vanessa: If you are new to exercise or strength training, starting with one-to-three days of Reformer training per week can help expose and correct muscle imbalances before you move into more intense forms of exercise. Pilates should not replace cardiorespiratory, strength, or flexibility training, but it can help improve all of those components. No matter what you do, start slowly and address weak areas one by one to ensure that you are training in the safest and most effective way possible.
Question: What do you like most about training?
Vanessa: I enjoy helping people no matter how big or small their fitness goals are, and it doesn’t have to be a physical change like fitting into a size 4. One client told me that she couldn’t walk up the stairs without knee pain, and that she couldn’t bend over to tie her shoes. After several weeks of hard work, she accomplished both of those goals. Her excitement from having overcome those hurdles was some of the most meaningful feedback I’ve ever received.
Question: Any last words of advice?
Vanessa:Just remember to start slowly, add variety to your routine, and continue to learn about and challenge yourself.
Thank you Vanessa! If you have a question you would like one of the trainers in the Fitness Department to answer, you can post your question as a comment to this post, or e-mail it to me at email@example.com. If you email the question, I will ask it anonymously on your behalf, and post the question and answer (but not your name) on the next “Ask the Trainer” post. You do not need to be a member to ask a question. Let’s hear it!
Kristen Schumacher is the Marketing Coordinator for Midtown Athletic Clubs. When she is not training for her next distance race, she enjoys cooking, singing, and spending time with her friends and family.