I’m often asked questions about my background, advice and tips about health and fitness, so I thought I would put some of your most common questions down on paper so you guys can get to know me a little better and gain a little insight into my journey and the way I think.
Can you tell us a little about you, your journey so far and where does your passion for healthy living and fitness come from?
I’m Gina B, from Sydney Australia! I’m a professional Latin & Ballroom dancer/instructor, certified personal trainer/group fitness instructor and founder of Up to the BEat fitness!
My journey to get here started as a kid. I would always move and shake whenever I heard any kind of music play. At age 9 my mum enrolled me in ballroom dance lessons to get me moving (and because she’s Russian…). I didn’t realise it yet, but within 3 years I would be standing on the podium at the World Junior Latin Championships in Moscow representing Australia. Dancing took me all around the world. From Moldova to Tokyo, Germany, London, Moscow, Miami and more. I was so lucky to have visited these incredible places doing something I loved.
However, after years of gruelling training and a non-existent teenage-hood, at 19, I made the decision to quit dancing competitively and go back to study (I completed a B.A. at UNSW). But losing such an important part of my life, made me gain another… weight and lots of it. 25 kgs to be precise. Going from training everyday, eating like a bird and laser focused goals, to sitting at a desk and eating everything in sight, in retrospect, I’m not surprised.
But, In my final year of University, a pivotal moment occurred. A colleague asked me to teach some dance lessons at his studio. That first step back onto the parquet wood instantly made me realise what was missing in my life; dance and movement! This was the spark to get me back on track. I worked on my nutrition and started moving everyday, dancing and teaching.
It wasn’t easy, but after nearly 2 years, I lost those 25kgs and regained me. I learnt the importance of doing something you love in a balanced way. This is what ultimately motivated me to start helping women all around the world and share my way of living your best self.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their health and wellness journey now?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing of course, but I’d have to say these are my top 4 tips:
- Small steps to big change - It’s unrealistic for anyone in my opinion to go from zero to hero immediately and actually make it last. If you are someone that drinks soft drinks daily, going cold turkey could backfire and make you feel deprived. Instead cut down gradually, until you feel you are ready to let go completely. If you approach everything in this manner, new habits and behaviours will form to create long lasting changes.
- Work out the WHY - The real “WHY” in starting a new health and wellness journey, can be your number 1 motivating factor and keep you on the straight and narrow. Always come back to it and make it the driving force behind your change, it will keep you committed.
- Make the journey fun and varied - If you don’t like the journey, there’s no way you’ll stick to it! Make sure you are creative with the choice of eating and workouts you do, make sure it’s fun, not boring and varied, that way you’ll be more likely to wake up and want to move or eat well and not feel like it’s a chore.
- Get Support - Having accountability and/or support is key to helping you on your journey. Find a tribe of like minded people that you can share your struggles and successes with or get your loved ones involved. It makes the journey a lot less lonely and also keeps you accountable.
Are your workouts really for everyone?
I created Up to the BEat to be able to encourage ALL women to live their best life, which is why my workouts are perfect for any shape, age or fitness level. I even have a seated workout program, because I believe everyone should keep active no matter what their situation is. Our style is low-impact and never jarring on joints. Our approach to fitness and lifestyle is to make working out fun and non-threatening!
What’s your morning routine?
I’m a big believer in habit! My morning habits are a bit of a ritual and I find they set a really positive tone for the whole day. I’ve stopped snoozing (that was a task let me tell you!), I always make sure I make my bed, I rehydrate (as we all wake up completely dehydrated) and at the same time take my fibre drink. I’ll then, over a coffee, quickly look over my days’ tasks (which i wrote the night before) and then i’ll head off for my morning workout, which gets those endorphins flowing and further helps set that positive tone i mentioned above. If you want some of this positivity for your day, then read more about my routine and tips to help you set up some great habits also.
When working out on your own, what are some of your favorite things to do?
I always have to workout to music, as I find it is the greatest motivator and that carries through in my foundation to all my workouts for Up to the BEat. I love nothing more than going for a walk or toning with weights with my earphones on, music pumping out my favourite tunes. But of course my heart is always with dance so I’ll always throw in some dance cardio workouts at home.
What’s your favorite thing to eat before a workout?
As I almost always workout in the morning (yes it's a habit, read more here about how habits can help you!), I actually prefer to be fasted. I just like to have a black coffee beforehand which gives me a nice little energy boost and then lots and lots of water throughout the workout. Now, what’s a fasted workout you ask? Check out our article on fasting here.
What your favorite thing to eat after a workout?
I always like to have a carb and protein based snack after my workout. So a common thing I’ll have is 2 rice cakes with 1 tbsp of natural almond/peanut butter and a drizzle of raw honey or some banana slices. Another go to for me is also 2 eggs (usually boiled) with a slice of sourdough and some cherry tomatoes, and always with some strawberries to finish. I always make sure i fuel myself with protein to optimise muscle recovery and it’s the perfect way to satiate me after a good sweat.
What's your secret to eating healthy?
I like to live by an 80/20 rule in most things in life. In terms of eating, that means eating nutritious whole foods, 80% of the time and allowing myself 20% for the treats that I love like pizza, chocolate and cakes. I don't know about you guys, but I couldn't live without these. I've found eating this way keeps me on track without ever feeling deprived, which is such a common (and almost expected) thing when people try to change their way of eating.
Another tip is not obsessing over cravings. If im craving chocolate for instance, I’ll have some and move on. I’ve found if I don't have it, it becomes a source of obsession in my mind and I’ll try to find foods to replace the craving, which will ironically often lead to even more calories than if i would have just had the chocolate in the first place. So I say satisfy your craving and if necessary make adjustments in your eating for the rest of the day, to account for this delicious detour.
Which 3 foods can’t you live without?
- Sourdough bread
- Berries of any kind
But in reality, it’s chocolate, cake and pizza :)
What’s one of your favourite quick and easy dinner ideas?
I love my Easy One Pan Dukkah Crusted Salmon & Veggie Bake (Link to Recipe Here). It takes no time and leaves little mess. Great for my weeknights when I finish up with work pretty late and I need a filling dinner in no time!
What’s your best tip for dealing with stress?
Exercise and awesome music! I know this sounds cliche, but when i’m stressed, I really just want to do something I love and escape, even if it’s just for a moment. And I love nothing more than to move and sweat it out to inspiring beats. So headphones on, I’ll go for a walk outside, maybe put together a little circuit, work on some choreography for up to the BEat or get into a nice yoga flow which truly lets me zen out.
Secondly, I think having people to talk to and spend time with is also extremely valuable. It doesn't even have to be a serious discussion, I find just having some company and chilling out with someone de-stresses me. Nowadays we are only a mouse click away from connecting with people all around the world, and that's also the reason why one of my goals is to build the up to the BEat community of like minded people, so we can all share, encourage, support and de-stress each other!
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned on your health, fitness, and business journey?
This is a tough question to answer briefly because I’ve learnt so much, but I have to say these are a few things that stand out to me:
- The journey is just as important as the goal. Whether you’re trying to get healthy or building a business, it’s going to be a rollercoaster ride. There’ll be ups & there’ll be downs, BUT the struggles and plateaus are the times that you’ll grow stronger and learn from the experience.
- Achieving anything takes EFFORT. There is no shortcut, and no quick fix. Don’t believe all the stuff out there, to get to your goal it’s all about the grind.
- Don’t compare yourself to others. We live in a world where social media serves us the “highlight reels” of others, which can set really unrealistic expectations. We need to stop comparing our own journey to others as not only do we never really know what’s “real” but those negative mindsets can really takes us off our own game.
- Be grateful! Enjoy what you are doing, but don't always expect it to be pleasurable, because effort and grind can be difficult. But be grateful in your journey and that will always allow you to appreciate not just the good times but also the tough ones.