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Welcome back to our Hottest Trainer competition: our search for NYC's most talented fitness instructor! Over the next two weeks we'll be profiling 16 of the city's top workout pros before you get to vote for your favorites.
It takes a badass amount of confidence to describe yourself as a "spiritual rebel." But that's exactly what Francesca Valarezo, an instructor at SLT as well as studios like Pure Yoga, Chalk Gyms, the new Sky Ting Yoga, calls herself. And she's had that badass confidence from a very young age to boot. "When I was little, my mom would ask me: 'What do you want to be as an adult?'" The 28-year-old who was born in the Bronx, raised in Ecuador, and now resides in Williamsburg told Racked. "I would always reply that I want to be on a stage and move my body." And anyone who's ever been on a Megaformer before knows that the behemoth machinery totally counts as a stage.
For those who don't think that workouts need to be all about heavy lifting and grunting, Valarezo is totally your instructor. Regardless of the class she's teaching, the dance choreographer combines rigorous, athletic movements with flexibility and balance that's all about maintaining your inner peace, rather than pushing yourself to the brink. Outside of the many studios she frequents, she works with clients one-on-one, hosts yoga events on rooftops and in parks, and is even planning a retreat to Tulum next year.
Read on to learn more about this self-described "megasingle" instructor, from how she does athleisure outside the studio to how much she really works out in a typical week.
Describe your training style: Are you a drill sergeant? More laid-back?
Both! I can be a drill sergeant when I notice they aren't present or distracted; I'm laid-back when I know they are eager to learn or I'm having a fun day. I honestly go with the mood, I'm in but generally I lean towards attention to detail, long holds, and creative series.
Which class is your favorite, and why?
At SLT, my favorite class is Tuesdays at 6:30 am - most of the students are girls around my age, they are resilient, strong, will take anything I throw at them (even the hardest exercise or forgive my worst mistakes) they are loyal and I have been able to see their growth and get super strong as a result they have challenged me to become a better instructor.
Reveal something that even your most dedicated students don't know about you.
I don't work out as much as people might think! I work out twice a week, I run or rollerblade once a week, and I eat really clean. I mostly do SLT or yoga and sleep a lot!
Gym style (or athleisure) has totally exploded over the past couple of years. What's your favorite way to rock it?
I love leggings, duh! I tend to stick to plain colors with not a lot of pattern, crop tops or mesh sports bras, a funky cap, and wedge sneakers. And always a small purse, shades, and lipgloss.
What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
That SLT is just for girls! There's definitely an intimidation factor for guys who have never tried SLT before, but I'm seeing more and more guys in my classes lately. Once they try it, they love it!
If I weren't a fitness instructor, I'd be a...
Hot mess—hah! I would be a stylist. I was born in New York so it comes to me naturally, but I also love to learn from other's style. It's great to express your personality through the way you dress and how you present yourself to the world.
What would you say is the hardest thing about what you do?
Waking up early in the morning, including weekends, and not being able to party as much or have a set schedule for a social life. I like to be social, but I sacrifice a lot for my sleep and rest.
What advice would you offer to someone who is just starting in your class?
Breathe a lot, be patient with your body, and collect all the BS in your life and release it while you work out. It works!
What's your favorite cheat meal?
Dark chocolate ice cream, french fries, and pineapple fried rice. I love Thai food!