’ Fernanda Rocha Wants to Move You
BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
January 18 2012 3:50 PM ET
Fernanda Rocha may have captivated national audiences when
she became the first lesbian cast member of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of
Orange County, but she’s long been prominent in the fitness
field. Rocha, who owns The Art of Fitness in Laguna Beach,
Calif., came to the U.S. from Brazil when she was only 23, with a few dollars and a
dream in her pocket. Today, she says she’s living the American dream, while
becoming both a fitness guru and an LGBT rights advocate.
In between promoting her apparel line, Jiinga Brasil, and
her now-famous workout DVD Brazilian Booty
(which is, face it, responsible for half the nice badonkadonks in Hollywood),
Rocha is joining in activist efforts like the No H8 campaign and the It Gets Better Project.
She has a slew of new projects, including a new series of workout DVDs, an
online fitness boot camp, and a daring new public project called Fernanda’s Food
& Fitness Program. For that, Rocha will offer schoolchildren in
her community hands-on activities involving nutrition and fitness.
She says she’s living loud and proud and that one day her “life
vision” will be complete when she can marry and start a family. We caught up with the original
Brazilian babe (FernandaFitness.com) to find out about her plans for world
The Advocate: You
have a lot of things coming up this year. Where to start?
Fernanda Rocha: For
the New Year, we need to start talking about New Year’s resolutions right? So
we can start by Fernanda’s 2012 Eight Week Body Transformation. It’s an online
program, and I have a team working with me, and for anybody that signs up we
are going to provide guided training and nutrition, and a meal plan and
exercise plan, and a 24-hour support team throughout these eight weeks. It
works together with my own supplement line, so they are going to receive the
protein powder, the fat metabolizer, the detox plan — all of this is part of
the Eight Week Body Transformation. That is one of the big projects that I am
involved in right now.
You’ve already got a clothing line too, right?
Yes, Jiinga Brasil is a clothing line that I have had
since 2002 — it’s fitness wear.
I’m coming up with a new collection, a bikini line, very
soon. That is very exciting news in my world. I want to blend a little bit of
Brazil and the United States. I don’t know how it’s going to be, but I love the
whole creativity part of it.
Now tell me more about the project you’re doing with
kids. That sounds really progressive.
Together with Fitness World, we are launching a program in
Laguna Beach for kids. It is fitness, food, and fun, and we are
getting the support of the city. We are going to do a workshop to bring awareness
to the kids about staying active.
So you’re going to be going to schools?
No, we are basically going to be in community centers, and
kids are going to be part of the workshops. And since it has the food element
together with the fitness and fun, I will work with different restaurants for
every workshop. We are going to invite a chef, so every chef is going to be
part of the food part of the workshop. My intention was to open this for the
underprivileged kids, as well, so we are going to make this a free program to
bring a little bit of knowledge and awareness to the young population. There’s
high numbers of obesity, here and especially in Brazil as well. So I think this
is important for me, I want to be involved in this and help in the community I
Is this an idea that you took to the city, or did they
come to you?
Well, I always had the desire to give back, but I always
thought that I had to wait for the right time, and then I realized that I am
never going to [know] the right time — when it is quiet? When I have more
money? So I decided that time is now.
The reality is we have to do it now, because this is part of what I want to
create for my life. So there was an event in Laguna, and I was talking to a
person who works at the Chamber of Commerce, and I was sharing with her what I
wanted to do, and she loved it. So we have been preparing for about six months,
and we finally finalized everything and we are going to open the program in
How many workshops will there be?
We are going to start with two workshops a month. And the
fun element needs to be incorporated for kids, because it is not about going to
the gym or being fit, it’s about being active and how being active can really
make you feel good. It’s about kids feeling good, which has to do with the type
of nutrition that you put in your body as well. That is such an important topic
and knowledge that I hope I can help with.
When you were in Brazil growing up, did you have any idea
that you would be where you are today?
I had an idea that I would be doing something with movement
— movement, dancing, or sports, because I love to dance, and when I was little
I wanted to play soccer. I was very active and always searching for little
things to do. So I always knew that my body would be more of the right side,
the creativity part in creating things, the way we connect with the body. With
that I decided to get a kinesiology degree from Brazil, and I started teaching
physical education. I went to the gyms and I started creating fitness programs
in the gyms. I found my world. I said this
is what I want to do. So I started training clients and doing personal
training, and soon I got into a university. I taught for a couple of years at
schools. Being at the gym was my thing; I managed some health clubs, and I said
to myself, One day I will have my own little studio, teach classes,
create programs, and be involved with movement and feel good about it.
So you came to the U.S. when you were 23 years old. What
was the transition like?
Yeah, I came by myself. I saved my money back in Brazil. I
decided that I wanted to learn more; my number 1 thing was to learn more
about the fitness world. And I always dreamed about the U.S., watching the
movies, thinking, Oh, I want to be in Los Angeles. I made one contact and I got my things and just came here knowing no
English. I taught myself English. I never went to schools to learn English. I
made great contacts in the fitness industry, and I knocked on the door of the
big clubs and I was like, Wow, I can’t believe I’m here. So I asked them if I could share my Brazilian
expertise with them and my techniques, and from one health club to another to
another, the doors started to open up for me ... and my life started to unfold
here. I found that it took me a long time to embrace the culture and a lot of
the differences. I miss Brazil a lot and I still do, but this is where I choose
my life. I am doing what I want to do, and I have the privilege to stay in
touch with my friends and family back in Brazil. I became a U.S. citizen last
year, so I have the best of both worlds. I really feel like I’m living the
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