We love finding out about the philosophies of Aotearoa’s experts on health, nutrition, wellbeing and fitness! This week we asked Irina Kapeli, a dance instructor at Auckland’s Viva Latino! Latin Dance Academy, the NZ Real Health 10 Quick Questions:
1. In a nutshell, what do you do for your job?
I am a dance instructor, choreographer and performer for Viva Latino Dance Studios. I do Jazz, Ballet, Salsa, Argentine Tango, Burlesque, Bachata, Zouk and Russian Folk.
I also help promote classes and dance events like NZ Pacific Salsa Congress and the Auckland Salsa Ball. Choreography is my favourite part of the job; I love working with performance teams and creating dance works from scratch.
2. How did you get into your line of work?
I started with gymnastics in Russia when I was six years old, mostly because my sister was taking it really seriously, but I have always been drawn more to dance. I kept taking classes after school when we moved to New Zealand and ended up invited to do a couple of musicals. At the end of 7th form an opportunity came up to enter a Bachelor of Dance. I stuck with it for about a year and a half but felt I could achieve more by being out in the real world and here I am now.
3. What’s the best thing about your job?
Definitely watching people improve and progress. I love to see a person being able to do something at the end of a course that they have never thought was possible. The best thing is to see a whole team come together into a synchronised performance at the end of a season.
4. What do you do to keep fit?
Apart from teaching classes I also train with my dance partner Blaine. We practice technique, choreography and tricks. I try to make it to the gym 2-3 times per week and make sure I do 2-3 45 min stretching sessions per week as well.
5. What’s your philosophy on nutrition and diets?
I have to say I’ve tried them all, especially when I was younger and there was a lot of pressure to stay slim. Doing crazy diets has caused me several health problems at the time and later in life. Now I take the approach of everything in moderation, but avoiding fast foods, junk foods and all artificial drinks. When preparing for an important event I also avoid having starchy carbs after noon.
6. What does keeping healthy mean to you?
If you are a dancer and you are unwell – you cannot train or teach. Not only do you lose your income, but you lose your skills. You go backwards. So I do everything I can to stay well and avoid getting sick. Making an effort to be healthy now will also pay off when we are older by allowing us to have a better quality of life, to stay active with our children and hopefully grandchildren also.
7. What motivates you to stay on track with your own nutrition and training?
I think selfishness really. I like to look good on stage and I like to look good at home. My boyfriend is very fit and does a lot of sport as well and I think it is fair to say that I should make an effort too. I have also seen many people with health issues related to being overweight, and the amount of doctor visits and medications that can be avoided by looking after yourself properly.
8. What’s your best health or fitness tip?
Make time for yourself to look after yourself. It doesn’t matter how busy you are with work and family, you need to be a bit selfish and find a fixed time at least once or twice a week to spend on your fitness: go for a jog, join a gym, buy a second hand treadmill or join a sport.
When in a supermarket I don’t even go into a snacks and drinks aisle. If you struggle with nutrition, look up some free recipes on the internet and YouTube to help yourself create delicious healthy meals.
9. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to take?
A knife, a fishing rod and a box of lighters.
10. Any favorite inspirational quotes?
If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.
Take care of your body. Its the only place you have to live.
Images / Supplied