Behind every Victoria's Secret model and Hollywood star is a very good fitness trainer. That's what I learned after a workout session with Leandro Carvalho, creator of the popular fitness program Brazil Butt Lift and trainer to clients like Alessandra Ambrosio and Doutzen Kroes.
Leandro's studio is nestled on the second floor of an apartment complex in New York City, and this is where all the butt-kicking workouts and sweat sessions go down. After the initial greetings, Leandro informed my co-workers and me that he would be giving us the Brazilian Body Factory experience. His other class is the Brazilian Butt Factory, but since it was our first time, a full-body workout meant we wouldn't have to stress too much of one body part.
We warmed up with some cardio dance moves before launching into a series of squats, lunges, capoeira, and some Latin-infused dance moves. Leandro is Brazilian, after all, and has been a dancer since he was 12 years old. The various combinations of exercises meant we never stressed our muscles to their breaking point, and as we went along, he adapted the workouts based on our own fitness strengths and weaknesses.
However, no workout is really complete without targeting the glutes, and we received some enlightening information from Leandro on butt workouts.
"Brazil is always crazy about the butt," he said. "In America, it's the new thing. With the Latin explosion, things changed."
Like anyone getting ready for bikini weather, I thought my regular barre classes and squat moves would make my butt Summer-ready. But Leandro gave a life-changing piece of advice. He told us that in order to get the best booty possible, we have to first determine what kind of butt we have and then come up with a workout plan to target those trouble areas.
"Really try to understand what type of butt you are. Do a self-analysis. Do I have a flat butt? Do I have a drooping butt . . . ?" he said. "For each butt there is a different combination. If you're pear shape, do lateral moves because you have to rotate your legs. If you have a flat butt, add more weights. And if you have a big butt, adjust your diet and add in cardio exercises."
Turns out, I had been working out my booty all wrong (and I'm probably not alone). After letting his words sink in, I realized he was 100 percent correct about tailoring workouts to our body's individual needs. In order to get the best butt, you have to first understand your butt.
"A lot of people don't get the results they want because they don't have the knowledge and details," he said. "Try to educate yourself if you can't afford a trainer or get some videos to watch that will help you reach your goals."
And the trick to getting a firm, toned tush (like a Victoria's Secret Angel) without developing hulk legs? "Ankle weights," he revealed.
As we wrapped up the interview, I asked him to share his fitness motto, and of course, he had two: "Don't settle for less" and "More definition on the movements, more definition on the body."