Originally published in Taos News
Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make the resolution to get in shape.
“It’s better to start now, so you are in shape by New Year or as early as Thanksgiving,” said trainer Carmen Medrano-Ruiz.
Medrano-Ruiz and her husband Daniel Ruiz, of Taos Mountain Warrior Fitness, offer fitness classes Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Taos High School gym. They have Cross Fit Level 1, Cross Fit Mobility, Cross Fit Olympic Weight Lifting and Cross Fit Strongman certificates.
“Getting in shape is a process that takes time to complete and you just have to start somewhere,” said Medrano-Ruiz. “We take any level of fitness and work with what you have. If you are committed, you will see results very soon.”
“Taco stand to restaurant” approach
After living in Taos for several years, Carmen Medrano-Ruiz and Daniel Ruiz moved to Albuquerque in 2009 so he could get an engineering degree. She started learning Cross Fit—a strength and conditioning program that includes Olympic weightlifting, high-intensity interval training, cardio routines and strongman gymnastics.
“At first, I couldn’t even do push-ups,” she said, “but I kept at it and got better and better. Finally, I became a certified instructor and began teaching. It was a natural process for me.”
They came back to Taos last summer, after Ruiz graduated from UNM School of Engineering.
“Lots of people from Taos leave and never return because they feel that there are no opportunities for them here, but we wanted to stay and contribute to the community,” Medrano-Ruiz said. “Though we would like to open a gym, we need to use the ‘taco stand to restaurant approach’ because we don’t have money to rent our own space now.”
They both helped the Taos High School football team with strength and conditioning classes.
“Now we are working with the volleyball team and taking on the basketball team and the cheerleaders,” Medrano-Ruiz said.
They use the High School facility but also have their own “traveling gym.” All their equipment (weights, bars, and jump boxes) is in a trailer. Medrano-Ruiz also works with Taos Paramedics, training them at their place of work.
“It isn’t always easy, but we are determined to go on,” she said. “I hope more people see what we are doing and decide to do the same thing—stay here and help our community live to its fullest potential.”
A successful fundraising campaign
Medrano-Ruiz organized the Flex Your Chest Throwdown, a fitness competition and fundraiser event in support of Taos Cancer Support Services that took place on September 6th and 7th.
“It was a success,” she said. “Ninety-five athletes participated and most of them came from out of town, some even from Colorado and Clovis. They stayed here and spent money in Taos. That helped our economy as well.”
The value of teamwork
Medrano-Ruiz believes that working out in a group setting outweighs going at it alone since people tend to motivate each other along the way.
“They push each other harder because there is that element of competition,” she said. “Though, of course, they are mostly competing against themselves, to make themselves stronger. And it is also social time: participants get to know each other and become friends. Many of them stay in contact after the class is over.”
Medrano-Ruiz advice to stay fit:
Be gentle with yourself. Getting fit is a continuous process. As long as you build good habits you can always go back to them, even if you slip briefly.
Set achievable goals, making sure that they are specific and fit in your daily or weekly routine.
Pay attention to your body. Sometimes you may need to lessen the intensity of your workouts and others you may want to push yourself harder.
Make sure you eat five times a day, proteins, vegetables and carbs. Yes, carbs. Don’t cut them out completely. After a strong workout, root vegetables like potatoes, beets and carrots are good because you want to put sugar back into your blood.
A perfect breakfast
Medrano-Ruiz stresses the importance of a balanced diet for overall good health.
“Breakfast is very important and you shouldn’t skip it,” she said. “You need energy to start the day properly.”
In the mornings she often fries an egg in coconut oil, then sprinkles it with kale and turkey bacon.
But she isn’t on a diet. She only follows an “eat-to-perform regime.”
“I don’t count calories nor try to make myself skinny,” Medrano-Ruiz said. “I eat to be strong and healthy so I can enjoy life and take care of my family.”
The experience of group fitness
Participants in Medrano-Ruiz’s classes say they enjoy working together and have started noticing positive results.
Lisa Martinez works out and spins regularly but she hasn’t done any kind of Olympic weightlifting in ten years.
“That’s why I began taking this class,” she said. “I want to be strong and healthy and to set a good example for my two boys. I’m happy I did because I have much more energy now.”
Celia Pacheco wants to learn better weightlifting techniques.
“I also want to lose weight,” she said. “And I am enjoying the classes. Carmen is such an inspiring instructor that she makes it fun for everyone, though we all work hard.”
Josiah Cardenas’ main goal is to be fit.
“I’d like to gain more muscle strength,” he said. “My push-ups are already getting better.”
Mateo Sandoval and Matthew Gonzalez were in the football team that Medrano-Ruiz coached a few months ago. They both agree that their performance improved because of it.
“I am very satisfied with the results,” Gonzalez said. “I am now stronger and faster. It was worth the effort and the sore muscles.”
To join one of Taos Mountain Warrior Fitness classes, contact Medrano-Ruiz at 505 730 4701 or message her through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TaosMountainWarriorFitness