By: Joe Cardoso
Summer has come to an end for most of the world, and as the leaves change colors and sports like football, basketball and baseball take center stage, it is easy to forget those fitness goals. Holidays are known for two things family time and GREAT food, most of the food is not going to be found on any health food app or store. It takes a particular type of discipline to make it through the days of cakes and cookies without looking or feeling too bad. Our featured athlete this month has been a part of the healthy living world for a long time the age of 7 to be exact and now is spreading her passion to the rest of us. With her always challenging herself with harder workouts and different types as well. From the beautiful country of Greece let’s get to know Maria Papanastasopoulou!
Joe Cardoso: Why is fitness and health so important to you?
Maria P: I was born and raised in an athletic and fitness family environment, where the majority of its members were coaches and athletes in Greece. As such, from a very young age, I got to experience the benefits of fitness not only on my body but also my mind and character. Exercise makes me feel alive, happy, full of energy, more confident, optimistic, challenges my limits, keeps me sane, and functional in my everyday life!
JC: For those who don’t know what is “The Burrow Life?”
MP: For those who are not familiar with “The Burrow Life,” it is not just a simple typical gym like all the others, it’s a lifestyle. A modern take on fitness that flips your world up-side down. A big family that embraces all its members, a team that trains, grows and stays together in good or in bad. One thing that makes me proud of being part of the Burrow family is that the team is made up of knowledgeable, passionate, educated, and creative individuals who make the Burrow experience one of a kind.
JC: Why did you not only decide to get into coaching but group fitness?
MP: Coaching is usually limited to professional athletes that are competing in sports, which for sure is a fantastic experience. However, professional athletes represent a very small and specific percentage of the population. What is more challenging for me is to be able to make everyday people get off their couch, make them go out of their conform zone and help them become more functional in their daily life. I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces when they manage to complete their workout, supporting and helping each other. Further, training a different group of people every time is fun and refreshing but also challenging my training skills as I need to come up with a workout program to be able to address and combine the fitness needs of each individual.
JC: You have some pretty cool partnerships with brands like Diet Labs and PUMA Middle East. How do you decide who to or not to work with?
MP: I have been approached on many occasions by several brands to promote health products, supplements, clothes, etc. however, I am kind of selective when deciding with whom to collaborate. I take into consideration several factors before accepting any partnership such as the reputation of the brand, the way of approach if I really like the product so that I can promote it, the proposed circumstances of collaboration, etc.
For example, one reason I was very excited to be in a partnership with a particular company was that the PR management approached me in a very friendly way, stating that they were not looking just for ambassadors but for family. That statement made me feel really comfortable, and eventually, I accepted the proposal for the partnership.
JC: The battle never stops, so where do you stand Yes or No to lifting heavy?
MP: In principle, I would say “Yes,” however lifting heavy is not for everyone. Lifting heavy successfully depends on many factors such as age, injuries, sex, goals, daily activities, etc. as such a heavy lifting program should be tailored to respect the specific needs of the individual.
JC: You do it all from kickboxing to CrossFit, but if you pick one type of training as your favorite, what is it and why?
MP: My favorite type of training is Functional Weight Training because this style of workout is designed to train and use multiple joints and numerous muscles for the performance of everyday activities, as it stimulates common movements that someone might do at home, at work or in sports. Further, this type of workout does not make me feel bored and is quite fun.
JC: With your career comes a lot of travel. What do you like and what don’t you like about travel?
MP: I love traveling as I get to meet new people, new places, different cultures and exchange ideas, knowledge, and experiences. One thing I do not like about traveling is that I do not travel as much as I would like to. ????
JC: What is your ultimate goal?
MP: Professionally wise, my ultimate goal is to reach a level where I will be one of a kind! I feel genuinely happy that I am one of those lucky people that my hobby and what I love to do most became a profession. I set small goals every day, take small steps, work really hard, study nonstop so that eventually I will be able to reach my ultimate goal. No pain, no gain, nothing comes without effort and hard work.
Personally, my ultimate goal is always to be happy, healthy, surrounded with people that l love and love me and wake up every single morning with a big smile on my face.
JC: What role has social media had in your career?
MP: Social media has definitely played a significant role in my career; it’s my digital CV and portfolio. Social media is a means to attract partnerships, promote my work, stay in touch with my clients, motivate my worldwide team and be asked to give interviews(just like in your case ????)
JC: How do you stay focused and motivated?
MP: After so many years of training and discipline and having tried most of the sports and fitness types of workouts, I have reached a level whereby motivation and focus come from within me, it’s a way of life, my routine. The fact that I have found a workout that is more suitable for me and makes me happy is also a plus to stay focused and motivated. If I do not work out daily, I feel like that something is missing.
JC: When not in the gym, what are you doing?
MP: Summer of 2020 I am getting married to this amazing and patient man who has been next to me and supporting me all the way the past years. As you may understand, most of my free time is dedicated to organizing the wedding of our dreams and my bachelorette. Also, I love spending quality time with my friends and my future husband, playing board games, watching movies at the cinema, and trying different cuisines. Once in a while, I indulge in self-pampering doing my girly stuff, that I really adore.
JC: Who are some of the people who inspire you?
MP: Without a doubt, my most significant source of inspiration is my father. He started his career in the Middle East, and with a lot of hard work, in between multiple successes and failures, he managed to become one of a kind in his sector. He is my rock; he is hard to be described by mere words.
Further, there are particular fitness trainers globally that inspire me and to whom I look up to because of their continuous hard work and effort to be the best in the fitness industry such as Nick Vardavas, Kaisa Keranen, Bret Contreras.
I can’t thank Maria enough for taking time out of a busy schedule (planning a WEDDING) to chat with me and share her journey so far. If you want to see what is next for her, make sure to give her a follow on her social media accounts:
Where will the spotlight shine next and on which athlete? Make sure to subscribe to our mailing list and never miss our Q&A’s with the names who are helping to shape the fitness and healthy living industry.