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Fit Follow-Up: Menina Fortunato

  • Name: Menina Fortunato
  • Children: Soraya (born August 15, 2010) and Sorella (born April 15, 2015)
  • Claim to Fame: To say that dance is Menina Fortunato’s thing is an understatement. The professional dancer, who created the pregnancy workout Prenatal Dance, is a performer, teacher and choreographer who has shared the stage with numerous celebrities (Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, ZZ Top) and enjoyed some interesting opportunities along the way (she was Jennifer Garner’s dance double on ABC’s Alias). But being a mom to her two daughters seems to bring the Los Angeles resident the most joy and purpose. “I really hope that I can be a role model to them when it comes to health and fitness,” she says. “Health is number one in my house. We can’t enjoy anything in life without it.” We chatted with Fortunato about her latest pregnancy and recovery and how much having two little ones changes the game.
The Second vs. The First

I was teaching dance throughout most of my second pregnancy and supplemented my workouts with yoga, cardio barre and hiking. During my first pregnancy I was performing in a touring show until I was four months pregnant. It was a physically draining 90-minute show. During my second trimester I created Prenatal Dance and filmed the video in my third trimester. I was teaching dance until two weeks before birth. Needless to say I was very active. I didn’t exercise as intensely during my second pregnancy. I was touring as a guest teacher at various dance conventions during my first trimester, but I had assistants who would demonstrate when I couldn’t dance full out. I also did short one-minute performances at each convention, which weren’t nearly as intense as the 90-minute shows I was doing during my first pregnancy.

Pregnancy Fitness Philosophy

Holistic, empowering, fun.

Mom Knows Best

My mother was a great role model. She was active throughout all her pregnancies during a time when doctors didn’t recommend exercise to pregnant women. Pregnancy didn’t slow her down and neither did motherhood. Exercise is never a chore for her. She is now 65 years old and still skis, swims long distance, figure skates and can do cartwheels and headstands.

Dance Fever

Prenatal Dance was designed with every body in mind. All the women in the video are at different stages of pregnancy and have different fitness and dance abilities and body types. I created the workout and trained the women for two months before filming the video. You can see modified exercises throughout so every woman can do the version that suits her best. Not only is it a full-body workout that strengthen, tones and stretches the body while preparing for birth, but it is also fun! The dance combinations are simple and sassy, while embracing the curvy pregnant figure. Every woman—even pregnant—wants to feel sexy!

Birth Days

I credit a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy for my wonderful birthing experiences. My first birth was five hours at home, in the water, and my second birth was two hours at home. No drugs. No medical interventions. I had the natural experiences that I desired with the assistance of my husband and wonderful midwives. In my case, I prepared my body with Prenatal Dance and nutrition and prepared my mind with Hypnobirthing—a natural birthing approach that I studied. I did work out with my birth in mind. Birth is like a marathon not a sprint. When you go into the race prepared—mind, body and soul—you can have the endurance to make it to the finish line with ease.

Back to It

Recovery was easier after my second baby. I took my first outdoor walk five days after birth. I haven’t taught a dance class yet, but I did make a few teaching commitments, in September, when I’ll be five months postpartum, so I will be dancing very soon. I know that I am physically capable of dancing and teaching now.

Nursing Necessities

It is a bit of a challenge to be away from Sorella for any length of time. Up until recently, we haven’t been apart for more than an hour and breast milk has been her only food source. I haven’t even pumped milk yet. It does make it a challenge to work out. I’ve involved my baby in all my workouts, whether I am hiking or doing dance exercises at home or outside. I just did a workout yesterday without Sorella for the first time at three-months postpartum. It felt amazing since I was able to push myself without being distracted by a baby. I need to start pumping so I can do it more often. I need to take a little time for myself every once in a while so I can recharge my batteries and have the energy to be the best mom I can be.

Motherhood Times Two

I love it. It definitely comes with challenges, especially as I try and balance my time between life as a mom, a business woman and a wife. I cherish the little time I have for myself, like a shower. The most rewarding aspect of being a mom of two is seeing my children bond. It just melts my heart.

New-Mom Guidance

Continue the workouts that you love and modify them as your body changes throughout your pregnancy. Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level, stay hydrated, take breaks, listen to your body and have fun! When you enjoy your workouts it’s easier to continue and stay motivated. Once you become a new mom take your time to recover and embrace motherhood as you slowly re-introduce exercise back into your life. Find ways that you can exercise with your baby, which is also a great way to bond. Learn the art of multi-tasking. It will serve you well as you juggle your new life. And don’t forget to take care of yourself so you can be the best mom to your baby.

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Proud of my daughter, Menina D’Amours Fortunato. As much as she acknowledges my influence in her life as her role model, she has surpassed me in all respects. To give birth at home; to nurse her children during their infancy and early childhood years; to ensure they have the best nutrition and exercise, it is more than I gave my children. Congratulations Menina!

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