If strong is the new sexy, then Gretchen Barretto is both.
The actress is as strong in fitness as she is in screen presence. Barely a month after starting Antigravity Yoga (AGY) and Zumba at Beyond Yoga at Bonifacio High Street Central, she has been impressing instructors and students with her natural agility and stamina.
“I’ve been doing these for three weeks straight. I’m such an addict that I work out twice a day. This is the only time that I have for this. When I’m working on a teleserye, I just get on the treadmill for 60 minutes before work or when I get home from filming. I would also go to a studio for Pilates,” says Barretto.
She’s taking advantage of the downtime by being more active and socializing with friends after the sessions. “I’ve been dreaming of doing nothing but workout, workout, workout after the teleserye.”
Barretto admits that she enjoys food and has a sweet tooth. Almost every day, friends indulge her with ensaymadas, cheese rolls, chocolates and other desserts. She takes a few bites to savor the taste.
“I don’t deprive myself. The minute I do that, I binge,” she says. “That’s why I work out so I can eat.”
Antigravity Yoga is her latest foray. AGY is a fitness class that adapts yoga poses for a seven-meter nylon (called “silk”) hammock raised off the ground. The weightless poses strengthen the core, relieve joint pains and stretch tight muscles. The techniques consist of learning to anchor the feet on the fabric and full-body movements such as flipping, twisting, dropping and rolling.
“Medically, AGY decompresses the spine when you do the inversion postures. It works out the entire body. In the first few lessons, you learn how to set up the hammock, mounting and dismounting. Then you do tricks such as the Angel Flip, Chandelier and Back Flip,” says certified instructor Paulo Leonido.
Carrying her body weight
He has taught BB Gandanghari and gives private lessons to Judy Ann Santos.
“Gretchen is really strong,” says Leonido. “She can easily carry her body weight.”
Barretto dauntlessly lifts her legs up and hoists herself with her slender arms. While first-timers squeal in the inversion poses, Barretto easily dangles upside down with her feet twisted around the fabric, and flips into a bat-like pose with hands folded in a prayer. Afterward, she slides down gracefully to the mat.
“The more you can easily carry your body weight, the stronger you are; the sexier you are. Strong is the new sexy for me,” says Leonido.
He adds that the workout taps into one’s creativity and liberates students from fears or inhibitions.
After AGY, Gretchen does a mean Zumba.
“This is a Latin-based cardio dance. We have different kinds—salsa, regaton, cumbia and meringue,” says Leonido. “My style is Latin with house clubbing. Everybody can relate because it’s got everything from the ’70s music of Santana to the “Harlem Shake.” You’re burning so much calories and toning your muscles. The dances enable you to go through the full range of motion and you’re having fun. When Gretchen takes Zumba, she’s always smiling. She doesn’t feel like she’s working it. She’s partying with friends.”
One of Barretto’s close friends, celebrity makeup artist Patrick Rosas, joins her in Zumba.
“It makes you feel young. There are no more back pains,” says Rosas. “When you drink, you have to work out the body. Exercise gives the check-and-balance.”
Zumba puts him into an endorphin-release zone. “You feel so good!”
Meanwhile, Gretchen watchers have observed that she looks trimmer. Fitness experts attribute this to metabolic perturbation, a term which means to shake up the muscle cells, nervous system and hormones during exercise.
“The exercises are new to my routine and they shock my body,” she says.
This implies that when the body works harder than usual, it leaves a big impact on the systems. Even after the workout, the body is still burning calories and the body is forced to use its fat for energy.
“We can eat a heavy lunch with friends the first hour after the workout. I don’t take carbs at night,” says Barretto.
The actress feels exhilarated after the classes. “I’m more energetic. They say you have to rest the body but I have too much fun working out. I am not out to lose weight. I don’t want to look too skinny.”
She admits that food is a motivation for the classes. “We all love to work out and we all love to eat. When someone doesn’t have the energy, okay, think of ramen. That’s what we’re going to have afterward.”
Friends are amazed that many of her postings on Instagram are food shots. She explains that when the restaurant orders of her friends are attractive, she takes a snapshot.
On how she manages to stay great over the years, Barretto attributes it to a simple diet and lots of sleep. Her diet is a staple of sinigang, bangus belly, pinakbet, galunggong, tilapia, tinolang manok, ginataang sitaw at kalabasa and brown or red rice, which she calls her comfort foods. During taping, she brings these foods and have them heated in her special bus.
She also values the benefits of sleep. “I do everything in the morning. After I pick up my daughter, I prefer to stay at home. I invite friends to come over or we go out and have a quick bite,” she says.
On coping with a gruelling schedule, she explains, “When there’s taping, our call time is at 6 or 7 a.m. and my cut off is 2 a.m. Between setups, I sleep in my bus. It is covered so that when you turn off the light, it’s dark and I’ll sleep. The minute I step on the bus, they don’t bother me. They knock on the door when it’s time for work.”
Traveling to and from provincial locations, Barretto uses the time for sleeping, as well.
Ultimately, it’s clean living that has been working for her.
Beyond Yoga is at C2 Building, 7th Ave. cor. 28th St., Bonifacio High Street Central, Taguig City. Call tel. nos. 5533799, 0917-6BYYOGA (6299642). Visit www.igobeyondyoga.com.
Gretchen and Patrick’s tops by Easyoga and Beyond Yoga from Certified Calm at Shangri-La Plaza Mall (6386434) and Two Parkade, Bonifacio High Street (5569490).