Teacher Profile: Ariela Pulido-Westlake

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This month we're featuring the one and only Ariela Pulido-Westlake, one of the teachers at Inwood's own Hanuman Health Club. We’re digging into her travels, martial arts background and her journey within the fitness industry. Ariela teaches Functional Strength and Endurance with us on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. You find her on youtube (which you should definitely check out) and instagram! Without further ado…

Hi Ariela! Tell us a little bit about yourself…

My name is Ariela and I am a martial artist, a fighter, a teacher, a student, and a lover of life. I live in Washington Heights with my two greatest loves, my husband Lavell and my dog Buddy. I’m passionate about living life to its full potential and helping others to do the same in their own lives.

How did you get into martial arts?

I was always active growing up. When I was a Freshman in High School I joined the Freshman football team and after the fall season my sister made me join the wrestling team with her. Reluctantly I joined, but then fell in love with grappling and fighting. When I went to college I played women’s rugby (Tufts University doesn’t have a wrestling program). After college I was thinking about going to law school but decided to take time off. In order to feed myself after moving to NYC, I became a personal trainer at Equinox. From there I stumbled upon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. And from there I met my wonderful husband who introduced me to Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). Now, together, we dabble in many different martial arts and wrestling styles. It’s a good life!

Tell me a bit more about how you got into teaching?

I’ve always had a love for human interaction and teaching. Being a personal trainer and fitness instructor is a natural thing for me. I love being around people and my love of serving others translates well into teaching. Nothing makes me happier than inspiring people, helping them feel strong and confident in their own bodies. It turns into a ripple effect and allows for positive change on a greater scale.

What is your philosophy behind movement and how did you discover that?

Movement is life. I once met an 88 year old woman on the train (she looked maaaaaaybe 60), and she told me the secret to long life and happiness was that she kept herself moving. She did volunteer work in a DayCare so that she could chase around little kids all day and maintain her own youthfulness. This really spoke to me. The day we start to slow down and stop moving is the day we no longer truly live. Movement can be dance, martial arts, strength training, playing with your grandchildren - it is limitless! So whatever makes you move…do it!

Tell us a little about your personal fitness routine and what you’re currently working on?

The truth is… my personal fitness is always changing and evolving. I train Brazilian jiu-jitsu 3-4x a week, Shuai Jiao and Shaolin Shaolin Strength at least 1-2x, strength training roughly 2x, and when I’m able to I sneak in a yoga class (: Everything varies week to week because I always listen to my body and what it needs.

What is your advice to people wanting to improve in the areas of movement, wellness, fitness?

START! So many people get overwhelmed or caught up in trying to find the perfect fitness routine or diet or lifestyle. My advice is to just start and evolve as you go. The reality is that there is no one simple answer to being “fit”. It’s a unique puzzle for everyone and it’s about going through some trial and error and finding out what works best for YOU. I’m still figuring it all out myself (:

What classes do you teach at Hanuman Health club and what do you hope to bring to the students?

I teach Beginner strength training class on Sundays at 10am and Wednesdays at 6:30pm. I definitely have a unique flavor. I like for everyone to challenge themselves as much as possible but also have a great time. Class is a time to express yourself through movement and find the fitness that feels right for you. I’m just here to help guide the process (:

Wonderful! You have a youtube channel and travel all over the world competing and training? Tell us more about your adventures!

Yessssss! Follow my adventures on Instagram @arielarosia and follow my YouTube Channel Germexican Lovers to stay up to date on all of my adventures! I would say more, but really you should just watch the YouTube video I just made about my trip to Kyrgyzstan! There’s a video about our trip to China this past summer as well. Plus, Buddy makes a cameo in most videos so if I didn’t convince you already, BOOM! Go watch for Buddy!

How do you stay balanced and joyful living in a busy place like NYC?

Honestly, I have always been blessed with a sunny disposition. Despite experiencing my own share of hardships in life, I have always been able to see the positives in life. Truly, every day that I wake up and take air into my lungs and feel sunlight on my skin, I feel blessed. The greatest gift we have is our bodies and our lives!