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Hottest Trainer Contestant #5: Gisella Ferreira

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Welcome to Racked LA's search for Los Angeles' hottest trainer. Over the coming weeks, we'll profile sixteen smoking candidates who work at local gyms and studios. Then, once you've gotten to know everyone, we'll host a March Madness-style showdown in which you get to vote for your favorite. Let the games begin!

All photos Elizabeth Daniels

Let's all welcome Gisella Ferreira, contestant #5, to Racked's Hottest Trainers competition! The Brazilian American has been teaching hip-shaking moves for more than 14 years, and specializes in capoeira, samba, funk, zumba, hip-hop and Afro-Brazilian dance. "Her passion for dance and a healthy lifestyle are infectious," raves one of her students; says another, "she's AWESOME!" We quizzed her to find out her flat-stomach tips, advice for dance newbies and favorite places to shop for workout gear.

When did you start dancing?
"I've been dancing my whole life. My dad started teaching me samba when I was like three years old. I just kept doing it, took a lot of classes and tried pretty much every kind of dance.

I grew up here in California, in Santa Cruz up north. My mom is American and my dad is Brazilian and they're both dancers. My dad did a lot of capoeira and samba and my mom used to teach ballet, so I just grew up around it."

What is the hardest thing about your job?
"I think people forget that I'm not superhuman and that I need to like, take a vacation. That's the hardest because when you're a trainer or instructor, your students count on you to always be there and always be 100%. I feel guilty, too, if I leave."

What's the most rewarding part?
"There are so many things. Over the past two years I've been teaching zumba and have people that are dancing like six to seven times a week who have seen a lot of results in terms of weight loss, toning and body image. That's the most rewarding—having people come up to me or send me pictures of before and after and they're like, I did it having a great time. And also meeting so many great people and bringing everybody together to have a good time."

What advice would you give someone who wants to start working out?
"Have fun. Go into it with an open mind and thinking about having a good time. The fitness and everything else follows. Relax and don't be too hard on yourself when you're starting out."

What kind of fitness mistakes do you see people making?
"Especially in the United States people try crazy diets and workouts. They might be really into going to the gym for a few weeks and then will stop because they weren't having fun. What I've learned from myself is always try to find balance. I see people that want to dance every day, which is great, but maybe they're not also stretching. Lots of times when people are new to dancing they might try really hard at first and then get an injury. It's important to really take it at your own pace."

What's the secret to a perfectly-flat stomach, in your opinion?
"A lot of cardio. That really strips the body of a lot of fat. A lot of cardio, and then also a healthy diet that's lower in carbs and full of vegetables and fruit and protein. It's very important for people to eat organic to avoid additives and preservatives because I honestly think that has a lot to do with obesity here in the US."

Where do you shop for workout gear?
"I have one clothing line that I started called The Samba Shop, which has dance T-shirts that I like to wear. I also like Brazilian fitness wear, which is flattering and comfortable to move in. And Gloss Army—they have a location in Beverly Hills."

What do you do when you're not at the gym, dancing?
"I like to lay out at the beach, walk at the beach, go to the pool, listen to music and I like to cook at home. I started this thing on Facebook called Gisella's Healthy Kitchen and I share all the recipes with my students."

Gisella trains at the Brasil Brasil Cultural Center and at Naam Yoga. For more information, click here or email
· Gisella Ferreira [Official Site]
· The Samba Shop [Official Site]
· Brasil Brasil Cultural Center [Official Site]
· All Hottest Trainer Entries [Racked]