If you took the energy of a lightening bolt, added an Aussie accent and a dance studio to the mix you would get powerhouse and life enthusiast Gina Buber. From professional ballroom dancer to fitness guru, Gina spreads a life with passion to anyone she meets. We met Gina in Australia last year and it was clear from the beginning that at some stage we would collaborate together.
Gina's love of movement started at a very young age. Growing up in Sydney, she is the daughter of Ukrainian parents, Mila and Igor Buber. While her Dad would like to take credit for her dance moves, it was really her Mum who inspired and encouraged her on her journey, a ballerina herself as a young woman in the Ukraine. From getting her friends to gather around her for a song and dance show at age 5, by age 8 she was enrolled in at a Ballroom Dance School (much to her own disgust initially at having to dance with boys).
But the passion for ballroom developed and remained strong. Gina was a professional dancer, competing and performing all around the world. Eventually she hit a wall and realised the fire she had had for this sport for so long had fizzled. She was living in San Francisco at age 17, representing America for dance at the time. During her year long time in the city, she found herself a group of friends who were dancers but who were also considering life after dance. She was shown a life outside of her dance bubble and the could see a world where she had more to offer than just being a competitive dancer. At the age of 20, she pulled the pin. Having left High School early, she had missed the HSC exams which would have been the next steps for higher education.
After leaving the dance scene, life shifted on an axis for Gina. Doing a university preparation programme for mature age students, Gina decided to get a university degree. She studied Media and Communications at the University of New South Wales. It was the first time for her realising that she was more than just a dancer. Prior to her studies, she started to gain weight, and added around 25kg to her petite frame. But as we all know, pivotal moments happen in our lives and for Gina it was being asked to cover for a friend to teach a wedding dance that the sparks for dance came back.
She slowly began her journey back to happiness, she felt like the studies she was doing gave her control back over her life. Over a two year period, Gina prioritized a sustainable approach to her exercise and diet. As a dancer she was caught in the cycle of strict diet and exercise control, one that she didn't really enjoy and would leave her with feelings of pleasure and then the immediate pain for eating something like a donut (which by the was she loves). Wanting to tap into her skills as a dancer to start to make a positive difference in the lives of others, Gina became one of Australia's first Zumba teachers in 2009. After doing this for a few years, she had the desire to really go out there and create something of her own to share with the world.
Sometimes we draw on others to help show us our own strength. It was during Gina's second year of studies that she met her now husband, Anthony, who has been a constant support and source of love for Gina. He was the one who helped encourage her to become a more than a dance teacher and has always been there for her on her journey. She calls him her inspiration who helps continually to show her the potential in herself and her ideas. And yes, she choreographed their wedding dance.
Knowing that teaching high impact workouts like Zumba wasn't going to be physically sustainable over her lifetime, Gina looked to create something that would be more achievable for both herself and others long term. Drawing on experiences in dance and a desire to help others, Gina became a seated dance movement class instructor at retirement villages around Sydney. It was in this environment that she saw the true impact that a healthy lifestyle has on us as we age.
In 2014 she create her own brand SMILE (Social Movement Improves Life Everyday), which lead to a low impact workout programme called "Dance that Walk". A walking cardio workout based off having fun and incorporating dance style moves. This lead to women all over the world purchasing her workout DVD's to participate in these safe and low impact workouts in their own homes.
As her followers increased in numbers, she had an ah-hah moment. One where she realised that its the connections between us that keep us coming back to healthy habits. So it was time to take the next leap, and Gina rebranded her business to Up to the BEat Fitness in 2018. Shifting the focus from just the workout to a whole community experience. Now her company not only produces fun and functional workouts (with sweet moves and pumping music) but they have created an online platform to connect her tribe together. There she offers nutrition support, mindset tips and ongoing support to those who join in. Her focus for her tribe is wellbeing, encouraging each other and to feel content with who they are.
"It's time to be positive, be active and be happy"
We love Gina because she's just so totally real and herself at all times. She's not some perfect fitness blogger telling you how to achieve your summer body in a time given programme. She focuses her attention on sustainable lifestyle driven fitness. Not fear or shame, just love. Love for your life and for yourself. Gina also has an incredible team, the women in her workouts are her friends and family (including her Mum!) she never uses professional actors, so they are as real as she is.
When we asked her who was her biggest inspiration she smiled with pure joy and told us about Blanche. Blanche is one of her clients who is 88, whose personal ethos means fitness is the absolute key for her living her best life. For Gina she is truly inspiring. She's also a mad Zeenya fan thanks to Gina getting into our gear a few months back. The saying goes that age is just a number and if we can all get to 88 and still be moving, travelling and loving life like Blanche then we will be, as she says, "Living life with gusto".
In the near future for Gina, there's more filming coming up and she will be releasing new workout DVD's during May. Engaging with her community is really fun and easy, and she's pushing 2019 with a 12 month challenge over in her private Facebook group "upBEat Tribe". This has new monthly focuses and already she's seeing people with incredible personal shifts happening. You can join in anytime with the #yeartothrive2019 challenge, and with 8 months still to go its not too late to be part of it. It's open to anyone to get involved you can click here to join the group!
Looking back, Gina wouldn't change a thing. She knows that everything both good and bad in her life has lead her to where she is now. Without these ups and downs, life wouldn't be the incredible journey that it is.
Her life motto is "Small steps to big change" it doesn't happen all at once, and you have to work for it. But that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Find the things you enjoy doing, because those will be the ones that stick.
For more information on Up to the BEat, workout samples, inspiration and the latest news click here.
To join the 12 months Challenge click here