Health Q&A: Leandro Carvalho
An interview with the man who knows Victoria’s secret.
Behind every great man is a great woman, and behind every great woman… there’s a man checking out her behind. In that regard, some of the best views in the world have been perfected by Leandro Carvalho, the Equinox fitness guru who claims to have sculpted a slew of celebrity physiques, including designers (Daniella Helayel), starlets (Blake Lively) and a catalogue’s worth of Victoria’s Secret models including Gisele Bundchen and Alessandra Ambrosio (though we humbly submit that Carvalho’s claims to some of these derrieres is in dispute). Bostonista sat down with the Brazilian-born Carvalho (on a Bosun ball, natch) to chat about diet, exercise, and what it really takes to be a supermodel.
What’s your signature workout?
I invented the Brazil Butt Lift for Alessandra [Ambrosio]. Her trainer before was having her do a lot of weights, a lot of squats, and she didn’t want to look bulky; she wanted to look feminine and have great curves. This workout is a combination of ballet, capoeira — that’s Brazilian martial arts — a little bit of kickboxing, and Afro-Brazilian dance. It works your muscles from twelve different angles to really reshape your butt, reduce the hips, and tighten the inner thigh.
Let’s be honest – it’s all just genetics, right?
Well, these girls are born beautiful, they’re privileged by God, but they’re not perfect. There’s always room for improvement. A little bit of baby fat on the stomach or the hips can ruin their careers. A butt at 20 is easy to perfect, but at 28, or after a baby, it changes a lot. Before, all the girls were working out mostly for fun and didn’t push themselves so hard, but now they’re starting to take it more seriously. I’ll go food shopping with them sometimes. Once in Whole Foods the cashier said to me, “You must be very rich because your girlfriends are all so beautiful!”
So how often do your model clients have to work out to stay in lingerie shape?
It varies from model to model. I’m based in New York, so when they’re in the city, they work out seven days a week. Some days when they have a little more energy I push them harder. On days when I can see they’re not into it, I dance more, get them warmed up a little bit. If they’re sore I stick to yoga or the pool. The important thing is that you need variety to get results, and you need to have fun.
With such jet-setting clients, how do you schedule regular workouts?
I’m available to my clients 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and I never know what my schedule will be. I play everything by ear, and it’s hard but I’m used to it. I go to them—on location at a shoot, at their homes, at the studio in New York. I travel with the sometimes. I’ve gone to Rio, Sao Paolo, and soon I’m going to Thailand. Once Alessandra called me from the airport in Bali and said, “This is when I land, let’s schedule an appointment.”
Do you have any favorite success stories?
When Alessandra was pregnant she gained forty pounds. She had her baby in September by C-section, and she had to be ready to be in a show in lingerie in November. Because of her C-section she couldn’t run, or squat, or do sit-ups. So she walked a lot on the treadmill at a 50 percent incline, and we did a lot of floor work. She also needed to cleanse, so I put her on the green and white diet: leafy green vegetables and white protein like chicken, fish, and egg whites. She worked out two hours a day, seven days a week, and she lost all the weight.
What is it really like working out with a supermodel?
The girls do like small clothes, a little bit of a sexy cut. They love Brazilian fitness wear because it uses a material called Suplex, which really tightens and lifts and just helps the body look better. Lately they’ve been wearing a lot of my line, Leandro Fitness [available at the Equinox store in New York]. But they’re not divas, they’re all great. They all have great energy. They have to work out like regular people, even when they’re exhausted after a long day — sometimes even at one in the morning. I think they like me because I’m very flexible with my routines. Maybe it’s because I’m Brazilian!
Equinox Fitness, 131 Dartmouth St., Boston, 617-578-8918, equinox.com