In the run up to the February Carnivals; Trinidad, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Brazil and more, the last minute attention to health and fitness is on! And the Carnival Goddess, WBFF Fitness Pro Model, Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor Andrea Cha Cha is getting us ready in London UK, with her ‘Sweat in the City Event’.
Andrea, whose parents are from Antigua and Nevis, has graced quite a few of the runways over the years modelling costumes for various London carnival bands and wears some of the hottest costumes at international carnivals. She has participated in carnivals in Trinidad, Barbados, Antigua, Grenada, Miami, UK and Berlin. However, she is also a Pro Fitness Model entering and placing in prestigious competitions. She is a fitness instructor and personal trainer with in depth knowledge and experience about health and fitness and how to get carnival body ready. We sit down over dinner (healthy, it was healthy!) and I find out more about this lady; carnivals, her regime and her event.
How did you get into carnival? Well my parents are from Antigua so always used to do Antigua carnival when I was young. We used to go every year and jump up to Burning Flames and I used to think that ‘This is life’ until I started going to Trinidad [laughter]. No, until I went to Grenada. I went to Grenada for three years then I went to Trinidad. Grenada was life and Trinidad was bouji which is what I liked. [Laughter] The first time I played in costume was with Burrokeets in the UK and that was T-shirt. Then I got into costume with Poison.
Ok, one thing you like about Trinidad carnival is it being sophisticated. What else do you like about Trinidad carnival? I like the all inclusives, I love that… Who doesn’t? Even though you do have to pay a lot but hey. My favourite fete is C’est La Vie although this year we are going to try Beach House for a change. There was one year when C’est La Vie had Veuve Clicquot on tap and we were drinking that all night and that was the best… [Laughter] I shouldn’t be saying this; I’m doing fitness [laughter].
You always seem to get really cool costumes. How do you manage to get them? Cause some people struggle to get what they want. In Trinidad? Well I watch the launches and any costumes that I see that I like; I basically by any means necessary get them [laughter] by contacting the band leader, the band… I am getting that costume. What’s been your favourite so far? Maybe my one last year as it was full of feathers.
You’ve done Notting Hill, Antigua, Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad, Miami, Berlin.Thinking of all the different carnivals what has been your favourite? The fetes leading up to it? Grenada, would be definitely be Grenada, they have the best fetes, one rolling after the other. And just the vibe and the atmosphere and the people are wicked. The actual carnival… I would say Notting Hill cause I’m around all my friends and you know you’ll be alright getting home [laughter]. You’ll know someone who will look after you I think cause you’re in a band with all your friends. And I have pretty much grown up with Release D Riddim, we feel safe. Although Trinidad is really good, at Notting Hill, there is a larger amount of people that we all know.
How does it work? Modelling for the bands? Do they contact you? Do you contact them? No, they contact me. Generally if you have done it with them before and then they know your size and stuff and they just ask. And there is not much to it really.
You’ve modelled for many bands. What do you look for in a good costume? I don’t choose what I wear at the launches. But in terms of choosing a costume for myself, well, now I get mine done by Melissa Simon-Hartman. I pick out the bits I want accentuated, the bits I want people to see. I don’t really like collars as they get in the way, I can’t see behind me. I do like monokinis but because I am so straight they normally don’t look so good on me. I love feathers! But last year, I wanted a metal theme. That was the first year I didn’t have feathers. I’m not normally a head piece girl. Probably because I forget that it is on my head and when I bend down, I knock people out [laughter]. I love backpacks though. I know some people don’t like back packs cause they get in the way when you want to jam. I just like a back pack. It’s like a wedding trail.
So it that what you like about carnival? The costumes? Yes and the whole coming out onto the road. The whole entrance of coming into carnival, looking all brand new… no matter what you look like at the end, it’s like… yeah, that’s the part I like.
How did you get into fitness? Fitness I have always been into, ever since I was 13, 14… because I was so skinny and I was eating loads, people are going to hate me for this, [laughter] I can just picture my sister, her face… I was eating loads and not putting on weight. And I thought the only way I can put on weight is building up muscle. So I used to go to gyms when I was 15 and they would say ‘No you can’t come in’. Even though now you can, but before, you couldn’t. You had to be 16. And I remember when I turned 16, I signed in with a gym and I was like ‘I’m innnn!!’ [laughter]. And I went with my mum and we would do classes and mum kind of dwindled away. And since then I have jumped from gym to gym all in south London. I’ve been a member of pretty much every gym in south London. I used to go a fitness class. He used to do an aerobics class similar to what I do now and he used to have massive speaker boxes. It used to be funky house music and there would be loads of people, about 50 people and everyone loved it. It was like a party and it would go on for an hour every Wednesday. And that was the inspiration for my own classes.
I’ve seen you just working out in the gym. You seem happy. For me, it’s a place that I can just zone out and rebalance my mind. I’m just chilled. I know that if I am going through any stress or anything, once I come out of the gym, I’m alright. It’s the endorphins, the kick that I get out of that. It’s a good feeling. For me, some days I’m like ‘urgh’ but I know that once I get there it will be fine. And you begin to make friends in there and they say ‘See you next week’.
And the Fitness Pro competitions? How did that come about? Well I got into that because of a DJ Adri X. He’s a DJ on the soca scene. And he just came away from the scene for a year and the following year he reappeared with this freaking muscular body and he was on stage!! And I thought ‘What?’ And he began telling me about the competitions and what’s involved and I got into it and for me it was just like a mix of modelling a carnival costume with muscles! [laughter]
Aren’t you freaked out? Cause they are just judging the physicality of you and every inch of your body is under intense scrutiny… It just makes me want to work harder at the gym. And the whole science behind it… The first time I did my competition, I didn’t shred as I knew nothing about it. And when I went back stage I saw everyone looking all muscly with veins and I was thinking ‘How do they get that?’ Cause I was just eating my normal dinner [laughter] and working out. So I asked one of the girls and she said ‘I shredded’. And I said ‘What’s that?’ [laughter]. So I looked into it, got myself a proper coach and I did the competing a month after and I was shredded. And I thought this is amazing! Cause you can pretty much do it just through diet. I was just amazed how important food is in order to lose weight, build muscles, it’s just… It wasn’t about going to the gym every day. It’s all to do with the foods you eat. Balancing up the correct proteins, fats and carbs in your diet and that when I started learning about macros. The fitness competitions took me to a whole new level of knowledge about health and fitness.
Why did you begin your Saturday classes? I hired a place in Croydon and just did it cause that it what I wanted to do. I was going to other classes and I wasn’t getting what I wanted. Couldn’t find a soca class anywhere. I started with funky house and included DJ Markee’s mix (Studio Guys) and everyone loved it. So I thought, let me just do a straight soca mix. I was charging £2.00 then.
How did you come up with the name ‘Sweat in the City?’ My husband Kirk [she says in a low voice]. I was like ‘sweat and fitness, fitness, sweat’. And he said ‘Sweat in the City’. I said ‘yeeeeeaaaahhh’. It’s what we do, we sweat and it’s in the city.
How would you describe your brand? I would say, it is fitness related. We don’t really do choreography. My aim is not just to teach a class, but to get people to lose weight. Because it is one of the best ways for people to lose weight because they love the music and we are literally using all the major muscles in the work out. You don’t really have to think much. You just copy what I do.
What made you come up with this idea? Well I thought about having a bigger version of the Saturday class and just having it more of a party. You know just to make it a bigger event. And I thought let me just do it. Who knows what will happen?
What is your regime in the lead up to carnivals? [laughter] You know it has gotten worse? In the lead up to Trinidad, I am going to get tanned and bronzed. Cause of the competitions I know how good a spray tan is on black skin. [laughter]. Eating… 5 months before a carnival, because of my body type I would eat more. And six weeks to four weeks before carnival, I would do more cardio, speed walking on the treadmill, fat burn after the weight session cause that is the element of shredding.
For the person who is not really really into fitness but they think ‘Oh crap, carnival is coming’, what would you recommend?’ I would recommend if you don’t belong to a gym? Walking. Walking up hills for over 40 minutes. Just cardio. It doesn’t have to be running or sprinting. You need to burn fat. So walking or cycling. It doesn’t have to be strenuous. Just get your cardio in, 4-5 times a week. You will notice the difference. And eat the clean food. Stay on it. You will see the results. When you think that nothing is changing, if you stay on it, the next couple of weeks you will see it. And drink a lot of water. It makes such a difference.
What can we expect from your event? A lively atmosphere, there are going to be lots of people. The lights are going to be dimmed so no one will be watching you, you work at your own pace. It’s a party atmosphere, there is no pressure for you to get the moves perfectly right or keeping up. We will have four instructors, some doing dance that some people like and others doing fitness; Gayle who used to do soca classes ages ago in Balham, Kwaku the afro beats instructor, he’s back, we have Brian back and myself. There will be live DJs, a live drummer and a wellness lounge; personal stylists, Island Girls Rock, a protein company, Nature Shot and three masseuses coming for before and after. They have all come on board and are offering their services complimentary so everyone should take advantage of it. It starts at 7 and ends at 9. You have dance for an hour, fitness for an hour.
What’s next for you? Well Sweat in the City, I just hope the classes gets bigger cause a lot of people have been saying there are few soca fitness classes in London, let alone the UK. There are some, there are some dance classes. But some people are worried about choreography and looking stupid. Fitness is pretty easy to follow and you hear your music and it gives you a push to keep going.
So there you have it! Andrea’s funny. She had us laughing throughout this interview. But that doesn’t draw away from the fact she is totally serious and committed to health and fitness. And the proof is in the pudding as they say. Have a look at her in action in the videos below. And don’t let that beautiful face fool you. In the gym? This woman is a BEAST!!!
Sweat in the City is sponsored by Baygo, Nature Shot, London Pro Massage, She Supps, Aesthestic Candy, Island Girls Rock, Carnival Slayers, Bakannal Radio, The Goddess Experience. DJs at the event will be DeeTee, Credable from Release D Riddim and Triple M. All images were used with the authorisation of Andrea Cha Cha.