February 3 2016

“First Learn To Love Yourself” – Welcome To The Fit List Bernadett Fejszes by Ximena Iglesias

Screenshot 2016-02-03 14.30.25Screenshot 2016-02-03 14.07.23Bernadett Fejszes is a motivator, fitness professional, internationally known Zumba Jammer, a leader and a new mom!   This is the story of where a positive outlook on life, an unrelenting passion for excellence, and a beautiful soul can get you.  Bernadett is an internationally known Zumba Jammer.  But that’s not her story.  Her story is about being truly committed to helping others to live a healthy life style.  It’s also about creating an environment where all are welcome, and where all can share her joy.  Novice or pro, you will always leave a class of Bernadett’s feeling good and feeling challenged.  But Bernadett is not just about the instruction.  She is about sharing her spirit, about being a shoulder to lean on, being a good friend and someone who tries to help others no matter how profound their problems may be.  She exemplifies resilience – when things did not go her way, she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and moved on never losing her joyful spirit.  Bernadett inspires us with her passion, her intelligence, her fitness, her drive, and her love for those around her.  Welcome to the Fit List, Bernadett Fejszes.  
One Sunday morning, after her Zumba class, I interviewed Bernadett Fejszes to gain exclusive insight on her unique story. Bernadett shared that since she was a little girl she always dreamed of dancing on a stage in front of large crowds.

Screenshot 2016-02-03 14.30.08Born in Hungary, after much planning, she took the risk of traveling from Eastern Europe to the United States with hopes of achieving an Education in International Business even though she spoke limited English.  Her path was not without challenges.  She lost her mom at a young age.  Her own health broke down, and she had many difficult financial situations upon coming to the USA, and her career path did not unfold as she had envisioned.  Nonetheless, she always had faith and followed her dream.  Taking all her challenges as opportunities to grow and be stronger. Bernadett has taken all these life lessons and ultimately changed herself for the better. Bernadett feels equipt with confidence to share her story:

With my profession I feel like I am constantly helping others to look on the brighter side of life.

Where are you from and what is your favorite dish from your country?

Screenshot 2016-02-03 14.59.46Bernadett is originally from Nyiregyhaza, Hungary (North East of Hungary close to the Ukraine and the Romanian border), and her favorite dish from her country is called “Hortobágyi Húsos Palacsinta“(which is a Hungarian pancake, filled with meat) & roasted Goose Liver Hungarian style.

What inspired you to come to the U.S.?

I came from Hungary to the United States to pursue a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) for International Marketing at Lynn University. I came with the dream to travel, learn English and pursue an education in order to support my family back in Hungary. Just like many others, I came to the States for an opportunity.  The MBA did not work out as I had imagined because of my lack of fluent English and the difficulty of transferring credits, but I was determined to make good things happen.

What did you do before Zumba? What got you started in Zumba?

Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.00.57

I have always loved music and dancing.  I specifically loved taking dance fitness and step aerobics classes. For 13 years I was trained in Hungarian Folk Dance and Ballet. Coming to the States, I didn’t know it was possible to make a living out of fitness and athletics.   In my country,  it was looked down upon. But I had previous experience teaching with weights and barbells, and I started with a group fitness certification (with AFAA).  Then Zumba came into my life. I personally thought it was slow, but I enjoyed the music and still had fun following along all the latin rhythms & moves. A month later I gained the courage to ask the instructor what to do in order to teach Zumba Fitness, and that’s where she gave me a 1-800 number, and the rest is history!

How did your reputation grow?

Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.04.23I always had a passion for dancing, and I guess it was that passion that fueled my success. Over the years I have learned Ballroom –such as salsa and cha cha- along with hip hop, jazz and many other genres.

But my reputation was built from the ground up, and it began by teaching Zumba at its early inception. I first became licensed a little over 10 years ago, with my close friend Loibel Lottermann. We started by posting our specific goals on the fridge at Loibel’s house. We went knocking door-to-door (with resumes at hand) at country clubs and gyms from East Boca to West Boca asking for the opportunity to teach. At one point we covered and taught throughout most of the Boca Raton, Florida area.  Loi and I formed the Boca Chicas group and switched off teaching classes and teaching together.

When I taught my first class at Fitness for Women in Boca Raton. I was told no one would know what Zumba is. So the class was called Latin Bootcamp and consisted of 30 min Dance/Zumba Choreography and 30min weights, or structured circuit fitness. Little-by-little, my clients asked for more and more choreography, until the class became solely Zumba.


Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.06.14You are an International Zumba presenter. How do you inspire people when you don’t speak the same language?

Being a Zumba Jammer gave me the opportunity to travel the world. In a year and a half, I had visited 25 different countries. I believe it is a combination of my enthusiasm and passion for fitness that helps me to inspire others. There is no specific language necessary to see one’s passion, just like music and dance have no specific language.

You talk a lot about the importance of love and a joyful heart. Tell us about that?

“[Show] Love and you will be able to receive love…

The most important thing to have in life is balance. One can achieve balance by being good to your physical self (body), spirit and mind. Bernadett also adds that she has found balance by living in the moment. She drew out this illustration to help us better understand her philosophy:


Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.06.25You’re a new mom. How has that changed your perspective on life?

Being a mom has definitely changed me. Before Xenia, I wouldn’t stop, I was like an Energizer Bunny.

I was constantly working and excited and energized to conquer a new day. But maternity leave took me out of my job for a little bit (the longest I have gone without teaching). Once that was over I learned to pace myself to get back into my fitness lifestyle. Having a child has taught me that looking forward to tomorrow is great, but it is better to live in the moment.Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.07.11

After your daughter was born, how did you get back to your previous amazing level of fitness? What is your advice for a healthy way to get in shape?

5 months later, I finally felt somewhat back to my old self. I teach 6 or 7 days of the week, but that one day I have off, I spend with my daughter. Initially, she is what got me back into my old lifestyle, because we started doing a Mommy & Me class, where we do simple steps but she was attached to me on a carrier. Once again, I took it step-by-step one day at a time. I also feel as if I have a wonderful support system. James (my fiancé) is a great father and is always willing to help me with Xenia.

You might have days when you are tired or you don’t feel great – but you still have to be motivating to others.  How do you do it?

On days where I am feeling down, I always look at my baby, try to stay positive and remember that passion will lead me to my goals.

For someone trying to get motivated to adopt a healthier lifestyle, what advice do you have?

Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.07.42Bernadett emphasizes that it is important to have precise goals that fit you. She also shares that goals should be realistic. For example, when she teaches her ZIN Jam Sessions (Choreography workshops) to Zumba Jammers, she has them write down 15 goals:

5 Personal Goals–whether traveling or any other personal achievement;  5 Career-Related Goals–go for that raise or new job; and 5 Health/Fitness Goals–want to lose weight or eat healthier?

What’s your best advice for how to feel confident?Screenshot 2016-02-03 15.07.52

In order to feel confident, one must learn to love themselves first. In order to love yourself, you must accept your weaknesses but most importantly cherish your strengths and be able to make the best of those strengths that highlight you as an individual.

What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you?

To me, SFTL means to inspire a community to be fit and healthy, not just physically, but spiritually and mindfully as well.

Thank you Bernadett, and welcome to the Fit List. 

Read More By Ximena:

Why You Should Care About Politics

SFTL Goes Ice Skating

What I Learned From Barbie

The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Working Out

Hip Hop Cardio

What Does It Really Take To Become A Fitness Instructor?

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