Lift Your Butt Like a Brazilian

Friday, December 10, 2010 | 0 comments »

By Steve Edwards

"Butt is the new abs," says Brazil Butt Lift® creator Leandro Carvalho. "Look at the latest group of Victoria's Secret® Angels [models]; 17 of the 28 are from Brazil. The reason is because they have beautiful butts."

For Carvalho, this is more than a casual observation. His training techniques hit the mainstream when he began transforming waiflike runway models into bootylicious supermodels. Now you're fortunate if you can find a spot in one of his classes, which are taught exclusively at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York. Luckily, he's gone viral, and now you can do his classes in the comfort of your living room. I sat down with Carvalho recently to chat about Brazil Butt Lift and came away with a lot more: a story about a guy who has always followed his dream, arrived in America without knowing anyone or speaking the language, and is now a celebrity. Today, in part one of this interview, we'll hear about the history of Brazil Butt Lift and why not being able to "spot train" is a myth.

"Five years ago, I met Alessandra Ambrosio, the world-famous supermodel, at a party," Carvalho began our interview. "She didn't like her trainer because she was putting on more muscle than she wanted. She only wanted to work on her waistline, her butt, and the inside and outside of her legs. I knew that by combining dance, Capoeira, and what I had learned as a trainer [that] I could get her the results she wanted. As soon as I did, she began telling her friends, and things escalated from there."

I asked about spot training, which is often considered a myth among trainers, to which he replied, "Those people haven't been to Brazil. We [Brazilians] love to dance and celebrate. In fact, we celebrate just about everything with dance. Not just special occasions. We dance at church. We dance at sundown. We just dance constantly, which works the legs, the abs, and the butt. This is why our beaches are so famous. Everyone looks great from dancing, both men and women."

"And you can translate this into specific training. Of course, squats and lunges [the standard leg exercises] are great, but if you do too much you also bulk up the legs, which is especially true when you start adding weight. I had to work the butt without bulking the legs. So I combined squats and lunges with Afro-Brazilian dance. That's the 'secret.'"

"After my success with Alessandra, I needed something to call it because all the clubs in New York wanted these workouts. I was watching Extreme Makeover. There was a doctor on who was doing some sort of cosmetic surgery that he called a Brazilian butt lift. I thought this was a great name for my class. Equinox loved it and signed me to an exclusive deal to teach for them. They gave me a lot of press. TV, magazines, everywhere. My classes have been packed ever since."

As Beachbody's science guy, I was eager to hear about this angle. Certainly, there's more to it than dance, I asked. "Most trainers focus on the large muscles, like the gluteus maximus. But the glutes are three different muscles: maximus, medius, and minimus," stated Carvalho, now sounding like the guy I knew had a degree in exercise physiology and had been at this for decades. "You need to train them all. Not only that but you need to hit them from various angles to strengthen the head of each muscle. In total, we're looking at 12 different angles you should hit in order to create a round butt."

Before I even got a chance to ask about men, Carvalho beat me to it. "Even though it was created for women, it's important to say it's not just for girls," he said. "I worried that men won't want to do it, but it works very well for them. Men like having great butts, too, and women like looking at men with great butts! Back in Brazil, I used to train police and firefighters, and we did a lot of the same movements."

I brought up some training sessions I'd read about when he was working with John McEnroe, the professional tennis player who was famous for his bad temper. Certainly, I think, if McEnroe wasn't yelling "you can't be serious," the workouts must pass some kind of macho test. Unfortunately, at least from my angle, he seems to have mellowed with age.

"Well,Trudie [Styler] had hired me, and I had no idea [that] I was teaching anyone else. All these other people just showed up, including Sting [Styler's husband], Tom Hanks, McEnroe, and others. We all trained on the beach. McEnroe was pretty conservative. The actors, guys like Hanks, were more willing to dive into the dance moves, because they're more used to being outside their comfort zone. That seems to be the same thing with my classes. Guys are more reserved about taking any exercise class. But when they do show up, they love it."

Next time, we'll dig deeper into Carvalho's background; Brazil Butt Lift's science and nutrition; and what it's like to juggle teaching sold-out classes, filming a workout video, and training 26 supermodels.