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February 2014 – Rachel Rose

//February 2014 – Rachel Rose

February 2014 – Rachel Rose

Rachel RoseThis month our VIP is Rachel Rose.

I am really surprised we managed to tie you down long enough to do this interview!  You lead a very hectic life as co-owner of the Bahia Fitness Gym.   Your name in full is Rachel Rose Ricciardi Meza – quite a mouthful!  Where are you from originally?

My grandparents were from Italy, I lived in Connecticut, then NYC.  When I married Edgar, I took on the Meza name.

What did you do there?

I was a professional dancer and choreographer.  Ever since I could walk I wanted to dance.  I told my parents and my teachers that’s what I wanted to do with my life and they were hesitant.  I attended New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, where I received my BFA in dance/choreography and studied Pilates. I trained very long and very hard.  It’s really competitive – I auditioned all the time. Once, I auditioned to be part of the Walt Disney World theme park team. Once you have Walt Disney on your resume, you’ve got it made!   There were at least 4,000 of us!  Needless to say, I didn’t pass.  I auditioned for a show called “Stomp” – that was 5,000 people!  I auditioned for five days, each day the numbers were  reduced, and then I got down to the last day, the last 20 people – but it was “Thank you, goodbye.”  At least some of the auditions don’t waste your time – you turn up and they say we are looking for a 6 ft tall Afro Caribbean or whatever  – there’s a lot of typecasting – so you know you can go home.

I was part of Second Ave. Dance Company in NYC.  I was also a dancer on MTV’s  “The Grind,” in the 90’s. I was a dancer in the Macy’s Day Parade. At rehearsals I was gradually bumped up so that of 500 girls I was finally front and center.   But later when I watched a recording of it, I was probably on camera for only 6 seconds! Auditioning can be emotionally challenging, but you win some, you lose some (more!)

How did you end up in Mexico?

This was all before internet really.  I handed out my resume to anyone who would take it.  One day I had a phone call: they needed a choreographer in Cancun!  It was a 6 months contract – and that was 16 years ago!  On the third day I broke my knee on stage, dancing!  The airline also lost my luggage for a week…AND I didn’t speak a word of Spanish!   I don’t know why I just didn’t turn around and go back.

Obviously with a broken knee you couldn’t dance – so what happened?

I had been hired to fill the position of the current choreographer, who was planning to leave in about a week.  So I was told to sit and watch the rehearsals all day and learn as much as possible. Watching it was just about as good as physically doing it.  I learned everything fast.  Since I had no television, I read and read and tried to learn as much Spanish as possible.  The good thing was I still got paid, since it was a work related injury.  Since then I have had 2 knee operations and I am supposed to have a third.  Needless to say, I consider myself an expert on the IMSS healthcare system.

That was Cancun – how did you end up here?

The hotel was part of a chain, a franchise, and I could move around between them so I travelled.  I transferred to the one here in Nuevo, it was called the Allegro – and that’s where I met Edgar who was the DJ.  I was actually transferred again to Playa del Carmen where I was responsible for 2 neighboring Allegro Hotels…..and again to Nuevo Vallarta.  I am exhausted just thinking about it!

I am sure you put in a lot of hours.

Oh yes.  Day time 9 – 5 was spent rehearsing – and I had to lead Aquagym and aerobics, and repair and design costumes.  Then 8pm to midnight was the show and disco.  This was 6 days a week, and I did this for 10 years. We had a cycle of fourteen shows in 2 weeks. We made a few changes, and tried to make it fresh.  Edgar from behind the public in his DJ booth would watch and make faces and sometimes it was thumbs up and sometimes it was thumbs down!

What did you do on your day off?

Slept!  Ate!  Nothing much else, just recovered enough to go back and do it all over again the next day.

Why did you decide to open a gym?

I knew I was never going to be a dancer forever.  I had always exercised so I studied, first to be a personal trainer.  Then every so often I would study for another certification.  (Yoga, Pilates, Cycling, etc.)  I have at least 20 certificates – so it was an easy transition.  The hardest part was leaving all the hundreds of beautiful costumes I’d spent so much time on! A huge room full of them, I’d created, made and repaired them… it broke my heart.

After Allegro I taught at 8 gyms and organized events for schools.  I was actually an employee of New World Gym when the light bulb went off.  I saw women scrambling from one exercise class to another to get their spot.  So that’s where it all began.  We started with a little room just doing classes like Zumba, spinning, yoga, Pilates, ball, etc.  One year later we opened up the small gym on 20 November Street.  Then,  New World Gym approached us regarding their equipment, and suddenly Billy’s Gym was here one day and gone the next!  So we negotiated a lease with the owners of this building. Surprisingly enough, this all happened on Edgar’s birthday!  So in May, I didn’t get flowers or chocolates, as I might have done – my hubby got me A GYM!  In one week Edgar did all the renovations, flooring etc, got a big crane in to hoist the equipment in through the windows – at 11 on a Sunday night the guys were putting up the wall mirrors with our opening scheduled for 6  the  next morning!  It was all a headache and we were exhausted, but thanks to Edgar we opened on time.

You live in the Terralta complex – do you own that?

Yes.  When we were working for the hotel housing was included – actually we had a beautiful condo in Nuevo.  So before we left we were looking for a house.   Edgar bought a house near Valle Dorado, and I bought the adjoining one, the idea was to put the 2 together.  This was a pre-sale, and fortunately we only had a little down payment.  About a year later it turned out to be a huge fraud because the developers didn’t have the right permits.  There was a class action suit against them.  We were offered another house in that area but by then we had fallen in love with Bucerias, and bought in Terralta.  We love it there. We live 3 minutes’ walk to the beach, and we have fantastic neighbors!

You have a daughter.  Do you have any pets?

My daughter Jacqueline (Jackie) is  5 and attends a local kindergarten.  Spanish is her first language.  But I do speak to her in English and she understands but she doesn’t speak it back to me much.  But I am sure she will be bi-lingual.  We have 2 dogs, one is a rescue, and we have some fish.

Your time in showbusiness  was all consuming – but don’t you put in just as many hours in the gym?

Yes!  Edgar takes Jackie to school so I start between 6 and 8am and go till 12. We are with Jackie from 12-6 (we split shift for lunch) Then we are in full swing from 6 till 10ish.  Edgar shares reception duties and trains people into how to use the equipment correctly.  We have a trainer and a few teachers.  The weekends are for us. Whether we go out to eat or just hang out.  We are constantly looking at other ideas to add to the schedule –fun, innovative, exciting ways to improve your body!

Do you still have family back in America ?  Were they supportive or opposed to your relocation?

I’ve always been a free bird.  One way or the other, they all knew I was going to do whatever I wanted.  And I’d already been living on my own in New York and had travelled a lot.  They all did think it was crazy because they heard all these wild stories about Mexico.   Fear prevents people from taking leaps in life. NOT ME! Sure it was scary to move to a different country, but that’s all the more reason!  I have had a few desk jobs but when I decided to quit it was because I couldn’t work where I couldn’t take my shoes off!    Here I live three minutes’ walk from the beach, I can put shorts on every day, and I can go to work in my flip flops – there is nothing better than that.  This is my home but I am sorry they are so far away.

Has anyone visited you here?

My Mom visited a couple of times, but she is very involved in her church.  I sent her a picture the other day of a Zumba Gold class so she could see how many seniors there are here – I’d like her to open her eyes to that, but I understand it’s scary to move to another country.  My sister has been a few times and she loves it here, absolutely – but she won’t make the move.

Your Spanish is excellent!  How did you learn it?

I didn’t speak a word when I first came to Mexico.   I started with some books and listening to a CD – my local friends laughed at the CD teaching because it was not realistic and tore it up!   I’d be sitting at a table of ten with everybody laughing and having a good time – and I was bored, I didn’t know what they were saying.  But they helped me a lot. They appreciated that I was going out of my way to try and learn Spanish.  Of course I learned all the dirty words first – just like a schoolkid!  I was not afraid to make a mistake – they would get the idea of what I was trying to say and correct me to help me.  I used to speak French fluently but now I can hardly remember a word!

What are your personal interests or hobbies?

Ballet, still.  Cooking, crochet – and jigsaw puzzles.

Looking back, anything you wished you had known about or anything you would have changed?

Not changed – but I wish I’d known about immigration and hacienda!  Little by little you learn the culture here.  Someone gave me good advice when they said: “You are in Mexico.  You are not in America”.  Some people have a hard time accepting that.

You have lots of funny stories of your time on stage, can you select just one to share with us please.

Just one, that’s tough!  OK:  I had my hair pinned up and attached to it were long hair extensions.  I was dancing with a guy and twirled and the false hair got caught up on the buttons on the sleeve of his jacket – and it was ripped off my head!   And we were trying to carry on with the routine but we were laughing – and he was frantically waving his arm around trying to shake the hair off while continuing to dance with me! Finally he got it off and it fell to the floor – and he stamped on it as if it was a rat!  Then I picked it up and clipped it back on – the show must go on and all that.  Everyone was hysterical, crying their eyes out laughing so much!

That’s a great story to end with!  Thank you for your time Rachel, we all wish you continued success with Bahia Fitness Gym.

By | 2014-02-01T08:22:17-06:00 February 1st, 2014|VIP Interview|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. Wayne Elliott February 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Smart Gal and a great asset to Bucerias

  2. Bill Grant November 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Rachel is a real gift to Bucerias. What a terrific
    Background. She and Edgar her husband are an
    amazing couple; Patient, kind, always helpful
    Luv them both Bill

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