Looking for a group to workout with that has more meaning than just sweating off calories? ManaVida spreads health awareness, benefits, and fun to the Macau community by aiming to “sweat for others” through sports, charity, workshops, and more. Co-founder of ManaVida, Brazilian-born Macau-based Cintia Milk tells us all about this amazing project that’s been bringing people and communities closer, not only by sweating but teaching and spreading awareness.
Where did the name ManaVida come from?
“Mana” as described in the Bible, is the food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness by God. Today, we see it as a symbol of a miracle, a supernatural force that can be either acting on people or a situation. We believe each one of us can be Mana–a miracle, a blessing, and support for people around. “Vida” means life in Portuguese and the name came naturally when starting this social enterprise. We want people to not just wait for a miracle to fall from the sky, but empower them to be the miracle.
What inspired you to bring ManaVida to Macau?
Both my husband and I grew up in Macau, and we’ve been exposed to diverse communities related to our job, church, and social life. And being a local, people kept asking us how they could donate goods, supplies, or funds and it’s never a simple question to answer in Macau. So we created ManaVida–the bridge between people and community projects that we personally seek and support. Although many people relate it to fitness sessions, ManaVida is about giving and doing something that not only benefits the participant but people whom they don’t even know. The fitness component is attached to the idea of respecting your body as a temple by nourishing it with a good lifestyle mentally, physically, and spiritually. And when I say spiritually, it is simply that you are caring and loving people you don’t even know, but you’re somehow connected to.
Do tell us about your fitness journey!
I was always active in sports–different football modalities, roller hockey, and other activities related to fitness. After getting married, I got into running and high-intensity modalities and by then I really enjoyed the process of learning deeper about every exercise I was doing. In 2015, I started applying to numerous courses; the TRX Suspension training course and Schwinn Cycling (spinning instructor course) were my first ones. Back then, I didn’t think of becoming a fitness instructor as a full-time job but the joy of being able to help people around me took over.
I wanted to dig deeper but I was finishing my education diploma and working full time as an art teacher so almost every month I would spend my weekends in Hong Kong for more fitness courses to later be able to make the transition. In 2016, I took a summer break to become a certified personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and later that year, I started my journey to become a pilates instructor and also started ManaVida!
What are ManaVida’s main activities and classes?
We used to have outdoor bootcamps, which we aren’t doing that much nowadays, only when there’s a special event, charity, or anything related. Regarding fitness, I teach pilates–I’m a nat and reformer instructor at Anytime Fitness. We also had a summer camp where we rent a place and brought kids to do fitness. We basically collaborate with fitness clubs, such as Anytime Fitness, and I’ve also collaborated with Sheraton Fitness and Life Project.
People can arrange to come to a class by booking or drop-in. I give group classes at One Oasis and Anytime Fitness, in Ocean Gardens. Each pilates mat class (drop-in) costs MOP $180 and MOP $150 if one purchases a pack of classes. I also teach animal flow, which I’m certified in.
Also read: Where to Practice Pilates in Macau
How is this handled?
There are two ways–either entities invite us to teach classes, or we rent spaces (from companies or at condominium clubs) and give classes as ManaVida.
Do you also work on a private session basis?
Yes, that’s my main job. I have private Pilates classes and one-on-one personal training gym sessions, meaning functional training. It’s generally where the client prefers, including outdoors, their buildings’ clubhouses, including One Grantai, Ocean Gardens, One Oasis, and others.
When you’re looking for a personal trainer, you’re not just looking to get thinner or bulkier; you’re looking for help and you’re showing some kind of vulnerability to that person. Some of my clients have health problems or something else and prefer to do it somewhere private, for instance. I bond with my clients and I believe that’s why I’ve been following the same people for years now.
For group classes, I have men attending, but private personal training and pilates sessions are only for women.
Why only women?
Well, first, because it’s a whole world out there! Then, because I find the area of hormonal behavior super interesting. There’s a huge influence of it on your lifestyle and the way a woman feels.
Do you also do training plans for people to do alone?
Yes. I offer different plans: hybrid and remote coaching–I don’t use this one much because it’s mostly online and I prefer to have a closer relationship, say two to three days a week. I love empowering people, so I like teaching and giving them tools for them to become independent.
My husband and I like working with this concept, to teach people tools to empower themselves. We’re not teaching anything new, I feel we’re different in the sense of the attention we give to people and the community.
Where do you like to workout the most?
Pilates House, Anytime Fitness, Fit Fam and I love doing outdoor as well, namely Coloane trails or in Ocean Gardens waterfront.
What are your thoughts on the Macau fitness scene?
Definitely growing, but a lot still needs to be done. But in every small enterprise business in Macau, we all experience the same restrictions, bureaucracies, and logistics. I’m happy to see young entrepreneurs taking a bold step and making this possible. Fitness is for everyone and there’s a taste for everyone and every modality. It’s great when you can talk to other fitness business owners and collaborate–things move faster, and everyone benefits from it.
One of our mottos when presenting ManaVida to fitness facilities and instructors is that we are not here to compete but to complete. Even if it’s the charity part, we would gladly put events up and do it for them! Macau is a rich city. The government and casinos could definitely reach out to fitness-related businesses and associations to create more events for the community.
Also read: Awesome Activity Classes for Adults in Macau
Who had the most influence in your life while growing up?
My mother. A woman who battled a lot and always made it all to provide for me and my brother. She made me believe I could be anything I wanted to be and never made me look at the barriers for new experiences. While choosing my university degree, every day she would suggest being an engineer, doctor, artist, and even an astronaut–no kidding!
What’s the best advice she gave you?
We grew up with just enough, having some difficulties, but in every struggle, she would make us appreciate life and make little experiences feel like a theme park! Also, I grew up in a Christian environment, and she would make us be very active in the Christian community, making me who I am today.
How do you find time for exercise and time to prepare healthy food?
Exercise has to be early in the morning–get it done and have the rest of the day full of energy. I started food prepping after getting married and realized that my husband was constantly getting sick, especially related to stomach issues. So I started researching and healing it all with food. Weekends are for food shopping and meal prepping and planning while watching a movie. I can’t just watch a movie…I need to move! But of course, until today, there are times that I fail in planning properly, or we enjoy hanging out with family and friends so sometimes end up eating out. Usually, friends end up asking where we would like to eat so that we can customize our dish.
What’s coming up for ManaVida?
My husband and partner Guilherme, and I also have the “Macau Urban Gardens” with Mighty Greens–kits and workshops for people to grow their own veggies and herbs at home. He is passionate about it and feels the urge to create awareness both to the older and young generations.
We’ve been also meeting with different hotels to discuss organizing retreats and healthy lifestyle packages. My goal now is to work with teenagers as well: I feel this generation is a bit lost and they don’t really know what they want to do or what they really like to do in life. This previous summer camp we had–summer of 2020–was with kids and teens and I feel the need to be guided, that’s something I’d like very much to do. Even in the upcoming retreats. Stuff related to self-confidence, self-image. We noticed lots of teens would rather stay in their rooms playing games or doing videos online. It’s hard for some of them to socialize, have a social environment, which is very strange for me. When it comes to giving back to the community, this is one thing I’m keen on
There’s also a project with The International School of Macao involving myself, Gui–with ManaVida and Mighty Greens–and Allison, from The Blissful Carrot. Called AIR, (Activists-In-Residence), it’s basically a project where yearly, TIS invites someone to be that year’s resident activist. We’re going to be working the whole (school) year with them, doing microgreens farming, sports, and nutrition-related, among others.
I’m also planning to start having nutrition plans. I did a course on nutrition from an academy in the US which is similar to Life Coaching, but it’s nutrition-based. Nowadays, there are a lot of life coaches and they help people a lot with organization, life goals, and more. As a nutritional coach, I won’t change someone’s diet entirely, but I’ll direct people toward a healthier way of eating. It’s a 12-week program and it kickstarted this October (2020). Every 12 weeks there’s a new cycle of people. There’s face-to-face and online follow-up and includes asking people to do a DNA test so I can see if there’s a tendency for something. It’s a diet based on each person’s genetics, which vitamins you’re body lacks. I also check your sleeping habits and daily life, etc. It’s meant to empower people, provide them energy, and teach them things they can do to improve their lives, like drinking more water and things like that.
What do you do in your spare time?
I wish I had more spare time! But when I do, Gui and I hike across Coloane trails. That’s one of the things we like best and also relaxing at home.
What are some of your favorite restaurants in Macau?
It’s a limited list, as it’s gotta be vegetarian! The Blissful Carrot is like a second home already (laughs). We love Thai restaurants, like Papermoon or Tuk Tuk, and also Miramar, Gôndola–anything close to nature.
Also read: The Best Thai Restaurants in Macau
Where would you take friends visiting you in Macau?
First, I’d convince them to do AJ Hackett Macau Tower‘s master climb–which I did and loved–Coloane hikes as well. I like the reservoir area, Tap Seac Square, and St. Lazarus areas too. To eat, Goa Nights! We’d also take them to our church, where we have Mighty Greens’ indoor farm, to show them around.
This article was originally written by Bel Faustino in 2017 and updated by Leonor Sá Machado in December 2020.