Born and raised in Miami, Francheska Martinez found herself working an unsatisfying desk job at a law office after graduating from college. So she decided to take a deeper look at her interests, hoping one might lead her to her dream career.
She began to focus more on fitness, taking it from a casual interest to a career path. Now, six years later, Martinez is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has created a major platform of her own in the fitness space—she has over 290,000 Instagram followers. She draws on her Cuban-Colombian culture to create an inclusive environment to help clients from all backgrounds foster their own love of movement. As a pain-free-performance specialist, Martinez is also focused on helping her clients maximize their mobility safely while learning to enjoy the process.
Her motto: Fitness should be fun. From walking her dog, Yoshi, to Rollerblading, Martinez diversifies her own fitness programs and encourages her clients to do the same. That way the workouts become something they want to do—which can turn them into habits that stick.
While Martinez has etched out a solid space for herself in this realm now, the path to becoming a Latina in the fitness world wasn’t easy. Martinez had to deal with numerous challenges, including her family’s lack of understanding about her career, the pressure to be successful, and the tensions of being a woman in a male-dominated industry.
“I think for me, realizing that I could always pave my own way was necessary,” Martinez tells SELF. “There’s the voice of this inner child telling me that you can always be successful as long as you’re passionate.” And that, she says, helps give her the strength to continue when things get tough or she’s feeling discouraged.
To wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, SELF sat down with Martinez to talk about how she’s working through these obstacles and pursuing her goal of making fitness more accessible for people in her community.
SELF: Did you always know you wanted to enter the fitness space, or was there something else you aspired to do?
Francheska Martinez: I started out wanting to be more of a scientist. I always leaned toward the sciences, and I kind of bounded around with what I wanted to do, but for the longest time I wanted to be a paleontologist and then an archeologist. And then as I got older, I wanted to be a medical examiner. Once I started really visualizing what that would look like, I figured it might be better to explore my interests aside from dead bodies and excavating. Because I’m scared of bugs too, so that wasn’t really feasible when I thought about it.
At what point did you start thinking about fitness as something you might do?
So I got interested in exercise science classes in school just casually because I wanted to learn more and add more tools to my toolbox so I could take care of my health, but I never thought of it as a feasible career. I didn’t consider it until after I graduated from college and I worked at a law firm for a little bit. I had an office job for about a year, and then I had to do some soul-searching because I was super unhappy, and I had to figure out what resonated best with me. A year after college was when I decided to pursue fitness professionally.
What does it mean to you to be a Latina in the fitness space?
For me, it’s really being representative of having positive lifestyle habits, for everyone that’s Latino and even beyond the Latino community too. Everybody who comes from different backgrounds needs to learn how to incorporate more wellness and movement in their lives. For me, it’s also about having fun when it comes to movement and fitness. I feel like a lot of what I enjoy about Latino culture is that every time we have gatherings and parties—even if it’s not supposed to be a party—it just automatically becomes fun. There’s somebody playing music and people dancing. For me, it’s about having that element of joy and community within the movement and program.