Paula Villarraga knew a career in fitness was for her long before she was old enough to teach. As soon as she was old enough to teach, she was off and running – teaching boxing, dance, Pilates, and cardio/strength classes. We caught up with Villarraga for a Quick 10 interview, but you can also follow her on Instagram – @paulavjater.

Tell us about yourself – where are you from and how did you find your way to the 305?

I’m from Bogota, Colombia and moved to Miami when I was about 13 years old.

How did you get your start in fitness and as an instructor?

I was a kid with lots of energy. It was hard to concentrate in school, even falling asleep was hard. My parents put me in an all-girls gym at 12 years old and my life changed completely. I was active, sleeping better, feeling focused, strong and confident. I knew I wanted to teach people the importance of being active and finding balance in the everyday routine. I wanted everyone to feel the same way that I was feeling so I started teaching classes at 18 years old and the rest is history.

What is your favorite part of being a fitness instructor?

Knowing that I’m doing something that makes people happy, confident and healthy.

How do you stay full of energy throughout the day?

I don’t skip meals – breakfast is my favorite part of the day. I drink lots of water – my huge water bottle is always with me. I also believe the way we think has a huge impact on how we feel every day and for that reason, I make sure to keep a calm, positive mindset, which helps me stay focused, relaxed, and ready for whatever the day brings.

What is one fitness myth you would like to bust?

Eating less is the path to losing weight and being healthy – definitely a myth.

Tell us a little bit more about your specialty.

I teach boxing, dance, Pilates, cardio/strength classes, and love teaching every single one of these formats. I like to project good energy and the love for what I do in everything I do and that’s something people really like. Music is a big deal in all the classes I teach. Boxing, Pilates, and strength I make sure my class has a killer playlist and it always becomes one of the main things that motivates people to keep working hard while having fun.

Besides fitness, what’s one thing you’re passionate about?

I’m also an architect. I love seeing how the way space is designed can have a huge impact on how we see things and how we feel. I love design and innovation.

What are you excited about right now?

How the concept of wellness is growing worldwide. We are now more aware of our surroundings, what is happening around the world, and the physical and emotional impact of every single thing we do.

How do you practice mental health in your everyday life?

Every day when I wake up I think of at least three things that I am grateful for. I always tell everyone to focus on the positive instead of just the negative.

What do you love about the South Florida fitness/health & wellness community? 

I love how we encourage people to stay active through various wellness events. There’s an event every weekend, everywhere you go – and of course, the good South Florida weather definitely helps.