From Taos to the Duke City: Taoseña leads dance squad

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Local fitness businesswoman Julia Fernandez de Maez will be logging hundreds of miles as she travels back and forth from Taos to Albuquerque with her new position as the squad captain for the Duke City Gladiators Dance Team.

As the owner of The Body Shop, Dancefit Studio Taos and an avid fitness guru, Fernandez de Maez was chosen for the squad on after quickly learning the routines and trying out for the open position the next day. She was selected as the new captain for the team to start the up-coming season. The indoor football team's dance squad has already begun training and practicing for the next season, which Fernandez de Maez will be leading with her experience in dance and fitness.

"It's just a really cool thing to have Taos there," she said on her new position. "The more you push, amazing things can happen."

As an experienced flamenco dancer, Fernandez de Maez has tried out for dance teams before and said she has always wanted to be part of a squad. Her addition on the Duke City Gladiators fulfills a lifelong goal on her extensive list of accomplishments. Fernandez de Maez currently runs both The Body Shop and Dancefit Studio Taos, in which she offers dance classes alongside fitness classes for the community. Both studios will continue to operate despite her time in Albuquerque.

This new opportunity is not without sacrifices and Fernandez de Maez will be traveling over 500 miles per week to and from her practices. This will mean long days, early mornings and late nights for the fitness fan. From early in the morning to well into the evening, fitness classes at her studio in Cabot Plaza are often buzzing with students shaping up and learning new moves.

"I really want this to be an example of what you can achieve," she said.

Helping her with her goal are several businesses in Taos who are sponsoring her efforts for travel. Fernandez de Maez has estimated her practices will cost her $100 per trip and eventually that will add up with games, appearances and other obligations to the squad. But this is an opportunity she has prepared for her whole life.

"So far, this has been the most challenging thing I have ever done financially, mentally, physically and most definitely spiritually," she said. "I have been training my whole life to be prepared for an opportunity like this. It just so happens it came at the best busiest time in my life."

The Duke City Gladiators are a relatively new indoor football team based in Albuquerque's own Tingley Coliseum. The franchise has seen playoff fame in the Champions Indoor Football league and brings the professional sports world to New Mexico. Team officials have said they are happy to bring on Fernandez de Maez onto the squad and are gearing up already for the next season.

"To have someone who has a great deal of experience in both dance and leadership roles is very important," said Crystal-starr Caward director of community relations and game day operations. "Having that leadership role with Julia's experience is going to be paramount to achieving our goals for the season."

Fernandez de Maez will appear dancing and cheering on the sidelines for the Gladiator's March 24, 2018 first home game and will likely appear at community events around Albuquerque before then according to Caward.

"It is an honor to represent Taos this way," Fernandez de Maez said. "There is no 'I' in team and I would not be here if it wasn't for so many people who believe in me and support me."

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