I had the great pleasure to sit down with CrossFit Fargo members and husband and wife, Vinicius Franco Siqueira (Vinnie) and Mariana DeAntonio Paulino over coffee a few weeks ago. I'm really excited to share what I've learned about these two amazing people with all of you.
We see each other at the box almost daily, but there is so much we don't get a chance to learn about one another. I encourage you to find someone in our community you would like to get to know better, make a coffee date and take an hour to learn more about each other. It's so much fun, and you learn a lot of interesting facts about people you wouldn't get a chance to know nearly as well otherwise.
For this post, instead of a narrative, I'll share with you a question and answer format for our conversation--because I really don't want to leave even one of their answers out! Get ready to adore these two more than you already thought you did. Here we go!
You both grew up in Brazil, what was that like?
Vinne: I spent most of my childhood playing outside, surrounded by two siblings and lots of extended family. My father is a Judo Sensai (teacher), so Judo is something I've been involved since I was three. He taught me Judoka for Life, to respect others, and be kind. Judo is like love; there is a deep sense of connection in it's practice.
Mariana: I spent a lot of time at my aunt's farm, also playing outside with my sister.
How did the two of you meet?
Vinnie + Mariana: We were introduced by a mutual friend.
Mariana, what is your favorite attribute of Vinnie’s personality/character?
Vinnie is always positive, no matter the situation, and he has so much determination. He is always a motivation, inspiration and a safe harbor for me.
Vinnie, what is your favorite attribute of Mariana’s personality/character?
Mari is always kind and believer in people. She is very calm, which helps me to calm down and think things through clearly when I'm stressed.
What were/are your occupations?
Mariana: In Brazil, I studied law in college and was studying for the bar when Vinnie and decided to get married move to the U.S. This was 2016. A second love of mine is fashion, so since moving to Fargo I am working in a clothing boutique.
Vinne: I worked at MicroSoft in Brazil and knew I wanted to travel. I had dreams of living abroad.I came to the U.S. in 2013 to study English while working at MicroSoft.
What was the biggest culture shock that surprised you the most in moving from Brazil to the U.S. (behavior, etiquette, sayings, habits etc.).
Vinnie + Mariana: The first culture shock--probably the most--was about public affection. We don't see couples holding their hands while walking, or hugging each other in Brazil. The same goes for family and friends. But we do see elders doing this, so we are not sure why young couples don't. So sometimes we try to adapt here to not act like complete strangers, but at the same time we don't want lose our culture. So some things we keep. Another thing that is different is people in the U.S. don't use a fork and knife to eat pizza like we do in Brazil.
How did you become involved in CrossFit? Did you CrossFit in Brazil?
Vinnie: I dropped into a CrossFit class in Brazil, but I hated it. While I was working at MicroSoft here in Fargo, I began going to Family Wellness and Red River Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I met Dave Scott at Red River and he invited me to CrossFit Fargo. I loved it after the first month and asked Mariana to join 2 months later.
What did you like about CrossFit here--what was different--versus the CrossFit you had tried before?
Vinnie: I liked the friendly community and how challenging the workouts are. CrossFit has become a passion--I can't wait to get there.
Mariana: CrossFit has helped me learn I can do it--even when it's hard. And I feel awesome after I've done it.
What is your favorite CrossFit Benchmark Workout (i.e. Fran, Helen, Grace, etc.) if you have one:
Mariana: I haven't done all of them yet, but I like Cindy.
Vinnie: I haven't done all of them yet, but I would say Diane till now.
What would you say to someone considering CrossFit but afraid to try it?
Vinnie: You just need to try one week. Everything is scalable. If you can't do a push-up, you will do something else that is equivalent, and it will help you to build the strength to do it in the future. We progress every single day, and it's amazing looking back and see things that you were not capable to do and now you can.
Mariana: I would say, if I can do it, you certainly can. That's because I never had a healthy or active background in my life, so when you start believing in yourself, things that you never thought you were capable of, start happening.
Is there anything you would like to say to your CrossFit Fargo family?
Mariana + Vinnie: We would like to thank you all for having us be a part of this family. You guys have being amazing to us since we stepped in.
Can you think of a particular obstacle you’ve overcome in life that you are proud of? How did you overcome it? What would you say to someone facing a similar situation?
Mariana: My biggest obstacle was the moving to a different country, culture, language. Leaving my family, and start a new beginning is difficult. You have to discover yourself again. Each day is a different experience. The key for that is to believe in yourself and you can start over again. Everything is a learning experience that will help you and end up making sense sooner or later.
Vinnie: Living in another country was my dream since 2005, but making the decision to come was very hard. Especially because Mari didn't speak English, and we would be new couple in a different country, far away from anyone that we knew. I believe I kept my faith in God, trust in my instincts and worked hard to make everything possible and good as could be.
There is a Harvey Mackay quote that I love and totally recommend people think about: "Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right and forget the ones that don't and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said that it'd be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."
What are your favorite activities outside of CrossFit and Work life.
Vinnie: I love to be outside in the Summer. Running, working on my yard (still working on my new lawn), biking, swimming sometimes. I also like the same things Mari likes except "What Not to Wear" and "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC...hahahaha
Mariana: I like to watch TV Shows like Friends, The 70's Show, Marvel and DC Series and movies. Also I like to go out, listen live music and travel when it's possible.
Who is your biggest inspiration/role model in life and why?
Mariana: My mother. Even through the losses and difficult times that we had been through in our lives, she always taught me to keep going and never change who I am.
Vinnie: My parents. They taught me that we have to work hard to earn anything and the most precious inheritance that they could give me was my study, because nobody could take it from me and it would help me wherever I'd be.
Mariana: I have a biblical verse that means a lot to me: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23:1
Vinnie: Also Psalm 23 which helps me to keep my faith, and this one which makes me work harder: "Champions are made, not born."
Favorite Movie or Book:
Vinnie: The Lord of the Rings
Mariana: Dirty Dancing (movie)
Mariana: I don't have an absolute favorite meal, but I love Italian food in general.
Vinnie: Italian food in general as well, but definitely my dessert is brigadeiro (the chocolate balls that I brought to the potluck on Murph last year and Abbra loves it).
Who is the cook in the family, Vinnie or Mariana?
Vinnie + Mariana: Neither of us. We both try, we are still in process to succeed.
Name a topic, skill, or activity you would like to learn more about in the future:
Mariana: CrossFit. I would like to learn more about gymnastics at the gym. Outside the gym, I want to start learning a 3rd language.
Vinnie: Crossfit. I would like to learn more about Olympic Weightlifting/Strength. Outside the gym, I want to learn snowboarding.
What is a personal goal you have that you would like to have accomplished by this time next year?
Vinnie: Try to dive at least once during the Summer.
Mariana: Start a second graduation here in US.
What do you want to be most remembered for in your life?
Mariana: All the moments that I had were with the ones I love the most by my side.
Vinnie: A good person who helped the people around me in some way.