History of Olefit
Chicago, November 2014. The thermometers show freezing temperatures and the view from the large windows confirms this diagnosis with a scene of snow and northerly winds. However, heat prevails inside the spacious dance studio at Northeastern Illinois University, thanks to the fire generated by the temperament of Spanish dance in Paloma Gómez’s classes. The great former member of the Spanish National Ballet, later a prima ballerina in some of the most important Spanish dance companies and currently an internationally renowned soloist, is giving a class to community members in the Skokie area. Paloma Gómez has traveled to Chicago to perform in the show “Rotas” and with a commission to choreograph a piece for the Spanish Dance Theater, perhaps the most important Spanish dance company in the United States. But, taking advantage of her presence there, she has agreed (as she typically does whenever asked) to give some classes for non-professionals, people whose passion for Spanish dance goes beyond their level of training and knowledge. This is because, unlike other elite artists, this is not a problem for Paloma Gómez. For her, passion, above all else, is the essential requirement for enjoying one of her classes, because she is pure passion for the art that she has practiced since the age of three in all of its genres (flamenco, classical Spanish, bolero): first with her parents, both dancers, and later with some of the greatest teachers on the Spanish scene, all on top of a solid foundation of classical ballet representing 10 years of hard work. This intense and passionate way of working over the course of her 40 years of dedication to dance, starting at just three years of age, is what has led her now to achievements like performing live with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as part of the program to celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of the most important orchestras in the world, and to be chosen to represent Spanish dance at the gala in honor of dancer Alicia Alonso held at the Zarzuela theater in Madrid, which was attended by the then-Queen of Spain, Her Majesty Queen Sofia.
Earlier we mentioned the phrase “enjoying her classes”, and it is very apt because that is what was written on the faces and bodies of the people attending her class on that cold Chicago morning.
Also present in the studio and paying close attention to what is happening is Paloma Gómez’s husband, Luis Lorente, screenwriter, author, director and producer with 30 years of experience in the world of literature, television, film and theater. In addition to their love of art and occasional collaboration on certain professional projects, each in their own role, there is another interest they have in common: their love for physical well-being and sport. After the class is over, Lorente observes while the students say goodbye to Paloma, smiling and out of breath from the exertion, but also exultant and grateful. Out of this shared interest, it occurs to him that it might be fantastic to create a discipline that, based on the physical movements of Spanish dance, could represent a new fitness mode set to the rhythms of the most festive flamenco music. Half an hour later, while driving towards Tuhy Avenue on their way back to the Skokie Holiday Inn, their hotel, Luis Lorente shares the idea with Paloma Gómez. Their complicity is so great that all it takes is an exchange of glances to know that this will not to end up as a simple chat in the car. Paloma not only sees the possibility but is fascinated by the idea: a Spanish fitness discipline that would combine specific fitness routines with movements and exercises taken from Spanish dance, leveraging her deep technical knowledge of all its genres. That was the starting point for the creation of Olefit. Initially Paloma Gómez worked on the content related to the use of biomechanics and techniques originating in and linked to Spanish dance to put together the first methodology of the new fitness discipline structured in four levels. Now she needs her work to be reviewed and enhanced by a top-level figure in the world of physical training and sport. As so often happens in life, it seemed that destiny were weaving events together: a series of coincidences put Luis Lorente in contact with an international fitness star who enthusiastically agreed to join the project and work with the two sisters to perfect the methodology and content of this new fitness mode. We are talking about John Vigdal, the Norwegian competitive aerobics champion and holder of various world titles. John has dedicated his entire life to sport and physical activity, and he has specialized in the management and leadership of athletic centers. When he joined the team, in the final stage of the birth of Olefit, he contributed all his knowledge and implemented a specific fitness methodology that made it possible to structure the learning in different levels.
By mid-2015 the Olefit methodological and pedagogical program is complete and registered, and its nature is perfectly defined: it is neither flamenco nor Spanish dance, it’s not even dance (the entire team that created Olefit has reverential respect for Spanish dance and flamenco because, as professionals in the field, they understand the depth, complexity and profound meaning of these cultural and artistic manifestations). Olefit is simply a new fitness option, an innovative fitness discipline whose exercises come from, as mentioned earlier, deep knowledge of the biomechanics of the flamenco and Spanish dance movements, on the one hand, and the routines and demands of fitness, on the other. This fusion is set to original musical pieces composed for it by top-level musicians, with rhythms based mainly on rumba and buleria, which foster an emotional state of joy and enjoyment. However, it should be noted that, as a fitness practice, it does offer a special value linked to its association with Spanish dance. Paloma Gómez, and John Vigdal, with the input of Luis Lorente from his experience as a director, have also subtly introduced emotional triggers, through internalization and disinhibition techniques, that make Olefit not only an accessible, fun and effective form of exercise but also a liberating sensory experience, a catharsis that leads practitioners to free themselves from blockages and anxiety to find their optimal selves while having a good time and getting in shape physically.