My Journey to Becoming a
TV Host and Fitness Expert
Mode Lifestyle Magazine – Living A Full Life Issue
By: Sarah Curtis
Photographer: Noel Daganta
Hair & Makeup: Antonio Guino Maximo
Design: MODE Studio
Santana Rodriguez is producer and host for the TV show titled “Shaping up with Santana”. Originally from Buffalo, NY and currently residing in Los Angeles, CA, Santana had obtained an Associate Degree in Fashion Merchandising as well as a 4-year Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration before moving into the area of health and fitness. As she moved into the health and fitness arena she won 6 regional competitions and took a national title called “Ms. Team USA Modelquest”.
Santana is of Puerto-Rican and Brazilian descent and attributes all her success to the great influence of her late father who passed away 4 years ago and has dedicated her TV show to him. Both her parents became ill with her mother getting 2 different types of cancers and her father suffering from type 2 Diabetes where he lost both of his legs through 2 amputations and went blind in one eye. Even though her dad is in a peaceful place now, her mother is still alive and in remission from both cancers. These experiences have had a deep impact on Santana and made her want to give back to the community by educating and raising self-awareness about health.
MODE: What made you decide to get into the health &fitness training industry?
SANTANA: I ended up getting into the health and fitness industry from the age of 19. It was truly the first time I worked out at a gym. I ended up getting a tour of the facility and was assigned a fitness program through a trainer. I ended up falling in love with working out. I remember being there every day at the facility and wanting to return even on my days off. My goal was to gain muscle. I was always a thin girl that wanted to put more weight on. So I started taking weight gain powders and it just never worked for me. Bottom line, it was all for esthetic reasons at that time. To fast forward, my dad ended up getting very ill. He developed Type 2 Diabetes and lost both of his legs from amputations and ended up in a wheelchair. This was heartbreaking for me, my family and most of all, for him. It was the first time I saw my dad cry. He was always the provider and breadwinner of the family, so this was a complete devastation to him. Because of this experience, it made me tap into the world of learning proper nutrition. When I learned the process, everything became clear and made sense to me. I now understood how and why this happened to my father. This was the beginning of my journey into the health and fitness industry.
MODE: What have been the biggest challenges you have experienced making this dream into a reality?
SANTANA: The biggest challenges have been staying strong both physically and mentally throughout the whole journey. One part of this journey was competing in fitness competitions. I competed in several and won 6 regional competitions and a national title called “Miss Team USA Modelquest”. It was an incredible experience. The diet and exercise was key but my mental determination was everything. I vowed never to give up and to take this journey to an even greater destination. I have always said that I would use my platform and voice to inspire people and change lives for the better.
MODE: What is the concept behind your “Shaping Up With Santana” show on The Beach Channel?
SANTANA: The concept behind my show is to motivate people to actually “MOVE”, Meaning you don’t have to be in the gym or be a fitness model to look great or be in better health. I want to show people you can do my workouts from your actual living room. My television show is not a technical show. You don’t have to be a pro with dance steps or be a coordinated person to do my exercises. I don’t care so much about that, I just want you to move and build up a sweat. It’s for all age brackets, beginners and anyone that does not have time to get to a gym. I’m here to try to make it as easy as I can for you.
MODE: What exercise routines and diet protocols did you have to follow before winning the “Miss Team USA Modelquest” with the ABA Federation?
SANTANA: I can begin by telling you that the diet was intense. I put myself on a very high protein, low carb diet for 6-8 weeks before competition. My diet consisted of organic chicken, beef, fish, green vegetables, protein shakes, and for hydration I drank only water. The most important thing when trying to lean out, is to cut off all sugars. After doing this, about 3 days before showtime is to carb up and then get rid of water in your system so that the definition stands out more. Remember this was not a bodybuilding show, but more of a women’s physique show. The diet was the worst of it, however, training wasn’t easy either. I did an hour of cardio a day but also combined it with weights alternating with some days focused on legs and other days focused on upper body. I then added planks, crunches and hiking for core strength. In the end, it was worth it all. There’s no better feeling than taking a win. It was one of the most gratifying moments of my entire life.
MODE: How important was the support of your parents in enabling you to make the move from Buffalo, NY to Los Angeles?
SANTANA: The support from my parents was very critical. I’m a family person and very close to them. They were never supportive at first, especially after my dad became ill. I placed my dreams and desires on the back-burner for my family. I love my family and would do anything for them. However, it was killing me on the inside. I was even engaged at the time and did not want to hurt my significant other. I got to the point of realization that I was living my life for others rather than myself. I allowed everyone’s happiness to take precedence over mine. After some time, my dad who knew me the best, noticed my discontent, and sat me down one day, stopped and said ” I’m better now. You can leave for California”. I said, “I won’t leave you dad.” He said “it’s ok.” That was the turning point and here I am.
MODE: Would you say that your parents having and surviving multiple health issues could have been one of the reasons you chose to go in the direction of health & fitness as a vocation?
SANTANA: Absolutely. My dad had Type 2 Diabetes, a hip replacement, COPD, Congestive heart failure, wore a pacemaker, and my mom suffered through 2 cancers and is in remission from both. Sadly, I lost my dad 4 years ago but still have my mom. Experiencing all these physical ailments that they went through made me want to do something positive. So I created my fitness television show titled “Shaping up with Santana” and dedicated it to my dad who inspired me by pushing me and who was the person that gave me his blessing to pursue my dreams. There will be another dedicated to my mom.
MODE: You also spent some time as an entertainment TV host as we see on your YouTube Channel. How was that experience and are you likely to do that again in the future?
SANTANA: I love entertainment hosting. The experience was incredible. In addition to my TV Show, I am very much open to hosting a fashion type show, a Hollywood gossip show or even a dating show. I also have a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Business Marketing.
MODE: In what direction do you see your dreams taking you in the near future?
SANTANA: Well this is perfect timing to ask this question because my fitness television show will now air on the ROKU platform worldwide beginning March 15, 2020 and will stream 24/7. There is no subscription fee. All one has to do is enter “Shaping up with Santana” into the ROKU search engine and anyone can watch it for free. It’s very exciting. Whatever direction my career takes will be decided by God. I am so incredibly grateful for the direction it has taken already. I’ve been very blessed.
For booking enquiries you can contact Santana by
Other Links –
Instagram: @santanafit, TV Show
*Read all the features in the “Living A Full Life” Issue of Mode Lifestyle Magazine