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Staff By Day, Martial Artist By Night

News Story

Giselle Canino, a graphic designer within the Marketing and Communications Department, spends her days creating images for many of the print and digital materials the University puts out. But when Canino gets home, her jiu-jitsu gear comes out.

Giselle Canino, who was an avid boxer for eight years, eventually hung up her gloves to take on new challenges. In 2008, Canino began participating in the Spartan Races. The athletic challenges, which take place all over the United States, feature an obstacle course and varying levels of competition, ranging in length from three miles to marathon distance.

These races aren’t for the faint of heart, and Canino has been training hard for them. To date, she has taken part in seven raceseach with its own set of challengesbut Canino said she “was feeling less pressure” each time around. Earlier this month, she participated in her eighth race, finishing in an impressive two hours!

Canino recently took a break from her Spartan Race training to try out something newBrazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), a martial arts combat sport. In a typical jiu-jitsu class, you can find her doing 15 minutes of calisthenics, 15 minutes of drills, and 30 minutes of sparring with other classmates. While some aspects of the sport are similar to boxing, it incorporates several elements of martial arts, and over time, evolved into its own entity.

“I started Brazilian jiu-jitsu because I was no longer able to do stand-up fighting. I had put my shoulders through hell while boxing for eight years and then mixed martial arts here and there. I still wanted to do contact sports but something that didn't involve using my shoulders as much,” she says.

While Brazilian jiu-jitsu can be pretty grueling, and is a predominantly male sport, once Canino tried it, she was hooked. On April 22, she participated in her first jiu-jitsu competition, finishing second in her division. She is in the process of preparing for her next competition, which is taking place later this summer.

Although she has only been training in the sport for a short while, in that time, she's viewed it as a boon to her personal development.

“It is my outlet, it has helped me relieve my stress, as well as stay fit. It has also taught me to be humble and be persistent. One of the things that many people train in BJJ will say is that ‘it is addictive,’ which is very true, and it has made me more confident,” says Canino.

Another aspect of Canino’s life that some might find surprising, is her love of food. Canino has to be very strict with her diet when she is training, but when she's cooking, she feels like she is in her zone, and can really let loose.

While Canino claims she was a “terrible cook” for many years, once she started to understand the basics, she began to develop the passion and flair for a variety of dishes. Some of her favorite types of food to cook are Hispanic and Italian. Her specialties include tacos, chilaquiles, bistec a la Mexicana, chiles rellenos, guacamole, and cochinita pibil.

One of the major reasons Canino took up cooking and fitness, was to de-stress. Because NYC can be such a hectic place, these activities have helped her learn to cope with the busy lifestyle of the Big Apple. 

“I think any activity outside of work or whatever else is stressing them is great. It doesn't necessarily have to be fitness relatedit can be reading a book, playing video games, cooking, meditating, anything that makes them happy.”

For those looking to get into a new activity, Canino has the following advice: “Be open-minded. Don’t be afraid.”

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