About ten years ago, fitness trainer and mother-of-three Fabiana Ferrarini was married, had just had her second child after becoming a mom for the first time at 17 and surviving a previous abusive relationship. She was working to build a life for her family and to overcome the difficult circumstances she had made it out of, but she was unfulfilled. Fabiana struggled with postpartum depression and felt like she needed something to work toward. It was at that point that she embarked on a fitness journey that has now not only changed her life dramatically, but the lives of thousands of women across the country as well.
In 2020, less than a year after giving birth to her third child and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States, Fabiana launched a home fitness program for women she dubbed “Queen Warriors”. It was inspired by a phrase she had been using to motivate herself for years. For a small monthly subscription fee, she began offering live online fitness class three evenings a week. She started the program from her bedroom with just a fraction of the number of women tuning in today. Over the course of a year, she managed to grow it to a community of 20,000 with over 1,000 women tuning into each session, and a business that now has 40 employees.
We sat down with Fabiana to chat about her career in fitness, the Queen Warriors community, motherhood and her Latino upbringing, and she is without a doubt one of the most inspiring, sincere and humble boss moms we’ve ever met.
Fabiana, 32, was born in New Jersey to parents from Honduras and grew up in Honduras until her family moved to Philadelphia when she was around six. She didn’t speak English and had absolutely no familiarity with American culture. She remembers being bullied and teased for her accent and her clothes.
“I literally came to the United States like a complete stranger. I didn’t feel any attachment. I didn’t speak English, I was like not hip to the culture,” she tells HipLatina. “It was hard.” She eventually learned English through the ESL program at school. Fabiana recognized from an early age the sacrifices that her parents were making for their three children and that mindset has inspired her ever since.
“One thing that always stood out about my parents was they knew what was best for us—my sister, and my brother and myself—and so they sacrificed. I saw the sacrifice for them to leave their families behind just because all my aunts, my uncles, my cousins from both sides, were all in Honduras,” she says. “Growing up, that was something that we got to see my parents do…[they would say] ‘you guys have to work hard. You know, nothing is ever handed down. We came here for the ‘American Dream,’ you know, I feel like it’s always been a big thing in the Latino culture—leaving behind your country and coming here. So, that was always really, really powerful. I had to make it work.”
Fabiana got pregnant while still in high school in the midst of a physically and verbally abusive relationship. She struggled to understand how her life had ended up that way, especially since she grew up in a strong household with both parents. Her answer would come much later.
“I felt like I had to deliver for my parents. I had to graduate. I had to always stay on top of myself,” she explains. “I wanted to be able to like turn around and be able to like take care of them, and that was my way of thanking them.” So she kept pressing forward, eventually meeting her now-husband Matthew Ferrarini, while she was a single mom working her way through college.
She and Matt had their first child together in 2011 making her a mom of two in here early 20s. She felt her life was going in the right direction yet she was struggling with postpartum depression for the second time. Fabiana came to realize that she had not fully healed from her past traumas, and ended up turning to fitness to help her beyond the physical aspects. “I didn’t feel like 100 percent strong and emotionally healthy and so I came up with the term ‘Queen Warrior,’ because I was like, ‘I want the heart of a queen and like the mentality of a warrior’, she shared. “I wanna be able to build myself into a strong woman, right, that knows that she’s blessed, that knows that she’s beautiful, and that doesn’t have to depend on anyone. I knew that this ‘Queen Warrior’ mentality was what I needed in order to pick myself up from my brokenness and that like dark period.”
Not long after, she started an Instagram page, sharing her personal story as well as her fitness journey, and by 2015 she had reached influencer status and was gaining the attention of a wider audience. That year she became the first Latina cover model of Oxygen magazine. “When I started my journey, there was no one that I could relate to in the fitness industry. There was no like, Latina, thick, curvy. You know, I wasn’t trying to be a bodybuilder, I just wanted to feel good.” She believes that from there she started to see that her increasing influence in the fitness world and her past circumstances were putting her in a unique position to help other women.
“And so I was like, ‘I wanna help women realize that they’re more than just the physical, that confidence doesn’t come from how they look, but that confidence comes from within,” she says. “I wanted to start to work with other women and I would say that it wasn’t so much about the physical, it was like we needed that healing from within. And so, it was like this is it for me. This is where I need to be.”
By the time the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020, the seed for Queen Warriors had been planted for some time. When Fabiana realized that she was going to be home with three children full time for an indefinite amount of time, like many moms, she knew that she would need something to help get her through. Still in the midst of getting back in shape after giving birth to her then five-month-old daughter, she once again turned to fitness and her “Queen Warrior” mentality.
“I was like ‘you know what? This is my moment to be me and to give the world what I’ve always wanted for myself.” And in the midst of a global health crisis, at home with three kids, she decided to start offering a virtual fitness program geared toward other women like her. “I really felt it in my heart that this is what God wanted me to do…this was gonna be like my healing moment,” she says, admitting that until she started doing the live virtual sessions during which she chats with participants via comments, no one knew her full story.
Month after month since then, Fabiana has shown up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening to guide a group of sometimes nearly 2,000 women, in a 30-45 minute workout that she starts and ends with empowering affirmations, and every month she has watched as more and more women join the community and experience not only physical transformations, but emotional transformations as well. “I never expected Queen Warriors to be this big, but I knew it was gonna be powerful in a sense that it was gonna really help women,” she says. And with that success, she’s expanded Queen Warriors to cover multiple aspects of a woman’s self-care needs, from mental health, nutrition and mindset coaching to fashion and beauty. But one of the most incredible aspects of the program, is the community of women that has formed because of it.
There is a dedicated, private Queen Warriors group on Facebook that members are encouraged to participate in and it’s praised as being one of the most supportive, encouraging and empowering communities of women online. Not only that, but although all women are welcomed and celebrated, it’s a community largely composed of Latinas, women of color and mothers. The fact that it was created by an Afro-Latina mom makes it even more unique in the world of fitness and wellness which is largely dominated by white women. “I have a special place in my heart for my black and brown community,” she says, noting the lack of accessible health, fitness and nutrition education within minority communities. “No one has really taken the opportunity to educate, and make it fun, and meet them where they are,” she says.
“I feel like through my life experience, I’m able to meet [them] where they are. I know what it feels like to be a single mom. I know what it feels like to make sure your son has diapers. I know what it feels like to go to college and have to go home and breastfeed your child. I know what a struggle feels like as a mom, as a woman, as a young woman as well and so like, I feel like that’s how I know I’m at the right place to make a difference,” Fabiana explains. “It’s truly a powerful journey for me in a sense, to be able to educate women.”
“I have now something to share with my children as a testimony that when you believe in what you want to accomplish and stick to it regardless of how many times it feels like you’re failing…you can make it happen,” says Fabiana. And for any mom out there not sure she’s capable of embarking on her own journey to a stronger, better, fitter self—emotionally, mentally and physically—Fabiana wants you to know, “It’s time to remove ourselves from being our own roadblocks and just give in, show up and find something that resonates with you.”