Editor’s Note: “Shaped By COVID-19” is a weekly series designed to help you stay active while you’re homebound with workouts from some of Denver’s leading fitness and wellness professionals. Got a fitness tip or favorite studio? Email us at digital@5280.com.

Ten years ago, Felix Ojeda was a numbers guy who worked as a CPA consultant. Today, he’s still all about numbers—specifically the numbers 150 to 175, the range Palango! Fitness aims to keep your heart rate at for between 45 and 60 minutes. A martial artist and fitness fan, Ojeda quit his job in 2009 to open a capoeira studio, but the Afro-Brazilian movement—which involves choreographed dancing and fighting moves—was hard for a lot of people to master. So Ojeda brainstormed how to break the movements down into a series of simpler three- and four- step routines set to Latin and Caribbean music. The result is a pulse-quickening workout that goes by mercifully faster than many other cardio burns. “I built routines around the concept of making it very simple, very fun, and very intense,” Ojeda says.

Before COVID-19, Colorado boasted two Palango! Fitness studios and a network of more than 400 instructors located all over the country. Today, instead of leading the programming at Palango! Fitness’ two Colorado locations, Ojeda and his team are leading classes online—many of them for free. “We’ve put up about 40 hours of free workouts on YouTube; every Friday we offer a live class at 10 a.m. for free,” Ojeda says. You can also sign up for a variety of memberships costing between $25 and $75 a month (less than half the typical fee) that give you access to the daily live class, on-demand classes, and—if you’re a real glutton for punishment—additional HIIT classes. “I think like it’s important to keep moving but many people are struggling with money; they’ve lost jobs,” Ojeda says. “I feel like the community—a community that has been very helpful and supported me—needs this.”

The Gym: Palango! Fitness
Year Founded: 2010
Workout Type: Cardio toning (with dance)
The Trainer: Felix Ojeda, founder
Favorite COVID-appropriate rest day activity: Reading, learning (Portuguese, video editing), and spending more time with his kids. “We are talking about a lot that we don’t normally talk about,” Ojeda says. “It has allowed us to be closer—even with all this tragedy.”

The Workout: A 60-minute Palango! Fitness class is typically made up of about 16 different routines and requires no equipment. This 28-minute version offers a good introduction, although you’ll have to break down the steps yourself. Don’t worry; it’s not that hard to follow. And even if you feel as awkward as a middle schooler learning the Roger Rabbit, well, it’s not like there’s anyone there to see you struggle. (Besides, say, your husband who might be surreptitiously filming you. And sending it to your family.)

Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell is the former Editorial Projects Director for 5280.