Vanessa Brascia has been working at the North Shore Winter Club for over half a year now, and it’s safe to say she’s having success putting her stamp on HybridStrong. Vanessa is an experienced fitness trainer, bodybuilder and overall health and wellness fanatic.
And even though she tries to avoid cliches as much as humanly possible, Vanessa's approach to health and wellness could be the prologue of the fitness bible.
I caught Vanessa in between classes at HybridStrong a couple weeks ago to learn more about her perspective on fitness and why she’s so afraid of frequently-used life-lessons.
KC: Hi Vanessa!
VB: Hi Kelvin!
KC: Alright, enough small talk. Tell us about your past, how did you get to the winter club?
VB: I’ve been in the fitness industry for a long time and I’ve been involved in athletics my whole life, so it’s been a steady process to get to this point. When I was a kid I did ten years of dance and then in high school I started taking fitness classes and started winning awards in fitness competitions, and that’s when I really started to take weight-lifting seriously. I got job at Fuel Nutrition, a supplement store, and was exposed to people in that industry in my early 20’s. When I was 22 I decided I wanted to do my first fitness competition. It would have been fine I’m sure, but I actually ended up dropping out because it was so expensive, the food and the supplements was so expensive. It’s a tough path to take, but when I finally did compete in my first competition, I got 7th overall, which isn’t bad but then I really got the fitness bug. These days I’m still really involved with those trade shows, I just don’t compete.
Anyways, two years ago I started training at GoodLife and then I started working out at Steph’s boot camps, his tough mudder training camps at Hume Park in New West. So I got to know Steph and he approached me about a job when he started running the fitness centre at the club.
KC: What are some of the areas you focus on in the fitness centre?
VB: I like incorporating both strength and conditioning, I don’t like to be repetitive and I like to introduce new moves. I bring in new exercises here and there, I enjoy teaching new things and people enjoy doing new things. Keeping things new helps them so much to achieve their goals, they create this giant tool box so they can learn it on their own, they can create healthy habits. And if they’re weaker at something, if we discover a weakness with a new exercise, then that’s what they’ll see again!
KC: Describe your natural training style, how do you get the most out of your clients?
VB: For me it’s all about relationship building. It’s more than just training, for instance I like training the girls because it builds confidence in them. If you can develop a relationship with new people then they want to see you and they want to work hard for you and for themselves because they know you’ve got their back. It’s not like we’re talking during the whole session, but they’re happy to see you you’re happy to see them and it’s just a good relationship.
KC: That kind of sounds like you’re brainwashing people into working hard because you’re nice to them.
VB: I don’t think I’m a brainwasher or too demanding, haha. Steph and I definitely have a different approach, my clients, whatever work I present to them, they’re happy to do it. I know what’s going in their lives, it’s like a friend, I care about them, I care about what happens to them. It’s a cliche, but when they’re happy with the work, I’m happy with the work.
KC: People get injured, people run out of gas. You work in a high-pressure industry; how do you keep coming back with energy every day?
VB: I don’t feel that pressure too much to be honest. We deal with injuries right away, we spend a lot of time doing pre-rehab and mobility exercises and taking care of injuries before they occur. It’s tricky because a lot of people, they try to play the strong-man card. They ignore injuries, which isn’t a good idea.
I think you have to educate people, you have to help people to set realistic goals that are within reason, within their control. If you have a client who wants to lose 50 pounds by their wedding in May, but we can’t physically do it, then we’re honest and offer encourage success that’s within reach. Another cliche, but we want to support people and set them up for success.
KC: Hey, it’s a cliche for a reason, right? What does the future hold for you at the club and as a trainer?
VB: I’d like to take on more female teams in any sport. Obviously we have a strong hockey presence here, but I’d like to work with those female players, I like building their inner confidence. Confidence in their body-image, confidence to navigate the gym early on in a fitness-heavy atmosphere. Girls are exposed to a lot of bad habits and bad images through the media. They cope differently than boys, girls are worried about their body, boys can joke about it and it affects them, but obviously being a woman you can help be a role model and I want to see powerful, stronger girls smash their misconceptions about weight-lifting and strength training.
KC: What are the 3 best things that happen to you in a day?
VB: Here at work? Well since I’m currently at work, there’s some days when the Peak group, they make me laugh all day, that really makes my day. Everyone likes to laugh at work. The second one is a cliche, but when clients notice results, it’s true that I’m right along for the ride, it’s success for both of us because we build that relationship. I have clients who I work with their whole family and I get that connection. A success for one of my people is a success for me.
One more? I guess I just enjoy the job, I’ve always wanted to be a trainer, honestly, there’s stresses and all that like every other job, but at least I’m doing what I love to do. Sorry for being cheesy!
KC: Jeez, be nicer to yourself!
Vanessa Brascia is just starting to come into her own true style at the club. She’s dedicated to building a strong future (literally) with young boys and young girls. I think she’s afraid of cliches because everything is so natural for Vanessa - she goes with the flow and she supports her clients with an organic approach. The cliches work, but for Vanessa, cliches and overly-positive messages are annoying because they mean that her work has already been done.
And for Vanessa Brascia, her work has only just begun.