Every Wednesday morning, I awake to a blasting alarm clock at 8 a.m. Even though I do not have class until noon, here I am up at what a night owl like myself calls the crack of dawn to slip on some gym clothes and start making breakfast every hump day. I stumble to the cold kitchen in my Christmas jingle bell slippers and start cooking the turkey bacon as I whisk some eggs, adding salt and pepper to perfect the taste. After I eat breakfast and clean up my mess, I relax for a bit before walking into Uptown from my apartment on Penn Street. I take my first right on Friends Avenue, and walk just past Philadelphia Avenue until I arrive at 6738 Friends Ave. Every Wednesday morning, I start my long day with a 9:30 a.m. boot camp with Kaplan Aspect alumna, Nargiz Bravo.
Back2Basics Training Inc. was founded in June 2002 by Eric Bravo, a man interested in nutrition and fitness since high school, with the mission to become the preferred family training center in Whittier. To do this, Bravo and his team focus on one-on-one personal training and small group personal trainings at affordable prices. Bravo married Aspect student Nargiz Sattarova, now Bravo, originally from Uzbekistan six years ago, and together they have built a life together surrounding fitness and nutrition.
Bravo has been interested in fitness since she was a little girl, seeing her cousin work as a personal trainer. “I used to do it [lead work outs] for kids my age or younger who were overweight back home,” Bravo said. “I used to do what is called Shaping, which is very close to Pilates. That’s why I love Pilates.”
Bravo then came to the United States to study and perfect her English through Kaplan Aspect’s program at Whittier College in 2004 before completing her education and graduating in 2005. She was not so much interested in pursuing a career in fitness at the time, but after meeting her future husband, who has been in the fitness industry for over 19 years, starting a family and successfully losing baby weight, her passion for fitness and nutrition jumpstarted her career as a Pilates and Spin instructor.
“I did Pilates throughout my pregnancy and prenatal yoga—just very light,” Bravo said. “And two years later, I got really bored at home, and my husband said, ‘Why don’t you just be a trainer because you lost so much weight. You got leaner, and you’re taking care of yourself.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to teach Pilates.’”
And boy does Bravo look great after having a child. At 26, she is my new inspiration to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and the main reason why I have fallen in love with the small group personal training sessions at Back2Basics. In October, Bravo will have been teaching for four years. I asked her what her secret was, and if she had any tips for college students who might not have time or such an intense workout schedule, and she was quick to impart some easy little suggestions.
Much to my surprise, we have all the tools available on this hilly campus with fine athletic facilities. “You can take advantage of your stairs and the track,” Bravo said. “I mean, just eat breakfast. Maybe 45 minutes later, one hour later, just go. It’s right there. Take all the stairs, do the track twice or three times, power walking, go back and do the stairs, then go back to your room.” The Bravos took their clients to power walk the stairs and track just the other day, and according to Nargiz, everyone, herself included, loved it.
Back2Basics moved to its new location on Friends Avenue in October 2011, and offers a variety of classes and different prices. One-on-one private sessions are offered at a higher rate, but the small group classes are more suited to the college student on a budget. Cardio step classes, boot-camp workouts, spin classes and mat pilates are offered at $10 a class for 30 minutes and $15 a class for one hour. Even more exciting, students receive a discounted price at $7 for a half hour class and $10 for a full hour.
Training sessions at Back2Basics Training Inc. are treated much like our classes here at Whittier College. You sign up and pay for the weekly classes you would like to take for the entire month, and you have a time set aside to focus on working out. For a busy person like myself, this obligation system of fitness keeps me faithful to a workout regime.
“I mean you [guys] are busy, but you have to have the time for yourself,” Bravo said. “You have to always remember that [fitness] is important; it’s your lifestyle—that you have to be healthy. If you’re healthy, you have everything. You can work, you can study, you can concentrate on your homework, you can be successful.”