Fitness Career Spotlight on Nate Brugnara, Personal Trainer / Group Instructor
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA, RD on JUNE 22, 2016
Meet Nate Brugnara, personal trainer and group instructor, whose hustle and heart have landed him his dream career. Success and fulfillment can be achieved when the sky is the limit and you just go for it. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of fitness and exercise?
It was definitely the kale. Ha. No, I’m just a competitive person. I’ve always been really competitive. I grew up playing a lot of sports, but it wasn’t until my mom got breast cancer and beat it that I truly slowed down and took stock of the fact that life is precious and that people need to move through it with purpose and passion. I learned that I had a gift of being able to show people a path towards fitness…even if at the start it was just based out of an excitement and a passion for it. What attracted me to health and wellness was always community. Health and wellness, or let’s just say for simplicity’s sake fitness, is the one common threads we all share. No one likes burpees. We all hate them. That is one thing we all have in common right off the bat. But one thing you probably didn’t know, is if you get 30 total strangers in a room and have them do 30 burpees all at the same time, you slowly begin to form a sense of community. People start to realize that these social constructs we’ve come up with are just barriers to point out our differences and when it comes down to it we’re all very similar creatures. We all bleed, we all sweat, and we all have a basic need to be social and find our sense of community. Health and wellness…fitness…whatever you want to call it, is at its most basic level about living a better life. Everyone deep down wants that and wants to be a part of that. How can you not be attracted to this field?
Your Job Title:
Personal Trainer / Group Instructor
Company you are with now:
TrainerSF/OMpower, 24 Hour Fitness, Optum Fitness Solutions, Nate Brugnara Fitness
A typical (or not so typical) day in the work-life for you:
Typical: Wake up at 5am, drive in to the studio, train 3-4 clients from 7am-12pm, go home nap and meal prep, eat, go back to the studio, train a few more clients from 5pm-9pm, go home, eat, sleep, repeat.
Not so typical day: A client reschedules and I have a huge gap in the middle of the day and I get lunch with my grandmother and learn a new technique for making poached eggs.
How did you get your current job in fitness and exercise?
Hustle and heart. I auditioned for a group instructor position at StudioMix but didn’t get the job. One of the head trainers there sat me down and explained what I needed to work on to improve. I really took her advice to heart. We remained in touch and she later referred me to Aaron who expanded TrainerSF into a partnership with OMpower and I got in at the right place at the right time. I am extremely lucky to have landed where I did with such great people. And I’m very grateful and honored to work with such supportive, caring, and skilled professionals daily.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I’m not a huge fan of this question. I may have started out with a natural inclination to be a fast runner, but everything else I worked on. I’m actually still the same size I was when I was a junior in high school. While you were out partying with your friends in high school I was running stadium stairs in Berkeley, working out in the gym, and going for trail runs in my “free time.” No one likes to hear this, but I’m where I’m at because I consistently outworked you, plain and simple. I sacrificed a lot to get to where I’m at. But through that sacrifice I learned resilience and grit. And I constantly built on that. Just because you’re not in an organized sport anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still be competitive or train like an athlete. I found new ways to challenge myself and constantly continued to raise the bar even after my time in sports was done. If you want to be better put in the work and it’ll come. Life is about constantly moving forward. Never stop improving.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Success and fulfillment is relative. You need to define those terms for yourself. Stop listening to what other people are telling you (even me) and figure out for yourself what makes you happy. Your own happiness should ultimately be the measure of your success in life. Once you’ve figured that out, put the blinders on and chase down your dreams with reckless abandon. People are going to try to discourage you and take you off your path, but you need to have the mental strength and determination to continue pushing through until you achieve your version of success. And be very careful about the company you keep. Everyone you let into your life needs to be helping you grown by supporting you and encouraging you to move forward. If they’re dragging you down you need to let them go. Surround yourself with people who are going to take you higher and always continue to work on yourself.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what would it be?
Experiences. Money is just paper, a means of exchange for good and services, it comes and goes and means very little to me in the grand scheme of my life. Experiences: stories shared around a campfire, time spent with friends, those are things that I truly treasure because it all comes down to creating and fostering a culture of happiness in your own life. If I could be paid for anything other than a paycheck it’d have to be experiences. Traveling to new countries, doing crazy obstacles races, drinking some apricot beer on a rooftop bar in Denver catching up with my friend Jake about traveling through Rome and Scotland, those are the moments in life you really remember. Money just makes you show up at some “job” so you can “survive.” I’m more interesting in thriving.
photo credit: Karolina Zapolska