BABE #300: SAVANNA VENIER - Personal Trainer
When Savanna was in middle school, she struggled to fit in, felt extremely insecure and was always the last kid picked in gym class. Today, she’s a personal trainer, model and content creator who overcame a whole lot of bullying — both externally and internally — and quieted the naysayers in the best way possible: by becoming one heck of a hustlin’ babe. Savanna uses her wide array of skills to provide personalized, thoughtful solutions for her clients. She’s engaged, motivated and genuinely excited to help others turn their fitness and health journeys into a lifestyle — not just a short, quickly forgotten fad.
Hometown: St. Petersburg, Florida
Current city: Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Alma mater: University of North Florida
Degree: B.S., Psychology; Minor, Public Health
Very first job: Charley’s Philly Cheesesteaks
Hustle: Independent Personal Trainer; Spin Instructor, Full Psycle; Content Creator; Brand Ambassador
Babe you admire and why?
I admire Sarah’s Day on Instagram/YouTube. She’s the person I’ve looked up to for a while now as far as how I want to portray myself and my business. She’s raw, authentic, personable, extremely sweet and only partners with brands she believes in.
How do you spend your free time?
Laying out at the beach, going for a beach walk, working out, snuggling my fiancé, planning my wedding or eating yummy food with my best friend Taylor. To be honest, though, I’m almost always doing some type of work, unless I’m hanging out with a friend. If I’m laying out at the beach, I’m writing a workout routine for a client while I do so. If I’m on a beach walk, there’s a good chance I’m planning what I’m going to have my clients do today at the gym while I walk. It never ends, honestly!
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Mac and cheese, cornbread, pork and apple pie—basically all the things my mom would make around Thanksgiving time growing up. A typical “fall” meal.
What’s something most don’t know about you?
I used to be highly insecure, starting during the “Dark Ages” (aka middle school, when everyone thought I was a complete loser and made fun of me). From then on, I sort of found my identity in making people like me through fitting in. I’ve come leaps and bounds since then, but I’d say I didn’t really start to blossom into who I really am today until maybe three or four years ago.
What’s your favorite type of exercise?
Boxing. Kickboxing is a family affair at my house. My mom started it first when I was 7, then my dad followed suit a couple of years later and they’ve both seen amazing transformations from the routine. My dad is an instructor now at a gym back home, and they kept telling me to try it out for so long that I finally caved the summer after graduating high school. I haven’t looked back and have been hooked to exercise ever since.
Tell us about your hustle.
My brand is Savanna Rose (my first and middle names—I’m obviously not too creative in the business naming department.) Within my brand, I offer personal training services at a local gym (Focus Fitness), in people’s homes, at parks, the beach, etc. I also offer online coaching services that embody nutrition and fitness and overall lifestyle change, as well as my recently launched Busy Babes Bible Online Workout Subscription. I also offer modeling and content creation services and teach spin classes at a local studio in Jacksonville.
What does your typical workday look like?
My fiancé, Alex, always says he’s jealous that no day is the same for me. He thinks breaking up the monotony of a nine-to-five job sounds like the best thing ever. I really do like that no day is the same, but it’s slightly stressful because I’m glued to my iCalendar at all times to make sure I’m not missing anything. I’ll try my best to give you an example of a day in my life:
5:15 a.m. — Wake up, chug lemon water, eat pre-workout snack
6:00 a.m. — Boxing at Class UFC Gym
7 a.m. — Retro Fitness to lift and stretch
8:45 a.m. — Teach spin class
10:00 a.m. — Head home for a big breakfast and shower
11:00 a.m. — Write client workouts, write spin workout for following day, answer emails and DMs, answer client’s check-in texts, work on next week’s Busy Babes Bible routines, post and engage on Instagram, schedule photoshoots — and if I have a slower day and can fit in a beach walk, I absolutely will during this time, too.
3:00 — Train clients
8:00 p.m. — Shower, eat, write more workouts for clients, answer a few more DMs, work on wedding planning, sleep
What has your fitness journey looked like?
I was literally the kid who got picked last in gym class. I didn’t have an athletic bone in my body. I swear, I was really good at basketball as a kid, but the second we reached middle school, everyone grew a foot taller and I stayed 4’6” for another few years. Middle school was rough because people started finding their identities in a sport they played, and I didn’t have that. The summer before I went away for college, my parents’ nagging about me trying out their kickboxing gym finally paid off, and I tried out a class. I instantly fell in love with it. That summer, I would get up “early” five days a week to work out. I was always skinny, but that summer I toned up big time and it was so cool to see how much more stamina I got as time went on. I was hooked on exercise, and there was no turning back. My freshman year at the University of North Florida, they had just built their brand-new wellness center, which was amazing motivation to get in there and work out every day. Unfortunately, without the guidance of a trainer, I had no clue what I was doing. My friend and I would go in, do some abs, curl some weights, then head to Jamba Juice for a 800 calorie smoothie. Needless to say, I gained the “Freshman 15.” When I realized that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted anymore and get away with light workouts, I started doing my own research on weight loss, eating healthy, working out properly, etc. That turned into getting a job as a trainer. I got my certification, began teaching spin and tabata classes, and eventually started personal training there. I’m always learning and always evolving as a trainer—it’s so cool to see how far I’ve grown in just a matter of six years.
What’s your philosophy on fitness?
What’s going to work for your lifestyle and help you thrive socially, physically, mentally and emotionally? If you can’t fit in six two-hour workouts a week, don’t! Don’t feel like you have to do so in order to see success, because that’s BS. If you really don’t want to cut out alcohol because you love doing happy hour with the girls once a week, don’t cut it out! Balance is the difference between a short-term quick-fix and a long-term habit. I want to teach people how to make this fitness thing a lifestyle for life. No two people are the same, so I don’t give my clients the same routines and programs. Everyone gets customized programs in order to accomplish their individual goals.
How has your background and interest in psychology influenced your approach to fitness?
Part of my story is that my mom (who is so gracious to let me talk about her personal life) has been overweight for as long as I can remember. When I was 13, we studied eating disorders at school. When I went home and talked to my mom about what I was learning, she told me that she struggles with Binge Eating Disorder. She explained the whole emotional aspect of it, but it wasn’t until I studied psychology that I really became fascinated with eating disorders: what causes them and how to help treat them. I’m no expert, but I learned a ton through a certification I got from the Institute for Psychology of Eating that studied the mind-body connection of eating. Food is such an emotional thing, even if we don’t want to admit it; I knew I wanted the knowledge to help people overcome psychological barriers with food. A lot of my clients are terrified of carbs, or fat, or things they’ve deemed as “bad.” On another note, fitness is extremely psychological, too. I’ve made the mistake of pushing a beginner client too hard in a session and them never coming back, because they walked in feeling insecure and left feeling defeated. Building someone’s self-confidence up is first and foremost—making them feel good before imposing too many demands on them. Behavior change is huge, too. Knowing how to start with small, attainable goals rather than crazy lofty goals which will, once again, make you lose a client.
In a generation that celebrates women’s health and bodies at all stages of their journeys, what is your approach to encouraging and motivating the women you work with, regardless of their fitness level?
Every session, I try to say at least two good things about the client (one of those things that’s not physical). If I genuinely think someone looks like they’ve toned up in their arms or shed body fat since I last saw them, I will 100 percent say something. But, my main focus is saying things that have more to do with their effort, their character, etc. Something such as: “You’re always working to the best of your ability, even on days like today when I know you’ve had a rough day at work. I admire your persistence and resilience.” When a client is comparing themselves to someone else, like perhaps another client working out at the same time as her, I try to remind them: “You two are not the same person. You came in here with different fitness levels, different abilities, different goals. Comparison is wasted energy and it isn’t getting you one step closer to your goals.”
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
If anything, I think I’m just overlooked as a trainer. I know a lot of men—specifically, older men—think I’m more of a “trophy” for the gym to have, not actually a serious trainer. I try to just take it as a compliment that they think I look fit and attractive, but I know it’s really more of a lack of respect for my knowledge. It sucks, but I’m catering to female clients anyway, so I don’t need the creepy old men’s business. My industry isn’t well-paying, in general, and both men and women are getting the same splits at most gyms, to my knowledge. I’d say it’s about changing the stigma around fitness and females. Currently, female trainers are really more of a sex symbol in society. I think it’s changing, slowly but surely, but there will always be the “fitness models” on Instagram who ruin it for us. Not that I’m against posting pictures of my body from time to time—gotta show off my hard work!—but the focus on sex appeal for women in the industry definitely can devalue female trainers, from a male’s perspective, specifically.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
If you’re in a job you hate, and know your passion is to do something else, don’t settle for where you’re at—but also don’t quit your day job. Start with just one hour a day of visualizing where you want to take your career, and researching the tangible steps to get there. Once you’ve figured that out, carve out one weekend day and two hours per week day to work on your side hustle. Start to make it known what it is you’re working on so you create some interest. Pretty soon, you’ll be doing what you love full-time (even if it means taking a slight pay cut at first), and you’ll be an inspiration to others. In terms of my particular industry: You’re always going to be learning and refining your craft. Be confident in what you know, be humble in what you don’t know, always be willing to ask for help. In the fitness industry specifically, don’t feel like you have to be your fittest self in order to help others. Your biggest inspiration will be that fact that you’re there to keep them accountable—not whether you have a six pack or not.
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