by Becki Danchik
From fitness trainer and professional chef to the new spokesperson for Nair for Men, Bravo tv’s Jesse Brune is making healthy living a necessity for happiness. He sat down with us in Times Square and gave us a very thorough Work Out.
BD: How did you break into the fitness field?
JB: Well, I enrolled in culinary school (Le Cordon Bleu) and to avoid gaining a lot of weight while I was there I got certified as a trainer. I thought that by association I would stay fit and physically active. In school, I saw people gain 50lbs or more in the process of a year and a half. I started teaching boot camp classes. One of my students was a reality show producer who knew that the producers of Work Out were looking for a younger gay element and so she asked me if I would be interested in talking to them. At first I thought, “I just spent all this money on culinary school, I just want to focus on cooking,” but the producers said that they could feature me cooking on the show, so then everything made sense. As the show started getting more popular most of the fitness clients that I had started asking me if I could cook for them. This prompted a healthy food delivery service that I did for some actors. I also started doing dinner parties all over the country with an organic edge to it, I started teaching classes in alternative cooking like macrobiotics, vegan, and vegetarian. My intention was never to be a healthy food guide, I just stayed in the flow of things and the opportunity presented itself.
BD: Do you have anything cooking right now?
JB: Yes. There is always stuff in the basket. Let’s just say that I am very busy. Keep your eyes and ears open.
BD: Do you still cook for your fitness clients?
JB: Sure. I am a special guest teacher at Epicurean, a culinary school in Los Angeles, and then I have clients that I do dinner parties for, usually 1-2 a month.
BD: Are you currently taking new clients?
JB: Selectively. I am passionate about helping people change their lives and so I like to meet with potential clients and make sure that their intention is to really transform their life and that they are ready to see a change. I really want people to dedicate themselves to the process. What I do now is “transformation” more than just fitness training or cooking. I gained weight about 2 years ago – enough weight for it to be an issue on the show – and so I had to ask myself, “Why as a fitness professional did I let myself gain weight?”. I realized that I was miserable and unhappy with my life. I was partying too much. I got it into my head that I was a rockstar because I was on a realty show on Bravo and I let myself get carried away. I had to take a step back and be like, “Let’s be real, let’s be honest here.” It was that honesty that helped me get to where I needed to go. I started feeling better about myself and the weight just naturally fell off. But I am grateful for that experience because I am able to walk my clients through the same kind of process of asking themselves why they have let themselves gain weight and why do they think they are unhealthy. It’s not because they are joyful and love to eat food. There is something else going on. Once we can move through it, the weight loss will start to happen. I also give them the tools that they need in the gym and while they are grocery shopping.
BD: You write menus for them?
JB: All of the time. Eating plans. Menus. I don’t believe in diets because they are restrictive. They make people think, “I can’t have this” and once you tell someone that they can’t have something it becomes all that they want. It becomes an obsession. If you are really moved to have a cookie, eat the cookie. Because if you don’t, chances are that you’ll be eating ten of them at midnight in your underwear feeling really bad about yourself. It’s about being conscious of what you are eating. I think that life is meant to be balanced.
BD: On the show you worked with your Sky Lab client, Natalie. You went dress shopping with her and encouraged her to buy a “goal dress.” You went over to her house and inspected the contents of her refrigerator. Are those typically the steps you take to motivate all of your clients?
JB: Here’s the deal: I like to work with clients who I don’t have to motivate that much. I want people to be able to motivate themselves and be so ready to change their lives that they come in with the motivation that they need to stick with me. Natalie was 100% invested. She wanted to change her life, she did not want to feel the way that she felt anymore. Once someone is inspired to change their life they enroll other people into being inspired for them, and that is what Natalie did. I was inspired by her so I did everything that I could to help her along the way.
BD: Has there ever been a client that you could not help?
JB: Sure. Sometimes my highest paying clients are the ones who don’t care.
BD: So what do you do about it?
JB: I let them go. I have to ask myself what kind of experience I want to have when I go to work. I like to be moved and feel enthusiastic about what I am doing. If I don’t feel that then I have to let go. It’s just not being fair to myself.
BD: We all know that personal training is expensive. Do you do anything to alleviate the cost?
JB: I have tons on pro-bono clients. If you come to me and you really want to change your life but you can’t pay what I charge then I will work something out with you, given that I have space available. It’s not always to my advantage. I work with a financial planner who tells me that I need to stop it but I truly believe that if I make helping other people my priority then it will come back to me and I will be taken care of. If someone asks me to help them and I can, I will.
BD: Are there any non-profit organizations that you support?
JB: My boyfriend is on the board of Hot In Hollywood which helps fund AIDS research. There is a big celebration this August hosted by America Ferrera. I try to support them as much as I can.
BD: Tell us about your workout tricks and your health secrets.
JB: Hmmm…workout tricks. Well, there’s Kyle.
BD: Do you have a favorite exercise?
JB: No, it’s like you go through phases. Like clothes. Sometimes I’ll do one exercise with all of my clients for a month and then I won’t touch it again for another year. I’m all over the board and I like it that way because I don’t get bored!
BD: Do you play sports?
JB: I run. I just did the Mud Run again two weeks ago.
BD: Who did you do it with?
JB: I did it with 3 clients of mine and my boyfriend. We were on a team and we came in fourth. We were a little disappointed with fourth but it just made us hungry for the next one. There were thousands of people there so fourth wasn’t that bad.
BD: On the show you did the Mud Run with the other male trainers and Brian Peeler was lagging behind.
JB: Peeler was sooo lagging behind. He made me so angry. He is the meathead at the gym who tells everyone that they are doing an exercise wrong, and of course he was doing the same thing during the race. Then by the first mile he was out.
BD: You still did well.
JB: Yeah, JD and I did really well. If the rest of the team had finished with us we would have come in second place. But instead we came in nineteenth because we had to wait for Peeler.
BD: Did you agree with Jackie’s decision to fire Peeler?
JB: It was such a mutual thing with them. He was looking for an excuse to get out of there and he found one and went with it. I think he was looking for something to make Jackie look bad and he did a good job of it. Those were just two people who should not have worked with each other at all. I think it’s better for both of them that he is not there anymore.
BD: Will there be a 4th season of Work Out?
JB: Who knows. Our ratings this season were the best that they have ever been. We’ll see. I’m always the last to know…
BD: So I’m assuming that Kyle is your boyfriend?
JB: No! No!
BD: Who is Kyle?
JB: That was just a name I made up when you asked me about my gym tricks. (uncontrollable laughs)
BD: (more laughs)
JB: I don’t know a Kyle. My boyfriend’s name is Calen and I LOVE HIM VERY MUCH. (shouting into microphone)
BD: Is he just as dedicated to the gym as you are?
JB: No. He likes working out because he likes to feel good, but we’re opposites. I have to workout so that I don’t gain weight and he has to workout so that he can keep weight on. He can eat whatever he wants. He has a corporate business job and models on the side. He has a perfect runway model body, it makes me sick. But I love him. He’s great. (flashes picture of Calen on his phone)
BD: How does it feel to be an openly gay role model?
JB: I didn’t realize that I was a role model for people until I left LA. I was asked to host a party at Gay Days in Orlando, Florida, and people came up to me and said, “You really changed my life.” One guy came up to me crying and said “you are my hero.” I was like, “I am your hero? Get outta here.” It’s been really cool. Sometimes the show is so out there that I wonder if I am allowed to be a role model. I just live my life and I am being who I am. For a lot of people, being out of the closet is a huge thing and I guess I don’t give myself enough credit for that. Making your sexuality a non-issue is a big deal. What I like about the show is that it’s about a woman who runs a business who happens to be a lesbian. The media makes Jackie being a lesbian a big focus because she is the first lesbian to have a reality show. What Bravo does very nicely is that they have shows about people and sometimes they happen to be gay. It’s not like they are gay-gay-gay and that’s the only thing they are. I think that is progress…
BD: What is the biggest misconception that you get from fans?
JB: Last season everyone thought that I was the bitchy one. I was like, BITCHY?? In my everyday life I am a support system for a lot of people. I know what I feel and I know what my intentions are and they’re genuinely to help other people – whether it’s making them laugh or giving them a break from reality. So, when I heard that I was the bitchy one I was like, “Oh, I don’t feel like I am mean”. But I think that I was able to reinvent that misconception this season. Most of my focus was on my clients and I feel like that is who I really am in my life right now. I am really happy and grateful to have an amazing guy and the opportunity to help people. It’s really a blessing.
BD: What is the most rewarding experience that you have had?
JB: On the show, hands down it was working with Natalie. Not only did I get to help her with her life, but I gained a really good friend. We still work with each other and she has lost more weight, she is looking great. She is really working on herself, emotionally too, it’s been really amazing to see her change her life. What’s rewarding right now is that I’m in New York City with Nair for Men and people are like, “What does Nair for Men have to do with fitness and transition?” It’s actually rather brilliant because there are little things that we need to do for ourselves that are just as important as working out and eating right to feel sexy. Even guys now are allowed to admit that they do extra things to make them feel good. Nair for Men is about clean, smooth skin which helps show off your muscles a little bit, helps you feel good, and it makes your whole energy change. It’s like getting a good haircut or buying a new shirt – you just feel good and that energy is what other people read off of. When I see someone who is walking around smiling and I know they are feeling good, that is sexy to me.
BD: Do you see yourself going out on your own one day away from Sky Sports?
JB: Sure, but right now I am practicing chilling out and staying still and going with what presents itself next…And what’s next for me is the New York City Gay Pride Parade. I’m on the Nair for Men float! It will be me and a bunch of toned, hairless models in short shorts.
BD: I hope it doesn’t rain.
JB: Oh, it won’t rain on my parade. I’m from Seattle.
** Nair for Men is giving $5000 to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in collaboration with Jesse Brune as their spokesperson. For more about Jesse Brune go to www.jessebrune.com and for more about the new Nair for Men go to www.nairformen.com.
Becki Danchik is a freelance writer and fan of the show. She is a full time real estate broker living in New York City. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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