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Find Your Form

It’s Time to Hit the Gym With This Fitness Fanatic

WRITTEN BY: JAKE PALUMBO | PHOTOGRAPHED BY: TASO PAPADAKIS

I suddenly found myself in the back corner of Brik Fitness, standing with both shoeless and sockless feet placed upon the cold metal platform of a machine that was steadily pumping an electric current through my body. In each hand, I gripped the machine’s outreaching mantis-like electrode arms, completing the circuit. Behind the screen in front of me, a computer busily calculated the frequency with which the current passed through the cells in my body. After a couple nerve-racking minutes, the machine, which looked like some NASA scale from 2050, spit out a complete analysis of my body composition with an indifferent beep. Does anybody reference “The Jetsons” anymore? A great billowing sigh of relief escaped from behind my chest when Brik Fitness owner and fitness coach Brian Nguyen assured me my readout was a perfectly healthy one. Unfortunately, he said, that’s not always the case with people who come into his gym for the first time. Their introduction to the InBody machine can sometimes be a nasty one. Lucky for them, they’ve come to the right place.

Brian Nguyen has had the career most personal trainers could only dream. After getting his start with UCLA Sports Medicine, working with the football and baseball teams, Brian landed a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. From there, he made the jump to Hollywood as Mark Wahlberg’s personal trainer during the filming of the 2006 football film “Invincible.” Ever since, he has worked closely with Wahlberg as his trusted personal trainer. Although he boasted an impressive roster of celebrity clientele and an action-packed Hollywood schedule, Brian eventually decided to take his star-studded, studio- endorsed recipe for success off the road and into his own gym.

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Q: With such a successful Hollywood career, what made you want to open your own gym?

Brian Nguyen: I was doing a lot of traveling, mostly with Mark Wahlberg.
I came here for the movie “The Avengers” and I remember having a conversation with someone who asked me if I ran my own business. At the time I thought, yes. But then he asked me if I made money when I wasn’t working. And then the answer was no. And I think that’s what put the idea in my head. Ever since then, the dream grew and grew until I became determined to make it a reality. I started this out of my garage working with neighbors, then moved on to working with people in the park, and it grew from there.

Q: What kind of gym did you set out to create?

BN: I said if I’m going to design a gym, it’s going to be the anti-gym. Like “Cheers, ” I want it to be a place where everybody knows your name. The niche behind our gym is all fat loss and corrective exercise. I do tailor to more of a female population. We pride ourselves on saying we’re the best part of our clients’ days.

Q: Do you customize the workouts for each client?

BN: Everybody in our gym has an individualized program. I’m the program designer. When people come in, I give them an assessment based on seven tests, basically all the movements of a human. I sit down with a client when they first come in and ask them what they’re looking for, what their personal fitness goals are. Once I know all of that, I can draw them a map. Everybody has their program. I’m the main chief, and I have eight coaches who help me out. We have over 430 members now.

Q: So how did the Hollywood stuff start?

BN: When I started working with Mark Wahlberg on the movie “Invincible.” Since then, I’ve done a lot of work on sports movies. I worked with Adam Sandler on “The Longest Yard, ” I worked with Will Ferrell on “Semi-Pro.” I still work with Mark. A lot of other referrals have come through my work with him.

Q: Do you have a specific diet that you stick to or that you encourage?

BN: We just encourage a clean diet. When people start here, we give them a food journal, and I have them keep track of what they are eating. If a client does have a weight loss goal, then we help coach them through the process of healthy and moderate eating habits.

Q: What’s your advice for someone who is just getting started?

BN: For the first month, the only thing I want people to do is learn to enjoy it and have fun. We just want to get you into the habit of coming into the gym at least twice a week. I want people to get to know the coaches and make friends with the other members and start to feel at home here.

Q: What’s the difference between working with professional athletes and movie stars versus ordinary people?

BN: Mindset. It really is. After working with so many professional athletes, and working with successful movie stars, you have a lot of the willpower built in. It’s the mindset that got them that far in the first place.

Q: What would you say the style is of the workouts that take place here?

BN: It’s ultimately old-fashioned strength training. It’s all really functional training. We have group classes that focus on metabolic training and high-intensity training as well. We have heart rate monitor classes where everyone in the class wears a heart monitor, and it shows up on the screen during the class. It helps individualize group classes because one person’s perception of effort is different than someone else’s.

Q: So what’s next for you?

BN: I think the biggest thing is working on getting the next gym open. I’m going to give it another year and get our systems in place. I want to get a little bit more staff, but we have a great energy going here, and I think it’s just natural that it should expand. So I have to work on bringing in staff and educating coaches that are capable of doing that.

Q: What is the biggest misconception people have about working out?

BN: A lot of women are afraid that if they lift weights they’ll get bulky instead of lean. That’s a myth, and it’s been important for me to make sure I communicate that properly when my clients are starting out. Also, when you strength train, you’re building muscle and burning fat. Since muscle weighs more than fat, you can’t just look at a scale to measure results. I ask my clients if they would be pissed off if they only lost three to five pounds, but fit into their jeans. And the answer is always no. Because that’s what happens when you strength train. Your muscle goes up, and your fat goes down and that’s where the scale can be hugely misleading. That’s why one of the first things I tell members to do when they get here is to throw away their scale.

MAKE YOUR MOVE WITH THESE THREE CLASSES:

1. BURN BABY BURN: BURN THAT FAT AWAY! This circuit-style workout uses work- to-rest ratio to blast fat and improve endurance. Our high- energy class will have you burning fat up to 72 hours after you’re done training.

2. TOTAL BODY: Look like a lean, mean, total body machine! This workout helps build strength and increase lean mass, which helps lower body fat and sculpt problem areas. It is designed to help you perform whether you’re an athlete of life or sport.

3. CORE CONDITIONING: It’s time to wake up that core! This format combines the best elements of fat loss programming: mobility, core strength and stability, energy system training, and soft tissue work. This class allows you extra time to build a strong foundation in your core.

BRIK FITNESS

129 Palos Verdes Blvd, #106 Redondo Beach, CA 90277 | 310.373.2745 www.brikfitness.com