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For most health and wellness enthusiasts, Vanessa Packer Ru needs no introduction.
As founder of the popular workout method modelFIT, and the beloved lifestyle website bonberi.com, the New York native—who has vacationed in Montauk since she was a kid——is now a go-to source for holistic nutrition. We talked with Vanessa about her rise in the self-care industry and what’s on the horizon.
Before your career in health and wellness, you worked as a fashion stylist. What prompted you to switch gears?
Switching gears really came from the desire to help people optimize their health. At the time, we didn’t have many options for truly healthy food in New York, and there wasn’t as much information available about alternative health as there is today. Especially in an industry like fashion that is so fast-paced, I worked with a lot of people who lived hectic, non-stop lives and didn’t have access or knowledge about what foods would help them feel their best and look their best. From that need, I began doing holistic nutrition consulting (after getting certified in the field, of course). The combination of mindful eating and mindful exercise made such a difference in the success people had— and that is how modelFIT was born.
How has modelFIT evolved over the years?
Putting it all under one roof and creating a studio that provided both mindful exercise and healthy eating services was the vision—making it feel chic and luxurious (while still being authentic to the mission and the brand) was also important. At the time, studio fitness was just beginning, and we were the first on Bowery when we opened. As the years went on, our concept evolved to cities beyond NYC and expanded into a digital resource. Online streaming took off in a way that surpassed our expectations, and naturally, with everything that happened in the last year, it has taken precedent.
What is something you cannot live without?
Sleep! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that sleep is a necessity and a core pillar of wellness. All the green juice and exercise in the world can’t help you if you don’t get adequate sleep—the body just needs that time to rebuild, regenerate, and recover.
If you could advise someone to make one lifestyle change, what would it be and why?
Eliminate fast-food and processed food. Maintaining a diet of whole natural foods will provide immediate health benefits that can kick off a domino effect of healthy lifestyle changes.
How do you start your day?
I begin with meditation and breath work—about 10 minutes of each. It clears my mind and oxygenates my body so that I’m ready to tackle the day. Afterward, I have hot water and lemon while checking my emails.
As a New York Native, you often vacationed in Montauk. Do you have a favorite memory?
When I was a kid, my mom would take my older brother and me out to Montauk to play putt-putt golf and eat lobsters at Gosman’s Dock. It was a quiet surf town back then, and I cherish those memories of simpler times.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Well, hopefully, COVID-19 is more under control, and the vaccine is available to anyone who wants it. I’m looking forward to a return to normal—let’s hope!
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