Following Her Bliss | Meet Vanessa Packer of modelFIT

Born and raised in New York, Vanessa Packer worked as a fashion stylist and was no stranger to the demanding nature of life in the big city. Wanting to pursue her interest in health and fitness, she became a certified holistic nutritionist through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. From there, her love for holistic living blossomed and now, in addition to being the co-founder of healthy lifestyle website, bonberi, Packer is also the founder, creative mind and nutritionist at boutique fitness studio modelFIT. Read the full interview below to hear what this inspirational leader of the health and wellness world has to say!

You’ve mentioned that your mother inspired your love for health and fitness. In what ways has she influenced the lifestyle you live today?
In every way. She's always been the embodiment of true health, wellness, and balance. She's the ultimate "modelFIT babe."

Since its launch, modelFIT has grown to become one of the leading fitness studios in the US. How did the concept for it first come about? 
It really came from a desire to create a fitness and wellness space that didn't feel like a gym, and a brand that extended beyond the offerings of other traditional gyms and studios.

NYC has grown to become a hub for numerous fitness studios and wellness brands. How did you create a space that stood out from the rest?
I followed my instincts and intuition about how I wanted the space to feel, and the way I wanted customers to feel in it. The open floor plan and natural light was a big part of that.

What are some highlights in opening your own studio? Were there any unexpected challenges?
Opening a business, there's a fantastic combination of fear and excitement that keeps you on your toes. To be honest, it really never leaves, and it really never should. Loving what you do, and being passionate and purposeful about it, acts as a driver that propels things forward and pushes for growth. The day that's gone, is the day it's time to step aside.

“Loving what you do, and being passionate and purposeful about it, acts as a driver that propels things forward and pushes for growth. The day that's gone, is the day it's time to step aside.”

Prior to opening modelFIT, you worked as a fashion stylist. What prompted you to switch career paths and go from fashion to fitness?
I wanted to invest my time in energy in a career I could grow and evolve with. Through nutrition and fitness, through wellness, I saw a future for myself.

Run us through an average day!
Honestly, it varies depending on where I am, but some things are a constant. I begin each day with a lot of water, modelFIT or a run outside - I need my morning sweat. Usually I take care of meetings, emails and calls in the morning while I have black cold-brew coffee and then a green juice or smoothie. If i don't have a lunch meeting, I'll make a salad at home. If I'm in LA, we have a sweetgreen right next door so I'll pop over there. This is usually followed by more meetings and emails/work in the afternoon, and then I'll either make dinner at home or meet friends out for a bite. I try not to drink on weeknights, and I'll aim to get to bed before 11pm. If I have time, I love epsom salt baths at the end of the day before bed.

Nowadays, the health industry is always introducing new diets and fitness programs to the market, so much so that we can’t keep track of all the latest trends. What’s your view on this and do you have a specific approach to nutrition?
I think it's easy to get caught up in the newest trends as it applies to fitness and nutrition, but honestly, listening to your body is the best approach. I believe in eating real whole foods, never anything processed, proper food combination, and boosting alkaline ingredients in my meals.

You’ve also mentioned that you were raised “macrobiotic.” What exactly does that mean?
Macrobiotic is a way of eating where the focus is on balancing the yin and yang within the diet

What advice do you have for those who are looking to transition into living a more holistic life, but don’t know what first steps to take?
Start with small changes and add from there. Don't try to do a big overhaul of your eating habits at once. I truly believe in setting people up for success with small, sustainable changes that lead to an overall happier and healthier life. Adopting a healthy habit into your daily experience is a great way to begin. Maybe that's a green juice, maybe it's a workout, maybe it's five minutes of meditation. Find what's right for you.

Looking ahead, are there any plans that you’re particularly excited about?
We just opened our first studio in West Hollywood in LA. I'm pretty excited about that!

In three words, describe your journey so far with modelFIT.
Nimble, thoughtful, grateful.

What are three hidden gems in New York?
There's a record store on Bleecker Street off 6th Avenue that I love. My childhood health food store, Health Nuts, is on 2nd Avenue off 61st Street - I always try to swing by when I'm at my mom's place Uptown. It's not fancy but I'm nostalgic for it. Victory Garden, which specializes in soft serve goats milk ice cream, it's the only ice cream I'll eat and it's in the West Village

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Strong and creative.

Photos by: Paristoribio