Just try not to fall in love with Vanessa Packer.
The wellness goddess behind cool-girl fitness studio modelFIT, Packer is open, candid, and 100 percent real—that much you can tell after a 30-second conversation. Thankfully, we had a bit longer to catch up with the fitness entrepreneur in between classes at her gorgeous new West Hollywood location
modelFIT splashed onto the fitness scene in New York just a few years ago, immediately attracting a cult-like following of models, celebrities, bloggers, and wellness aficionados. Take class at the New York flagship or new Los Angeles digs and it’s easy to understand why: The studio has chic white walls and deep chocolate hardwood floors, trendy art hanging from the walls, and color-coded equipment. Once the workout begins, you’ll break a sweat by completing slow, full-body movements that sculpt long and lean muscles.
modelFIT is basically heaven for the athlete-aesthete—so it makes total sense that Sweaty Betty tapped Packer to design a capsule collection for the British athletic wear brand. You can snag the sexy-chic leggings, crops, and crop top at Sweaty Betty stores, SweatyBetty.com, and modelFIT’s New York and Los Angeles studios on January 5, 2017.
In the meantime, we caught up with Packer to learn about what it takes to be a Karlie Kloss’s fitness guru, how to take care of your crystal collection, and the difference between New Yorkers and Angelenos.
You’re in amazing shape! What does your personal workout schedule look like?
When I’m New York and L.A., it’s every day. Wherever I am, I try to sweat daily. If I’m in New York or L.A., I’m at the [modelFIT] studio. For me, it’s the best workout I’ve ever done—which is why I’ve dedicated my life to giving it to others. It’s so dynamic and always changing, so I never feel like I’m really doing the same workout twice, you know?
If I’m traveling, I love to run outside—preferably on the beach. Or jump into a yoga class at whatever place I’m in. I find that yoga is one way to easily tap into a community and if you have a practice, it’s pretty easy to jump in whether you speak the language or not and kind of adapt to it. I’ve definitely taken yoga in quite a few languages … that’s always fun.
You travel a lot because your business is bicoastal. What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between respective fitness scenes in New York and Los Angeles?
New York is much more aggressive when it comes to working out. I think New Yorkers want to be the first to try things—they’re really leaders and drivers in terms of the way they navigate new concepts and new businesses.
L.A. kind of moves to the beat of its own drum. It’s a little slower, people like to give it a minute. You have the outdoors, which is a huge distraction! In New York, you’re indoors all the time because it’s either freezing cold or stupid hot. So you spend a lot of time indoors, going to dinner, drinks, workouts.
It’s really interesting, because as fit as L.A. is, New York is crazy fit. People like to be pushed more in there. In L.A., people want a nice workout and then to be able to go to their next thing; in New York they want to be hurting the next day. It conditions you to push yourself, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. But I think both cities could have more balance. Being bicoastal has really taught me that I need balance, too.
Do you have a favorite class at modelFIT?
We have three classes: Sculpt, which is the original signature class which we’re known for; Cardio-sculpt, which has a little bit of dance cardio to warm up the body and sweat more; and then we have Dance Cardio. [Dance Cardio] is all follow-along, so anyone can walk into class and get a great workout. That was really important to me because I’m not a dancer, I don’t want to be a dancer, so to have complex choreography wasn’t going to work—like, let’s just make this a fun dance and get our sweat on. But sculpt is probably my favorite, it’s our signature class.
What’s your weirdest health and wellness ritual?
I feel like nothing’s weird anymore because everyone does everything! I [burn] sage and palo santo everything … I carry around a lot of crystals. In my pockets, in my bag, around my neck. I’ve been like, stopped at TSA! There was one time, super early in the morning, we were going through security and they stopped me—I was looking at my boyfriend like, “I don’t know what’s going on”—and they opened up my bag and it was a ton crystals. He was like, “I can’t believe we just got stopped because of those.”
In my pocket now, I have raw citrine and raw smoky quartz. I got these crystals when I was opening up the studio in New York. They’re good for prosperity and manifestation, personal will, keeping focus. They’re very grounding and I just find that they keep me feeling very centered. I wear them a lot and carry them around with me. I think crystals have a real—I have a real connection to them. And you have to wash them in warm water and then leave them in the sunlight to cleanse them. Sunlight or the moonlight. I leave them on my windowsill.
The other thing I love is this place in New York that you can have your aura photographed and analyzed. When I first started doing it I got like, obsessed with it and now I’ve been a little bit chilling on it, but when I get back to the city I want to go. You have your energy and your aura analyzed. And they’re just really beautiful, too.
You’re a holistic nutritionist, too. What’s the healthy snack or meal that you don’t feel bad splurging on?
Fresh veggies and fruits, and organic anything. Erewhon in Venice is the most indulgent, and it’s crazy expensive but amazing. I like smoothies with lots of powders and tonics with interesting elements. I love stuff like that! I went to Moon Juice the other day and they made me a beauty and brain tonic with crushed up pearl which is supposed to be great for your skin. And I’m like, “Yeah, give me more!”
I indulge in facials majorly—I have a facialist in New York that I adore. Acupuncture, all day every day. Energy healing, reiki, spiritual cleansing, I’m all about that stuff. Happy to spend a little more cash on that sort of healing.
What’s one thing you wish people had told you before you started modelFIT?
It’s really hard because I think as much as people want to give you advice and tell you things, often times you’re not open to hearing it and you sort of need to experience it yourself. I think when you want something so bad and you put your all into it, it’s hard to listen.
I listened to my mentors, but I really think that you need to experience a lot of this stuff on your own and trust your gut a little bit. As much as certain things make sense and certain things don’t, I think trusting your gut and doing what’s right is really important. And make sure that you’re doing something you love, because it’s not gonna be easy. You gotta just love it, you have to be willing to pour your all into it. And be humble!