This week (June 11th – 17th) is Men’s Health Week! The goal is to raise awareness about health issues that disproportionately affect men and encourage them to take control of their health, whether that means eating consciously or learning to manage stress. In honor of the occasion, I interviewed some of the most powerful and inspiring guys I know.
Nick Paganelli is a lululemon ambassador, certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor at RIPPED Fitness. Aside from his charming personality and motivational coaching and commitment “Pags understands the real importance of living a healthy lifestyle.”
About a year ago I started taking Hiit classes at RIPPED Fitness, a 50-minute high intensity interval training workout that combines treadmill intervals with strength and core work. Being in the health and wellness industry for over a decade or so, I’ve worked closely with many trainers, doctors and therapists. Let’s just say I know how to spot the good ones, plus I do my dodiligence before hand! About 5 months ago I decided to hire Nick coach my 13 year old son and be his personal trainer. I’ve gotten to know Pags on a personal level. He is a true athlete with tremendous heart and most important remains on the forefront of fitness!
Shannon: How did you get started in the health and wellness industry?
Nick: I started interning with physical therapists and personal trainers in my senior year of high school and learned that I wanted to go more the physical therapy route. The more I worked, the more I started to really fall in love with the body, all of its movements and mechanics. I started training on my own and slowly built up roster of personal training clients and then segued into working group fitness, which is how RIPPED came into play. Finding RIPPED was a real game changer for me. I finally found something that was an accumulation of all things that I love in life; fitness, helping & inspiring people, and performing.
Why is health and wellness so important to you?
My family is “big.” Big personalities, big hearts… big bodies. And from a young age, I was lead to believe that being big was synonymous with power. Part of the reason why my family is the way that they are is because they are the most selfless people you will ever meet. So selfless and caring for their communities that sometimes they forget to be a little selfish and care for their own bodies. It’s so easy to fall into that lifestyle because it’s celebrated. My challenge has always been to find that balance of doing good, living life and indulging, but staying healthy. I feel the responsibility to be a role model for my siblings and little cousins because your personal health and wellness is so important. When you feel good, you do good. If you’re not feeling good about your physical, mental wellness, you’re going to struggle in doing the things you want to do in life.
That “do good, feel good” mentality is sometimes a little easier said than done. What are some of your personal challenges that you face in trying to stay healthy?
I think my personal challenge comes from the fact that I am in an industry where my goal is to work really hard to help others feel better and do better. When I’m focused on being a helper, I sometimes forget to help myself. It’s one of the things I try to focus on in my classes or with my personal clients. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re failing to take care of the people around you.
We often get it mixed up in our culture. We go one of two extremes, we either focus on the “me time,” and become so self-centered that we forget about the people around us, or we do like what my mother does which is go above and beyond, sleep three hours to make sure that we’re helping others and then forget to take care of your own wellness. It all goes back to finding that balance.
Part of the reason why there is a Men’s Health Week is that it’s almost “taboo” for men to talk about their health. Why do you think men have a harder time than women?
It very much comes down to the gender roles that have been around for generations that were enforced by our society. There’s this “responsibility” that men have that they need to be a tough individual that can’t admit to failure or struggle because it shows weakness. And when it comes to health and wellness, there’s this refusal to admit that their situation may need improving. It’s my job to break down those gender roles because it’s not a sign of weakness to seek help or to want better for yourself. I actually think one of the most attractive qualities a person could have is admitting to flaws or changes that need to be made to improve oneself. Nobody’s perfect. And the people who don’t admit that, are close-minded and those are people you don’t want to be around.
That’s actually a nice transition to my next question which is, what about health is sexy to you?
One of the sexiest qualities a human being can possess is somebody who is driven and always willing to improve. They never think that they’ve finished the job because they are hungry for more, and this works for all areas of life. There’s always room to improve your health, improve your wellness, improve the level of kindness you bring to your world, improve your spirit and energy, really improve whatever. And if you live your life like that, and you’re waking up with a purpose every day, that’s sexy. Those are the people I want to surround myself with because they make me want to do better.
What about health and wellness do you think is a common misconception particularly for men?
A huge misconception, particularly in my industry is that if you have a great body, then you’re healthy. A lot of guys who have incredible physiques and who have put a lot of time into their bodies are completely distraught, and are in a really bad place because they live off of other people’s opinions. They seek the approval and acceptance of others and that is so surface level. It’s the furthest thing from being a healthy man if your only avenue to health is physical wellness.
How do you feel empowered in your line of work?
I couldn’t feel more empowered, nor could I imagine myself doing anything else. I wouldn’t be waking up at 4am every morning and gong to bed after 11pm every night if this wasn’t my passion. At 26 years old, I am able to work with people ranging from 96 years old, down to 7, and everything in between. Respect is earned but I am still always enamored, especially when an older individual let’s me be a part of their fitness journey and puts their trust in me.
This industry yes, is built on knowledge and experience but also enthusiasm and energy for health and wellness. I think my energy level and passion is my strongest quality and that’s what makes me feel empowered. I guide my clients to help them tap into their energy, and give them the knowledge so that they can feel empowered by their own bodies.