Robert Brace: More to the Story
Taylor Harrington 6/8/2021 10:17am EST
Celebrity trainer and Brace Life Studios owner, Robert Brace, is an inspiration to all around him as he focuses on the complete wellness of mind, body, and soul. The star of Food Networks “Fat Chef”, Brace came to America from London on a scholarship to attend Alvin Ailey Dance School, and from there went on to a career in professional ballet and was a soloist for the Metropolitan Opera. Diving more into his passion for total wellness, Brace followed his heart and opened Brace Life Studios in New York City, where he trains celebrities from athletes and actors, to Victoria’s Secret Models.
We are here today with the wonderful celebrity trainer, gym owner, entrepreneur, ordained minister, he does it all, and he is Robert Brace. Thank you so much for being here today, Robert! Can you tell me how did you first get into the world of fitness?
Thank you so much for having me! I’m originally from London, and then I was in New York on a scholarship to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. While I was there, I needed to make money to survive, and so I saw an ad in a paper and it said they needed people to help others with exercise. I walked into this gym, I didn’t even really know what personal training was, and then began my introduction to personal training in Soho. It started out with me just trying to find money to survive in New York City when I first came here.
What was your scholarship for?
It was to dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance School and I was here for the summer to do that and I just never went back. I danced around New York City to some great gigs, and I was a soloist at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet. Then I took kind of a long journey back to personal training, but that’s how it began. My background is in dance and movement.
What made you decide to fully go for it and open your own business?
It definitely was a gradual progression. I have a gym, but we’re really focused on helping people make practical connections between the mind body and soul, defining what they are clearly, and helping people live a life where all of those things are being addressed and taken care of. For me, I had my dance career, and while I was dancing, I got involved in a performing arts ministry. I was always on a spiritual quest and here were these great performers in New York City and they had this spiritual side to them. So I got involved and I started seeing people’s lives change, and for me, I’d always wanted to do something that had a real impact on people’s lives. I started to see this impact happen, but it was not in the plan. I had a great dance gig at the time and I got offered a chance to intern in ministry because they took people on who weren’t necessarily from a ministry background, but really had an interest. I interned and my group grew and then progression from that was that they offered me a job and I thought I was going to be in the performing arts ministry. They sent me up to Harlem, which was a shock because here I am an English ballet dancing guy taking over a ministry in Harlem. Long story short, I came out of that, but that gave me a different perspective in terms of how to encourage, uplift, and show empathy towards people. After I came out of the ministry I did a couple of entrepreneurial things. I had a wife and a daughter, and I figured that I needed to make money, and so I ended up back in Personal Training, which at the time, I felt was a complete loss. I was depressed about being back there, but people started to gravitate towards me because of my ballet background. Because I had this spiritual side to what I was doing, I had a more empathetic approach. Then I did this project with comedian Mark Malkoff. He makes these crazy, funny videos, kind of like stunts, and he wanted to see if he could get six-pack abs like they say in the magazines. He was like, “Rob, Is this true? Can this be done?” and so I said, “Sure. Let’s do it.” I didn’t really know if it could be done, but we got him six-pack abs in 28 days. From there, people started seeking me out for my ballet background, for the more empathetic approach and then seeing what I did with this comedian Malkoff, who got six-pack abs in 28 days. At the time there was no Instagram, and Twitter just started and we got about 900,000 views on an obscure website. When I started to get that kind of attention, I thought, ‘Okay, all of my skills are working together here, people are being transformed and I’m having a real impact in people’s lives, so now it’s time to start doing something on my own.’ So I went from there to renting spaces and then from that to sharing a space with some other pilates business owners, into finally owning my own space where we can put our philosophy into practice.
Where is your studio located?
The studio is located in Nolita in Manhattan. It’s downtown Manhattan, and it’s called Brace Life Studios. It can be found at www.BraceLifeStudios.com, and we also have an app which enables us to get this philosophy and all of our programs out to a wide audience, which is called The Brace Life and you can get it from BraceLife.com.
What can you tell us some about some of the celebrities that you’ve had the opportunity to work with?
Bebe Rexha, who’s a massive pop star right now, we have Michael Rainey Jr. who is on Starz Power Book, he’s the star of that show, and then a lot of Victoria’s Secret models like Jessica White and Alicia Roundtree. Then there are a lot of people from business, and quite a few celebrities.
Can you tell us about a particulary fun story with Bebe Rexha?
Bebe was great! She was actually training with us especially in her early career. One day I was very busy and trying to get everything together at the studio while Bebe was there. My daughter was there too, and Bebe could see I was a little frazzled with my daughter, so she took my daughter out for a Mexican meal while I was doing what I needed to do. She always had a great spirit. It’s one of those times that you’re trying to help people as a business owner and you’re trying to give to others, but when somebody just stops what they’re doing and takes care of you, it’s certainly a special moment. You see all these celebrities doing these amazing things, but sometimes you forget the human part of who they are, right? The fact they also have this community, this desire to connect with and help others is awesome.
Where do you see yourself and your business in five years?
Right now, I’m in a really good place. My goal, even when I was dancing was to really reach as many people as possible, help as many people as possible, in a real tangible way. When I was dancing, I started to see how limiting that was. When I went into the ministry, I saw more realistically how that really did help change people’s lives. What we’re doing now and combining all of that- the mind and body and the soul, I’m seeing lives change. You see bodies change. We have a 28-day challenge program and bodies change in 28 days. Then they go into more of the mindful connection and make realizations, which further enhances what they can do out there in the world. So for five years, I want to reach as many people as possible with this message of encouragement by helping people learn how to live a daily lifestyle that feeds the mind, body, and soul in a practical way. I want to start a movement. There’s the kind of preacher evangelists still in me, and I believe that people’s lives will be so much better if they embrace how their physicality feeds their soul. When we move, our body produces serotonin, which gives us joy, right? It produces endorphins, which can take the edge off of our stress, so that gives us a sense of peace. The oxygen goes to the brain giving, helping your executive functioning perform better, helping you think clearly, and helping your mind be clearer, and it goes on. Just by moving our body produces these spiritual qualities that can enhance our lives and, obviously, help us be better, feel better, move, and operate with more grace and confidence. For me, it’s about reaching as many people as possible. That’s why we have the app because people can get all of that there. It teaches people every single day, even if it’s five minutes a day, to live that lifestyle. We’re starting to work with influencers to amplify the message. My goal is to start to have large seminars and workshops, where people can just get the help that they need. In terms of my life, it is to just keep living what I’m preaching. I’ve got a great wife who’s also an entrepreneur, I’ve got two beautiful daughters, and I’ve got a good circle of friends around me. To just keep walking that path for me is what’s most essential.
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