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Bianca Russo: “Black lives matter”

Personally, I go from one extreme of eating too much to not eating enough, so maintaining a balance is key to sustaining habits that work for you. Secondly, we are six months into quarantine after a lifetime of having regular mealtimes built into our day and old habits die hard. It’s tough to transition into […]

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Personally, I go from one extreme of eating too much to not eating enough, so maintaining a balance is key to sustaining habits that work for you. Secondly, we are six months into quarantine after a lifetime of having regular mealtimes built into our day and old habits die hard. It’s tough to transition into meal time when we are living in this unusual time where our typical queues have been changed. And lastly, it’s hard work. We are seeing higher rates of depression and inactivity so habits that are challenging to initiate are even harder to do now. I think mental health is a relevant factor. Most of us don’t have the support and structure we need to keep healthy habits long-lasting.


As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bianca Russo.

Bianca Russo is the founder and certified trainer behind Body Positive Bootcamp. She provides an encouraging and supportive community dedicated to affirming, inclusive, and accessible fitness experiences online for folks of all ages and abilities.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

Thanks so much for connecting with me! My journey into fitness started with patient care in the hospital. It was when I was working in healthcare as an EMT that I started to believe that several injuries and illnesses were preventable, so I studied on nights and weekends to become a NASM certified personal trainer. After I got certified, Body Positive Boot Camp developed organically here in Washington, DC and now offers virtual personal training and virtual workout classes.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

In 2015 I tried to move from working as a clinical technician in a hospital to work in health IT instead. It was a lateral attempt to get out of the dirty field work and get on the roster of a DC health tech startup. In order to get better pay and more reasonable hours, I earned an IT certification to support my job application. The health tech startup ended up hiring me, so I put in my notice at the hospital and prepared for my new desk job. Unfortunately, at the very last minute the new job offer was rescinded because of my credit score and I was devastated. I had no choice but to go back to work at the hospital. It was this step backward and all the disappointment that fueled my vision to build a fitness business and that was the start of Body Positive Boot Camp; a safe place where you can work to establish a regular fitness routine and improve your overall quality of life to hopefully prevent you from making trips to the hospital.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

It’s always funny when people fart while exercising. It happens to the best of us

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

Being trauma-informed is key to my success. I take people’s sensitive situations into account, serve them with respect and make as few assumptions as possible. I work with a demographic of people in larger bodies, people with eating disorders or people in recovery from eating disorders, people who have gender dysphoria or body dysmorphia. What makes Body Positive Boot Camp an authority in the fitness field is that this is actually a safe space in which to train where I protect you from harm. It’s safe for trans people to train with me because I am aware of their life experience and that affects the delivery of my services. I use inclusive language. I know that not everybody’s fitness is the same so I make sure to demonstrate several variations of a move without putting an emphasis on one move being superior to the other. It’s a slew of details that, when put together, make up a radically inclusive environment for people who are otherwise often rejected by typical institutions, especially in fitness.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom, Marisol Furlong, calls with me every morning at 6:30 a.m. We have virtual coffee together while chatting, talking about what’s on the agenda for the day. It’s become a ritual that really prepares me with the right mindset for the day. Thanks Mom.

My dad, Paul Russo, is essentially one of my business coaches because he ran his own company for decades; and we talk in the afternoons. He has a great skill of being able to see things from the outside, providing another perspective to keep me motivated every day. Thanks Dad.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

Personally, I go from one extreme of eating too much to not eating enough, so maintaining a balance is key to sustaining habits that work for you. Secondly, we are six months into quarantine after a lifetime of having regular mealtimes built into our day and old habits die hard. It’s tough to transition into meal time when we are living in this unusual time where our typical queues have been changed. And lastly, it’s hard work. We are seeing higher rates of depression and inactivity so habits that are challenging to initiate are even harder to do now. I think mental health is a relevant factor. Most of us don’t have the support and structure we need to keep healthy habits long-lasting.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

  1. Befriend or acquire a pet! Furry friends, big or small, can improve mood dramatically. With my dog, for example, I am required to get out of the house and move my body every day. Taking her on walks serves me to get a change of scenery and break the monotonous hours of sitting at my desk staring at my computer screen.
  2. Make appointments with friends and family to talk on the phone regularly! Staying connected and having a sense of community is huge right now. Being social and getting out of my own head helps me remain calm, cool and collected. I talk on the phone to my friends now more than I ever have before and the check ins really brighten my day.
  3. Care for plants! Engaging in gardening indoors or outdoors is a simple hobby that can bring much joy into your life. I have a dozen plants to care for in my studio apartment, which doesn’t feel like a chore. I enjoy watching them grow, bloom and become something beautiful. Caring for something outside of ourselves is healing and reminds me to take care of myself too.
  4. Set alarms on your phone to remind you to drink water! Have a water bottle? Set a goal for how often and how much you want to drink. When the alarm rings, fill your water bottle up again and reset the alarm. Simple reminders like this make a huge difference. Plus, the more you drink the more you will have to get up to use the restroom and stretch your legs…it’s good to get the blood pumping.
  5. Read fiction! Turn off your analytical brain before bedtime and enjoy your imagination. Enough non-fiction and news, absorb something fun.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

Let’s take the focus off what we have to lose from physical activity and focus more on what we have to gain. Daily exercise improves mood and sleep, permits us to build community with like-minded individuals and teaches us to work through challenges, allowing us to reach a greater potential than what we thought we were capable of. Very rarely do we complete a workout and regret it. Do the thing!

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Getting started is the hardest part. Start simple: Do each of the following exercises for 20–30 seconds, and repeat up to three times.

First, complete a core activation exercise like Dead Bug. (Google it!)

Then practice squatting with no weights. This is a very functional move we use in our daily lives.

Finish with a low plank on your forearms, which can be modified for beginners by lowering to your knees. Core strength is key to back pain prevention and overall health.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long-term injury?

Soreness is a regular part of being an active person. Allow for adequate rest days, hydrate sufficiently and get enough sleep. Foam roll and stretch after your workouts. Take hot Epsom salt baths. You should maintain a healthy balance of working out and resting. Starting a workout program with too much intensity too soon can cause excessive soreness and that’s why I suggest starting slowly. Don’t bust a move at 100% intensity when you haven’t moved in a year. Follow my process and you’ll find success.

There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?

Diets are rubbish. The diet industry is a scam and their plans are not sustainable. I follow HAES, Health at Every Size, which suggests intuitive eating is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food. With this wholesome approach, I think about creating a meal with a protein, a carb and a vegetable. Essentially, I eat when I’m hungry. For more in depth inspiration on diet-hating check out @samtryonrd on Instagram.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

“The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee Taylor.

This book is real! It tells the truth about common insecurities and mindsets about bodies that should be deconstructed. It made me take a close and honest look at myself and admit that society is structured to teach us to feel shame about differences in our bodies. A definite must-read for anyone doing introspective body work.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Black lives matter. Defund the police. End systemic racism. Power to the people. Get out and VOTE.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My high school yearbook quote by Cat Stevens: “There’s so much left to know and I’m on the road to find out.” Be a lifelong learner, absorb information and share the wealth with youngsters. Strive to improve yourself every day. It makes life a bit more interesting.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would try to convince Oprah to ditch Weight Watchers and get down with body positivity! I think she would connect with the story that I’m telling. Our approach to fitness does less harm than your traditional weight loss-focused path. Body Positive Boot Camp is a holistic and a lifelong journey that empowers people who typically are ostracized. Join our community because you are definitely not alone.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Bookmark www.bodypositivebootcamp.com where you can read our monthly newsletter, and follow us on Instagram @bodypositivebootcamp for daily updates.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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