Jo’burg-based personal trainer and EVOX brand ambassador, Gabriella Braun is extremely passionate about all things health and fitness, but it is calisthenics that has truly captivated her.

I am passionate about my own training and about my chosen career as a personal trainer. I aspire to help others improve their quality of life by improving their health.”

Since becoming confident and comfortable in her body, Gabs aims to share her knowledge and experience with others so that they too can experience the same zest for life she does.

Like many people, I started training as a mechanism to cope with life’s many challenges. With time, I found myself feeling happier, healthier and a lot more confident in myself.”

Athlete profile

  • Lives: Johannesburg
  • Qualifications: Personal Training Certificate; Personal Training Diploma; Nutrition Diploma
  • Occupation: Online & in-person Personal Trainer at Phoenix Strength and Fitness
  • Age: 21
  • Height: 153cm
  • Weight: 50kg
  • Sponsors: EVOX Advanced Nutrition
  • IG: gabs.braun
  • Facebook: Gabriella Braun

Blazing her own trail

As she discovered and experienced new forms of exercise, Gabs became intrigued with the unique sport that is calisthenics.

Having no idea where to begin, I hired a calisthenics coach – Tinika Gordon from Defianz Street Workout. She taught me the fundamentals, and I grew from strength to strength over the two or so years that I trained there.”

After obtaining her qualification, Gabs decided to take her training into her own hands. “I felt that as a qualified personal trainer, I wanted to master the training discipline myself.“

Despite choosing to blaze her own trail, Gabs says she is grateful for finding a coach with the expertise and willingness to push her to her limits.

This sparked a flame inside me that made me want to help others achieve the same satisfaction that I achieved through my training. I felt a deep desire to help others understand the importance of living a healthy life and thus pursued personal training as a career to do so.”

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A fan of functional training

Applying lessons learnt from years of trial and error and the science-based knowledge from the courses she studied, Gabs formulated an appropriate approach for her training.

Although my training approach has evolved since I started, I am still continuously expanding my knowledge to further improve my methods. One of the many reasons why I love my career is because there is a never-ending need to continue studying to keep up with new developments in the industry.”

And a core lesson she keeps advocating is for people to use functional training and calisthenics as a way to move their bodies every day.

Functional training helps improve coordination and mobility, reduces injury risk, and makes movement easier and more efficient. All our daily tasks – walking, picking up children, moving things around the house, getting in and out of bed – require functional strength.”

As a type of functional training, Gabs believes that calisthenics is a great way to increase functional strength while pushing your body and mind to test your limits.

Calisthenics teaches great discipline, patience and perseverance. Aside from the physical benefits, there are many mental benefits that come with functional training, like its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, improve hormone levels, increase energy and help manage depression.”

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Calisthenics at the core

Gabs believes in this training modality so much that she structures her program around calisthenics.

I include weight training in my program, lifting weights during lower body training sessions on a Monday and Friday. I do calisthenics and other forms of functional training on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.”

Since Gabs started training for freestyle calisthenics competitions, her training includes both dynamic and static training. She hopes to one day compete for her country in the Streetworkout and Calisthenics World Championships.

Dynamic training includes aerial moves on the bar while static training includes isometric exercises that you can achieve through disciplined conditioning.”

Dynamic workouts are typically Gabs’s hardest workouts. “This training requires a lot of body awareness, proprioception, pain tolerance, patience and perseverance. While it is my toughest workout, I thoroughly enjoy the challenge.”

Her favourite workouts include basic calisthenics conditioning, including pull-ups, push-ups, and muscle-ups. “I enjoy this type of workout as you can easily measure progress, which is very motivating.”

Gabs’s weekly training split:

  • Monday: Quadriceps & calves
  • Tuesdays: Dynamic calisthenics
  • Wednesdays: Active recovery – handstand conditioning and deep stretching
  • Thursday: Static calisthenics & basic conditioning
  • Friday: Glutes & hamstrings
  • Saturday: Calisthenics (my fun calisthenic day where I try new and silly things while still getting a great workout)
  • Sunday: Rest day

Individualised nutrition

When it comes to eating to support functional training, Gabs says everyone is different.

“As such, a healthful diet is one tailored specifically to your body’s needs. A healthful diet will include an effective macronutrient split, but the exact ratio would vary from person to person. I wouldn’t consider a diet that excludes any macronutrient as healthful.”

Within her individualised approach to nutrition, Gabs includes EVOX supplements, particularly to support her training.

They provide the correct nutrition to increase my energy, performance, endurance and recovery time, which are all important factors to any athlete.”

Gabs’ daily supplement plan includes:

Discipline powers progress

As a fitness professional and competitive athlete, Gabs has learnt numerous lessons during her journey, the most important of which is that progress is not linear.

You will not always progress at a steady rate. Some months will be incredibly difficult as progress slows while other months will be incredibly motivating when you experience rapid gains. It is so worth it to stay disciplined during the difficult times where motivation is lacking.”

Gabs is now actively working to build her social media presence to build her brand into one that is purely online.

I try to be as transparent as possible on social media so that people can relate to me. I show the good, the bad and the in-between to portray a realistic picture of my training. I try to connect with users on a personal level because nobody is as perfect as their social media makes them out to be. I engage with my followers and help out wherever I can.”

Ultimately, taking her business online will give Gabs the ability to do what she loves and have time for her family.

There’s nothing in this world that I’d like more than to have children and be able to be actively present in their lives.”

Quick facts:

  • Favourite exercise? Pull-ups
  • Favourite cheat meal? Pizza
  • What do you do to relax? Self-care days that include long baths, face masks, hair masks and more
  • What do you do when not training? Shopping for clothes. or spending my time with friends and family outdoors or playing card or board games
  • What’s in your gym bag? Resistance bands, liquid chalk, spare socks in case I get a sneaky hole, a tripod stand to film, earphones, parallettes and an emergency first aid kit in case I rip a callus or hurt myself