Drum roll please… or perhaps “roll up, roll up” would be more appropriate, since Laura Basta, the winner of our annual Puma WH Next Fitness Star comp, honed her fitness skills in the circus.
“I started exercise really young, at two-and-a-half: gymnastics, dancing. But I injured myself, I broke my arm doing gymnastics, so I ‘recycled’ myself into circus as a circus performer/acrobat,” says French-born Basta, 26.
Her fit childhood ignited a passion for movement – so when it came to finishing school and enrolling in study, the choice was obvious to Basta.
“I always loved being active – sport is my passion, so I decided to study fitness.”
It helped that her parents were supportive of this call.
“My parents were artists so they pushed me to not become an artist, because it’s quite [a hard life]. Parents want the best for their kids. So they were like, ‘Great, you really love training, keep going and then you can become an instructor.’ So in France I went to uni for three years, studied sports. I have a Bachelor degree and a diploma in both fitness and bodybuilding.” Impressive!
But it was after arriving to live in Australia just over three years ago with her French boyfriend that Basta got the opportunity to combine her two great loves: fitness instruction and circus.
“Fitness Playground [a Sydney gym] opened a location in Surry Hills and I got a job as a trainer. Because my background is in circus and fitness – and since my boss is so open-minded – two years ago I created a new type of class, a mix of circus and fitness that we called Circus Fit.”
So what is it exactly? In a Circus Fit class you work out on a low-hanging trapeze, and the focus is on toughening your core to get stronger and leaner. It’s now a key attraction at the Surry Hills gym.
“You use your own body weight, and you hang on the bar,” explains Basta. “It’s hard to work out in that class and not have fun.”
Which leads us to Basta’s mantra: “I believe in sweat sessions with a smile. That’s why I created Circus Fit, because I like having fun in my workouts. It has to be a positive thing in your life, something enjoyable for you.”
Fast fact: Basta has also competed as a fitness model – in 2015 she snared the world title, placing first in the PNBA Natural Olympia World Titles. Winner.
Working out is Basta’s idea of serious fun. So much so that she trains six times a week.
“Because I love it, it’s my passion.”
And the key to maintaining that passion? “Variation in my training. On Mondays I train with my coach, Tuesdays is CrossFit, Wednesdays I do legs training with my mates and a trapeze class, on Thursdays I do ninja sessions, Fridays I do a ‘push pull’ workout, and on the weekends I’m more into social physical activities like trekking, bouldering or acrobatics.”
But she doesn’t just confine sweat sessions to the gym. Basta also encourages clients from her Fitness Playground classes to get adventurous.
“We work towards events like Tough Mudder, or the Oxfam 100km walk, for charity.”
And when it comes to eating, it’s #allaboutbalance.
“During the week I eat clean food, but I like to enjoy myself on the weekends. So on Friday nights it’s pizza. My favourite meal to cook is my famous protein pancakes with whey protein. Topped with peanut butter and banana.” Mmmm.
“Because I’m active, I eat a lot. While I was competing as a fitness model I was eating about 12550kJ a day.” Now that’s our kinda girl. Welcome to the WH team, Laura!