Braven Hawkens is a Puerto Rican/American actor, personal trainer, Reiki practitioner and martial arts expert. Hawkens is of the belief that if you don’t look the way you want, then address the part of your body that is out of balance, not just focus on the weight. This simple yet effective philosophy has transformed many bodies in NYC over the last five years. Industry Rules sat down to learn more from this up and coming actor and top national fitness professional to hear about his rise to success.

IR: Where did you grow up?

BH: I was raised in poverty in rural Puerto Rico to a teenage single mother. At the age of 5, we moved to an inner-city neighbourhood in New Bedford, Massachusetts. This difficult experience provided me with inner strength, a strong work ethic and fierce independence, all values that I’m grateful for. I then moved to Hartford, Providence and now NYC is my home.

IR: What inspired you as an adolescent?

BH: When I was younger, action movies and daytime television were my biggest inspirations. There are no replacements for a superhero movie.

IR: Please share with us how you got into the fitness industry?

BH: Just over a decade ago, my roommate and a dear friend had a work intervention with me. I was working for a mortgage company trying to make a decent living, but I wasn’t happy. They obviously sensed it and they did all the research and presented me with gyms that were hiring and certification companies. They knew that was a passion of mine just by how I was taking care of myself and the shape I was in. I knew they were right, so I hit the ground running. I had a job within two weeks and I haven’t looked back since!

IR: When did you move to New York and how did you find the transition?

BH: I moved to New York over five years ago and it has been such a great ride so far. The transition wasn’t difficult but finding a work/life groove was a bit of a challenge but fortunately, I was able to master it. While studying and auditioning, I became a personal trainer at David Barton Gyms where I quickly became one of the most requested personal trainers for three years straight.

IR: Tell us more about your switch from corporate America to the fitness industry?

BW: Once I was fully certified, I began working at Boston Sports Club. Due to my strength training and unique approach to fitness, I took my skills to Town Sports International. I’m most proud of the partnership I formed training “The Biggest Loser” contestant Elizabeth Ruiz who reached top honors on the show. My strategies that guided her to succeed, have inspired her to be a trainer today. I’m so thrilled to see a former client embrace the industry with such unbelievable confidence and success. In addition to my personal training, I also honed in on my martial arts skills and competed in open tournaments and Kali Arnis cage fighting competitions. This led to me creating an integrated holistic business, Vital Works/BodySense and training center in Providence, Rhode Island. This cumulated experience in the fitness industry resulted in my ability to become a sought-after personal trainer in a very competitive field.

IR: Is there a specific area of fitness that you specialize in?

BH: Yes, I specialize in body sculpting with weight loss results. I pride myself on engineering an active body to achieve effective results. This is the only body you have so as we age, it really is important to take care of it.

IR: Type 2 Diabetes is becoming a bigger challenge for the younger generation. Can you share some of your expertise on the topic?

BH: The truth about combating Type 2 Diabetes is that the conversation and prevention has to start at home and in our schools. Parents who aren’t monitoring or educating by example, are doing their children an injustice. I think educating the parents and kids together, is the quickest way to address Type 2 Diabetes. Prevention should always be the first priority. The combination of an active lifestyle with a healthy diet is truly the key to good health and can conquer many health issues.

IR: How much physical activity should children be getting?

BH: Kids should play every day. Their energy is endless!  Children should be exposed to a variety of activities they enjoy and they should interact with other kids from team sports to the arts as well as the individual self-motivated activities. No child is a like and their passions will differ so paying attention and encouraging them is key. From there, you can fill in the gaps. Unfortunately, too many children are inactive these days and are busy with their devices. There must be a healthy balance with food, physical activity and screen time.

IR: What do you see as the biggest challenge for some of your fitness clients?

BH: The biggest challenge is the real commitment to change. Making the time to create effective changes in one’s lifestyle, can be hard. It does not occur overnight. However, with hard work and true effort you will see results. I enjoy working with my clients to offer small changes in their food habits, sleep patterns and encouraging them to stay consistent. Despite everyday challenges, it is key to stay committed. Once my clients begin to see results from their efforts, they become even more committed. I focus on specific body areas to work on, not just weight loss. This philosophy has proven to be very effective. Combining exercise with smarter food choices into your day to day routine, becomes habit, which in turn becomes a healthy lifestyle.

IR: How do you motivate your clients to reach their fitness goals?

BH: I can only water the seeds that are already planted. Whatever motivated the client to contact me, is the seed.  I’ll always add value to an already established goal and remind them of the great benefits of a healthy lifestyle – more energy, less illness and improved sleep patterns. Sustainable real change is my goal – a long term healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle!

IR: Who are some of your day to day mentors?

BH: Some of my day to day mentors are entrepreneurs and strong leaders. Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela are the first two who come to mind since they both share a birthday with me, but I may be biased.

IR: We know you are an actor as well as a fitness trainer. How did you first get into acting?

BH: I am a great story teller and confident public speaker. I had a friend/teacher that suggested that I should become an actor. Upon his suggestion, I attended acting school in NYC and credit my voiceover mentor, Howard Ross as the key to my rising success. I am proud to have won the Dalrymple Award in 2016 for “Banquo,” an off-Broadway production of Macbeth.

IR: Are you working on any projects now?

BH: I am!  I’m actually co-starring in a detective drama called Brotherhood of Silver currently filming out of Philadelphia.

IR: How do you train mentally for a specific role?

BH: Now that’s a loaded question as every role is different. I continue to take acting classes and develop my acting roles with advice from my private coaches. Of course, there’s research, writing and interviews with the show creators to understand the character and their storyline. Sometimes improvising with a wild idea at the time of filming becomes the best way to go!

IR: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

BH: In 5 years from now, I would like to see myself building a home outside of NYC and expanding my acting and fitness career.

IR: What advice would you give your 8-year old self?

BH: Be curious, be patient and be kind.

IR: Thank you for sharing your expertise and story with us. You certainly have motivated me to get back into the gym.

BH: My pleasure.

To book a training session with Braven Hawkens, feel free to contact him: bfhawkens@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram: @bhawkens and https://www.facebook.com/al.perez.5496.