I met Briana through my pals from Doonya, a bollywood cardio workout. They had just started a LA division and Briana was one of the first trainers on the west coast team. Over time and after many high kicking classes later, I got to know Briana and her love for the active lifestyle. Not only does she have an enviable drive but her positive energy is contagious. With a dance background under her belt, she recently set out to explore the world of martial arts training. It’s hard keeping up with her but we sure tried with this feature!
Location: She currently lives in Santa Monica but is originally from “The Windy City” of Chicago.
Explain your professional fitness background?
My Mom was a huge influence. She always encouraged healthy eating in our household. I remember she was always working out to “The Firm” or any of Tammy Lee Webb’s workout tapes. I would often join in when I saw her working out because it looked like so much fun. Also, I guess you could say I was a bit of a tomboy in school because I loved playing almost every sport imaginable and competing against the guys. I had to show them girls can be tough competitors too!
What made you want to pursue fitness as a career? When was the turning point that you decided you could make a career out of it?
I had always taken a ton of fitness and dance classes over the years. I love to move and to stay active! I had actually taught social ballroom dance for Arthur Murray the first few years after I moved to California. However, I didn’t know the first thing about how to teach a fitness class let alone how to make a career out of it. Although a lot of friends encouraged me to go for it because they believed I’d be a great instructor. I eventually met my friend Kajal Desai (Co-Founder of Doonya: The Bollywood workout) and everything fell into place! I had found a fitness program that combined two of my passions both dance and fitness.
Compared to other trainers and fitness professionals, you’ve set yourself apart by doing things that are not very common. Why did you pursue Wushu and Bollywood dance? What was the draw there?
I really enjoy learning new things even if they are challenging. I love to push myself to master new skills and accomplish any goals I set for myself. I was a fan of martial arts and action films growing up. My Mom even let me take Tae Kwon Do classes when I was little but I eventually moved on to learning dance. I missed training so it wasn’t until several years later after I moved to Santa Monica I got back into martial arts. I found The Emery Academy of Martials Arts by mistake actually thinking from an old sign outside that it was a Pilates Studio when in fact it was not. That’s when I met my wonderful teacher Mr.Matt Emery who told me all about Wushu and the Academy and I guess you could say the rest is history…I fell in love with the beauty of Wushu and continue to train to this day. Similarly, I got into Bollywood dance and dance fitness the same way. When I was a little girl I accidentally found a channel on TV that showed Bollywood movies and I got hooked! I loved the beautiful colors of the costumes, lively music, and elaborate dance numbers. Fast forward to 2012 when I met Kajal through one of the gyms where I often attended classes here in Santa Monica. I became one of her students in her Doonya classes and she later approached me about an upcoming Doonya instructor training. I thought “What did I have to lose?” and I went for it! Now I have become one of Doonya’s Master Trainer’s here in LA.
You are always doing competitions, which has been the most challenging and what’s next?
I am preparing for the next set of local tournaments in the spring. Our Academy competes against various Martial Arts schools who train in different styles such as TKD(Tae Kwon Do) and Kenpo Karate to name a few. So we always have to be ready to bring our “A” game every time. The toughest tournament I would have to say would be the one I participated in this past October. They combined the adult division which meant I would be up against black belts with several years of experience. Not to mention I was already competing for the first time in the Showmanship Division doing a brand new form. It was definitely tough competition but that usually motivates me to give it my all. I was very pleased in the end with the results; I came 2nd to black belts in the forms and weapons divisions, and 3rd in Showmanship. All thanks to Mr. Emery’s instruction and all the hard work we put into my training up until competition day.
Any advice you would give someone who is looking to fitness to develop a career in?
Never be afraid to pursue your dreams! It is during the journey to reach our dreams that we learn valuable lessons that help us develop in our professional and personal lives. It is also crucial to surround yourself with likeminded individuals who are positive and goal driven. In the end you all will bring out the best in each other and keep each other motivated!
Any upcoming projects you are looking forward to? Or anything you want to put out into the universe as a long term goal?
I know 2016 will be a blessed year. I am really excited about upcoming projects and a few that are being released this year. My long term goal is to continue to do what I love. I hope to encourage and inspire others through my work to follow their passions. I also plan to continue to train in Wushu and various styles of martial arts since it has become such an important part of my life.