A competitive bodybuilder sculpts a health and fitness program for women
LAUREN VALENTINO’s body of work is literally the body, and it started with her own.
A health and fitness advocate since childhood, Valentino became a licensed massage and bodywork therapist with additional certifications in other aspects of bodywork, plus a certification in nutrition.
In 2001 she started what became a very successful therapeutic massage business, treating a broad range of clients from competitive athletes to individuals with crippling diseases. Then she got into the demanding sport of competitive bodybuilding and was soon pushing herself to exhaustion as she pursued her business and chased bodybuilding titles.
As a result, she says, “I completely crashed my metabolic, endocrine, and hormonal systems.”
Spurning a pharmaceutical-based recovery, Valentino opted to follow a natural path to healing her body, a path that involved lifestyle change, nutrition, appropriate supplements, and exercise. When she succeeded in returning her body to a proper balance, she knew she could help other women do the same thing.
That lifestyle change included selling her business and moving to Wilmington to marry Mike Valentino, himself a fitness expert and former owner of Gold’s Gym franchise locations and current owner of his own brand TruFIT Gym.
When she was pregnant with the first of their two boys, Valentino realized she had to reorder her life priorities to put her family first. She also began getting requests from other bodybuilders in the area to help them with nutrition and weight lifting regimens as they prepared for competitions.
The shift led her to launch a business with her name Lauren Valentino, an in-person and online coaching business for women. For the past decade or so, she has sculpted a career in helping others achieve the body they want to inhabit. She also managed a return to the world of bodybuilding, becoming a competitive professional through the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness in 2014.
Recently, though, Valentino has stepped away temporarily from competitions to refocus her business. With TAYLOR BANFORD, fellow food and fitness professional – and mother of young children –she has developed a new brand, Wholly Fueled.
“I had maxed out with clients and wanted to scale up,” she explains. “Wholly Fueled is an online community of women who are not looking for quick fixes. They are unwilling to compromise how they feel in their body and want to feel good.
“My passions have shifted slightly. I find it more rewarding to help a 40-year-old woman who has three children and has always been able to feel and look good. Now, all of a sudden that has changed, and she just wants to feel good in her skin again,” Valentino says.
Through Wholly Fueled, Valentino and Banford offer a combination of nutrition coaching, meal preparation, and exercise programs geared to helping a client have more energy to both manage and enjoy her multiple responsibilities. Coaching is done mostly online or on the phone. The approach, says Valentino, is an integration of traditional medical wisdom and naturopathy.
Choosing the right foods is essential to the Wholly Fueled program.
“We are killing our food in this country,” Valentino says. “Our bodies do not know how to process this ‘Frankenfood.’ Just because you can buy it at the grocery store and chew it, does not mean you should swallow it.”
Banford, who knows her way around a kitchen and has traveled and explored a world of regional cuisines and knows how to make nutritious food exciting, Valentino says. A good diet provides more energy.
“Our goal is to help (each client) show up full-throttle at the beginning of the day. You change her family and give her her life back,” Valentino explains, pointing out that women “are the lifeline and pulse beat of our homes. There are only so many hours of the day. Wholly Fueled works to help you feel good; to feed yourself and your family, put on your sexy jeans, and feel good.”
Because it was conceived as an online-, Skype-, or phone-based service, Wholly Fueled has navigated the COVID-19 crisis this past year. The owners’ tailored guidance is reinforced through weekly blog posts and live training sessions on Facebook.
With the basics of their new business established, Valentino and Banford are ramping up efforts to expand their client base. Balancing the demands of Wholly Fueled and the needs of their families has been their focus, but Valentino hasn’t given up competitive bodybuilding.
“I have not hung up my high heels quite yet,” she says. “I think next year I will be back on stage.”
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