Interview: Fitness + Fashion Influencer Dasha Gaivoronski
"Oh. My. God." The phrase that echoed through the photography studio at least half a dozen times during our interview. "Did you make these? They're amazing!" "Are these healthy? They taste so naughty!" The sublime subject of these exclamation was Dasha Gaivoronski's cookies and cream protein balls; a chewy, satisfying and raw treat for those with a sweet tooth - and a conscience.
And now - by public demand - the Adelaide fitness + fashion blogger has released her very own e-book packed with delicious yet healthy recipes. See our street style shoot with the stunner below, plus read on for our chat about food trends, treating yourself and going high intensity.
BNKR: I know you must get asked this all the time, but how did you get hooked on fitness? Dasha: I was just totally unhappy with the way I looked. My son was one at the time, so I just looked at myself in the mirror – I remember that moment – I just looked at myself and I literally cried. You’re spending your precious time in that not quite fit body, and you're not happy with yourself, so I just decided to actually do something about that.
What did you start with? I just started looking for a gym with a crèche, because my son was only 1 year old back then, and I found one and just started exercising there. And it was Goodlife at Glenelg – exactly the gym where I'm working as a PT now. When it came to picking the gym that I work at, I had a couple of different offers, but I decided to go for that particular one because it was the gym where I started everything.
When did you start working on your e-book? I actually started working on it two years ago. When I first got hooked on all those raw, healthy sweets and treats, I just did so many things - I played around with the ingredients so much, so I decided to put all the recipes together into a book. And I just took all the pictures, taste-tested the recipes, and because of everything else I was doing, it took a bit long, but I finally did it!
Was the reason that you put all the recipes together because people kept asking you for them? People just kept asking whether I had some kind of e-book, because e-books are so popular nowadays, and I just wanted to release something before I started working on my exercise book – because that's what I’m doing now. I took the pictures, I did the design of the book, so I just did everything myself – that’s why it took so long - I kept being a mum, kept being a PT.
Do you have a favourite recipe in the book? My staple recipe would be the cookies and cream protein balls. And a salted caramel slice as well – and a Snickers slice! Those would be the recipes that I'm making at least once a week – but those protein balls, I make them pretty much every single day, because everyone loves them. I bring them to work all the time, so that’s that why everyone loves me there [laughs].
Do you create all your recipes yourself, or do you get inspiration from other things you’ve seen and wanting to recreate that? I was just curious to recreate some kind of standard recipes – like Twix - but a healthier version, with no sugar at all. They’re all nut-based, dried fruit based, so I definitely had some inspiration at the start, but then when I got the idea about what ingredients I needed to mix to get certain kinds of textures, it became easier.
How long have you been a personal trainer now? Just six months!
And why did you decide to get started – was it because you had so many people coming to your Instagram for inspiration? So that was the reason – and I wanted to get more knowledge in that area, so that is why I started getting my Certificate III. It took me like a year and a half to get that one – I wasn’t in a rush, I was thoroughly learning all the exercises, all the techniques and everything – all the theory. And then when people actually started asking me whether I was working as a PT, so I decided to get a Certificate IV, I got it in two months, and then I started working.
What would you say your style as a personal trainer is? I’m a firm believer that you need to practice what you preach, and I'm getting so bored easily with exercise, so I’m always on the outlook for some new, funky exercise, new moves that will actually challenge your body. Because its all about challenging your body if you want to change it. If you’re doing one particular program day in, day out, that won’t work. And the last thing I want is for my clients to get bored! I’m just trying to come up with something fun and challenging at the same time, so that is why I would say I’m mixing things up – my clients will never ever do the same session twice.
Everyone is busy, but if you do only have half an hour to work out in a day, what kind of exercise would you suggest? [The benefit] of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is that you don’t have to spend even an hour at the gym. The main workout takes you 20-25 minutes – it's all about the intensity you work at.
So it’s a bit more ‘get in and get out’? If you’re training [at the gym] you'll probably witness people doing a set of exercises and then just lazing around, just for a minute, checking their phones – but that’s not going to happen when you’re doing HIIT, because you literally have 20 seconds to catch your breath and then you go again. So you're continuously doing something, and that’s the best way to torch that fat.
How often would you recommend that people work out? For all my new clients, I would recommend starting with three or four days a week. To be honest, it becomes your lifestyle – so you can’t just have a complete rest day. Of course you need a rest day at least once a week, but I would say ideally you could exercise six times a week and be as active as you can when you're not at the gym. Because you can smash a 45 minute session in the morning and then be completely lazy all day, so that’s bad as well. You just need to be as active as you can, even with tiny little things, like taking the steps instead of the lift.
You have such an engaged following across your blog and Instagram, and through that you’ve created a business – what kind of tips would you give to people who want to start their business through social media? The one and only advice I would give is just to be authentic and unique, and the only way to do so is to be truly passionate about what you’re doing. If you’re doing something purely for money or just to get some kind of rewards out of it, it’s not going work – so you definitely need to believe in what you’re doing, and you really need to want to help people. You need to be beneficial for them, not just because you want to get something out of them, but just because you really want to help.
Let’s move on to your style – you do wear a lot of our brands! Do you have a favourite? Honestly I love everything [laughs]. I used to be a C/MEO fan years ago, but now I just love a bit of everything – some from The Fifth, some from Keepsake and some from Finders.
F A S T Q S
What is 2016’s biggest healthy eating trend? I think all the superfoods that were so popular last year, they will probably stay in 2015, and we’ll all be about natural wholefoods. People will try to get all their nutrients from whole, natural produce rather than supplements and superfoods.
Cardio or weights? Both. I absolutely love them both.
What’s your soundtrack when you work out? I used to be a DJ for five years, and I'm doing my own mix tapes now – it’s real tough electro house.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what kind of a career would you be in? Actually my biggest dream was to work in fashion, maybe even three years ago. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I really wanted to work in fashion.