Being a Fab Fit Diva: Fitness Coach Annie Calvaneso on Building your own Business, Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle, and Facing Challenges Head-On

Annie Calvaneso is an opera singer, entrepreneur, and founder of The Glam Fit Diva, and online health and fitness consulting company for singers and performers. Her clients range from budding voice students to Metropolitan Opera Stars. 

Q: Which came first: The Opera Singer or the Fitness Coach? 

A: Opera singer! I've been singing opera since age 12 but didn't get seriously into fitness until college.

Q: What challenges did you face when you first created your business? 

A: The biggest challenge was learning to listen to my own voice instead of others' opinions. A lot of people didn't understand what I was doing. I had doubt from people who cared about me, but I had to go with the small voice within me telling me to take the risk! I also lost a lot of relationships and had to let go of any old patterns that weren't serving the next level version of myself. 

Q: You have also been very vocal in sharing your own health and body image issues and how you have overcome them. What do you hope people take away from hearing your testimony? 

A: I hope people see me sharing and know that it's safe for them to share, too. I want to normalize talking about these topics. When I was going through it, I thought I was the only one. I felt isolated and alone in my perfectionism. But when I started to share with others, slowly people started sharing with me, too. I broke down my own walls and in the process helped others to break down theirs. It's a beautiful thing to be able to be completely vulnerable and authentically yourself with others. I strive to use my voice and my power to empower others.

Q: In your posts, you have mentioned that some people have misconstrued your message as "Body Shaming." What is your take on Body Positivity? 

A: Body positivity is a wonderful thing! What I experienced was not body positivity, though. A lot of people are deeply hurt by diet culture, and I understand. I was too- it led me to have an eating disorder. But it gets too far when people are offended by any mention of the words "weight loss." If you don't like someone's posts or what they have to say, unfollow them.  There are too many "internet warriors" these days trying to prove a point from behind a computer screen.

Q: You have a very niche target client base. Do you feel, not just in opera but in the performing world, women are under greater pressure to look a certain way? How do you feel about the message that is sending, and what does your program do in response to that? 

A: Absolutely. I think women like Lizzo are beautiful role models showing that we don't need to be a size 2 to be healthy, but we still have a long way to go. I know I used to feel pressure to look a certain way onstage, and my clients have expressed similar struggles. When we learn to accept ourselves as we are, that's when things change. At my lowest I was a size 4.  Now I am a size 6/8, and I love myself at this size. I could be smaller, but I don't want to be because I'd have to live a different lifestyle. My programs help people to get to a healthy weight for them- whatever that means. It's not necessarily a clothing size. We focus on the lifestyle they'd like to live, then build around that. Most of my clients want to enjoy a cocktail and a dessert after their performances, and I show them exactly how to do that while accomplishing their health and fitness goals.

Q: You have 2 parts of your program: The exercise component, and then a weekly check-in, as well as some thought provoking videos. Explain how these both are important to creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

A: The custom nutrition guidelines, workout program, and course modules are simply the tools. The weekly check-in is where the magic happens. A lot of my clients come to me saying they're "lazy" because they have tried millions of things to accomplish their goals on their own. Most of the time, it is an underlying mindset issue- usually a self-limiting belief- holding them back. In our weekly check-in calls, my clients and I get deep to the root of the issue. It's a combination of health and fitness and life/mindset coaching. 

Q: What advice would you give to any woman aspiring to create their own business? 

A: Take messy action. You'll never know unless you try. Invest in yourself. You are worthy of all you desire. The gifts you have are meant to be shared with others. It is selfish not to share something you know could help others. Start today!