The Man Who Trains The Victoria’s Secret Angels

Victoria Secret

Justin Gelband with Victoria’s Secret Angels Candice Swanepoel and Erin Heatherton.

Justin Gelband takes a common-sense approach to wellness.

Even the most beautiful women in the world sometimes give in to temptations, says Justin Gelband, personal trainer and nutritionist to the Victoria’s Secret Angels. He can always tell if his model clients had sushi for dinner, which, in his book, is contraband because it is usually accompanied by bloating high-sodium soy sauce.

“They come in and their faces look rounder,” he says. “I say, you had sushi last night, and they say, how can you tell?” he laughs over the phone from New York.

Gelband, aged 44, has been called ‘The Model Whisperer’ and it’s not hard to see why. With an A-list client roster, including past and present Angels such as Angela Lindvall; Candice Swanepoel; Miranda Kerr; Behati Prinsloo; Lily Aldridge; Karlie Kloss; and Alessandra Ambrósio, they jostle to book a time in his busy schedule, three or four times a week, doing a mixture of boxing, pilates, yoga and functional exercise.

An hourly session with Gelband isn’t cheap: priced between US$250 and US$400 an hour. He also runs various classes at his New York-based personal training gym, modelFIT, including cardio, body-sculpting and dance.

But Gelband’s regime doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel, advocating a common-sense approach to healthy living. Exercise should be short, with 30-minute low-intensity exercises (“it’s about quality, not quantity”). He hates crossfit (“the worst thing ever invented for women”) almost as much as he hates artificial sweeteners (“never, ever, drink Diet Coke”). He advocates a balanced diet of several small meals adding up to between 1,400–1,800 calories daily. He is a big fan of the blood-group diet made famous by Dr Peter D’Adamo, but, above all, he believes in moderation and common sense. “Sometimes your body needs sugars and salts so you don’t binge. If you want an ice cream, pizza or burger, have it, but, for example, skip the ketchup and mayo. You’ve got to live your life.”

So what is it about Gelband’s offering that makes him so sought after? He gives his clients some things that personal trainers often overlook: love, support, encouragement and common sense.

When he first started out in this career, he was training morbidly obese women whose self-esteem was at rock-bottom. “I felt it was a necessity to help a market of women that had no self-confidence, motivation and discipline to help themselves, and there were no trainers who had the ability to take the weight off in a proper loving and encouraging way.”

Through recommendations he was introduced to ex-Angel Angela Lindvall who, after having two kids, needed to lose 30 or so pounds to do her last Victoria’s Secret show in 2006. “So we combined forces to lose the weight and for her to walk the show,” recalls Gelband. “I was introduced to her agents who introduced me to Miranda Kerr and after our first show together in 2007, Miranda looked so good the phone didn’t stop ringing! We all did it with team work and dedication.”

I fully understand why clients love him when I ask him whether, as a working mum, I should prioritise working out or sleep. “This is where I differ from most personal trainers, when I say rest if you need to,” he says. “You have to love yourself, believe in yourself, trust yourself. You are an empowered woman, correct?

“So, if you feel you can go for a gentle jog, do it but don’t beat your body into the ground with exercise. Only do it if it’s going to do you good.” I sigh with relief. All my guilt for sitting on the sofa in front of Game of Thrones instantly evaporates.

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