We’ve all heard of Venancio D’Souza. He's the Fittest and Fastest Man in the UAE and the Middle East, winner of the Rajiv Gandhi Excellence Award for Fitness and 21st Century Sports Excellence, and one of the official fitness trainers for the Femina Miss India Contest in 2007. But behind these impressive titles and accolades, who is he really? On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, Fitternity HQ went to find out.
We were greeted warmly, given a tour of Mint V's Fitness at the Mint Health lounge and 'The Pit', and ushered into Venancio’s office by his very helpful wife, Mitchelle. Enthusiasm, passion for fitness, and admiration for Venancio seemed contagious at Mint V's Fitness. We couldn’t help but get caught up in it all as we grew more and more curious about the inspiration behind the genesis of this establishment. Venancio was more than willing to enlighten us.
'I grew up in Aamchi Mumbai,' he began. And he was always involved in some kind of sporting activity, whether it was boxing, running, playing for big football teams in Mumbai, or swimming in the well behind Rizvi College. There was never a day he didn't spend exercising. Venancio soon started learning martial arts. But at age 14, due to an injury, he was forced to take a break from it and instead turned to body building and power lifting at a local 'akhara' gym. It was here, Venancio first realized that his approach to fitness was 'hybrid'. Despite being dissuaded by his martial arts instructor, he continued to train at the gym and lift weights. 'They said you will lose speed. But I got faster. I took what I learnt in martial arts to the gym. I trained in an educated manner with percentages of my body weight. I didn’t just lift crazily,' Venancio explained earnestly. His methods proved successful and Venancio began to excel in his martial arts competitions. It is this creative approach to athleticism which forms the foundation of Mint V’s Fitness.
Venancio moved to the US, to the Middle East, and then back to Mumbai. He studied and competed in freestyle cross training world championships, starting at a rank of 25 and moving all the way to 3rd. All the while, he continued to use unusual methods to train, always seeking what was better. When asked why he chose to do so, Venancio answered, “In this day and age, athletes are put on machines. But if you use your own body, then you end up engaging in a more functional workout. I can train with anything.” Although Venancio’s ability to confidently stray off the beaten path is certainly one of his most admirable qualities, it is not the only one; his strong will and determination to get back on his feet after a serious injury are equally inspiring.
In 2012, Venancio was hit by a trailer while on a motorcycle on the Nasik Highway, causing his rotator cuff to rip off completely. His surgeon, physician, and physiotherapist presumed that he would never be able to train again. But being grievously injured and just recovering from an intensive, seven-hour surgery did not stop Venancio. As he battled aches and pains, he developed a program and designed parameters for strengthening himself. After a period of hard work, blood, and sweat, he was miraculously able to do 20 pull ups—a feat which his inspired physician turned into a case study for recovery and perseverance. Through this experience, Venancio gained an insider perspective on designing workouts for people with injuries, giving rise to the Mint V’s Fitness motto: 'Let's train hard and let's train safe.'
It is clear that all the knowledge Venancio has collected along his journey in the fitness industry has been transferred to Mint V’s Fitness. He has created science-based functional (activities performed in everyday life) workouts that no other gym in Mumbai offers, all of which transpire in 'The Pit'. The vibe of the studio is unmatchable with motivational aphorisms spray-painted on the walls (One such says, 'Shut up and work out'), the blatant lack of machines which have been replaced by specially made equipment, and passionate, close-knit members who exercise together regardless of their age or athletic ability. Venancio teaches members lessons he learnt the hard way, keeping abreast of the rapidly mushrooming wisdom in the fitness industry. Simultaneously, he manages to stay unique and creative, trail blazing and finding his own path in the world of fitness. One thing's for sure, there’s no one like Venancio D’Souza.
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