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“…not to be dramatic, but…Fitness Incentive has completely changed my life! A full 180 degrees. Physically, you could look at before-and-after pictures of me from when I started working here up to the present, and you can see the physical difference. It’s profound! “
  • Vin LaFererra

Making It Magical

Many members with children are undoubtedly aware that our nursery is undergoing something of a transformation: the old nursery mural, which had become chipped and damaged and partially hidden under a plain brown paint patch, is being replaced with a vibrant, colorful new mural. The person responsible for this brilliant update is F.I.’s own fine artist (and now-veteran staffer) Vin LaFerrara. We are lucky to be reaping the rewards of his extraordinary talent.

In The Beginning

Vin first joined Fitness Incentive in 2018 while still in high school. “As a student, I wasn’t necessarily good at sports or math,” he recalls, “but going back to when I was quite young, art was something that I was naturally good at…not just visual art but also things like music.”
With creativity being so fundamental to Vin, education was the next logical step in his artistic journey. “I continued to progress in high school and then attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. This invaluable educational opportunity was of great help to me; my natural skills improved significantly, and in 2020, I received my two-year degree. As with many things, COVID interrupted this path. That’s when that educational period drew to a close. After all, online courses—lacking hands-on teachers evaluating and instructing—are not what I would call ideal when it comes to learning about and making art.”

Behind the Desk

Vin’s high school F.I. membership would eventually lead to his becoming an employee. “My friend Brooke (Hovenek, herself a long-time staffer at both F.I. and Incentives Spa) was an employee and mentioned that management was hiring. I joined the staff – this again would have been after Covid and once things here at the gym had begun to return to normal – so, maybe around September of 2021.”

The Artist is Discovered

In addition to his value behind the counters at the Front Desk and the SkyLite Café, Vin’s artistic talents quickly became known among his fellow employees. “Over time, I’d done some projects for staff members. For example, one Christmas, I did several drawings on wood, including (with my friend Brooke’s help) one of Jourdan’s daughter, Quinn, and another of Liz Keller’s beloved dog, Alice. Then, one day, Linda (Bornholdt, who runs the F.I. Nursery), who knows I am artistic, suggested that I should create a mural to replace the damaged one on the wall in the nursery. So, with Ken, Cor, and Jourdan’s approval, I agreed to undertake the project. I prepared the design, in parts, digitally on my laptop,” he continues. “I used a projector to trace and complete the line drawing, which took a little bit of experimentation. I tried multiple projectors until I found the one needed for this particular type of work. The wall is so wide and broad — as a ‘canvas,’ it is so large — that ultimately, I had to project and draw in stages or segments. Then, once the line drawing was complete, I began laying in the acrylic colors. Eventually, I’ll apply a sealant over the completed mural to protect and preserve it.”

Before and After

Vin quickly acknowledges what Fitness Incentive has meant to him personally, from his beginning here to the present. “I’m close to a lot of the people here,” he says, “and not to be dramatic, but I will say that Fitness Incentive has completely changed my life! A full 180 degrees. Physically, you could look at before-and-after pictures of me from when I started working here up to the present, and you can see the physical difference. It’s profound! And with personal growth and self-confidence, the impact has been the same or greater. I am sure the kids will go crazy when the mural is done, and that’s immensely gratifying.

I love the staff and my co-workers,” he continues, “and I love the members, and I’m friends with some of them socially outside the gym. We go out together occasionally and sometimes even visit other gyms with guest passes, but it’s never the same vibe. There is nothing quite like Fitness Incentive, and I can’t wait to come right back here.”

What’s Next?

As for the future, creative people often dream of somehow merging their artistic passions with the need to satisfy food-on-the-table, pay-the-rent requirements and combine their creative journey with their career path. Vin is no different, and as is usually the case, there is complexity to be navigated. “It’s going to be weird for me,” he says. “I absolutely love the creative aspect of artistic work, but at the same time, I’m very much a perfectionist. This can be extremely stressful! I can see elements — imperfections — that nobody else does, which matter to me a lot but maybe not so much to others. ‘My own worst critic’ is not far off. Having said that, I love doing the work and love the results! I get a thrill from seeing how people look at what I produce and the pleasure it gives them. But it’s easy for me to fall into a pattern I recognize from when I was in school. Making money from an art project can rob the process and even the result of some of the fun and can change the experience. It’s part of the dilemma for the creative person: reconciling what satisfies us personally — satisfies the soul — with what must be done commercially. Doing what I think is my best stuff and making a living in the process – that would be ideal.”

Interviewed By:

Paul Smith
  • Paul Smith

Paul Smith manages member communications and graphic design for Fitness Incentive and Incentives Spa. He is a frequent contributor to Fit to Print.

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