I recently had an opportunity to speak with one of Chicago’s handsome personal trainers from the land down under, Michael Villani.
By: Joshua Conner
Michael Villani is a personal trainer at HiFi Fitness, based in Chicago, Illinois and from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Villani inspires me professionally and personally. Villani inspires me professionally, because of how he was able to reinvent himself and how he trains and manages at one Chicago’s top-notch gyms. Villani inspires me personally because of his authenticity, humor, physique, and passion.
What is a day in the life of Villani like?
“Well, life has changed dramatically for me, because of the birth of my son, almost 5 months ago. I get up at 5 am every day, walking the dog, being as quiet as I can, not waking the baby, then getting my butt to hifi, then starting work. Being a personal trainer, it’s always early morning and late evenings. So, I try to live what I preach. I start the day bright and early, eating healthy, and working out. Even if I’m not feeling good, I at least try to get a 30-minute workout in a day. Days when I am feeling good, I’ll go for an hour and a half. I make sure that I use the energy that I have got, to the best of my ability. Even the days, I am not feeling as good, I always have those low days, I am always trying to do something.
Even, if it’s just a rubbish workout, I would have to do something. Just to get the body moving, because a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
Most of my day is spent personally training clients, managing the gym at HiFi Fitness and trying to help as many people as I can. I try my best, every day not just to live for myself, but for others. Every day, I am looking for an opportunity, where I can help someone in the simplest way possible,” said Villani.
What would be the title of Villani’s life story and who would play him in a movie?
“I would like to say Hugh Jackman could do a good job of playing me in a movie, just being another boy from down under. Mainly, just because, I always wanted to see myself as a good-looking Australian, and he is probably one of the best looking Australians around, ha-ha.
The title of my movie would be shit happens, that’s probably been the theme of my life. Of all the bad things that have happened to me, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. So, everything that has gone on in my life, you know back in Australia. I was married, got divorced, I worked hard, had a nice car, and everything. I gave it all up, I had to get rid of it after the divorce. Obviously, that lead me to where I am in Chicago, of all the bad things that happened to me in life, I probably wouldn’t change a thing. So shit happens, and shit got good again,” said Villani.
If Villani’s mantra was a hashtag it would be #cutthebullshit.
“Well, going along with the same theme, I would say #cutthebullshit, ha-ha. I am a straight shooter, so you know I sort of think that cutting away the bullshit. I don’t like to live in a false reality, I like to live and confront my reality. I don’t try to hide away from anything. If I have a flaw, I try to identify my flaws as best as I can. I have open and honest conversations with myself, you know, to try to cut the bullshit out of my own life. So, basically, a lot of people today, just have their heads in the clouds, I think you need to accept reality.
So, the first thing I do with myself is cut away the bullshit and face reality. If I have a problem, deal with it, don’t just hide it. Don’t think your insecurities are a bad thing. Look at your insecurities, identify them and work on them. Everyone is trying to put on a facade, especially with social media. You want to show realness, you want to show your weakness. I find you can have strength in your weaknesses, you can accomplish anything,” said Villani.
What are Villani’s underwear preferences?
“I am a boxer briefs kind of guy. I like the firm boxers, they hold everything a bit more comfortably. My favorite brand is called Bonds, it’s actually an Australian company. I’ve only been wearing bonds for as long as I can remember. So, I get my underwear imported, it’s an Australian brand, but it comes from China,” said Villani.
What is the story behind Villani’s first tattoo?
“Well, I got my first tattoo, way back in 2011. It was a tribal pattern on my arm. Tribal, was a big thing, way back in the late 90s and early 2000s, especially because of a movie called Blade with Wesley Snipes. So in Blade 2, Wesley Snipes, came out covered in these tribal tattoos, on both arms, leading up to the chest and all up his back. I was like, I want that. So, I got my left arm and left shoulder done in tribal tattoos. Then, I am thinking, I’m not Wesley Snipes, I’m not a 6’2, good-looking black dude. I just came out poor out of Australia, so that was the first tattoo I got.
Then, I got 2 more tattoos. I got one of St. Michael on my forearm. St. Michael is the archangel and defender of heaven. Even, though I am not religious, I thought it was a cool story. Then, I got the four horsemen of the apocalypse above that. So, I love the stories of the Bible, but I am not religious. The four horsemen represent conquest, war, famine, and death,” said Villani.
What does Villani enjoy most about training at HiFi Fitness?
“Well, the reason I am still in Chicago is because of HiFi Fitness. So, when I came to Chicago in 2014, I came here on a whim, I was chasing a girl and it didn’t really work out. I was planning to go travel the world, I brought my snowboard with me. I was going to Austria and Switzerland, work as a ski lift operator out there and then I would end up back in Australia. Meeting the guys at HiFi Fitness Gregg and Drew, those were the ones, that sort of enticed me and befriended me to stay. It’s the people who I love most HiFi Fitness. HiFi Fitness is probably like its own little soap opera, we can have a reality show about all the drama that happens, but I love it, I really do, that’s what keeps me here,” said Villani.
If Villani could have a conversation with anyone died or alive, it would be with Bruce Lee.
“Bruce Lee, Bruce Lee, is my mentor. Obviously, I’ve never met the guy, he died 50 years before I born. Bruce Lee has always been my idol and the archetype that I am always tried to model myself on. Obviously, I am light years away, being anywhere near what Bruce Lee would have been. He is probably one of the greatest and phenomenal minds of the 20th century. I always try to apply his teachings to my everyday life. I just try to work as hard as he did, he was one of the hardest working people of his time. From what he achieved, coming from an immigrant family and making it huge in a very latent time in America. He was able to rise above all of that and solidify who he was, Bruce Lee is my number one,” said Villani.
Extra Content: What was Michael Villani’s most memorable year? Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @MrJoshuaConner to find out.
You can follow Michael Villani on Instagram @therealaussiemike & HiFi Fitness @hififitness and www.hififitness.com