Harley Pasternak is in Vancouver for the day at the request of one of his clients, Lady Gaga.
Standard practice for the popular trainer to the stars and Toronto native who has travelled the globe with the likes of Kanye West, John Mayer and Jessica Simpson. Now, he’s taking his global health education to the masses with his latest book, The 5 Factor World Diet.
“Travelling with clients around the world to 20 or 30 countries per year, I noticed that people aren’t as overweight as they are back here in North America,” says Pasternak. “When I am out looking for healthy foods for clients, I look for different foods when we travel abroad. I also noticed people don’t use gyms as often. So we are walking, biking, hiking, taking the stairs, sightseeing … anything and everything in the pursuit of the ultimate healthy lifestyle.”
Cue light bulb.
With his current position and a background in both kinesiology and nutritional science, Pasternak is uniquely positioned to study the best habits of the healthiest countries around the world —Japan, Singapore, China, Sweden, France, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Israel and Greece. And study he did. Not just what people eat, but how they eat and how they prepare and cook it.
“Once you’ve decided you know everything, you’re dead. I’m always learning, and this book made me learn so much,” Pasternak explains. “I never thought at all that I would know about all these ingredients, the health benefits of soba and seaweed. It is so exciting. The book is my book report.”
But Pasternak’s success has been a long time coming. He attended the University of Western Ontario, York and University of Toronto before working as a nutritionist for the Department of National Defence and trying to generate a name for himself in the personal training game, an unheard of profession 10 years ago.
But, he did something right. His 5-Factor Fitness plan landed him a slew of A-list clients and some stardom of his own.
Now based in Los Angeles with a home in Toronto, Pasternak oversees a massive operation that includes not only personal training, but also speaking, publishing, meal delivery, exercise design, television production, philanthropy and corporate product development.
“I have failed at so many different things over the years, it made me who I am today,” says Pasternak.