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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Cindy Bruna

Cindy BrunaCindy Bruna, born on the 27th of September, 1994 in Saint-Raphaël, Var, PACA, France is a top French fashion model.

Paris-based model Cindy Bruna standing nearly six feet tall with her exquisite curly hair, warm brown eyes, and beautiful skin reminding us of her Italian and Congolese heritage is one of the most beautiful women in the industry.

Having been seen on the runway for brands like H&M, Victoria’s Secret, and Calvin Klein, Bruna is often asked how she makes an insane schedule of photography shoots and runway shows look so effortless.

Earlier in her career when asked about her workout routine? What routine? She would say it was nothing crazy - just a few squats. Her diet? Again, what diet? She loved wine and cheeses plus most anything her grandmother was cooking.

So then it may not come as a surprise that the Victoria’s Secret model, Cindy Bruna, wasn’t always an exercise enthusiast. In fact, she never did so much as a push-up until four years ago.

Instead, the self-professed former “skinny fat girl” relied on her genetics (a winning mixture of Congolese and Italian) to keep her in petite sizes. Growing up in the South of France, Bruna use to believe that working out is only for those who want want to lose weight.

Cindy BrunaBruna was discovered at age 16 by scout Dominique Savri and signed with Metropolitan Management, her mother agency, and Wilhelmina Models. Her first modeling jobs were for Alaïa and Elie Saab.

In 2012, she walked exclusively for Calvin Klein. She also landed on the cover of Vogue Italia's December 2013 edition and September 2014 cover.

She has also appeared in editorials within American Vogue, Vogue Arabia, Vogue Japan, Vogue Spain, Vogue Ukraine, Vogue Portugal, W Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Elle UK, Wonderland, among others.

She walked the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show for the first time and since has appeared in every subsequent show. She has starred in campaigns for Prada, Burberry, Chanel, Michael Kors, L'Oreal, Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, H&M, and others.

In the Spring/Summer 2014 season, she walked for Roland Mouret and opened for Temperley London; she also walked for designers like Bottega Veneta, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Givenchy, Balmain, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Berardi, Armani, Moschino, Philipp Plein, Anthony Vaccarello, and Zuhair Murad.

It wasn’t until she got the call from lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret in 2013 that her outlook started to change.

Cindy Bruna“I was just doing a few squats and crunches at home here and there,” she laughs, “I had no idea how to work out. If any move made me feel even the tiniest bit sore, I would quit doing it immediately.”

It wasn’t until after her first Victoria's Secret runway show was over that Bruna decided to commit to making over her fitness routine entirely.

“Going into the second year, I told myself to get my shit together and really kill it,” she recalls. “I wanted to feel good and look hot. I began to understand that just because I’m naturally skinny, doesn’t mean I’m the good kind of skinny."

"It had finally clicked that if I ate better and worked out consistently, maybe I could actually give myself more shape.”

Cindy didn’t have to search too far for a personal trainer who understood her needs. She tapped her boyfriend, certified Physical Therapist and Nutritionist, Biancone Morgan for the job.

“The best part is that I don’t have to pay him and the worst is that he kicks my ass constantly and never lets me slack off,” she says.

Together, the couple created a no fuss, no frills routine to get Cindy looking and feeling stronger and sexier than ever.

Cindy BrunaBuilt around a core of resistance training using her own body weight, her workout requires little to no equipment and can be done in a gym or a hotel room, anywhere in the world.

A condensed version of it can even be done in the roomy carriage of a long-haul airplane. “No matter how hard I try to find one, there’s never an excuse not to workout," she says.

Three years and thousands of lunges later, Cindy has her fitness routine down pat—and she rarely skips even one session. Here, she shares all of her secrets in the most-approachable top model-approved guide we’ve yet to come across.

"Growing up, I hated exercising. I was tall and skinny - and I didn’t see the point. Even when I became a model, I didn’t do anything to stay in shape. Victoria’s Secret changed all of that."

"The brand is as much about fitness and being confident in your own skin as it is about sexy lingerie, so it motivated me to become the best and most healthy version of myself. During the first year with Victoria’s Secret, I had no clue what I was doing, but when I started the second year, I got focused and really killed it in the gym.”

“A lot of models hate their bodies growing up. They feel abnormal because they’re too tall and lanky. I was no different and it was hard for me because I’m black too."

Cindy Bruna"In many ways I had a perfect childhood, but being a teenager in the South of France was tough because I was one of the only black girls in my high school. When I first became a model I was shy and uncomfortable with myself."

"I didn’t know how to pose. My agency sent me to acting classes to help build my confidence. That helped, but what really made me feel great was exercising consistently. Building muscle tone made me feel sexy while naked and proud to be a tall, black woman.”

“I’ve never had any pressure from my agency or casting directors to work out or change any aspect of how I look. I exercise for myself and myself alone. At first, I was just doing squats at home, but then Biancone helped me get into real regimen."

"Now I work out three to four times a week for an hour each time. Before the Victoria's Secret show this year, I amped up my workouts more than usual and was in the gym every day.”

“I don’t really like taking classes, so I focus on exercises that I can do on my own, or easily, using different materials available in even the most basically-equipped gym."

"I want to look toned, not ripped, so I mainly do simple things like planks, push-ups, box squats, and crunches on a medicine ball with small weights in high repetitions. Some days, I’ll focus on a specific body part, like my legs. My favorite area to workout is my butt because I can see a difference right away.”

Cindy Bruna“I am not a runner. In fact, I hate it. You will never catch me running a marathon or running on a treadmill. Because of that, we find other ways to incorporate cardio into my routine, like jumping jacks or the battle ropes.”

“I’m French and I love to eat. My biggest weakness is candy, but I can also devour huge amounts of burgers, cheese, and bread. Because I’m naturally skinny, I never used to care about restricting what I ate."

"But as I got fitter, I started understanding how food made me feel and how it could help or hinder my progress in the gym. I knew I had to start feeding my body good-quality fuel, so I cleaned up my diet. I still have shit days, but it’s all about balance.”

“I travel all the time, so it can be hard to keep a strict food routine. That being said, I hate missing a meal. For breakfast I love oatmeal with almond milk or some eggs with a side of toast and marmalade. For lunch and dinner I like the same thing: brown rice or quinoa with fish, olive oil, and lots of vegetables.”

“I’m a reformed sugar addict. I could eat candy all day, but as soon as I understood how bad it is for our bodies, I had to stop eating it. I quit sugar completely for two whole months in order to break my cycle - and it was brutal. Now, I can occasionally have a tiny bit, but I still try to avoid it as much as possible.”

“Too many people, women in particular, carry a lot of guilt based around food. If I work out, I don’t feel bad about myself when I overindulge, but I also don’t use food as a reward either. My gift to myself is taking a really long shower or laying in my bed all day instead. Being as lazy as possible - that’s my ultimate treat.”

Cindy Bruna“Any model will tell you that we spend half of our lives on planes, so it’s essential to develop an arsenal of tips to stay fit and fight jet-lag. I always eat before I board the plane, pack lots of nuts in my carry-on as a snack, and walk and around and stretch a lot during the flight."

"When I land at my destination, I force myself to work out. It’s awful to begin with, but just 30 minutes of exercise alone in your hotel room is enough to snap you out of jet-lag.”

“I am obsessed with Gisele, Doutzen Kroes, and Adriana Lima. All of them have kids and are incredible mothers. The fact that they’ve gone through childbirth and look how they do amazes me. Women’s bodies are capable of such greatness and we should never forget that.”

“When I first started working out, I could barely last 10 minutes—everything hurt. Aiming for an hour’s workout was overwhelming, so I set myself a target of just 20 minutes a day."

"Everyone can spare 20 minutes. From there, you can work up to an hour; you don’t have to kill yourself. Working smart for 20 minutes is better than half-assing it for 60.”

“Sometimes travel and life gets in the way. Other times, you just don’t feel like working out period. But remember: The longer you leave it, the harder it will be, so try and force yourself back into your routine as soon as you can. It will be painful, but you’ll feel better afterwards.”

Cindy BrunaShe’s involved with Solidarité Femmes - a French federation that combats violence against women, with a focus on domestic abuse. She became involved because she knew a victim.

“It was something I wanted to fight for. At first, I didn’t think I could do something,” says the 23-year-old Bruna. “But we’re trying to bring the federation to another level, with the support of the French government.”

Bruna is one of the models using their visibility and platform – she has almost half a million Instagram followers – to promote a cause important to them.

Karlie Kloss campaigns for girls to learn coding, Doutzen Kroes pushes for an end to elephant poaching, and Vogue cover star, Adwoa Aboah, founded Gurls Talk.

Of course, Bruna’s Instagram is also peppered with snapshots of her fashionable life, both on the runway and behind the scenes. Between being a Victoria’s Secret model and walking for Elie Saab, Balmain, and Jacquemus, the incredibly beautiful model has landed campaigns for Prada and Calvin Klein.

This French beauty is one of the most recognized faces in the new era where diversity in fashion is no longer the exception, but quickly becoming the rule.

Born in the South of France, in the seaside town of Saint-Raphaël, Bruna was scouted on the beach at age 16.

Cindy Bruna“My mom wanted me to finish school first. You hear so many things about modeling that parents don’t really want for their kids,” she says.

One man who took her under his wing when she first stepped onto the scene was Azzedine Alaïa. “Alaïa was my first job,” recalls Bruna. “I arrived at his showroom and was not even able to walk in heels."

"I learned to walk with him. Through it all, I could always feel that I was in the presence of a genius.” The obsession of Azzedine Alaïa’s life was “to make women beautiful.”

"Is the beauty of an Alaïa dress in the eye of the beholder? Though many Arab women consider his work to be the pinnacle of fashion, the outpouring of affection from the wider world since his passing proves that his brilliance crossed cultures and generations. It speaks to each of us and unspools emotions of awe and desire in those who lay eyes on his work."

In his Paris atelier, along with celebrities, Alaïa also entertained artists and philosophers. It is to the thinkers that we turn to understand his unique vision.

Philosopher Denis Dutton argues that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Rather, he references Darwin to conclude that it is “a gift; handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors."

Cindy Bruna"Our powerful reaction to images, to the expression of emotion and art will be with us and our descendants as long as the human race exists.” Now, the maison Alaïa will soldier on without him. We hold in highest esteem, and without a thread of naiveté, the belief that his vision will continue forever."

"People who find beauty in something done well will strive to learn from his legacy. An exhibition in Paris, “Je suis couturier” – at his atelier until June – served as a gateway for the future generation to “observe and learn from the work of a master,” states Carla Sozzani."

Another exhibition dedicated to his oeuvre, at the Design Museum in London, opened in May 2018. The curation of “Azzedine Alaïa: the couturier” was overseen by Monsieur Alaïa himself before his passing in Paris on November 18th 2017.

The whitewashed desert towns and arid valleys of the island of Djerba is but 500km from the master’s final resting place in Sidi Bou Said. Untethered, Bruna leaps across dome rooftops whose stones are battered by salty Mediterranean waters.

She searches through ruins. Behind her, the white mosque guards souls. That joyous, mischievous spirit of Azzedine Alaïa is not far off. It is within her. From that moment when she embraces beauty until eternity and beyond, from that sunburnt soil, she will release the liberated life inside her. A new beginning started that moment.

Cindy BrunaBruna has also worked with Elie Saab since she was 18. They have developed an affection for one another. “He offered me a dress for my birthday,” Bruna says.

“I think she will go very far,” offers Saab. With the experience of walking for his shows, she comments, “Now, I can better understand his dresses and collections. He impresses me all the time.”

She lives in New York and attributes her “citizen of the world” mentality to her Congolese mother and Italian father. “I’m so happy I have different cultures,” she says. “I feel strong because of it. It’s me.” Originally printed in the April 2018 issue of Vogue Arabia https://en.vogue.me/

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