CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Pulling it all together

By David Chilton
Special to The Sun

After graduating from high school in Brampton, Sabrina Principato went to work in the pensions office of a trade union, spending about a year there and volunteering in her spare time as a teacher, her chosen profession.
Starting with an interest in fitness and nutrition, Sabrina Principato fashioned herself a career by continually taking risks and educating herself in her many fields of interest as a nutritionist, personal chef and personal trainer.

But half way through that year -- she'd been fast tracked through high school and had 12 months to kill before enrolling at university --Principato, 30, realized teaching wasn't for her.

Fitness and nutrition were, however, and she started to watch her diet and get into shape. "I developed a huge passion for fitness and nutrition, mainly the nutrition. I was very curious. I spent about another year working in the (pensions) office just so that I could reapply to get into the Ryerson program for dietetics."

Principato started at Ryerson in 1996. She graduated in 2001 with a degree in nutrition, working during her years at the downtown university as a fitness programmer for the City of Brampton. That led to three years full-time employment running aerobics and wellness programs for her hometown out of The Wellness Centre.

Felt restless

Principato says she stayed with health and fitness after leaving the City of Brampton job, moving on to become the fitness department co-ordinator for Canadian Fitness Bodyworks, also in Brampton, for almost three years.

"And then I got a little bored," she says. "I decided that it wasn't where I wanted to be for all of my career, although the opportunity was there to stay. I just felt (there was) no growth at that point. I was either going to take over the club or be the manager and that was it. I always wanted to be the entrepreneur. I always wanted to be a consultant."

Principato says she also had this great degree in nutrition that she was sitting on and which, not surprisingly, helped lead her to cooking and a chef's diploma from Liaison College, again in Brampton, graduating in 2004.


Principato says when she worked for the City of Brampton she had been conducting "lunch and learn" sessions for its fire department, whose director of training hired her as a nutritionist. "They were creating a pilot (project), a study of firefighters and so they had me go around to the (fire) halls to cook for them, to teach them healthy cooking."

Following her chef's diploma, Principato reasoned she had to start pulling her skills -- fitness, nutrition, cooking -- together and where better than a cookbook? She already has a title, The Power of F.O.O.D., which plays off Principato's business -- F.O.O.D. Nutrition Consulting -- that she runs out of Canadian Bodyworks Fitness. Principato isn't sure she and a co-author are going to go the full ink on paper route with The Power of F.O.O.D., and is considering making it an e-book distributed and sold online.

Principato agrees that her training as a nutritionist, personal chef and personal trainer -- she picked up her certification last year -- can be seen as all of a piece. But that doesn't alter the fact that to get to where she is now she's had to take risks. "I learned to take risks. I weigh (the) pros and cons, but at the same time I'm more willing to take the risk, to take the jump and make sure that I follow what I truly want to follow."

But for all of the risks Principato has taken, she says she's also had a plan and the confidence to follow through. Principato remembers a successful businesswoman telling her: "You can't weaken, or else you're finished." And being finished, it seems, has absolutely never occurred to Sabrina Principato.

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