Nick Venuti will make you some tacos, but you’ll have to do 10 push-ups first.
Venuti, otherwise known as The Healthy Yinzer, is a culinary specialist and personal trainer on a mission to get his fellow Pittsburghers into shape.
The 28-year-old is a veteran of the local restaurant industry, working his way up from a dishwasher to a chef at the Church Brew Works.
Long hours in the kitchen and a hockey-related injury led to aches and pains. When traditional medicine didn’t solve his problems, Venuti turned to yoga. The ancient practice healed his body and changed his outlook on life.
He enrolled in the Community College of Allegheny County and, upon graduation, he earned his master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Services.
Friends, family and co-workers took notice and sought his advice on bettering their own health.
“I was giving people information and guidance and it was improving their lives,” he says. “It’s a cliché, but once you’re passionate about something, you never really work a day in your life.”
In May 2017, he launched The Healthy Yinzer.
In a town that tops salads with French fries, the name sounds like an oxymoron, but Venuti, a lifelong Pittsburgher who sports Steelers and Penguins tattoos, believes you can stay fit while still enjoying pierogies, kielbasa and other Western Pennsylvania staples.
Venuti offers one-on-one training and private cooking classes based on dozens of his own recipes (which he is compiling into a book). The Healthy Yinzer regularly hosts pop-up brunches at Black Forge Coffee House in Allentown. The menu ranges from peanut butter-and-jelly crepes to Huevos Rancheros.
Folks also can find him at various festivals throughout the city, where he dishes out nutritious, but delicious, food such as vegetarian tacos and burgers, street corn and chicken kabobs. Customers who do 10 push-ups get a dollar off their order.
His next event is the inaugural Live Music PGH Block Party in East Liberty on Saturday, August 11. From noon to 8:00 p.m., the section of Baum Boulevard between S. Whitfield and S. Highland avenues will teem with live music, vendors and family-friendly activities.
The following day – and every Sunday from 6 to 7:00 p.m. – Venuti holds a free yoga class at The Healthy Yinzer headquarters at 730 Brookline Blvd. It gives novices a chance to try out the activity in a safe and judgement-free environment.
“Teaching allows me to use my mind and it helps people who thought they couldn’t be helped,” he says.