By Laura Bijnsdorp

“The human body is fascinating,” says Brendan Webster enthusiastically; and as I subtly check out the man sitting across from me, I can't help but agree. Summer just got a little hotter.

Brendan grew up in St. Peters together with his parents, brother and sister. “I can’t think of a better place to be a kid. When I wasn’t in school, I spent my free time riding my bike with friends, falling out of trees and pranking the neighbours,” he recalls with a grin on his face.

Today at 22, Brendan is studying Human Kinetic Technology in the Netherlands. He speaks with great passion about his studies, aiming to start a second bachelor, Medical Bio Sciences, this school year: “During my first study, I learnt all about anatomy and movement. Now I want to go deeper into human physiology to fully understand how the human body works.”

Brendan’s journey to learning “how we tick” doesn’t end when school hours are over. When he isn’t at his university, you can find him at the gym, where he enjoys pushing his body and mind to new limits.

Were you always an active kid?

Yes! However, I started taking sports seriously when I was around 13 years old. My gym teacher at the time made our class do the “beep test” – the one where you have to run from point to point after every BEEP. I came in dead last. That same week, I joined the track and field team.

So you are a competitive person?

Yes; especially when I was younger. Today I still enjoy a good competition, but now it is more about giving it my all and personal results rather than winning.

What is your preferred workout regimen?

Over the years, I have tried out lots of different sports and training programs. When I was about 15, I fell in love with martial arts, and have trained in Taekwondo and Judo for many years; but CrossFit is my focus at the moment. The strength and skill you gain is performance based. I have always seen myself as an athlete so I appreciate that it is not just focused on aesthetics; the movements used in CrossFit can be transferred to real-life situations.

What is the most rewarding aspect of working out?

My biggest reward is confidence. I learned that by working hard you can shape yourself and your surroundings. This is something that doesn’t just stay with you at the dojo or gym; it flows over into your daily life. Through sports, I became a more disciplined person who gladly takes on challenges in school, work and my personal life. It makes you feel like there are no limits!

Is it true that you are vegetarian?

I sure am… for two years now! Many people are actually quite surprised when they learn that about me.

You are a big guy!

[Laughs] I know! It is almost always assumed, especially in the gym culture, that you must eat meat to gain muscle. For years I have seen the importance of learning as much as I can about nutrition; it is after all the fuel of our bodies. While researching vegetarian and plant-based diets for athletes, I came across a few really famous vegetarian athletes, capable of amazing feats of strength. Eventually, curiosity led me to give it a try. It was a bit of a challenge at first, but I quickly noticed a difference.

In your experience, what are the benefits of being vegetarian?

I have so much more energy! My mind feels clearer, my skin smoother and I recover quicker after a workout. As for gaining muscles, I think I am doing pretty well! I was sceptical whether a vegetarian diet would work, but it did for me so I stuck with it.

Would you advise others to experiment with their diet?

In a safe and informed manner, I think it is beneficial to try various diets, workout regimens and sports. It is easier to be “fit” when you know your body and its needs. This way, you can have a sustainable healthy lifestyle that is effective and enjoyable.

Is your course of study part of your journey to body awareness?

My studies definitely help in increasing my self-awareness, but the main reason why I am motived to learn more about the human body is that I want to help others. We are such sensitive and intricate beings. I want to know what makes us tick and hopefully this also means I can somehow help others when their bodies aren’t working the way they should be.

How do you beat the heat?

I am sure the heat is beating me! I am so used to the Dutch climate at the moment, that I sweat just walking into the gym. In a tropical climate like this, you better make sure water is your best friend! My go-to activity is swimming, whether it’s a quick dip in the sea or a 5km swim!

What heats things up for you?

Intelligence, independence and determination are the three most attractive qualities in a woman!

Is there anyone that things are heating up with?

Oh yes! I definitely have the “hots” for someone!

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