Personal trainer Angelo Frasier is a sculptor of the human body with, for most guys, an enviable specialty: beauty queens.
The Charleston native and Burke High School graduate who holds court at West Ashley’s Pivotal Fitness will have four clients vying for Miss USA, a major pageant to be televised live from Las Vegas at 9 p.m. Sunday on WCBD.
Among them are Miss South Carolina USA Megan Tyler Pinckney, Miss Louisiana USA Kristen Girault, Miss North Carolina USA Ashley Love-Mill and the contestant considered to be the favorite, Miss Alabama USA Mary Margaret McCord.
Since focusing on this niche in 2008, beautiful women have been flying into Charleston or driving for hours to do workouts with him. In a world filled with trainers, it’s a testament to his expertise.
Frasier, who is built like a human live oak tree, weighing a rock-hard 338 pounds on a 6-foot, 1-inch frame, seems more inclined to be a trainer for body builders, powerlifters or football linemen.
So why beauty queens?
“Because I’m a nerd,” says Frasier, who often talks about training on cellular and metabolic levels. “This is the problem with many trainers. Most men train women like men. Even women train women like men. Exercise machines are designed by men for men. Even vitamins are designed for a 150-pound white man.”
Frasier knows what pageant judges are looking for, particularly in the revealing swimsuit competitions, and that’s a fit but feminine figure: easy, lean curves. And he tailors exercise and nutrition plans with that in mind.
An overly trained core, for example, can look too hard and muscular, and he’ll even de-train, or “catabolize,” the area in an effort to shrink or soften it.
For women lacking hour-glass waists, he’ll build the outer shoulders and create a “sweep” in their upper legs to provide the illusion of the classic curve. One trait he seeks to highlight in clients to round out the posterior, which is done not with squats or lunges, but shh ... with deadlifts.
His approach, which is a combination of knowledge and a big personality, is trumpeted by contestants and, in the case of teens, their mothers.
Pinckney said she competed in pageants for years, but was never a contender for the swimsuit award until working with Frasier. On Nov. 17, 2012, she won both the swimsuit and the Miss South Carolina USA 2013 title.
“Until I worked with Angelo, I found myself doing routines that I created that I thought were right,” says Pinckney.
“I felt the need to create them because the people I had worked with before either made me too bulky and muscular or gave me routines that I physically could not keep up with. I had danced my entire life, so building muscle was easy for me, but that wasn’t what I need to perfect my swimsuit body.”
“Angelo made a routine that was perfect for my body, not anyone else’s. He made me lean and added definition to those hard-to-conquer spots. He also gave me a diet plan, one that I was able to actually do because it was real food. I was able to cook on my diet as well as eat out at restaurants with my friends. It wasn’t so much of a diet as it was a lifestyle change.”
Debbie Childs, the mother of 2011 Miss South Carolina Teen USA Keyla Childs, says she had hired several trainers before Frasier and that they often let her take shortcuts in training.
With Frasier, when the going got tough, he would use tactics: from praying to saying he would start a workout over if she didn’t finish. And yet he can do it with a gentle spirit.
“Angelo is soft-spoken, a teddy bear. He’s a big fella, but has a kind heart and is so knowledgeable at what he’s doing,” says Childs, adding that he kept Keyla healthy even at her peak. “She was toned and lean-looking. She was eating healthy and wasn’t overly skinny. He definitely knows what he is doing.”
Life was far from easy for Frasier.
His late father, Henry Frasier, was an alcoholic who was in and out of the lives of Angelo, younger brother Henry and his mother, Rose Frasier, a nurse. The Frasiers lived in the Gadsden Green projects on the west side of Charleston.
“We weren’t broke in our minds. We had food, clothing and shelter. The basic essentials God said for you to have,” says Angelo.
He adds, however, that he saw “a lot of things that kids shouldn’t see,” including the murder of one of his father’s friends.
“We saw a lot of bad things.”
Another major tragedy struck when Angelo was only 15. His mother died of a blood clot following gall bladder surgery. She was only 34. He and his brother were devastated.
His aunt and uncle, Thomasina and John Grant, stepped forward and took care of them. While Frasier talks about the love and care they provided, he breaks down in tears.
After graduating from Burke, Frasier attended colleges in the University of North Carolina system. He played football but doesn’t like to talk about it because of a spinal injury that ended it. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He then embarked on a series of jobs in the 1980s that included working at the city of Charleston treasurer’s office, the Mills House, car dealerships and fitness clubs.
But racial harassment would alter his life. Frasier, who was renting an apartment on Logan Street, was super fit and enjoyed running downtown.
“I’d go jog along Broad Street and the city police would drive alongside me and embarrass me. I’d take my identification out and show them that I lived on 61 Logan St. But they would do it every time I went out,” Frasier says. Back then, I looked like a bodybuilder. I was handsome, neat and clean.”
He says racism also surfaced in the workplace, with implied limitations because “you’re this black guy.”
So when an offer to work at a new fitness club in North Augusta came from a contact he made via a dealership, Frasier considered it, even though he thought working at a health club seemed limiting.
But Frasier spent the next 17 years in the Augusta area, where he built on his knowledge of fitness and trained the occasional beauty queen.
A scandal involving business partners bankrupted the Powerhouse Gym he was running at Fort Gordon, Ga. With $5 to his name, Frasier returned to Charleston in 2008 and decided to develop the niche for training beauty queens.
Frasier created Fit Body by Angelo and made Pivotal Fitness in West Ashley his home base, which is happy to have him.
Adam Donato, sales manager and head trainer at Pivotal, says Frasier is a huge draw for the club in many ways. He teaches aerobics, or what today is called “group fitness,” on Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays.
“His class is more packed than I’ve seen working at gyms for seven years. His classes pack in up to 70 people, while our averages are about 20 or 25,” says Donato.
“I think it’s because of his personality and generosity. He’s a very caring and giving guy. ... That’s good for us, bringing people in and getting memberships. We’re really glad to have him and try to help him out as much as we can.”