Personal Best

updated 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SIPPING VEGETABLE JUICE AT A TRENDY LOS ANGELES java joint, Isabel Lorca is trying to explain her vocational philosophy. Problem is, she keeps getting interrupted. First a male admirer timidly approaches to introduce himself. Then actor Jonathan Silverman (The Single Guy) waves hello from a nearby escalator. Minutes later a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers stops by to chat.

But it's not just Lorca's sinewy curves and movie-star good looks that have made her such a magnet for attention. One of the town's priciest ($100-$250 per hour) and most sought-after personal trainers, Lorca, 30, has been called on to lead Brad Pitt in sprint drills ("Brad is very skinny and very agile"), jump over benches with Sharon Stone ("she's very strong in the legs") and fashion fab abs for Lisa Marie Presley ("she has small bones"). Lorca's approach to fitness might be called holistic. "When you watch the workout shows, the girls are oiled and wearing makeup and have G-strings on," says Lorca. "I have nothing against being sexy, but working out should be about strength and power and focus and talent."

Which is why her sessions focus on the psyche as well as the physique. "Not only does she whip me into shape," says client Debi Mazar, who does circuit training and biking with Lorca, "but she also makes me feel good about myself. If I say, 'I don't like my legs,' she'll say, 'What are you talking about? Your legs are beautiful.' She cares much more about overall health than looking perfect."

Very little looked perfect to Lorca growing up in Montreal, the daughter of Pierre Brousseau, a film company executive, and Mariette Levesque, a former model who admits she wasn't ready to settle down to family life. "Basically, the reason I got pregnant at all," says Levesque, 57, "was to give a present to her father," adding that she now realizes that her daughter was "the best present I could have given myself." While her mom and dad globe-hopped, Isabel was more or less turned over to the care of a neighbor, housewife Rolande Parizeau. (Lorca now calls her parents her best friends.)

But her biggest challenge was still ahead. Moving to Paris in 1983 at 16 to finish school and pursue an acting career, she adopted the name of her favorite author, Federico Garcia Lorca. Six years later, after relocating to L.A., she was almost paralyzed when a driver ran a red light and hit her Toyota Corolla. Her injuries were so massive that doctors at Cedars-Sinai hospital first thought she would never walk without a limp. Hospitalized for a month, "I went into a deep depression," she says, until physical therapists got her on crutches. She began devouring books on therapy and alternative medicine, devising an exercise-and-diet regimen that she credits with her total rehabilitation over a three-year period. "Not many people would have pulled off that type of recovery," says Frank Bredice, a chiropractor who helped treat her. "I've rarely seen someone with that much willpower."

Encouraged by her mother, Lorca went on in 1992 to get certified in sports massage, rehabilitation and nutrition from the International Sports Sciences Association. Before long, Randy and Evi Quaid were calling-and word spread. Now Lorca, who lives in West Hollywood and has recently become engaged to actor Brody Hutzler, 26, says she has it all-including that special someone "to take with me along the trip."


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