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Meet Bonnie Sessions of Pilates Weights & Fitness, Inc. in Ojai

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bonnie Sessions.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Bonnie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Wow, this question set me thinking back! This year is my 30th anniversary working in the fitness industry and 24 years as a Studio owner, so as you can imagine, my journey started my mind going way back in time. I was lucky in the sense that my father worked and owned health clubs in the 60s and 70s, and he was and still is a big inspiration to me.

So it could be a long story here, so to keep it short, my journey started when I moved to Southern California in 1991. As I began working, I listened to many people’s stories of how they felt uncomfortable in gyms, which made it difficult for them to launch into their fitness journey or continue going to the gym. No matter what I said, it was the same answer; too many people in gyms, and being human, they would compare and feel inadequate.

My stance on fitness is working out is about health and feeling good without judgment and truly embracing potential. That’s what I promoted, but this message would seem to get lost in the looking good is the essential message of gyms. So from there, I was inspired to open my first personal training studio in Ventura in 1996. I was excited to be one of the pioneers in the fitness industry as there were not any studios in my area, and Los angles were in the beginning stages of personal training studios but mainly for the higher income clients. My studio quickly grew from a 400 sq. foot space to 700 then to 2000 sq. feet.

I discovered Pilates shortly after opening my first studio and began introducing the method as I went through the training to my training clients. That was a story in itself the only personal Trainer who was tighter as tight gets working and learning with dancers. Still, the most incredible journey it was, as I knew that one day myself and everyone would need this training to age with strength and flexible bodies in good health.

I sold my studio in 2003 to study and become a teacher of teachers for Basi Pilates. So for the next thirteen years, I traveled the world teaching at fitness conferences and teacher courses. I look back on this and feel amazed that I took part in inspiring and developing future fitness leaders and teachers, building our industry more robust than ever.

During the years of travel, I opened a small boutique studio in the heart of Ojai; I resigned from the Senior Faculty position with basic to pursue my qualifications as nutrition and health coach and energy healer. This was a wonderful addition to a whole health approach of my business, also allowing me to venture into online teaching. This year I will be 64 and feeling more vibrant than ever doing what I love guiding others Into maintaining, increasing skills or restoring their health and function and enjoyment of life.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Yes, there have been bumps along with the way financial down turns, the big earthquake that shook our economy back in the 90s, but budgeting and having a saving for these got me through it. I always believed in myself and what I was doing, which brought me to a place I would describe myself as silently fierce and focused. The biggest struggle, in the beginning, was, finding trainers, getting the word out as at that time, few knew what Pilates was or the benefits of the Pilates system, also the long hours, and one day off or no days off for long periods took its toll on my health. I learned a valuable lesson in life from this experience. It’s called balancing life; There is your job, but making time to play, rest, recover is essential for overall health.

Today’s experience in studio is very different from the past, as its a small space without classes, and I’ve set it up to run simple while making it easy to manage. The most significant challenge for me is keeping up and learning technology and social media.

Please tell us about your work.
What we do best is listen to the needs of those who come to better their health, then educate and designing programs that can be taken in or out of the studio. We teach a person how to tune into body needs and trust their body. Every client begins by building a solid foundation or could say a platform of solid fitness and sustainable healthy lifestyle habits. In building this foundation of health and performance, we teach PWF principles of Patience for the process that allows Progressive success. 3 Ps. I am most proud of teaching and Inspiring joy and love of each person’s unique body. Seeing others go through the process of finding body appreciation while building confidence and full potential of body performance, whatever that may mean to them. I can’t even find words of what it gives me to witness this process. Maybe a word would be a deep internal joy.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’ve had many mentors from my father who taught me at a young age so many valuables lessons, also my father and uncle, were my workout partners for many years and I learned so much from them at the gym. I have had many incredible Pilates teachers that I admire and learned from Rael Isacowitz whom I study with for many years was a huge part of my Pilates journey. But truly the Older role models such as Jack LaLanne, Bill Pearl, Joseph Pilates they inspired me and couldn’t read enough about them. My husband Mike has been a rock for me and always there, inspiring me to reach out and go for it.

All the clients that I’ve trained from past to present, I learned and grew from every experience and always in awe of the wonderful people that I have connected with. My associate Emma is another wonderful teacher and friend whom we share learning experiences and teach daily side by side each other. My friend Debbie Richter has helped me with studies of the human body and we have Grown in the industry together for 30 years, She now lives in southern Oregon and owns south Oregon Pilates studio. So many wonderful friends I have made, feeling amazed as I think about it so many special people I’ve have met and worked with over the years.

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Bonnie Sessions

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