Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Piper.
Donna, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and have also lived in San Diego and Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 2004. Los Angeles is the perfect mixture of everything I’ve loved from all the places I’ve lived; great weather, good food, fun people, and lots of recreational activities to enjoy.
I was fortunate that growing up in Las Vegas the weather was always great so we were continually outside playing, hiking, and exploring. I was always physically active, and I had big dreams of being a ballroom dancer. Fast forward to college. I enrolled in the Dance Education program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. There I was able to compete in ballroom dance. More importantly, my days were spent enveloped in Ballet, Modern, and Jazz. I was in heaven. While I deeply enjoyed it, I grew to understand that performing in a company was not my path. Even though I loved Ballroom dancing, making it a career was not for me. However, from my wealth of education, and love of movement, I decided I wanted to use movement in a profession.
One day in the career lab, I found the most exciting job – Dance Movement Therapist. Yes, this was it! I could combine my love of academics with my love of movement. After graduation, I moved to San Diego and started applying to schools that offered a Masters in Dance Movement Therapy. I was thrilled when I was accepted to all five Colleges that had the DMT program. My first interview was at Columbia College Chicago. I fell in love with the city and didn’t go to any other interviews. It was destiny.
Through the program, I met some amazing therapists and practitioners. As a part of my graduation requirements, I got to write a thesis and hold Movement Therapy sessions at the VA, mainly with Veterans of the Vietnam War. After I graduated, I was honored to provide crisis counseling to Aon employees and families after the 9/11 attacks in New York.
My professional jobs, post-graduation, was working with a substance abuse program for men, women, and teenagers mandated by the legal system. I also worked in private practice. The common thread through all of this was Pilates. I learned about Pilates in my undergrad program and loved it. When I was obtaining my Masters, I was a Pilates instructor to pay my bills.
20 years later, I still love it just as much as the first day. In addition to Pilates, I obtained certifications in yoga, yoga Nidra, personal training with NASM, silver sneakers (and many others). I am currently getting certified in Essentrics. In the middle of 2019, I came down with pneumonia. I had taken a break from teaching and was doing something completely different. I had never had pneumonia or anything debilitating like that before. It was shocking. I could barely do anything without being exhausted and unable to move.
Every day that I was ill, I kept going back to my belief that moving heals the body. I did yoga Nidra and focused on my breath. I forced myself to do very modified light yoga, and Pilates. I knew that even though it was a challenge to do anything physically, these movement modalities would help me regain my strength and heal. This brought it all back for me, and I knew I had to get back into teaching Pilates, yoga, anything to do with movement.
Hence – Choose To Move LA. The focus of our studio is just that; moving makes you feel better. I want the studio to be a place where people come to move, be nourished, and connect. All of our classes have an element of mind/body connection. We focus on being aware of how we move, then we have the choice to change how we move (if we want to). We provide a space that is full of acceptance. You don’t have to do the moves perfectly or be in perfect shape. In fact, we don’t strive for perfection (although I’m very detail-oriented). Figuring out what you need, what your body needs, is most important. Growth and change happen with consistency, not rigidity or perfection.
This is what I love about the body. Nourish it, give it what it truly needs, and it heals.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My biggest obstacle has been believing in myself. I am fortunate to have a great family, great friends, and great clients. I have clients that have been with me for decades. Even though I know I am knowledgeable, and the feedback has always been that I am great at what I do. It took me a really long time to believe it. Not really believing in myself, held me back.
It feels really amazing to finally trust and feel what my clients have always told me. I care about each person that walks in my door. Whether they are here for one class, and I never see them again, or whether they are a client for life. I loving learning and I love sharing that knowledge. I feel truly blessed to assist people on their journey to wellbeing. Wellbeing is different for everyone. Helping someone find out what that is for them, is an honor.
Please tell us about Choose To Move LA.
I named the studio, Choose To Move LA because every day you have a choice. You can make the choice to do something proactive, to find the time, to make the effort, or you can choose not to. Choose To Move LA is about empowering and encouraging you to make the right choice, even if it’s a small one, even if it’s a slow progression, etc..
Make the choice to move, to show up for your class, or if you can’t make it to the studio that’s okay too. Choose to take a hike, walk around your block, or even do a 5-minute stretch session at home. Choose to eat something healthy, or do meditation, etc. Each choice can be a victory, even a small one, as long as you realize you’re making the choice good or bad. You have the choice of how you want to move; how you want to nourish your body; and how you want to connect with yourself, others, and the world around you.
The more times you choose to move, literally, the better you will feel, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The body is designed to move. Tapping into the movement is where all the growth and healing happens. We keep our class size to around 8 people maximum, which allows us to tailor your workout to you specifically. It gives you the personalized attention and benefit of a private, but with the fun and connection of a group class. It all comes back to you. What feels amazing for one person, may not be so amazing for someone else. Whether we’re finding what movement style is fun and exciting for you, or what is the “root cause” of a pain you are experiencing… when you have experiential knowledge, you have a better understanding of what you need, and have the power to choose what is best for you.
Opening this studio. There are a lot of options in LA, especially the Westside. But having my husband fully support me in this endeavor has been so special. I don’t have the words, just deep love, and gratitude. I am also so grateful for family, friends, and clients (old and new) that patronage my business. The support has been humbling.
I have lots of dreams of expansion. I’m positive I will make those dreams a reality… My future plans include an online store for workouts, Podcasts, new offerings in movement, and complimentary services (meal planning, releasing emotional blocks, meditation, dream circles, just to name a few). 2020 is going to be exciting for sure. I hope you make the choice to join me.
- 2-week All Access Pass $29 (until 2/2/2020 reg price $69)
- Single Class Drop In $39
- 5 Class Pass $125 (until 2/2/2020 reg price $175)
- 10 Class Pass $200 (until 2/2/2020 reg price $300)
- Monthly Unlimited $110 (until 2/2/2020 reg price $199)
- Address: 2370 Westwood Blvd, Ste J
Los Angeles, CA 90064
- Website: www.choosetomovela.com
- Phone: 310-498-7652
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @choosetomovela
- Facebook: @choosetomovela
- Twitter: @la_choose
- Yelp: UCTOYrD–H8PuiBInpUasvyg