Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Narejko.
Nina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was first introduced to Pilates at the age of 15. My dad works in real estate management. One day he comes home from work and says “I got you a summer job answering phones for one of our commercial tenants, it is a Pilates studio.” I had no clue what it was. At the very beginning I thought Pilates was weird, the equipment and exercises looked like nothing I had ever seen before. I really had no interest in Pilates for the first year that I worked at the studio. After summer was over I continued to work at the studio, I would go there after school and be the evening and weekend receptionist.
When I wasn’t busy I would sit at the desk and just watch other people’s lessons. Over time my interest in Pilates grew; I would watch clients come in for their lessons, some who had chronic pain and conditions, such as arthritis, knee replacements, bad backs, and spinal fusions. Over time I would see them move better and better and talk about how much better they were feeling. That’s when I started to think, “wow, there’s got to be something really important about this whole Pilates thing.”
At the time I had no idea of how lucky I was to be at The Pilates Studio of The Midwest, located in Evanston, IL. It was one of only a handful of Pilates certification centers in the world. Romana Kryzanowska was the one who would work with the apprentices and teach all the certification seminars. At the time I had no idea how significant this woman was in the Pilates industry and how lucky I was to be around her from such a young age.
Romana was an apprentice of Joseph Pilates since the age of 17. Every teacher in Pilates has a lineage that can be traced back to her in one way or another….and I was right there watching her teach pass on her knowledge from a young age.
I continued to work at The Pilates Studio of The Midwest through high school and college. Eventually the studio closed, the manager of The Pilates Studio Of The Midwest opened Pilates Connection, also in Evanston IL, just around the corner from where The Pilates Studio Of The Midwest previously was located, and I continued to work for her, at that time I started to be a practice body for apprentices of the certification program and I started to take lessons with Rhonda Celenza and Juanita Lopez. Again, I did not realize how signification it was to be around Juanita Lopez, she studied at Romana’s feet from 1988 till Romana’s death. Juanita began her Pilates studies long before Pilates was popular and long before any official certification program existed….and I got to be around this woman from the age of 15….and I still consider her to be my teacher to this day.
After graduating from High School, I went to college; my focus was psychology and biology and I was on the pre-med track. During this time, I continued to work part time as the administrative assistant at Pilates Connection and continued to take lessons.
After graduating college, I decided not to take the MCAT. I set out to find a full-time job. For a short time, I work as a corporate recruiter and consultant, after that I worked in finance for a health care company. During this time, I continued to take lessons and do some administrative work at The Pilates Connection.
After taking years of lessons at Pilates Connection I finally got certified in 2013, at the age of 32, yes, it took me that long….from 15 years old to 32 years old to finally completely commit to getting my certification (even though Rhonda and Juanita tried to convince me to do it a few times throughout the years). Even though I was working my full-time finance job I decided to go ahead and get my certification, the plan was just for me to work part time as a Pilates instructor but continue to work full time in Finance.
During my yearlong certification apprenticeship, I was in a long distance relationship. I lived outside of Chicago, IL and he lived in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. A few months after I completed my certification program, we decided it was time for us to be closer, which meant someone was going to have to move.
We decided that the best option for us both was for me to move to Rancho Cucamonga, CA. My finance job allowed me to work from home. I was not sure what my plans were as far as teaching Pilates.
Upon moving to Rancho Cucamonga I realized that were no studios out here that focused on classical Pilates, everything around me was based on contemporary Pilates. I would go to Pasadena once or twice a week for my Pilates lessons, since that was the closes classical Pilates studio to me. I would drive into West Hollywood on the weekends to teach Pilates, since I had many classical Pilates connections out there with other studios.
All the driving to West Hollywood and Pasadena while working full time got to be a bit too much. I decided to take a part time job at a local contemporary Pilates studio. After teaching at the local studio, I decided that I needed to get back to my focus being only on teaching classical Pilates, at this time I also decided I was going to open my own studio.
I called Gratz Industries and order all the classical equipment that I would need to start my studio. I started out by teaching part time out of my home. I turned my dining room into a Pilates studio.
A year ago, I moved to a larger studio and decided to quit my finance job and focus on teaching classical Pilates full time. It turned out to be the best decision that I could have ever made for myself personally and professionally.
Has it been a smooth road?
This was the smoothest road. There were a few bumps along the way.
The first obstacle was picking this as my career path. I was born in Poland and moved to the US with my parents and younger sister when I was 8 years old. To my parents it was very important for my sister and I to be in the US, as we would have more educational and professional opportunities. I think that I picked the pre-med path in college to please my parents, to make them proud, to make the sacrifices that they made moving our family to the US…leaving their home, businesses, family and friends…. justified.
My parents both had high level degrees in Poland, they owned their own business and had a great life. Upon moving to the US, we had to live with my mom’s sister and her husband, it was just myself, my little sister and my mom, my dad was in Poland for another year before he was able to move here. Once my dad arrived we moved into a small 2 bedroom apartment with our grandmother since we needed the financial help.
My parents were not able to find jobs easily in the US. They both had to work 2 jobs each. My dad worked for a company that made paint chip samples and worked nights as a bartender, and my mom was a cashier at a gas station and worked as a waitress. It was a struggle for them to build their careers and lives in the US. I thought that if their daughter was a well-educated successful doctor all this would be worth it, my intention was to be a psychiatrist or go into sports medicine. I love anything that has to do with biology, psychology, and sports, but my heart was never really into the medical degree path. I felt a bit like I had failed my parents when I decided to pursue Pilates.
The second obstacle was the move to California. This was very stressful for me when it came to my path of classical Pilates. In Chicago, I was around my amazing and supportive teachers since the age of 15, getting to work at world renown certification centers, and working at busy studios with lots of clients and great reputations.
Here, I was moving to Rancho Cucamonga, no friends, no social network, no professional network, no classical Pilates around me…. nothing. How was I going to build a business? How was I going to get clients? Where would I work?
A third struggle for me was that I was a classical Pilates instructor in an area focused on contemporary Pilates. It doesn’t seem like contemporary and classical Pilates would be that different, right? After all, they are both Pilates. Well, that is not the case, from the way the studios are structured. To the certification programs, to the equipment that is used there are major differences. How would I apply classical Pilates to a contemporary Pilates area? Some told me that classical Pilates in this area was not necessary, that trying to open a boutique classical studio in this area would be too much of a struggle. I went ahead and did it any ways.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Body Redefined is a boutique classical Pilates studio focused on private sessions, duet sessions, and small group (4 clients maximum) mat and small equipment classes.
What I do is best described in my slogan “Look Your Best. Feel Your Best. Live Your Best.”
Look Your Best – There are clients who I work with who want to tone up and tighten their physiques. Those who want to improve their posture and alignment. Pilates is great for that. When I have clients come to me who ask if Pilates will help them to change their physique my answer is that of course it will.
Pilates focuses on getting the body to work in perfect posture, alignment and form, I often tell my clients, when your muscles do the jobs they were intended to do you can see that. If you stand up straight and walk around with great posture and a strong core you can see that, it will change how you and how you carry yourself.
Feel Your Best – Pilates has a reputation for being a rehabilitative and therapeutic form of exercise. I have many clients who come to me for various chronic conditions and other ailments, ranging from hip replacements, knee replacements, knee surgeries, back issues such as fusions, pinched nerves, degenerative disks, bulging disks, herniated disks, shoulder surgeries, arthritis, and many others. Over time I see these clients start to move better. I see them start to feel better. They come in excited to tell me about activities they are able to get back to, or being able to not take as many pain medications, or being able to get up in the mornings with less discomfort.
Live Your Best – I always say the first requisite for happiness is a healthy body. When we are able to move around freely and pain free it’s a lot easier to enjoy doing any activity, whether it’s a walk with your dog or a morning run. For my athlete clients their lives revolve around their sports, if I can help them improve their disciplines, minimize injury and maximize recovery time from injuries that makes their sport and therefore their lives much better.
I have developed a reputation in 2 different areas. One being working with athletes and young athletes; marathon runners, triathletes, MMA fighters, basketball players, baseball players, volleyball players, and dancers….to name a few. The second area being working with those who are dealing with chronic and long term conditions and pain. Such as those with back surgeries, spinal fusions, knee surgeries, and arthritis.
What I am most proud of as a company is that in a very short amount of time I was able to bring classical Pilates with a focus on individual and private sessions to an area where it previously did not exist. I was able to build my small business from the group up with no professional or social networks, and no marketing or advertising budget. When I decided to start Body Redefined I took a large portion of my savings to buy my equipment, this left me with not much of a budget for marketing or advertising.
I started my business from the ground up and with no debt. My CPA has told me that what I have been able to do in a year usually takes most businesses three years to do, that made me quite proud of what I have done.
I am most proud of my clients on a daily basis. To see them put in the work and commitment to their Pilates and their overall health and wellbeing is wonderful to see. I am so proud of each of them, whether it’s improving their game on the basketball court, or being able to go for a longer walk with the dog…no matter how small or big each one of their goals is I’m very proud of what I see them being able to accomplish.
I have been around Pilates since the age of 15. There are 2 things that I have noticed over time that set me apart as a teacher and as a business. As a teacher I have developed a unique ability to quickly assess my client’s needs just by looking at them walk and move before they even tell me what they need. I have a few clients who are teachers themselves and they have asked me before “how are you able to look at your client and make one tiny adjustment, like change the placement of the heel of the foot or change the position of their hand and make them feel and execute the exercise that is better suited for their body and gives them a better result”. I don’t really have an answer for that….maybe it’s being around Pilates since the age of 15, or years of lessons, or getting to work at world renown studios around world renown teachers, or my love for anything that has to do with sports, movement and human biology, or a combination of all of that….whatever it is it has given me stills as a teachers that I apply and I’m grateful for on a daily basis.
From a business stand point, what sets me apart is that I have always been told that I do things backwards. I’ve never taken a business class in my life. I never looked at numbers or finances. My focus has always been classical Pilates and what I wanted it to bring to clients in my area. I have never looked at trends or fads in fitness and Pilates. I have always believed that a business focused on clients first and numbers, second was the way to go, I have always believed that a business focused on client’s individual needs and in a personalized setting was the way to go.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Rancho Cucamonga is a fabulous city for a classical Pilates boutique studio. There is no other classical Pilates studio in my area, there was definitely a need for this. Rancho is a large and diverse city, a need for a larger and diverse selection of health and fitness options for clients is a good thing. I could have just worked at another studio, or opened up a group fitness based Pilates studio, but I picked a different path, and Rancho Cucamonga is really embracing it.
If someone was starting out in Pilates, I would definitely recommend them starting out at Body Redefined Pilates. I believe that when starting anything new a one-on-one personalized focus on personalized goals and needs, combined with a focus on technique and form of exercises is necessary, in any discipline. Everyone has unique strengths, weaknesses, imbalances, and goals, in a personalized setting the unique mechanics of the client’s body, and their unique goals and needs for Pilates can be address in greater detail. The better the form, technique, and personal attention the quicker a client can attain his or hers personal and unique goals.
- Introductory Private Sessions $39
- Introductory Package: 3 private sessions $149
- Introductory Package: 3 private sessions & 3 group mat classes $189
- Address: www.body-redefined.com
- Phone: 909-353-7450
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://www.thepicta.com/user/body_redefined/1600529157
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bodyredefined/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/body-redefined-rancho-cucamonga-3?osq=pilates