Tatjana Plotnikova’s journey towards Pilates and Bodyvita 10 years anniversary
I am so happy that we celebrate 10 years of Bodyvita with me and my team.
It is so moving to see, from where I started until today, Bodyvita has become this big, beautiful international and unique community, and before I say anything else, I need to express my deepest deepest gratitude to all of you for trusting the craft of me and my team, and for telling your friends, colleagues, neighbours and family about BODYVITA so that we can keep on growing, and get stronger in so many ways together.
I want to take you with me on a journey. My journey towards Bodyvita and eventually finding myself celebrating with you 10 years BODYVITA anniversary.
The journey started when I retired as a professional synchronized swimmer and I was busy with physiotherapy studies in Tbilisi, the capital of my home country Georgia. At that time Georgia was in the midst of war, my boyfriend suggested that we go to Amsterdam – just for a year. That was the only plan we had, a year, to make something better for ourselves, and come back to Georgia. I paused my studies, and we went. I was curious what this new country had in store for me. I was welcomed by rain after travelling from sunny Tbilisi, and as the days passed and the rain kept pouring down I asked myself :“What am I doing here? What have I done?” All of you that know me, know that I am not the one to sit still and wait for things to happen. So to keep myself from losing my mind in the rain, I started calling swimming clubs around town, asking if they were looking for a new athlete for their teams. They said they had a waiting list and hung up. I was so sad but then someone called me back he asked where I was from I said I was from Georgia, from the former USSR. He asked me to come to the swimming pool right away. I was confused, I had no plan, I did not have my equipment with me and I didn”t speak the language. At the same time I could not stop thinking that I needed to make a life for myself here for this year, so maybe going back to swimming would give me some purpose. Back in Georgia, the war had left the swimming pools closed, and I hadn”t been able to train properly for quite some time. Needless to say, I was getting stressed about my performance, But, one step at a time, I told myself. I bought new equipment, and I went to the first training. ” I don’t speak the language” I told them, but swimming teams are international, and we don’t speak much under water anyway . Body language is universal, and my musicality, creativity and artistic expression was still there, so I started to train with the Amsterdam club. There were not many long heart warming conversations, as any expat has probably experienced when moving abroad. But the Dutch are sincere, and I understood they liked my performance, I was even asked to be on the national team!
Suddenly things started rolling. A journalist from the NRC and a photographer came to do an interview with me: “Lichaamstaal van Tatjana Plotnikova”.
I put in extra training hours to get back to elite level standard, and started to feel confident that I could do this again. The story could have finished here my sport career peaked again, and after that I opened Bodyvita. That could have been a good story. It could have, but in reality, things played out differently. Chapter 2 of this story starts with a plot shift. I will spare you the dramatic details, they will be featured in my memoirs or in some Netflix series. In short, there was family drama, I never made it to the Olympics, and I had to stop my sports carreer again, it was not my own choice. This is the point of the story where the lead lady is lost, searching for the purpose in her life……but I had bills to pay, so before i had found the bigger purpose in life, I started as a dish washer in the restaurant of a big gym. And I was good. So good that I got promoted to an assistant chef within no time. I was playing with the idea of working my way up to write a best selling cookbook, or getting a Michelin star, or two, or three. As an only child, I was spoiled. My mom always cooked for me, so I never learned these skills. I still cherish everything I learned in that kitchen. I learned a lot about hard work and time management and recipes. I went from knowing nothing to becoming a very good cook. I still love to cook, though I must say, my real dream is for Bodyvita to excel to the point where I have my own chef . My entire life I’ve been blessed to meet the most amazing people. One of them is Anja and Yvon. They were the owners of this big gym, and they saw something that I didn’t see yet. They were the ones that pushed me to start teaching group classes. Little by little, the chef was sad to see that his assistant spent more and more time taking classes, training and going to conventions and master classes to become Amsterdam’s favorite fitness instructor. I was out of the Olympics, but my passion to be the best at whatever I do was still there. I was loving this personal development, but it took a lot of energy, and I still had to work to pay for my studies to become the best. To add to this, I was also a single mom for little Anastasia that has become this beautiful young woman that is with me here today.
Luckily my mum came to the rescue, and helped me so I could travel and learn from the best across the globe. Within no time I was teaching in so many gyms that I had lost count, and I couldn’t go to a shop or a cafe or a market without people coming up to me to talk about my classes. I could not always remember names, but I would always remember their bodies, how they move or what injuries they had. I really care about people and their well being, and people started to notice that. My classes became full. And although I do love a challenge, it was sometimes overwhelming. I was teaching for groups of 20-30 people with hernias, pregnancies, broken knees and post hip replacement surgeries all in the same room. At this point, I was not yet teaching pilates, it was all fitness,fitness,fitness – and I thought that was my calling. Then I injured my shoulder during Pilates class and decide to learn more about this method. Here is the next plot shift.
Pilates changed everything.
Like many of you have said to me, I did not understand the things we were doing, but whatever it was, it felt like exactly what my body and mind needed. After my own experience, I could not stop thinking about this practice. I needed to learn more, maybe even teach it! Let me remind you, that this was in a time where there was no Internet, no zoom, no facetime…i Amsterdam there was only two teachers, so to grow, i had to go find teachers elsewhere. In retrospect, I have no idea how I did it, but I did! I worked and worked so that I could travel and learn from the very best. What I’ve realised over the years is that things work out if you love what you do. And I truly do. I love Pilates, and I love my work, a lot! With each course and each training, I fell deeper in love with this method. Not only did I get rid of my shoulder pain, but I saw that I could really make a difference and help other people overcome their challenges as well. Some of my clients I’ve known now for over 15 years, and this to me is proof that this work is something very special. That so many people still enjoying training with me, makes every late night, early morning and every hard work hour that it took to build what I built so very worth it. Let’s fast forward to 2011. I had some very loyal students that started to get tired of going from one gym to another to follow my classes, and it is much thanks to them, that we today can celebrate 10 years of Bodyvita. They started to push me, saying that I should really have my own place. I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t even a goal of mine. I was happy with what I had. I loved to teach, to be a presenter and to educate other teachers, but I wasn’t business owner material. So I thought. I was wrong. My clients were not buckling, and they made a convincing case. Eventually I thought, maybe I should trust them, the way they have trusted me.
One of my longstanding clients, Bart, helped me find my first location. It was dark, no daylight, and I thought I’d die if I had to teach all day every day in there. Bart told me to trust him. I’m as God at my job as you are at yours, he said. Lucky for me, and for all of us, I did. With the help of JoAnne, one of the most talented designers i know of, that dark dungeon developed into the bright beautiful Bodyvita studio we are now celebrating. We often have tourists and teachers from around the world visiting us, and they always comment that it’s one of the brightest most beautiful studios they’ve ever trained at.
Another person in my life worth mentioning was Elvira. Crossing paths because of a frozen shoulder, she luckily fell in love with pilates. Already in her first session she was doing a BODYVITA signature exercise, as seen in the photo. Dedicated to my way of teaching and the ambiance of the studio that BODYVITA offers, she is one of our most active ambassadors and of great value. From the doors first opened in December 17th, 2012, Bodyvita quickly became somewhat of a neighbourhood celebrity, and I needed more teachers.
I asked the most talented colleagues I knew I the city to come work with me, and I encouraged the most dedicated students to get their education and become teachers so that I could be sure I always had the best possible team around me. Now I know I have succeeded. I have handpicked this amazing team myself, because they all have a very unique and important skillset. One of the strengths of this team is that everyone is unique and we together make sure that there is a perfect trainer for any client that comes though bodyvita’s doors. We speak many languages, we come from different backgrounds and we know many disciplines beyond pilates. What unites us is that we want everyone to feel the joy that comes with moving better and feeling at ease in our bodies, and we want to provide the best quality pilates there is. Like I said earlier, I’ve always wanted to be the best at what I do, and I’ve never stopped dreaming of a world podium.
However, the podium I dream of is no longer the Olympics. Instead I want Pilates and everyone’s well being to spread like a pandemic across the globe. I’m so proud to be celebrating ten years of bodyvita, and I wish that we keep celebrating for many decades to come with many more locations around the world.