We had the good fortune of connecting with Rowena Villanueva and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rowena, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
Spending time with my family outdoors makes me the happiest. I always call nature a nice refill for our happiness buckets. The hustle and bustle of the city can get overwhelming at times so I always find that a quick trip to quiet nature leaves me feeling happy and at peace. Add my husband and puppy into the mixture and that’s an extra full happiness bucket.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It all started with dance. Starting at a very young age then eventually getting my degree in dance, it has been a part of me for more than half of my life. Ever since I can remember, movement has made sense to me and it was something I’ve been passionate about. After college, I received my Pilates certification, thinking it would be my side hustle while I focused on dance. I was teaching group classes and private sessions in Pilates studios throughout L.A & Orange County, Ca, teaching dance at numerous studios, performing at Disneyland and auditioning when I could (thank the heavens for your early 20s!). Eventually, I quit all of my jobs and moved to NYC with 2 suit cases and zero jobs in sight. Within the first 2 weeks of living in the city, I found a Pilates job, then another, then another. It was amidst all the hustle where I truly found my knack. Over the years, doors opened left and right leading to workshops and continued education courses that fed my perpetually curious brain. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from some of the most brilliant minds in the industry about postural assessment, gait correction, myofascial release, injury prevention, scoliosis, osteoporosis, pre & post natal, diastisis correction and Pilates for neurological conditions to name a few! I discovered that with what we now know about the body, just how incredibly healing Pilates could be and how it can benefit (literally) everyone. Which is why I knew I wanted to share this with as many people as I could. My dream was to create a space that checked all the boxes that I felt were gaps in this industry: a) a welcoming space that was about moving our bodies intellectually instead of using weight shaming as a motivator b) being able to give back to the communities I cared about c) being more accessible. Next came the birth of my baby, my NYC oasis, The Pilates Nook NYC or TPN! This small studio is unique in its approach to our “brand.” We don’t have influencers and we have barely any mirrors – just people who like to move. Just like our finger prints, every person’s body is different. From the way we move, to the way we breathe, to the way we hold ourselves – our past experiences are embedded in our bodies (which is just so cool!). At The Pilates Nook NYC, we honor every body’s uniqueness and that is our approach to our 1:1 Pilates sessions. We embrace individuality and take account the individual’s past injuries, lifestyle, movement patterns, their goals and create a program that’s right for them. Our fitness world is saturated with quick workouts geared towards working out harder instead of smarter. We want our clients to leave feeling empowered, stronger and more mindful about how they move. We also offer group classes that are kept small to allow for individualized attention (now currently virtual and can be taken from all over the world!). Our teachers are extremely knowledgeable and kind and I feel lucky to have found a team as awesome as them to help keep the vision of TPN alive.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hypothetically, this would be pre-COVID, in the Spring/early Summer (my favorite time of the year in NYC) and all of my favorite businesses, shows and bars are up and running! In no specific order: 1) Grab coffee and a pastry from Abraco in the East Village, then head to 2) The Met 3) Stroll & picnic in Central Park 4) Rent a City Bike and bike ride down the West Side Highway along the Hudson River ending at the tip of Manhattan 4) Pizza and drinks at Barboncino’s in Crown Heights (it’s tradition to take friends there their first night in the city). 5) Brunch at Joseph Leonard in the West Village 6) Go to see Drunken Shakespeare 7) A broadway show 8) See live music at Rockwood Hall 9) Drinks at Death & Co. in the East Village 10) A Pilates session at The Pilates Nook 11) Sunset at The Honorable William Wall aka The Willy Wall 12) Eat the Fedora burger at Bar Sardine. The magic of New York City is partly the iconic NYC and then the rest lie in all the hidden gems scattered all over the city! I’m still learning of new ones every day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Where to even start? First of all, my husband. Sounds cliché, but every time I felt like quitting, he’d push me to keep going. My family who’s always encouraged me from the beginning. My friend, Sarah Engelke from Faster Horse, who years ago I joked with that she’d one day design my Pilates studio then actually designed my studio. My fellow studio owners and Pilates sisters, Tara Gordon of 212 Pilates, Josandra Armillas from Flow Pilates, Ashley Matthews from Elevate Cooperative who sat down with me to answer all questions I had about opening my own studio. My talented and artistic friends who offered their help wherever they could. I mean, I can go on for days!
Richelle Rice Austin Amato