This week for our 10th feature in our 'Inspirational Women' series we had the amazing opportunity to speak with Agi Falenta, founder and the instructor of @equitness.
Growing up in Poland, Agi was an avid horse rider and show jumper. After being diagnosed with Scoliosis, she used Pilate’s to help her to grow stronger and ease her discomfort. She then realised that a lot of horse riders would face the same problem, so she turned her attention to how she could help others using this technique.
When Agi came to Scotland, she obtained many qualifications in both horse studies and Pilate's, and that is when her Pilate’s journey blossomed.
Agi now runs Pilate’s classes for all, using interactive props to bring a fun element to her workouts. She wants to help everyone to move, grow stronger, and fall back in love with their bodies.
In the interview we wanted to find out what drives Agi to succeed, as well as any women in Agi’s life that have motivated her to become the amazing woman that she is.
Q - Can you tell us about your incredible Pilates vision?
A - Thank you for this question, it makes me a little bit dreamy. My vision is that Pilates is introduced to the whole population. Kids are having Pilate classes at school, athletes are practicing Pilates as additional functional training and our dear seniors are using Pilates to stay healthy, balanced, and mobile.
Our lifestyle has changed so much lately, which has led to many postural problems and issues. Pilates helps us to not just strengthen the body inside and out, but also allows us to re-bond with body and mind.
My dream is that the NHS offers free Pilates classes for all, to improve not just postural problems, but also for rehabilitation, to promote a healthy lifestyle and to also help with social aspects, like loneliness or depression. With this, I am sure that the queues at the physios and specialists will be much shorter.
Educating and teaching kids a little bit more about anatomy, the human body, posture
and why it is important, will help us to create a more conscious younger generation.
Q - How did you end up becoming a Pilates ‘goddess’?
A - You are incredibly kind, but unfortunately I am not. I am just a Pilates lover, fascinated with the human body and its ability to heal and move.
For many years I struggled with my own problems and health issues. This motivated me to search, experiment and explore different ways to help both myself and my clients. I call my practice Functional Pilates, as I apply all of Pilate’s principles and add a little ‘Agi twist’ to it.
To my practice I have added lots of small, available, and portable props so that everyone can join and reconnect with their bodies again. The fun factor is very important for me too, keeping the session fresh and enjoyable.
Q - What is your personal story? How have you gotten to where you are today?
A - My background is in horse riding and show jumping, spending all of my teen years in the stable and on the parkours. As a kid I was diagnosed with a back problem called scoliosis, so I was advised to strengthen my back and core.
I grew up in Poland and at that time nobody had heard of Pilates, however, I managed to find some books and DVDs based on Pilate’s principles, so I was able to practice myself and fix my back problems.
Many years later I started to think about this more, about how lots of riders struggle with back and hip problems. I felt that the right exercise program for riders was a missing link. Most of the time horse riders focus on the horse and its fitness and health, and often forget about themselves.
Working at Dick Equine Hospital I trained to get a fitness and Pilate’s qualification. I slowly changed my career and focused more on the riders rather than the horses, helping them to gain more balance and a supple body in the saddle. This was when my name @equitness was born – Equine and fitness.
To promote my vision, I also started to share my ideas on social media. Thanks to Instagram I managed to grow to be more noticed and appreciated. This led to many new projects and teaching invitations.
Q - What do you love the most about your job?
A - So many things! I feel so grateful that thanks to my job I can help people and make them feel better. I have met so many incredible and fascinating people on the way, making many new friends and I am able to travel, teach and share my passion with others.
Q - Can you tell us about your life achievements to date?
A - In Poland I studied at the Physical Education Academy and I had a successful horse riding and coaching career. When I moved to Scotland, I completed a HNC in Horse Management, several BHS (British Horse Society) Stages and many Fitness and Pilates courses.
One of my biggest achievements are my 2 wonderful kids Maya, who’s almost 18, and Leo aged 10, as well as my supporting, encouraging, loving partner and husband Thomas.
I have developed many workshops and have taught students and teachers around the world- at Pilates Festivals in India, Scotland, Turkey, and Dubai.
I am so proud of my latest 4 Interactive Pilates Manuals with props, and the 5th one is almost ready to launch!
Q – How do you celebrate your wins?
A - That is a very tricky question, I don’t think I have ever done anything special to celebrate my achievements. Maybe it’s because I don’t treat them as wins... For me, it’s a glass of wine
as a celebration with my husband that counts.
Q - How do you deal with losses?
A - It is quite straight-forward for me, I change my focus and try to find a positive in bad situations. For example, 7 years ago I was diagnosed with bad hip arthritis and I knew that I would need a hip replacement soon. Being a fit person, using my body for work and as a tool, for a moment it felt that I had lost my life and career. Instead of worrying about it, I converted it into my next project. I changed my focus to evolve, expand, grow and progress, all to become a better teacher and educator.
Q - How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
A - I think that when I was an employee and working full-time I was better organised. Now being self-employed and working from home, it is much trickier. Finding time to organise everything is not easy. I love cooking so that’s not a problem for me, however during lockdown I felt as if I was in the kitchen cooking and cleaning all the time, between teaching, home-schooling, and recording content for online studio and social media.
Q - How are you coping with lockdown?
A - To be honest quite well, thanks to my wonderful clients which have kept me sane during these times. They don’t know it, but they actually push me to look presentable every day and to study more to develop better sessions and programs. I am so grateful that they stick with me and support me, especially after my hip surgery and rehabilitation, and that they patiently try my new crazy moves and ideas!
I’ve seen my friends and clients almost every day online, so actually I don’t miss the social life that much.
We also don’t have any family in Scotland, so I am used to being away from them for a longer
period of time.
Q - How do you motivate yourself ? Whether that is after really tough day juggling work or just having to cook a meal at the end of a long lockdown day? What are your coping strategies?
A - I try to remind myself that I am so lucky with what I have. I have a job that I love, I have a passion and a fantastic, supportive family.
Even when I’m tired after a long day, I alway feel better when I move, so a walk or a quick session on the mat definitely saves my day and lifts my spirits.
Q - What are your coping strategies?
A - For me it is easy - movement saves me, it keeps my mind and soul happy. Cooking with my husband or playing board games with my family also helps.
Q - Which incredible women have inspired you and why?
A - I am inspired by many incredible women and I feel so fortunate that our paths have crossed. My friend/sister Inka, for her hard work and incredibly clever mind; Marta for her amazing business skills; my friend Linda for her kindness, positivity and charm; my daughter Maya, for her very mature and smart approach to life; and my mum as a role model, who taught me to be kind, respectful and caring.
You are a huge inspiration Antoinette, your ethical approach to life and business, your vision and beautiful soul.
Last but not least, my friend and ‘Pilates goddess’ Nancy Castiglioni, for showing me the beauty of ‘Flow of Pilates’, for sharing her knowledge with so many people around the world,
and her warm heart.