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Conversations with the Inspiring Jenna Zaffino

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Zaffino.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jenna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I began my teaching journey as a New York City Ballet Workout Instructor and initially, a reluctant Pilates substitute teacher, at Fitness Formula Clubs in Chicago. I was resistant to take on the role of “Dancer Turned Pilates Teacher,” but truthfully, did not understand the true scope of what Pilates would offer me as a professional. I was offered the opportunity to teach a dedicated class on the schedule if I pursued my training and that is where my education took off. I worked with local teacher, Kathleen Aharoni in an apprenticeship style of learning and after completion of her comprehensive program, began to grow the Pilates programming at FFC, serving as the Pilates Coordinator for 4 years.

At that point, I began to seek out additional training, wanting to experience a program that was closer to the source of Joseph Pilates’ work. I found the Ron Fletcher Program of Study and traveled back and forth to Tucson to complete my training with Ron, a student of Joe Pilates himself, as well as other talented educators. I found my passion through this work as well as my inspiration and knew, I wanted to create a community where movement education was taught at a high level that would inspire people to move with purpose throughout their daily life. I opened my first space in 2006 at 320 W. Ohio with one reformer and one chair in the corner of a fitness studio. Soon after, I took the plunge into soul proprietorship and officially opened Helios Center For Movement on Belmont Ave in Roscoe Village. I owned that studio for 12 years, during which time, I became a teacher trainer as well as an international presenter of continuing education for Fletcher Pilates International, McEntire Pilates and my own original coursework.

In 2016, I felt the pull to expand the reach of my voice through podcasting and launched Pilates Unfiltered, a podcast that discusses the culture of Pilates and the issues we face as human beings who teach movement to other human beings. I also completed training with motivational teacher and NY Times best selling author, Gabrielle Bernstein and launched a career coaching business for Pilates professionals and entrepreneurs. Additionally, I invented a product, The DUET Roller Accessory System and sold it to the largest producer of Pilates equipment in the world.

As my offerings were expanding, it was clear that I was being called into a larger arena with my work, however, I still had a brick and mortar studio to think of. Serendipitously, the opportunity to sell that space was presented to me and I was able to transition from studio owner back to soul proprietor. My business today involves teaching in-person and online movement sessions, career coaching, continuing education presentation and podcasting.

Has it been a smooth road?
My road has been B-U-M-P-Y, yet each bump has provided a huge growth opportunity. I’ve learned that there are guideposts that my personal and professional alignment depend on. When I choose to follow an opportunity that does not take these guideposts into account, the bumps are imminent. My advice to women who are starting their journey is to explore how they want to feel as a result of this journey and use that as a metric for how they choose their next directions. For example, if they want to feel grounded, accomplished and fulfilled as a result of their journey, the opportunities they follow must have some sense of those elements accounted for. If they think about an opportunity that makes them feel unsure, insignificant and drained, it is not in alignment with the intention of their work. It’s woo woo, but it WORKS!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into your business story. Tell us more about the business.
The simplest way to describe what I do is: I move bodies to change minds. Through my years of teaching different ages, genders, body types and experience levels, I have learned one universal truth: The ability to create change within the body begins and extends from the mind. It’s the beliefs we have about what is possible within ourselves that facilitates the actual change. Movement has great benefits, but movement with an expectation of creating change that affects one’s entire life has exponential potential.

The services I provide under this inspirational umbrella are: in-person as well as online movement sessions, online coaching programs to movement professionals and I also offer a bevy of continuing education courses that I teach in person as well as virtually.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
Lack of true female to female support is sometimes a barrier within industry. It’s one thing to find your tribe and love them, it’s quite another to go to bat for your tribe, share their work without being asked and appreciate when your work is shared through the lens of another person. This takes vulnerability, respect and ownership. I believe the most important thing you can do with your work is invite others to have a voice within it. If you establish your message with fortitude and strength, there will be opportunity for others to be involved. If you look for the approval of your message from others, you remain on a hamster-wheel that lacks true fulfillment.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Meredith Donnelly Photography, The Atelier

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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