This month’s Feature Friday is with the woman who whipped me into the best shape of my life way back when (and we recently joined forces to get me back to that place). Heidy Tejeda and I began working together when she was recommended to me for personal training at the New York Sports Club, and we quickly bonded as client and trainer. Our sessions were transformational for both the body and soul. We were two women navigating our individual journeys, yet seeking to be better both physically and emotionally. But it was our mutual desire to live our most authentic lives after learning some important life lessons that solidified our friendship. Almost a decade later, we’re still kicking it–both in and out of her fitness studio.
Heidy Tejeda owns and operates Pilates Unleashed in Eastchester, New York, where she teaches Pilates and yoga. If you live in the New York City or Westchester County area, and want to get in the best shape of your life in a personalized holistic fitness environment, do yourself a favor and check out Heidy at her studio. You will be so glad that you did.
Heidy, tell us what got you into the fitness industry?
I was a teenager living in my homeland of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After undergoing some tough life experiences, and having no way to effectively channel my emotions, one day my spirit suddenly said, “Run!” So I did. I discovered how exhilarating, cathartic, and liberating running could be, so I continued for many years after.
Early on in my fitness career, I taught aerobics then later became a certified personal trainer and manager with the New York Sports Club. While seeking to relieve muscle tightness I had after years of running, I was drawn to yoga and Pilates. I loved how the practice of each required a synthesis of the mind, body, and spirit. I wanted to bring that experience to others, so I began my studies to obtain my yoga and Pilates certification. In 2011, I opened the doors of my studio Pilates Unleashed, where I’ve been ever since and I’m having a great time.
What did your introductory fitness regimen and diet plan look like?
As a Latina, I ate alot of foods high in carbs and sugar. I started thinking about what would make me feel happier about my body. I began to contemplate what I put in it and started doing aerobics three times a week. From there, I continued in fitness and continued to watch what I ate. Being consistent with both was the key.
What does your diet and fitness plan look like these days?
I am a vegetarian because of my beliefs related to food and because it works best for my body. I work out four times a week. I love to do yoga and Pilates, I play basketball, and walk.
What are your thoughts on the various food factions that exist such as being vegetarian, or vegan, or a carnivore, or strictly eating organic. The list goes on and on. For someone trying to figure out the best nutritional plan for themselves, what do you suggest?
Diet is a very individual thing. I think that everyone should explore what works best for them. Try different ways of eating and see what works best for your body and internal system.
For those unfamiliar, please explain what Pilates is.
Pilates is a series of stretching and strengthening exercises that are designed to improve core strength, posture, and overall wellbeing. Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, always taught mat first. Mat is the foundation. If you have done mat, you will likely have a better experience with the reformer. But even if you do not have that mat background, you can still do and enjoy the reformer since it is user friendly for everyone. What I love about Pilates is that it gives a person’s body proper alignment. It connects the mind, body, and spirit, and can make a long-term difference in their lives.
What were your biggest fears about becoming an entrepreneur?
I became a fitness entrepreneur because I found myself enjoying my then part-time work of fitness coaching more than anything else. I eventually began working in the fitness industry full-time, and then became an entrepreneur. My biggest fear with entrepreneurship is consistency of income. You have to have the confidence that you can grow the business every day because no one is going to do it for you.
What do you consider your greatest entrepreneurial successes to be?
My studio. I now have it in a place that embodies my philosophy of fitness. Also what I love is that, over time, I am able to see the difference I have made in a client’s life.
You are a single-mom to a 10 year-old son by way of divorce. Which do you find more conducive to being a single-mom–working as an employee or entrepreneurship?
I think a happy mom is a better mom. It is important to be in alignment with your purpose, whatever that may be. When a mom is able to pursue her passion and dreams, she is able to pass on that same model to her child. So whether an employee or entrepreneur, it’s about the fulfillment of her journey.
What lessons have you learned about yourself as a single-mom?
I think more about how I was parented, and it is now from a place of non-judgment.
What is your greatest success and obstacle as a single-mom?
My greatest success is that my son gets that we are a team and that I always have his back. My greatest obstacle is being consistent in my parenting. Sometimes the rules bend because of my work schedule.
What lessons do you want to impart to your son?
Because my son is being raised very differently than I was, and because he is a boy, sometimes it is difficult for me to relate to what he is feeling. As a parent, my goal is to raise a good man who is compassionate towards people, especially women. Moms grow humanity.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Work is done during the week. I dedicate one day completely to my son. And another, I spend with friends and other family.
Why is self-care so important for women and mothers, and what does your regimen look like?
When a woman or mother is not taking care of herself, she cannot effectively care for others. She can only regenerate from within. Whether she goes for a walk, meditates, or has coffee with a friend, she must care for herself first. I spend time sitting in silence daily. I also go for walks and read. I understand that I cannot take care of others if I do not take care of me.
Where can people connect with you Heidy?
My studio Pilates Unleashed is located in Eastchester, New York. People can find us at www.pilatesunleashed.com, or on Facebook and Instagram at PilatesUnleashedStudio.