Inspirational Women interview with Nives Orešnik
Nives Orešnik is an academic painter, licenced fitness instructor, former beauty queen and an all around inspirational business woman. Naturally, her vision expands way beyond the walls of her beautiful studio in Ljubljana, where we met for this interview.
I was immediately blown away by her infectious positive energy and innovative ideas. We talked about her plans for her studio - where she holds group and individual classes of pilates, yoga, barre and boxing for women - and discussed her views of the current state of women’s wellness.
Her approach to teaching and helping women improve their well-being is much like ours - a holistic one. When approaching a new client she offers her full support in changing their lifestyle. That includes a consultation with a psychotherapist and complete review of their current way of life and physical condition.
She believes that the core of her success is a strong commitment to learning, improving and a contemporary approach to understanding her client’s needs and desires. In that sense, her studio is so much more than just a place where she holds workout classes.
It’s a wellness transformation clinic where women can access personalized support in understanding and transforming their well-being.
1. Nives, your career path is definitely an interesting one. You’re an ex-athlete and gymnast who, instead of choosing a professional career in sports, decided to study fine arts and then ended up becoming a licensed fitness instructor and a business woman. Tell us about yourself, what was the inspiration behind making all of these choices?
I always had two things I was passionate about: sports and art. I see sports as care for the body, and art for the mind. Studying painting was my childhood dream and I wanted to study something that will make me happy, as for my career, I wasn’t worried about whether I would figure something out in order to make a living doing what I like. I still see painting as a possible career, or as a part of my career in the future. I don’t see myself doing just one thing throughout my whole life. In fitness, I work with groups and individual clients, but I also write articles, blogs, do lectures and hold workshops for different companies and I never get tired from one of the activities because it’s such a big variety of them...
2. You started your own studio where you teach yoga, pilates, barre and boxing exclusively to women. Why did you decide on this “exclusivity” and what is your vision for what you want to achieve with your studio?
I always worked with women more. I have some male clients, but most of the people I’ve worked with until now, were women. I think a man’s body needs a different approach than a women’s body. Also, at the places I worked at before, I missed the fact that the offer was focused on a mass of people and wasn’t specific. Fitness studios are focused on getting as many people as they can, for a lower price, to create as much profit as they can. I completely understand that, but I never saw myself as a part of a huge instant business. I wished for a different approach, intimacy and to be more focused on my clients, to create a space that is comfortable for them and where they can find a high quality service. Women are special, and also vulnerable, so I would like to create a place where they feel at home. A place where they are taken care of professionally, are able to create friendships and where they can truly feel this is my passion; sharing my idea of a healthy lifestyle, knowledge of fitness and nutrition, providing them the help they need to change or to improve; to transform their bodies or reach their full potential in their lives. For the first time I also added a psychologist to my team, as I want to expand my studio to a “full package” health care place for women.
3. Drawing from your experience working with clients, what is your opinion on the current state of women’s wellness? What do your clients struggle with the most, and what do you think is the reason for that?
Most of the women who come to my studio want to change their bodies (lose weight, get toned, get in shape after giving birth, or just join group fitness workouts to maintain their health, release stress…). I think women are quite lost with all the information, diet trends. What I started to notice is, they often come for nutrition consulting or personal training lessons because they have health issues (physical or psychological) and aren’t happy with the solutions they are getting from their doctors so they want to find other ways of solving health issues. Here, I really try to raise awareness on the importance of preventive care, responsibility about what we can do about our health by ourselves (the power of healthy food, exercise and the balance with rest, good sleep, etc.) and that we also try to solve some of our health issues with changing our lifestyle, eating better, exercising more, before we decide to start taking pill after pill, waiting for medicine to do all the work. I also see that women aren’t satisfied with only prescription medicine, wanting different and better results. The second thing women really struggle with is the pressure on their appearance, so they wish for perfect bodies and forget about other values, even risking their health for a unrealistic beauty goal.
I think that body transformations are mostly done with effectively changed habits, with personal growth, and our bodies and minds being connected.
I think that body transformations are mostly done with effectively changed habits,with personal growth, and our bodies and minds being connected.
4. People turn to you for professional help. What would you say their expectations are once they reach out to a fitness coach? How well would you say your clients understand what being healthy means from the get-go?
Here, it’s very specific and differs from one woman to another. Some want to change their lifestyle and are willing to put in the work. Some of them come to a first meeting, and by talking we figure out they don’t actually wish for the change they thought they need or want. Sometimes other people's opinions, trends and media create a pressure or even impact on our personal goals. There are women who figure out the desire for a change is not THEIRS and that they are not ready to give up their lifestyle, would never dedicate so much time to sports, planning their meals, and that the goal itself won’t really make them happier.
5. Your approach to helping women improve their well-being is really an interesting and novel one when it comes to fitness. You mentioned you work with a psychologist. Why is that?
I think that body transformations are mostly done with effectively changed habits, with personal growth, and our bodies and minds being connected. A lot of women gain weight or loose their self-confidence, start eating unhealthy or overeating, because of stress or sadness. Often it is a specific experience or a hard time in life that brings them to the point where taking care of their bodies and health becomes less important, and is put aside. I also realized that it’s difficult for us personal trainers to also focus on the psychological aspect of the client’s needs, as we are not experts and what happens very often is that clients don’t share all their thoughts and actions with us out of fear of disappointing us. That’s where I figured I need another person that will be taking care of a person’s mental wellness, and together we will create the full package. That doesn’t mean only solving troubles, but can be also seen as a package of improvement to reach a person's full potential and make their life even better.
6. It’s impressive that you live without Wi-Fi at home and don’t check your emails in the evenings or during the weekends. You seem to have a very good understanding of the importance of life-work balance and taking time for yourself. Do you have any other ways of making sure you get enough “me-time” and why is that so important to you?
To be honest, I found my personal weakness. I am kind of a workaholic. I love my work and that’s why it often doesn’t seem like “hard work”, so I easily spend more hours working than a person who doesn’t love their job would. The environment and the time we live in also gives us a lot of pressure to “work hard, be successful, dedicate your life to your career, hustle or you won’t reach your goals.” and the world teaches us to “work hard so we can afford things, and that we will be happier the more we can afford”. Trends have become very materialistic, they’re all about the new outfits we need, new phones, expensive brands, a high class lunch and hotel, a “perfect” partner, otherwise we won’t fit in and won’t be happy. I like to support women in working hard for their career, but the whole “boss girls” and “boss men” - seeing success and money as the only life goal - is a little bit exaggerated. I had to work hard, and still work a lot, but on the other hand have my own very important goal: to age slowly, to stay young and healthy, as long as I can. And since my profession is health and fitness, I know the importance of sports, rest, sleep and healthy eating. After working too much, getting sick more often, seeing changes in my skin or body, and seeing the consequences of my overloaded mind, I decided to start taking action. I stopped making excuses and stopped hiding from the responsibility of taking care of my own health and well-being. Not having Wi-Fi in my home, not checking emails, saying ‘no’ more often, making my free time and rest the same level of priority as my work and helping clients, were the first steps to making a healthier lifestyle for myself. Often, I find myself thinking: “Are you really willing to work hard and then spend money you earn on solving your health issues, beauty treatments, supplements and medicine.” and then continue repeating the fact that, ‘If you don’t respect and take care of our body, you will get payback through health problems and in the end that will be the things stopping you from doing your work/career.
7. Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing the most?
I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love nature and travelling. In the last few years I figured that I really have a good rest when I change my environment, so I try to go on trips and travel more often. Naturally, I love art and sometimes I love spending time with people who understand that. In my free time I need a break from discussing topics regarded to my work.
8. What are some of the essential health routines or habits you just can’t do without and why?
Drinking enough water and exercising regularly; 80% eating strictly healthy and 20% eating things that are considered as cheat meals; taking a long bath and making myself a home spa once a week; stretching and recovery at least once a week.
9. Running your own business, helping clients with their personal issues, the constant need to learn and grow… Do you ever feel overwhelmed with everything and what is your way of managing and overcoming stress?
I am still finding the right way. Since I’ve been in the business for a few years, I think I haven’t figured it all out yet. For the last two years, I’ve been facing stress and I am trying to find my specific ways on managing it. I think the most important thing for me is getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and having a calm and arranged personal life. In my opinion, emotions play a very big part in our lives, both private and personal. Home life and relationships can really affects our careers and health. I handle stress, clients, projects, challenges and problems much better if I feel calm and happy in my personal life, since I am very emotional and my personal relationships are very important to me.
10. Can you talk about one book, person or event that influenced your life the most?
It’s hard to put all the things in one picture. Sometimes, I feel as if I’ve lived many different lives until now, as so many things, and events happened. I studied, worked as a model, travelled a lot, then my year as Miss Slovenia was full of new experiences, as were the few years of my modeling work and starting my fitness business. All of this meant, I had to grow up fast. I think I have tasted the sweetness and bitterness of life very early on. In fact, sometimes I feel like on old soul captured in a young body. I think there are many experiences that “shaped” me and influenced my life very much, but I am not ready to share them yet.
11. How do you see your life changing in the next 10 years, what would you like to achieve? How much do you think about your health and well-being when planning for the future?
I want to continue with my work and developing my studio. Working on developing good quality exercise programs for women. I definitely have a lot of passion in working towards changing some issues younger girls suffer from. I feel like I need to spread more awareness on the importance of a healthy lifestyle; the power of healthy eating, natural beauty, preventive actions, taking responsibility for our bodies and finding new ways to solve problems. Also I want to raise awareness on problems of the modern age, and importance of listening to your heart and having the courage to implement and do things you love, no matter the trends. Also, the importance of paying more attention to other values such as: personal talents, being a good person, kindness, honesty, authenticity, and more important all these values not being highlighted. I think we are becoming too “self-oriented” and keep forgetting that we are a community and that life is not just “about us” but also about our relationships with other people. More specifically, I would like to start my online program where women would find everything they need; nutrition advice, full training advice (weight loss, spine and posture, stress release, stretching and toning in a easy and user friendly way), self-care advice, psychological advice and would like to start developing programs focused more on the spine and posture (some that is becoming a bigger problem every single day). With my partner, the psychologist, I want to start spreading awareness on the new approach to fighting psychological issues, and I wish to be a part of solving the problem people have with stress and the pressure of our modern lifestyle; because I see many people who feel unhappy, rushing through their lives, overloaded and confused.