It was a chance encounter on a cruise ship that ultimately steered Adina Olan-Ellick on a new career path. Adina, owner of the newly relocated Breathe, a yoga and Pilates studio in downtown Chappaqua was on a family vacation for a relative’s birthday and by the time she embarked on the ship all of the exercise classes were filled up. “The only thing left to sign up for was Pilates, so we did it every day,” she recalls. Adina, an almost 25-year resident of Chappaqua had always been athletic and was more of a self-proclaimed cardio addict. “I ran, did cardio kickboxing, aerobics, you name it,” she says during our interview on a chilly afternoon just steps away from her sunlight-filled studio in the heart of Chappaqua.
A Passion for Pilates
Something about Pilates and the mind/body connection coupled with the intentional movements resonated with her. Upon returning to Chappaqua she hired a private Pilates instructor to teach her at home before her three young children woke up and before her commute to her cardboard converting company in Long Island City. That private instructor, sensing Adina’s passion for the exercise encouraged her to pursue Pilates certification. She did taking weekend classes from beginner mat certification all the way through advanced system which took several years. She also trained with renowned physical therapist Dr. Abby Ellsworth in Scarsdale, author of seminal books on Pilates instruction, yoga and physical therapy. It wasn’t easy while maintaining a full-time job with young kids but Adina likes to “have a lot on her plate.”
Her job at the cardboard warehouse and in a male-dominated field entailed a lot of interaction with factory workers which was challenging. A hair-raising incident at work though convinced her that long-term her career there wasn’t sustainable and downright dangerous. “I was six months pregnant with my younger daughter and it was pay day and I had a lot of cash on me,” she recounts. Two men tried to steal her bag. Adina’s quick-thinking saved her as she hid under a truck until help arrived.
“They never got the cash,” she laughs later in the interview and I can’t help but wonder if her strength, flexibility and quick reaction time may be attributed to her Pilates practice.
Flash forward a couple of years later and Adina was asked to participate in a Pilates DVD with Ellsworth. The filming took place over several days. “It was the first time that I was alone in a hotel room by myself and had time to really think.” She finally had her true a-ha moment and called her husband, an insurance and commercial lawyer and asked for his help in closing her business. She wanted to pursue Pilates instruction full-time and spend more time with her family.
She initially started teaching part-time in Scarsdale with Ellsworth but decided to ask for a job at the Pilates Center of Westchester, the former Breathe location. Adina asked the owner to give her a try. She was reluctant at first but she begged her for a Sunday morning class and then Adina ultimately asked her friends to participate.
After teaching there for many years, the former studio owner decided move to Arizona. Adina bought the studio a decade ago changing its name to Breathe, adding yoga classes following advice from her yoga-loving husband.
Knowledgeable Instructors: A Hallmark of Breathe
Adina has always prided herself on hiring highly knowledgeable instructors who have a strong sense of anatomy. “I have clients that had very low flexibility when they came here and now they can function pain-free in their daily lives. This method works.”
Both Pilates and yoga are forms of exercise with no age limits. Breathe even has a 92-year-old client. “A lot of people come to the studio after an injury or in conjunction with physical therapy,” explains Adina. Her old studio was up a flight of stairs so when the now defunct Hall of Scoops spot became available, she leased it.
The new studio features almost 40 Pilates and yoga classes a week, fitness apparel, grab-and-go food items from Rye Ridge’s Organic Pharmer plus F-factor, a fiber-based diet program.
“Sometimes a client will say they tried Pilates at their gym and got hurt. I wonder how can an instructor watch your form with 50 students in a mat class?” asks Adina. That is why she limits Pilates tower classes to seven students.
On the Horizon
And it’s that personalized attention that have earned the studio praise. “I’ve seen Chappaqua have its ups and downs,” she observes but with the new streetscape and additional retailers opening up recently, she hopes it is on an upswing. In addition to offering private yoga lessons, tower workshops and outdoor seating, Adina hopes to foster a sense of community at Breathe. Her studio also offers Pilates certification for students who want to teach there in the future. With a loyal fan base at Breathe, that future certainly looks bright.
Breathe is located at 14 South Greeley Avenue. For additional information, visit yoga-pilates-chappaqua.com.