This week we are excited to bring a new type of story to Around Berwyn – ‘Know Your Neighbors’! The ‘Know Your Neighbors’ pieces will be quick, fun interviews with fellow Berwyn residents. They’re a great way to get to know (or know more) about the people living and working in the great city of Berwyn. If you live/work in Berwyn and would like to be our featured neighbor for the week please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are delighted that in this week’s ‘Know Your Neighbor’ piece we are able to introduce you to Angela Tomassetti. Angela is a vital piece of the impressive growth happening in Berwyn’s Depot District. She shares with us the inspiring story of how she got here, the hardest part of running a business, what her typical day looks like and what she does in her (limited) free time.
Read on to learn all of this (and more) and then stop into Fit Club for a class (yoga and wine anyone?) and say hi to Angela in person!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a full-time fitness professional. I am a certified personal trainer and qualified yoga instructor. I first began teaching yoga in 2006, when looking to deepen my own understanding and practice of yoga. It was not until 2008 that I embarked upon a full-time career in fitness.
At the time, I was working for a fund of hedge funds in London. The pace of life was fast, to say the least. I’d been practicing yoga daily to help manage the stress and find a little “me” time in the midst of an otherwise over-scheduled day of meetings, calls, and business-related travel. I found yoga incredibly grounding, so it seemed like the place I should devote 100% of my energy when I began to lose my love and enthusiasm for the financial services industry.
Upon resigning my position at the fund, I returned to my hometown of Chicago to begin teaching yoga full-time. Along the way, I saw that both my own body and those of my students, while flexible, lacked the strength and endurance that a varied training regimen would provide. I went on to study more about biomechanics and anatomy, becoming an avid fan of weight lifting and eventually completing my certification in personal training.
Now, I work with students to find a balance between the energetic – (more yang-like) and grounding (more yin-like) practice of movement. After seeing students in my garage and in their living rooms for about a year, I decided to expand my offering on a more public scale. I now manage a studio (Fit Club) in Berwyn’s Depot District that offers everything from high-intensity training to gentle yoga. Not everyone is ready for or indeed loves every form of movement, so it is my goal to offer a wide enough range of options that I am able to help everyone find what works for them. I am thrilled that I now have other yoga instructors, trainers, and even a Cheerobix teacher joining me in that endeavor. Cheerobix? Yep. It is a pom-inspired dance fitness class that I think you’ll just have to try for yourself!
As the owner and coach at Fit Club, you must be very busy. When you manage to find free time, how do you spend it?
When I am not at Fit Club, I can be spotted jogging through South Berwyn, walking my two rescue dogs with my husband or riding my bike on the Salt Creek Trail. I also volunteer with various organizations and charities, including the Berwyn Township Farmers’ Market and Gilda’s Club of Chicago.
While it requires effort and discipline on my part as a new business owner, I like to keep some time in my schedule on the weekends to allow for time to catch up with extended family, which is scattered across Chicagoland.
My husband and I love to travel and have been known to take a bit of a European adventure. We’re hoping that 2016 will see us returning to Ireland and England to visit with old friends and reignite our wanderlust.
You also live in Berwyn. What made it the right place for you to both work and live?
When my husband and I bought our home in 2013, we were promised by our realtor that the Depot was slowly regenerating. In 2014, we had our doubts but have seen a steady uptick in foot traffic this year. I knew I wanted to be a part of the growth and to offer something different. It was just a matter of timing. While we have seen a number of restaurants come and go, my husband and I felt that the area needed something that drew folks in so that they would stick around. You can only eat so many meals while visiting the neighborhood. I love that now you have so many things you can do in a day – come to Fit Club for a class, then grab a coffee afterward from Taz, shop at Fly Right Gifts, get a facial from my favorite aesthetician at Face2Face, catch lunch at Happy Buddha Cafe, or gab over manicures at La Fleur. It’s a perfect setting for a studio and just what my husband and I were looking to be a part of when first looking at places to call home. Local, local, local!!
We lived in Logan Square for several years. We loved the way the neighborhood embraced all things local. So much so that when it came time to exchange our vows, we managed to arrange it so that we remained as local as possible. Our ceremony was in the neighboring park, reception was at the local brewery; even our invites were crafted by a local papersmith.
When seeking to purchase a home, we wanted that same local vibe we’d come to love so much about Logan Square. Berwyn seemed the logical fit. The housing stock was fantastic, the look was still largely urban and the people seemed committed to supporting their local businesses.
That we found the Victorian home we were dreaming of in such a vibrant and big-hearted community makes us feel like we struck gold. We love it here!
What has been the most difficult part of owning your own business?
Showing up with no promise of a paycheck.
What I think many do not realize is that fledgling businesses often do not generate much more income than is required to pay the rent and utilities on a prime storefront location. Coming in to teach and not knowing if anyone will show up is a challenge for any instructor. I have found it all the more difficult when I am the one holding the key.
It is my passion for the work that keeps me coming, even when numbers may be low or word is only just beginning to spread. I’ve begun offering a free trial offer to neighbors willing to dip their toes in the waters at Fit Club. I hope that it is the incentive to get reluctant exercisers in the door and see that movement is a wonderful thing and has the ability to keep minds and bodies young and vital for years to come.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wake up at 4 a.m., head to the studio, lead at least one or two workouts or yoga practices, before heading home to feed and walk the dogs. Some days I may see some students I still see in Chicago, other days I am in Berwyn solely, training and teaching all day at Fit Club.
I tend to grab lunch, coffee, and a catch up with my friends at the neighboring businesses in the Depot, whether a coconut oatmeal brekkie at Happy Buddha Cafe, coffee or soup from Taz Deli, or a tamale from Parad-Ice. I manage to get home at some point for dinner with my husband before heading back to squeeze in one last student or maybe a super chilled out yoga class before bedtime.
What is the first app or website you open in the morning?
The first thing I check in the morning is my own app. I check the online scheduler at https://fitclubdepot.zenplanner.com to see who is coming in for the day.
What is the weirdest thing that has happened to you in your career?
As a yoga instructor, I feel like weird is just part of the job description. While I have been contacted by a number of oddballs over the years via social media and email, perhaps the strangest thing I have done to date was a yoga flash mob in Union Station. In 2009, I was hired to lead a group of 250 students through a sequence of yoga postures in the Grand Hall. Some participants came dressed in yoga garb, but most were in business attire. It made the nightly news and was a fun way to liven up commuters’ mornings. While in theory it would be a nice way to introduce passersby to the practice, as it was sponsored by a corporate group, it was awful commercial. At the last minute, the organizer gave me a script to read between my yoga cues. I promised myself that afternoon that I would never do a “corporate” gig again. It was weird to rattle off web addresses mid-Savasana.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A marine biologist. That is until I was old enough to realize they don’t all actually spend their days swimming with dolphins.
What is your favorite season?
Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the way the sunsets look at this time of year against the contrast of all the colors of the leaves as they turn. The sound of leaves rustling while I am out on a job encourages me to leave my headphones at home and just enjoy the soundtrack nature can provide. I know some loathe the early sunsets, but as someone who struggles with sleeplessness in the long, hot days of summer, the extra hours of darkness always feel like a welcome opportunity to spend more time winding down and taking care of myself at the end of the day.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words? How would your friends/family describe you?
Driven. Passionate. Kind. It is how I would like to be described and feel I do a good job of outwardly demonstrating to friends and family. Certainly an instance where my intention is on equal footing to my reality.
Finally, anything coming up at Fit Club that we should know about?
We have a yoga and wine event coming up on November 22nd, where there will be a gentle yoga class followed by a tasting that is specifically geared toward wines that pair with traditional holiday feasts. What better way to get a leg up on the perfect hostess gift before the holidays?
For more information on Fit Club and to get in touch with Angela, visit:
Angela Tomassetti, Owner and Coach
6936 Windsor Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
Phone: (708) 762-3445