Opening an Italian restaurant in Tbilisi and a Pilates studio in Dubai is quite noteworthy. Can you shed light on the inspiration and motivation behind these entrepreneurial pursuits?
The restaurant is a simple story. People knew my husband and I were investing in Georgia, and some wonderful people in Dubai approached us about opening a restaurant. We provided market knowledge. I loved the idea, and we ended up with the best Neapolitan restaurant in Georgia.
Pilates came about through my health journey. After giving birth, I had intense back pain that multiple doctors couldn’t alleviate - nothing helped at all. It progressively worsened until I had to lie down for 15 minutes just to walk to the kitchen table. The pain was unbearable. I found yet another online Pilates instructor. I’d done Pilates before without success, but this time, we started with very gentle exercises. Now I understand where previous teachers had gone wrong. After practicing three times a week for six months, I began to improve - energy returned, pain decreased, and sleep regulated.
I invited the instructor to train me privately. She explained her method from Polstar Pilates, headquartered in the US. It’s a rigorous year of training and a minimum of 400 hours of practice before they certify teachers. As before, when launching the Georgia flights in 2011, information serendipitously arrived. I researched and found they had no regional presence. Of course, I wrote the head office, mentioning my experience launching an international airline in new markets. Ultimately, I secured an exclusive contract to represent Polstar Pilates education in the Middle East, Georgia, and Armenia. Without Pilates, I might have required back surgery, which, as we know, carries no guarantee. This venture emerged from physical suffering, so I deeply believe in it.Over the course of your journey and through these experiences, have you found a deeper sense of self-acceptance and love for yourself?
I think so - I delight in who I am. Self-love is also about self-understanding. I was a woman who couldn’t devote 30 minutes a day to myself. I felt guilty as if I wasn’t giving enough time to my daughter. Now, I give myself two hours daily without any guilt. The more time I spend on Pilates, meditation, and so on, the more I fall in love with myself.Which practices or rituals have you found to be fundamental for you?
Nutrition is the base, and by that, I mean primary and secondary food. The primary is the environment we inhabit – what is the atmosphere at home, the state of my relationships? I often catch myself feeling anxious and immediately consider who I spoke with, what was said, what triggered me. So, home environment and self-expression are paramount. With those two areas sorted, what helps me stay grounded rather than lost in thought is – walking, cold showers, meditation, and Pilates. My mind is very active, so during the day, restorative yoga nidra really supports me. It’s essential not to forget self-care rather than endure burnout, thinking I’ll relax after completing a project.Do you make time for other interests? If so, what are they?
I’m currently fascinated by menopause, as at 42, I'm premenopausal. It’s not openly discussed, just like depression. Menopause terrified me as a child, but the more I learn, the more I realize it can be an incredibly productive time for women. Premenopause and menopause put our lives under a microscope. Any issues we try to bury and ignore will surface. The sooner we do the excavation work, the smoother menopause will be.Do you mean both physical and mental health issues?
Absolutely. Here, relationships are paramount again – how we relate to ourselves and accept ourselves. Women at my studio will finish Pilates class and go lift weights. They’re battling their bodies, trying to reconstruct themselves. For some reason, they want the physique of a 25-year-old. I don’t judge them, but I long to tell all women that 45 can be as beautiful as 25. We don’t need to appear 25 to love and be loved. Who tells us we must have six-pack abs or a Brazilian butt? If it’s not our genetics, why force it? Perhaps just get to know your body and love yourself as you are. I never had a flat stomach. Either I accept that or continue a losing battle.Throughout the various chapters of your life, have there been individuals who have stood out as sources of inspiration for you?
You actually give me chills saying this. My health coach played a huge role, as that was my first step into focusing on nutrition.Over the recent years, are there any books, films, or music that have profoundly resonated with or impacted you?
I have a few books always on my desk that I reread periodically. Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God. I feared that book, given my religious upbringing. As a Christian, I harbored much fear that God could become angry and punish me. Whenever I entered a church, I felt afraid, forever guilty. But that was in the past. Two years ago, when I first read it, so many rigid mindsets dissolved, like loosening screwed-in screws.For instance?
We were often told that too much laughter would bring God’s punishment; you can’t laugh that hard. And frequently, I would worry that if I were enjoying myself to the fullest, something bad would happen next. But in fact, if you expect something bad to occur, you spark that very reaction and start experiencing those emotions. The greatest insight from the book is that we constantly rush after something. We don’t need to figuratively climb Everest, okay, do it if you wish, but don’t miss out on life today. Because tomorrow I’ll climb Everest, yet today I’ll enjoy my breakfast.