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#TAKAIIWOMEN INTERVIEWS… Cindy Vandevyver, Owner, PilatesZeit

Recently we spoke to an incredibly inspiring woman – Cindy Vandevyer, cancer survivor, mother and owner of four Pilates Studios in Germany. How does she balance it all and live a fulfilled life?

Read on to see what we got up to…

Your Pilates Studio(s) PilatesZeit looks fabulous and you’ve been in business over 10 years, what an amazing achievement!

How long have you been practising Pilates and what made you want to start your own business?

I had a serious car accident 16 years ago. I almost broke my neck and had severe damage to my cervical spine. This left me paralysed on my left side. I was in pain every day and nobody could really help me.

I’ve been a trainer since 1996 but after the birth of my son in 2005 I was looking for a type of training that could make me really fit again. It was then that Pilates was recommended to me.

Until then, I had never heard of Pilates – even as a trainer – because it was still very unknown in Germany at the time. I tried it immediately and felt how good it was for my body within a few workouts – and above all I realised that my pain had lessened. After only a few weeks I was free of pain and feeling had returned to my left arm and fingers. It was indescribable.

After this experience with my own body, it was clear to me that I would train as a Pilates instructor. Since then, my daily goal has been to help people become pain-free and to help them alleviate their problems

I have a friend who is interested in opening her own studio, what are a few tips that you could share, and how has the market changed/developed in the 10+ years since you started?

I would always make the same decision as I made in 2006. I would always open a Pilates studio again, having said that, I also have to say that it is a very hard job. I would have to tell your friend that it’s a job that you have to love so much that you’re ready to do it every day. Seven days a week and 365 days a year. PilatesZeit is my second baby. Just as you always take care of your child, you have to take care of your business. BUT it's a great job. People are super grateful. It is indescribably beautiful when each of your customers thanks you at the end of the lesson and leaves the studio happily.

The industry has changed a lot. 13 years ago, I was almost alone in the market. I had no "competition". Today there are a lot of studios - everywhere. We actually fight against price cutting daily. Pilates trainers have had a long and hard education. I personally think that this should be rewarded better.

How do you keep your work-life-family balanced as a business owner?

It is actually very difficult. Especially if you really love your job, no matter how hard it is. I give my best, but I think my husband and son can answer that question better. 😊 I suspect they would say that I work too much. Some days I feel that way too ... but I don't really find it exhausting. I like doing it very much!

If I’m not in the studio teaching classes you can find me…

…together with my family and friends. I work a lot and I love to be with my son and my husband when I am not in the studio. We love good food and we love to go for an amazing dinner all together! 😊

What are your favourite Pilates retreats? OR / If I could host a Pilates retreat anywhere in the world it would be in…

my own studio! 😉

Which 4 words would you say describe you the best?

Fearless, passionate, innovative and real

We were very sad to learn that you have had your own experience with cancer. We are so happy for you and your loved ones that you beat it and continue to power through with your business. Anybody, let alone someone self-employed, would have an incredibly difficult time dealing with this. What would you say kept you strong and are there any words that you could share with someone struggling through a similarly dark time in their lives?

It was a really hard time in my life. I had a tumour on my forehead that needed to be removed. The operation cost me a lot of strength and energy, but I got through it very well. I am thankful for it every day. I couldn't have survived without my family and friends. My family was there for me every day. They almost lived in the hospital with me. I was almost never alone. It was fantastic to have them around me and it gives you a lot of energy. My team, which was much smaller then, did a mega job. They took care of everything and kept my back free for many weeks. Their work was unforgettable and priceless.

It is really difficult for the psyche if they operate on your head. You are afraid – even a long time after the operation. I was also incredibly well supported by my friends here. There are many moments with them that I will never forget, and where I still have tears in my eyes when I think about it.

If I can recommend someone something for such times, it is not to lose hope and courage. Nobody should have to go through something like this alone. Have the courage to be helped and to admit that you need help.

If I could meet anyone in the world it would be…

I thought about this for a long time. Right now, there is nobody. I have so many amazing people around me, that I have no wish to meet somebody special and I wouldn’t even know what to ask them!

Which 4 words would you choose to describe 2020?

exciting, trend-setting, pioneering, decisive

This interview was taken pre COVID19 and since then Cindy's studio has also been offering online classes in English and German to an international audience. To find out more about Cindy's Pilates Studios 'Pilateszeit' click here.