If you've never heard of Garuda or Durga Baby, never fear. Innovative, enthusiastic Cindy Vadacchino is doing her part to bring these modes to her New Jersey health haven, Pilates and Company. There, Vadacchino, who once worked in engineering and marketing for medical devices, helps Pilates and Powerplate enthusiasts expand their options with these unique exercise classes. SBS chatted with the NJ native to hear how she crafted this type of programming.
SBS: What was your path from sales to your studio?
Cindy Vadacchino: While I was working in the corporate world, I started exploring yoga, and eventually started teaching on the side. Then, I got more into Pilates, and since I had danced growing up, it was very helpful. About four years ago, I left my corporate job to co-own this studio, teaching Pilates full time and becoming a master teacher trainer for Garuda. Coming from medical sales, I saw that a lot of my patients could have been helped if they had worked in these modes before surgery—or even when healing. I wanted to make their lives better. That’s where Pilates comes into play.
SBS: You co-own the studio with your mother, Wendy Zimmerman. What’s that like?
CV: My mom started the studio, and when I realized my job environment wasn’t healthy for me anymore, I saw a good opportunity to not only help my mother with her work, but also change careers myself. Since then, the studio has grown tremendously, and together we keep coming up with different ideas.
My mother has a medical background: She started as an X-Ray technician and then taught group fitness for 30 years. She also was a director at a private health club and had more than 24 instructors. So, she’s forward thinking and an inspiration, to say the least.
She pioneered a lot of fitness programs that are worldwide, and she was one of the first people to bring Les Mills Bodypump into a group fitness location. Plus, she did her Pilates training 15 years ago, and she was one of the first to bring equipment like the Reformer to group settings.
Needless to say, then, working with her has been great. She’s getting older now and moving on to a different phase in her life. She acts as a great mentor, not only helping with clients with her vast knowledge, but also in that we have a nice relationship. I have freedom to run with business ideas, and I have her support behind that.
The challenges are mostly with scheduling. She works mornings and I’m afternoons and evenings, so coordinating is hard. Then, we also have to make sure we keep the boundaries of when it’s work time and when it’s personal time. That’s key.
SBS: What are your tips to other mother-daughter business teams?
CV: First, you have to be honest about what your relationship actually is. If you don’t communicate or don’t trust each other, it won’t work. Then, I still honor that she’s my mom. She has a lot of experience not only as a mother but also as a colleague. Respect the knowledge of an elder. Finally, and I struggle with this, you have to establish those time boundaries between work and personal activities.
SBS: Tell us about Garuda.
CV: It’s basically the evolution of Pilates and yoga. In it, you’ll see elements of yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and dance. Essentially it’s a comprehensive movement system. It’s not just a fusion. You move rhythmically and dynamically with twists, curls and spirals, and that offers you more flexibility in your spine, which gives you more freedom to move, working from the inside out and outside in.
The Garuda machine is a mix of the Cadillac, Chair, Reformer with a split carriage. The machine is a bit longer and wider than a normal Reformer so you can do bigger ranges of motion.
My mother and I both saw it and watched the technique for a couple years. We’ve toyed with a number of other methods, but we realized it’s a natural progression for our clients. It allows us to pull in the yoga aspect of movement and freedom plus the neutrality in Pilates that offers such strength. Anybody can do it in any fitness condition.
SBS: And what about the Powerplate? Why do you include that in your programming?
CV: The Powerplate is for private sessions. It is accelerated technology developed for astronauts, and instead of using space you’re using acceleration to create force/muscle. You work your muscle three times as hard that way! Within that, we focus on strength, stretch, balance, massage, cardio and core for no more than 30 minutes at a time. We use it a lot for rehabilitation and strength around joints, and it’s great for people with osteoporosis or those with disabilities. We decide to include it as an extra option for our clients.
SBS: Finally, what about Durga Baby?
CV: Some of my clients became pregnant and wanted to continue with their practice, so I developed Durga Baby. It’s a combination of Pilates, yoga and Garuda. Yoga helps you relax and mentally prepare for labor and delivery while Pilates offers strength, not only of your abdominal muscles for labor and delivery, but also upper body strength and postural strength as it stabilizes joints.
All of the classes are designed specifically for labor and delivery. We have a different theme each week around what women go through during pregnancy, delivery and after-birth, from postpartum depression to caring for your body. The results have been that many women have had more natural births and faster recoveries!
It’s a very vulnerable time. Things are out of your control and change so quickly. Every day your body is changing and you are evaluating your relationships, so there is a lot that happens very quickly. As a teacher, we can allow them to have a safe space in Durga Baby.
SBS: Why have you chosen this specific palette of classes?
CV: Pilates has been around a long time, and it’s definitely a method that works for every body in every medical condition, no matter what fitness level. We knew Pilates wasn’t a trend.
In terms of adding other aspects to our business, it’s always relating to our goal, which is to ensure clients feel better, uplifted and more energetic after they leave here. So everything revolves around: How do we do that? How do we create a non-competitive, non-judgmental environment with excellent training to help them with the rest of their lives, from doing laundry to caring for grandchildren? That’s what Pilates, Garuda and Baby Durga do.
SBS: What’s your advice for studio owners looking to program interesting classes?
CV: You have to do what you love. Stay authentic to your own voice and teaching style. Trying to add in too many fad ideas or quick fixes doesn’t create longevity. Think about what works for you.
Then, think carefully about the logistics: your location, clientele and corresponding options. Be honest about the populations you want to work with.
Cindy’s SBS Mantra:
I love Be Brave. When I look down at my feet, it helps me stand tall and know that I’m doing the right thing to believe in myself and put myself out there. Fitness can be very critical and superficial, so it allows me to look beyond that noise and stay true to myself. It gives me confidence to go after my goals.