Wednesday, 2 April 2014


It is with great honor to post my review from a long time student and friend.  Elyas, I just wanted to thank you kindly from the bottom of my heart.  I wish love, health wealth and happiness.  Much Love, Coach T.

From: Elyas B.
To: Tina Aurelio

Holistic Bodyworx, Mississauga's premier Hot yoga and Hot Pilates Studio is tucked away slightly east of Square One Shopping Centre. Although a man invented Pilates, its adherents are overwhelmingly women, who practice it in their attempts to achieve the perfect body. But any guy who would eschew Pilates because it's a "girls workout" has never taken a class with Tina Aurelio.

I remember the first time I met Tina. It was a warm and sunny Monday evening. I entered Holistic Bodyworx (which she owns with her husband, the affable Roy Gowans) and signed up for Hot Pilates. Hot Pilates takes place in "Studio A" where the temperature is a blistering 40 degrees. Tina was standing in the entrance talking with some of her students. She had blond curly hair and was in her mid-40s. Although she was at an age where some say it is "acceptable" for women with children to "let themselves go" she had not. Not even close. This woman was ripped: tight abs, strong arms and toned legs. Most of the women she was talking to were in their 20s and 30s and many were in amazing shape too. Her voice had the affection you would expect to hear in a wholesome Italian mother. The girls updated her on their fitness gains, their weekend escapades and asked questions about what to eat. She took an interest in all of them, laughed at their stories, made jokes and told the people leaving she couldn't wait to see them again. I didn't know Tina at the time and am usually shy around new people so I just sneaked passed her and entered the studio.

The heat in Studio A smacks you like Las Vegas in August. It felt strange standing in an exercise room surrounded by girls decked out in Lululemon clothing. But I wanted to get in shape and heard that many elite athletes incorporated Pilates into their regiments to gain strength. Right at 7:10 p.m. sharp Tina entered the packed studio.  "So how's everybody doing?" she enthusiastically asked the 25 of us on our mats. She connected her iPhone to the stereo system and it started to blast Pitbull- a staple in the studio's classes. "Alright everyone let's move!" The class started off with us marching on one spot and evolved into tougher moves- shadow boxing, squats and jumps. Although many Pilates and Yoga classes tend to have sounds of waterfalls and raindrops in the background, Tina always pumps dance, hip-hop and high energy mainstream music to ensure we have energy to endure the 60 minutes of torture...I mean exercise.

During the warm ups two girls near me started talking and giggling. That was a mistake. Tina snapped and yelled "Why am I hearing people talking? The only voice people should be hearing is mine!" The girls, knowing what was good for them, went silent. Her tone shocked me. How was this the same affectionate women I saw in the hallway? I quickly learned Tina can be tough.

After the warm ups it was ab work time. Abs exercises seem to get a rise out of Tina more than any other workout, probably because they are the hardest and are usually when people start to slack off. In a regular room these exercises would be hard, but in a heated room they were excruciating. Following a round of roll-ups, fiddle-heads and leg raises, even the most seasoned Pilates students were sucking wind. But they were wasting their time if they were waiting on Tina for sympathy. "Hey, don't stop moving because my back's turned, I can see you in the mirror!" she warned girls taking a break. The loving Italian mother in the hallway transformed into a drill sergeant. Throughout the hour she never relented. Three girls who were obviously new to Pilates collapsed onto their mats during the single legged teasers and scissors (lower ab workouts that are notoriously difficult for anyone not named Usher). Tina walked over to them and I thought "okay, now she is going show concern." Nope. She peered into their corpse like bodies and said "Hey! If I knew you three were coming tonight I would have made some lemonade so we could all sit outside on patio chairs and drink it. Now move your ass!" I could barely keep up and my abs were burning. Nevertheless, I kept moving to avoid her wrath.

Before the much desired cool down portion of class Tina had her students perform plyometrics- moves such as burpees, mountain climbers and the dreaded wiggles (going into plank position and moving your hips side to side). "Alright ladies and gentleman (referring to me, the only guy in the class) time for wiggles, 60 seconds!" At this stage the entire class lost their fears and started to groan. Tina sarcastically responded "I know, I know, life is so tough for you guys, isn't it? Cry me a river." At that moment I looked over at two blonds who were obviously really experienced and they started to laugh. They understood deep down Tina's harshness is rooted in love, not hate.

Her sensitive side comes out at the end of class. At the 55 minute mark the heat is brought down to a normal temperature, the lights are turned off and Enya supplants Pitbull on Tina's iPhone. After 5 minutes of cool down and stretching exercises Tina, who spent much of the hour chiding people, tells everyone they did a great job, she's so proud of them and thanks them for coming. She walked over to me and asked "So how did it go?" as she does with all newcomers to her studio. Hiding any sense of pain I politely responded "It was a great class. Thanks Tina!" I was sore for the next week.

One story about Tina stands out the most for me. In the summer of 2013, she hired a new Pilates instructor at Holistic Bodyworx. The girl had just finished her teacher training course. One evening when Tina was away from the studio the new teacher was substituting for her class and it went poorly. Three women started to berate her because they didn't like the girl's teaching style. She would later call Tina in tears and feared she had failed as a teacher. However, instead of siding with the customers, which businesses often do, Tina supported the new instructor. When challenged Tina always uses straight talk; you'll never be confused as to where she stands. Later she told me how angry the incident made her. "My staff are like my children, nobody is allowed to talk to them like that."  

It has almost been 4 years since that first class and I have gotten to know Tina quite well and understand why so many women, and men, from different ages and backgrounds have made her such a popular instructor and personal trainer. She is an encyclopedia of knowledge on health and fitness who genuinely cares for the people who turn to her for help. Too many personal trainers are primarily satisfied with taking people's money instead of helping their clients achieve results. Tina is the total opposite. She is a smart and successful entrepreneur who left a stable career in business and built Holistic Bodyworx into one of the most popular studios in Mississauga. The studio gets new clients everyday in what has become an extremely competitive industry. Long stand members keep returning because they love the workouts and have developed faith and admiration in the women we affectionately refer to as Coach T.

Elyas Burney
March 2014

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