Loyola Marymount University - Bachelor of Arts, Spiritual Psychology
Since she was four years old, Gia Marakas has been in love with putting her body to work through dance, from ballet and modern dance to jazz. As she grew up she also acquired a taste for equestrian riding. Born and raised in Los Angeles, now Gia uses her knowledge of the body to teach Pilates to dancers, professional athletes and celebrities at Elevation Fitness in West Hollywood, Calif. She particularly enjoys helping dancers find a new range of motion throughout their chosen professions. In addition to Pilates, Gia loves her family; her cat, Orlando; and cheeseburgers. Yes, a Pilates instructor just confessed that! Read on to find out more about the demanding schedule of a Pilates instructor and also why Gia loves her job so much.
I do whatever it takes to keep people focused.
How did you discover your current job?
I was a professional dancer and found Pilates as a tool to rehabilitate injuries and keep both my mind and my body integrated.
What is your typical day like? What types of things do you do in your job?
I wake at 5 a.m. and begin teaching from 6 or 6:30 a.m. until 7 or 8 p.m. I spend most of my time in the Pilates studio teaching or going to clients’ houses to teach.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is helping my student's achieve their fitness goals. I enjoy sitting down with a new student and finding out what exactly they wish to accomplish by studying Pilates. What kind of transformation are they looking for? Do they long to release physical and/or emotional pain from their body? Many people come looking for physical changes and end up discovering that when they change physically everything in their lives follows suit.
The most challenging part is keeping my student's motivated and discouraging complacency. I do whatever it takes to keep people focused. I have no problem demanding accountability from my students. First they need to be accountable to themselves, but for many people I take on the role of the nagging spouse or parent!
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
The biggest personal sacrifice would be working six days a week and getting up at 5 a.m. every day! My work schedule does not lend itself to developing a flourishing personal life. That is my current challenge!
What is one lesson you’ve learned in your job that sticks with you?
The biggest lesson is the two C's: commitment and consistency. To create and maintain any lasting changes in the body the two C's are required. I have two enormous C's on my bathroom mirror to remind me every day to practice what I preach.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
The biggest challenge for women in my industry is ageism. The human body ages! It's important to be healthy and fit, but at the same time realistic! I am always deeply saddened when a 50- or 60-year-old woman comes to me and tells me she wants to have the body of 20-something-year-old actress. It's not going to happen. No one escapes Father Time.
Who are your role models?
My role models are Richard Simmons and Mari Winsor. Richard Simmons because he has continued to be an inspiration to men and women for well over two decades. He is the original "Biggest Loser". Mari Winsor because she introduced the Pilates Method to the masses with her infomercials and DVD's. Without her, Pilates would not be a household word.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Everything in moderation.
What you are looking for is also looking for you.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Whenever a young girl asks me about a career in Pilates, I always say study Pilates as a student for at least three years, and then let's talk. This career is physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. Working with people and their relationships with their bodies is very tricky -- self-esteem can be fragile for many. It's a good Pilates instructor's job to honor and nurture their student's self-image while maintaining a clear vision of what that student can accomplish. It's a journey that the instructor takes with their student!
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I see myself teaching in the studio and educating women and men at large about fitness and health. Teaching transformation from the outside in.