For the 10th anniversary of the fully Filipino-owned and inclusive Pilates studio, founder Tanya Maria Aguila tells us how the Onelife woman steps up to every season.
Pilates, with its graceful movements and precise techniques, can often appear intimidating to those who have never experienced it. The sight of advanced practitioners effortlessly executing intricate exercises might create a sense of doubt and uncertainty. However, behind the initial intimidation lies a world of possibilities and transformative benefits.
The exercise was created by Joseph Pilates, son of a gymnast father and naturopath mother. While interned in WWI, he made the system of movements with the goal of strengthening both the human mind and the body, which he believed were interconnected.
If there is one thing that sets the Pilates programs of Onelife apart, it is that the studio offers clinical sessions and physical therapy curated for each individual person. Every woman goes through seasons in their life — from something as common as stress at work to the difficulties of postpartum depression. While the foundations of Pilates remain the same for everyone, each person’s journey is unique.
What sets apart a truly transformative Pilates experience at Onelife is a specially curated, caring program that adapts to each woman’s individual needs, limitations, and goals.
Entering the Onelife studio in the new wing of the Estancia mall in Pasig, the private room is brightly lit, made warm and welcoming by the walls with white bricks. It is the studio’s 10th anniversary and the room is buzzing with long-time pilates enthusiasts dressed in the studio’s blue and white colors. There is a DJ, a festive cake, a bar filled with Wildflower Wines, and a grazing table by Aperitivo Da Andare, right next to baked goods by The Daily Knead.
When the program gets rolling, one of the striking moments was when Karen Millonado spoke about her personal pilates journey. She shared how she broke her spine in 2016. When she reached a point where she felt wasn’t progressing with her physical therapy, she began to frequent Onelife in 2018. Here she learned proper posture and “even how to just breathe,” with the biggest learning of accepting “progress over perfection.”
After the program, we got the chance to speak to the founder of the fully Filipino-owned Pilates studio, Tanya Maria Aguila. As she spoke, we were moved by her inclusive and genuine description of the Onelife woman, as well as the clinical backdrop practiced at Onelife Pilates.
How would you describe the Onelife Woman?
The Onelife woman is somebody who is very secure in herself in whatever season of her life. Although she might appear like she has it all together, she has moments where she feels human. She gets frazzled, she has setbacks — but the thing about her is that she knows when she has to do something about it. She’s not shy about taking action when she needs to. She’s also not intimidated, and she doesn’t feel bad when she feels like she has to take a step back. She believes in working on herself, and she knows she’s not perfect. But she knows that she’s someone who has the ability to keep progressing in whatever she does in life.
She’s not your typical person. She’s the woman who doesn’t necessarily bounce back immediately after pregnancy. She’s normal. She’s us. Her heart is good through and through, and it shows when she enters the room. It’s such a cliche nowadays when people say women are supporting women, but the Onelife woman is really a woman that supports other women. She’s happy for other people when they thrive. Her heart is good through and through, and it shows when she enters the room.
Could you describe how your personal experiences have affected the way you’ve structured Onelife?
When I started Onelife I was pretty young. I was around twenty-nine. At the time I was a new fitness teacher and I was at the peak of my physical life. I put it together with my husband, his mom, and my tita. It wasn’t just me. My mom and my tita are a bit older – one had a cervical spine issue, and the other had carpal tunnel. My husband is a bit on the big side, too, so he’s never felt comfortable in his own body. So I was the kind of outlier during the time. Yet, I had insecurities. As a yoga teacher and a Nike coach, I didn’t have the traditionally super-fit, ripped body. So it was very intentional to make sure when it comes to our messaging, it’s not something that will alienate people like us.
Through the years we started talking to those people, and more and more women started going through our doors. We realized when we got to know these women better, they had special needs. So if you’re pregnant, you don’t have anywhere to go that can guide you through exercise. And either you do it on your own, and it’s injurious or scary, or you don’t do it at all. You’re left alone. No one tells you that it’s a process that takes time right? Usually the doctors in the Philippines will tell you don’t exercise. I’m not saying that’s bad, but I’m just saying there are other options. Western medicine also has proof that clinical Pilates really works. That’s something that we integrate into what we do.
We try to listen to the woman every single time — every single session is an inside thing for us where we refine, and refine. It’s how we’re here at 10 years. It’s catered to the woman.
Could you tell us more about the clinical aspect practiced in Onelife?
Pilates has been in the world for a long time. Because it’s been there, it’s a method that is proven, right? It’s painless. Some of the Pilates moves, they’re a bit hard to do, or it takes time for your body to prepare to do it. The reality is — to advance you need to commit to learning it. That’s not really accessible to a lot of people. Sometimes people like me can’t even do those exercises. And that’s why we started focusing on clinical Pilates, combining the beauty of physical therapy, and functional movement, with Pilates exercises that are accessible and beneficial to women.
We have to make sure that the women are brilliant at the basics. They can carry their body well, whatever your season. Maybe in that season they’re very strong and can go for the advanced moves. But sometimes they’re recovering, or they don’t have a lot of time.
When done well, it’s very beneficial. But when done not well, it can be very injurious. That’s why we decided to focus on a more streamlined philosophy. I always tell my team that we have to be responsible in the way we do things. One of our core values is sustainability, and we want to carry that through the programming for all our clients.
We don’t have any group classes at all. We’re an exclusively one-on-one studio. Every single time someone comes in their door, your session is totally bespoke, personalized, and customized to how they feel that day. If their goals change tomorrow, then we’ll change the program.
Diving into a Onelife program offers specific “Care tracks” that determine the program a woman needs in her stage and season in her life. It ranges from General Fitness, Posture Improvement, Pre/Post Natal Fitness, Weight Loss and Toning, and Injury Rehab and Management.
Each studio is complete with Pilates equipment including the Reformer, Cadillac/Trapeze Table, and Pilates Chair, with in-studio personal training sessions at P1,250, and more packages available on the Onelife Studio website. With branches in the Citiplace Building in San Juan, Plaza One Hundred in Makati, and Estancia Mall in Pasig, the Onelife community keeps growing, and will probably keep expanding in the decades to come.