Meet Your Practitioner: Fitness Instructor, Jacqui Mimno

Growing up a dancer, Jacqui was always inspired by movement. She frequently used yoga and Pilates as outlets to cross train for her years at the Boston Ballet. Once she got to college, Jacqui was encouraged by her parents to find a part time job and soon realized that she wanted to teach something “movement oriented.” She convinced her parents to let her train to be a yoga instructor and from then on she taught classes through her undergraduate and graduate degrees. “I laugh looking back on the pushback my parents gave me when I told them I wanted to become certified, noting that it was not a worthwhile use of time or money.” Post-college, Jacqui continued to teach on the side of her full time advertising position. She remembers, “enjoying the work but being confined to a desk and sitting all day was stunting my creativity.” It only took six months out of graduate school before Jacqui quit her job and worked in the Boston fitness community for a couple years before moving to Los Angeles. Jacqui quickly established herself in America’s fitness capital, not only meeting inspirational trainers, but becoming one herself. Working alongside professional sports games and film sets, Jacqui worked with numerous major celebrity and entertainment industry clients – including private sessions at Matt Damon’s house – before realizing that even though she had “made it,” she was missing out on parts of life that mattered to her most back home in Boston. Now, Jacqui brings her enthusiastic, unique and cultured, California flare to yoga, Pilates and barre classes at VEGA. As if you need any more reasons to immediately sign up for a class with Boston’s hottest instructor, here’s a little more about the highly-spirited, Jacqui Mimno:

 

How did you become involved in VEGA?

I had less than a year moved back from California and needed a place for clients and some small group classes. I had worked out of a few other spaces, but nothing was vibing. For whatever reason, something was always just off, it was almost as if the Universe was redirecting me. One day, a family friend of ours suggested that I contact Ashley because her new location had a yoga room she was trying to rent. I had spoken with this friend pretty late, it was a week night, I emailed Ashley pushing after 10 p.m. at this point… went and got ready for bed, then came back to the computer sitting on my bed and she had already emailed me back. (We ended up finding out later that we were just both sitting in bed writing back and forth to each other). I came into VEGA the next day, met with Ashley and we still joke, ‘It was like love at first sight.’ We clicked instantly and in that moment, she gave me the keys. I was here teaching the next day at 7 a.m.

What does VEGA’s motto “Choose to shine” mean to you?

So much of what society promotes is external beauty, but I think choose to shine is from the inside out. At VEGA, we try to create this real balance of looking your best, definitely externally, but also feeling your best internally, which is a big part of the fitness aspect. Particularly when it comes to a practice like yoga, it’s not just about your physique, it’s about feeling good from the inside out. It is equally humbling and empowering to be within the four corners of your mat and have everything about who you are ranging from your appearance, how much money you make, where you live and the car you drive to become completely irrelevant. In that moment, all you have is your body and what it can achieve. The shine for me is definitely an inside out concept, it’s really whole health, whole body.

What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?

Triangle. In any pose, the point is that you float in your joint space. You should feel light and become essentially weightless because of the fact that you have everything aligned to the point that you are defying gravity. Triangle is that moment for me, I feel the most at ease, the most weightless and that I am just sitting in space so I could stay there all day without effort.

What do you tend to dedicate your practice to the majority of the time?

Usually it has something to do with letting go of that which has been irking me or putting myself in a less than ideal mental space. We all put energy towards the same major facets of life: work, money, friendships, relationships – and it is amazing to me how changing your perspective can create an instant shift. I say this to my students all the time, ‘in each and every moment throughout class, the yoga pose is never the goal. The goal is that you are creating this space around something that you were stuck on.’ So, the poses just become this venue where you can breathe deeply, where you can become spacious, grounded, steady in whatever moment you are in and the ripple effect that in turn has on your life. If you can do that on your mat, you can mentally take yourself to that place at any moment.’

So if there’s negative energy left over at the end of the day, what do you do to ground yourself?

It sounds so cliché, but meditate which is really just taking a moment to breathe deeply. I think it’s the best thing that anyone can do for themselves. Even a minute of sitting closing your eyes and breathing is a great starting point. Breathing deeply slows down your heart rate and closing your eyes completely calms your nervous system. I also think rituals are really lovely. It doesn’t matter for me what time I get home, whether it’s 6 o’clock or if I’m at a birthday party and I’m out significantly later on a weekend night, I always come home and I make the same tea- it’s loose leaf sweet camomile mint from Tealuxe. Rituals are really calming because they bring you back to something that is a constant in your life. They are something simple that you can count on. They are something that you have chosen.

When do you practice yoga? 

I force myself to make the time to physically take class with a teacher at least once a week, twice if I’m lucky. I love to teach because I love being a student. Taking class feels so luxurious to me and that appreciation is what makes a good teacher. There is something beautiful about someone guiding you through movement. The days that I’m not taking someone’s class and doing a yoga or Pilates practice on my own the whole time I have to instruct myself, ‘You have eight more of this,’ or, ‘Next, you’re going to do this and this.’ In modern society, when you’re running around all day and making decisions, there’s something liberating about not needing to think and for someone else to tell you what to do. For me, there’s nothing more valuable than being in class and having someone else guide you through a unique experience, mentally not knowing where you’re going next and reaching those moments where you think ‘wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through anyways, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

Do you have someone you look up to in yoga?

Jacqui Bonwell has been my long term mentor. She is a force to be reckoned with but the most calming, grounding person all at the same time. She really has the most unique dynamic of anyone I’ve ever met and she changed the way I look at yoga and what the practice means to me. She also helped me to define the message I convey when I teach. We have all dealt with joy, we have all dealt with grief and how you can pair down your specific life experience to a base human level, to the lowest common denominator, that enables you be relatable and connect to anyone.

What’s your favorite activewear line?

I love Nike and am fortunate enough to be aligned with the brand in a trainer and sponsorship capacity. For me, it goes far beyond design, longevity and technology. One of the greatest things about working with Nike is that the corporate level and work environment is very much aligned with what they preach to the consumer world. When we are traveling or at conferences, in addition to workouts sprinkled throughout the day, they try not to keep us seated for long, and everyone jumps up to move during breaks. We are in settings that promote fitness whether it’s a basketball court six feet away from the projector; or the yoga mats and foam rollers in the corner so people can keep their bodies moving. They are a company that genuinely wants people to be active, not just purchase sportswear. They genuinely care about people’s overall health.

Describe the VEGA space and atmosphere in five words:

Bright, Energizing, Happy, Cozy, Light.

 

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