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Meet Maria Angelova of Rebellious Intl in Sandy Springs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maria Angelova.

Maria, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story started in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. I was the older star child who worked hard, made A’s, helped home and all that good stuff. I was also the child who always asked why, tried to get it her way and gently “bend” the rules. I was a mastermind who always had some kind of (mischievous) bright idea.

I believe life is short, and we should make the most of it! I love to dance, travel, read, learn and play. I am huge proponent of Work Hard, Play Hard. I think sleep is overrated (but am working on creating better sleep habits!). I believe in speaking up. I believe in not having to fit in. I believe in being authentic. I believe that everyone deserves happiness. I am direct. I am honest. I am extremely passionate and energetic and can easily overwhelm people with my enthusiasm.

I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend. I am that friend that you can call at 2 AM. I will let you cry on my shoulder and then tell you to suck it up and get it together. Some of my nicknames have been ‘pitbull’, ‘bomb’, ‘dictator’ (the last one is by my dear family!). In summary, ‘rebel’ is a pretty good word to describe me.

I have been into fitness and physical activity since a young age. Upon starting elementary school, I participated in the swimming team. My Russian coach would tell me: Mashenka, we will train you for the Olympics. She would let me compete with the boys. Both of my parents are Ph.D. in Biochemistry. My family was supportive of me being active but academics were heavily emphasized, so the swim team experience was short lived.

The gym became part of my lifestyle when I was 12 as my way of dealing with newly developing curves and bullying by the mean girls in school. My parents taught me to never fall a victim but to create opportunities out of challenges.

My family moved to the US when I was 15. Dad was invited to work at UGA as an exchange scientist. I watched my parents leave close family and a comfortable life back home to start from ground zero. My dad was a dreamer. We lived in the Eastern Block at a time when travel to the West was not allowed. However, that didn’t stop dad from telling everyone that one day he will take his family to the U.S.A. – the land of opportunities. He was frequently mocked over this idea but he didn’t care. He realized his dream even though it was short-lived; dad passed away only four years after us moving to the United States.

Immigrating to another country was a tremendous growth experience. My parents emphasized the opportunities and that it is up to me to make the choices to propel me forward. I skipped 8th and 9th grade and started high school in Athens, GA in 10th grade. I graduated salutatorian and proceeded to college on full scholarships. I completed a BBA and an MBA in Finance with honors at UGA and GA State, respectively. I worked in the corporate world for over 17 years in Operations and Finance. I am a nerd at heart. I love data, analytics. Dare I say I love Microsoft Access and Excel? At my last corporate job, I loved the team, my boss, the opportunities. Yet something was missing. While the fear and self-doubt of venturing into the unknown were there, the desire to live my dream was escalating daily to the point where something had to change. I quit corporate in August 2016 and devoted my energy full time to Rebellious Intl.

Going back to teen years, it was my dad’s brilliant idea that I should start teaching group exercise classes as he wasn’t going to pay for gym membership. Therefore, at age 16, I started teaching adult group exercise classes. For the past 25 years, I have taught anything from step to high/ low to Zumba, kickboxing, spinning, cycling, weights, you name it. Teaching classes, motivating people, keeping high energy and getting people to fall in love with exercise has always been my passion.

I discovered Pilates and became certified after an intense 600-hour program. I fell in love with this brilliant method, its effectiveness, and the way it holistically approaches body, mind, and spirit. Pilates completely transformed my view of fitness.

Since my first corporate job, I have always told friends that one day I will have my own fitness studio. When I started the Pilates program, I said I will have my own studio. It just took me a while to get brave enough to open the corporate cuffs and jump!

I called my company Rebellious because I wanted the name to reflect mischief. To me, being Rebellious means breaking free of the norms and following our path. Rebellious is about feeling good on the inside, it is about inspiring confidence and self-belief, it is about empowering body, mind, and spirit to be our best daring self!

I am a Rebel. I am a busy mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and now entrepreneur who has a hectic life trying to juggle the many balls up in the air. There is always something to be done. It can be overwhelming. I am deliberate to invest time in me. Daily. It is the best freaking investment! It never fails – after each Rebellious session, I feel uplifted, stronger, inspired and ready to conquer the world. I am more balanced and face challenges completely differently. I am doing much coaching for my personal growth so that I can share my talents and passion with the those around me! The world is full of asleep rebels on the vicious cycle of life.

Has it been a smooth road?
I would lie if I say it has been a smooth road. It has been a road filled excitement, enthusiasm, fun, learning, growth but also challenges, some tears, days when I question myself why the heck I would rock my perfectly comfortable life, and curveballs flying from multiple directions.

I quickly learned that, as in life in general, in entrepreneurship, often things don’t go as planned. This is a hard lesson for a business owner who is learning to let go of perfectionism. I am continuously embracing the motto: Stay Calm and Keep Moving On.

When I started Rebellious, I thought my education and corporate experience had prepared me for what is to come. I was wrong. While these have definitely given me an edge, I had no idea how much personal growth I will be going through.

I deal with many people which mean that there is a lot of dynamics amongst different personalities. I come from Eastern Europe where I grew up with almost military discipline. I am very direct and reliable. My patience is work in progress. I do what I do with tremendous passion and belief, and purpose gives me immense energy. I am continuously uncomfortable. Daily.

Another challenge is today’s mentality and desire for shortcuts to solutions. It is sad to see people popping pills for weight loss, being cruel to their bodies and treating physical activity as almost a punishment or accepting to live in pain. People are more willing to have surgery than change habits. All of these are in direct contradiction to the Rebellious approach which is long-term and proactive wellness habit creation.

The hardest part of this journey has been letting go of people who I honestly thought would be my biggest supporters. These days, I prefer to spend time with people who inspire me, challenge me and push me to grow. I have learned that I neither need to convince anyone of my journey nor do I need to deal with other people’s insecurities. I am on my path; my purpose is unfolding in front of me. I am very coachable; I appreciate advice and feedback and I do listen. However, in the end, this is about my company and vision.

As a wise friend once said: The best part of entrepreneurship is the person your become. Cheers to that!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Rebellious Intl story. Tell us more about the business.
Through the years and my personal experience, I have gained an incredible appreciation for the body and mind and their immense power if we take care of them. Many of today’s diseases are result of lifestyle choices.

Rebellious is about empowering people through the creation of healthy lifestyle habits. Rebellious is about movement, an empowered mind and spirit, and reduced environmental toxin load. It is about taking care of the inside and letting the empowerment project on the outside. It is pretty incredible to see how people’s perspective on life alters when they feel good. Rebellious is about bringing the rebel, our best and happy version, out in each one of us.

The human body was designed to move. The Rebellious mission is to educate people of the benefits of movement, help them fall in love with it and appreciate the impact it has on body, mind, and spirit. Rebellious Pilates is about functional movement with integrity. It is about repetitive and very precise and effective flow of exercises synchronized with breath. This may sound easy but I promise you, it is not. Our goal is to make you feel those muscles in action; we do promise a good burn.

Pilates is good for everyone. I have personally worked with kids as young as 8 and geriatric clients in their 80s. I have worked with men and women. I have experience working with various conditions such as back and neck pain – chronic, herniation – scoliosis, Lyme disease, Marfan syndrome, fibromyalgia, knee pain/ replacement, post-stroke recovery, postpartum recovery, professional athletes. Results include reduced or eliminated pain, better functional movement, reduced inflammation, improved athletic performance, improved posture, healthy muscles, elevated & quieted mind, reduced stress and anxiety ….. happier people! A toned body comes as a huge bonus. The transformations are powerful. As all things good in life, ripping the benefits requires consistency and dedication.

Rebellious in about creating awareness and education about environmental toxins that are harmful to our health. There are too many of these, and the list of harmful substances in our food, environment, personal care, cosmetics, cleaning products and so forth continuously grows. My passion for this topic is very personal – dad passed away at 48 from lung cancer caused by environmental toxins. I have quite a few and young girlfriends who have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The statistics are staggering and unacceptable. Greater awareness and change are necessary.

Rebellious is about creating a sense of community. I am a strong believer that changing and creating healthy habits for life is easier with a support tribe. We can cheer and encourage each other. At Rebellious, we offer access to a network of wellness professionals providing holistic approach to wellness. We bring wellness from individuals to non-profits to community to corporations.

What Rebellious is NOT about? We are not about the scale, short-term weight loss, shortcuts, competing with others, heavy weight, high reps, the new fitness gadget, etc. We are about YOU being the strongest and best version of YOU, whatever that means for you. We are about empowering YOU to do life better, with more energy, vibrancy, and enthusiasm. We are about teaching you to be kind and loving to YOU. It is about YOU being happy. Simple like that yet so complicated.

We are proud to offer over 25 years of teaching expertise, individualized attention, customized approach, and superior customer service to each and every client. We listen and educate you. We offer support – some days by being gentle, other days by kicking your behind. We do not shove products, we offer solutions to needs.

We are a boutique studio supporting you finding the rebel inside you. That is what sets Rebellious apart from the competition. It is truly a very unique and effective approach.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The wellness industry will continue to grow rapidly. The number of fitness trainers, nutritionist, wellness/ health coaches and such will keep spiking. Demand is there; people are becoming more aware of the importance of exercise, nutrition and general wellness for health and disease management.

I do believe, eventually, there will be increased certification requirements for wellness professionals. With the demand for these type of services, many certifications today are a joke.

With the changes in the health care system and the high cost of disease, I do think people will be more willing to invest in themselves proactively and will search for more wholesome ways to deal with health issues.

I do foresee the growth of new types of workout formats continuously evolving. Hopefully, people will realize that the basics do not change.

I do believe (hope) mentality will change to where functional movement is promoted for its health benefits and there is more emphasis on quality.

Pilates is now at the stage where it is getting commercialized. Hopefully, in the next 5-10 years, there will be a clearer distinction of what real Pilates is (versus doing any exercise on the Pilates equipment).

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Olya Grigorova

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