Sharifa Sehweil and Nadia Sehweil
Sharifa and her daughter Nadia are co-owners of Bodytree in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Sharifa: I've lived in Abu Dhabi for close to 35 years. Sixteen years ago, I was introduced to Pilates while in the U.S., undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. I had to have major abdominal surgery and Pilates helped me reconnect to my core and strengthen my abdominals. I started out teaching yoga, and then decided to do my STOTT PILATES® teacher training eight years ago at Studio Praxis in Montreal.
Nadia: My mom encouraged me to try Pilates in 1998 when I was in university in Montreal. Coincidentally, a woman named Daniella Moretti started a home studio in the building where I lived, so I decided to try a session. I fell in love with Daniella's classes and with Pilates. I began discovering things about myself and my body that I had never tapped into.
Sharifa: After I got my certification, I began teaching Pilates in Abu Dhabi eight years ago, initially to close friends and eventually as a paid private instructor.
Nadia: A few years after I graduated from college, my mother and I spoke of the idea of starting a Pilates studio in Abu Dhabi. None existed at the time. We launched our first studio, SOMA Pilates, in 2007 with our great friend and my mentor, Carol Valmy- Merchant, and never looked back.
Sharifa: Then in 2011, we partnered with our close friend Elina Nykanen of Yoga Tree and opened Bodytree Studio. In June 2012, we moved into our new, much larger facility. We have tripled the class offerings and now offer yoga, dance, meditation, pre- and postnatal programs, children's programs and community activities.
Nadia: Pilates has become incredibly popular here. We work with talented instructors and clients of all ages and nationalities.
Sharifa: Nadia and I have a very special relationship and working together helps us bond even more. We had envisioned turning our place into a full-fledged holistic/community center and we have achieved just that. We strongly believe in empowering women in particular, but also men and children.
Nadia: My mother is my mentor and my best friend. I'm so privileged to see her and interact with her on a daily basis. It has been an incredible journey for both of us to see each other grow both mentally and spiritually, and realize our dreams through our business.
Photo credit: Pilates Style.