In a space of months Oscar Soletto’s certified Pilates studio, Pilatesaigon, has gone from strength-to-strength as the Vietnamese discover another way to get fit

 

What got you into Pilates? When did you first start teaching?

 

In the beginning, I was introduced to fitness and then to Pilates. Then, I fell in love with the mind-body approach. Now, 25 years on, I am a fully certified Pilates instructor and personal trainer.

 

Why is Pilates such an effective system of physical fitness?

 

Pilates uses a combination of effective and challenging exercises. Exercises can be adapted to provide either gentle strength training for rehabilitation, or a strenuous workout, vigorous enough to challenge skilled athletes. The exercises increase muscle strength and endurance, as well as flexibility that improve posture and balance. The exercises are also relatively easy.

 

How difficult is it to get into Pilates? What would you say to absolute beginners who are interested in trying it out?

 

Pilates is suitable for people of all ages, ability levels and physical conditions, from beginners to experienced athletes. The equipment used also supports a broad range of people, all the way up to those who want to challenge their body with tough exercises.

 

What brought you from Milan to Saigon?

 

It was for love. My partner was offered a new position here and we decided to accept this new challenge together.

 

How different is it working in Vietnam to working in Italy? What cultural difficulties have you had to overcome?

 

There are many but the main one is that Pilates is considered a very new discipline here, while in Italy it’s well-established. Vietnam is a country with many contradictions, with a different lifestyle. In the beginning I had to deal with a completely different bureaucracy and culture but thanks to local friends, I overcame it.

 

How difficult was it to set up your Pilates studio in Saigon? What challenges did you face?

 

It wasn’t so difficult because I was guided by a local agency in Saigon. Thanks to their useful advice and guidance it was relatively easy to set up my company and run it smoothly.

 

How well has your studio been received?

 

I began with only three or four clients. Gradually, through word of mouth, I developed a base clientele. After a few months, I bought more equipment from Canada enlarging my little space and eventually moving to my present location. My studio, currently sees over 100 clients per week in both private and small group formats, with three instructors, and offers a teacher training programme.

 

Who are your clients? What kind of backgrounds do they come from?

 

They are mainly expats of all ages. Golf, tennis and soccer players are another type of client but there’s an increasing number of Vietnamese businesspeople discovering the benefits of Pilates.

 

By setting up your business in Vietnam, are you following a dream?

 

My dream is to follow my passion but at the same time to create a chain of new studios.

 

You say that by teaching Pilates you are helping people. Can you explain this?

 

There are seven core ways that Pilates helps people: improves flexibility; increases muscle strength and tone; improves breathing; improves posture; teaches control both physically and mentally; promotes body awareness; and reinforces strong, mobile joints.

 

What are your plans for the future of your studio?

 

My plan is to create a chain of new Pilatesaigon studios so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits of having a healthy mind and body.

 

Pilatesaigon is at Lily Residence, 231 Nguyen Van Huong, Q1, HCMC. For more info click on pilatesaigon.com or facebook.com/pilatesaigon

 

 

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