Inna is a passionate yogi and entrepreneur, saving one office worker at a time with her unique office-chair yoga program. At Smart Girls Sweat, we are huge fans of Inna Miretski and her company, Utkata Yoga! Back in July, we has the pleasure of hosting a "sweatworking" featuring Inna and her unique method!
Name: Inna Miretski
Tell us about your job in 100 words or less: I'm the Founder and Chief Instructor at UTKATA - Toronto's and Canada's first and only 30-minute office chair yoga service that helps office workers refresh and recharge without leaving their chair at work. No yoga mat, no yoga clothes, and no yoga experience are needed. All you need is your office chair. My team and I are delivering accessible yoga directly into offices across Toronto and the GTA, making corporate yoga fun and simple.
Career accomplishment you are most proud of? Getting more people to try and enjoy yoga. It makes me incredibly happy to see people who are generally not into fitness, and often have never practiced yoga before, give our office chair yoga workshops a try and discover for themselves what an amazing impact yoga has on their lives. Getting as many people to move more during their work day is my top goal and top achievement.
Best piece of career advice you’ve received? Listen to your gut and give it your all.
What advice would you give to other young professional women? Fortune favors the bold and luck tends to be on the side of those who work hard. So keep on keeping on. It will pay off eventually. With that said, don't forget to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest milestones and victories along the way. It's the best way to fuel up for the next leg of your journey.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 5 years I see myself bringing UTKATA office chair yoga to the masses. I see myself and my amazing team making office chair yoga a norm and a household staple in offices across Canada, and helping their employees become healthier and happier.
How do you like to stay active? Obviously, number one is yoga. I'm a big fan of Ashtanga and Suspension Yoga, but really, I'm up for any yoga practice. I like to supplement yoga with cardio, my favorite being the elliptical at the gym, long walks outside, and running up the stairs to my condo (8th floor). But for me, staying active is not only about the workouts. I try to infuse my day with all types of movement: stretching in my chair when I work on my computer, taking the stairs instead of the escalator, walking meetings, etc.
Fitness/health accomplishment you are most proud of? In 2012 I had a severe lower back disc injury. I spend 6 months in bed, not being able to sit at all. Then I went through another year and a half of unsuccessful, slow recovery. After 2 years of suffering, I was able to sit again, but only for 30 minutes or so, before my legs went numb. I was weak and exhausted, both physically and mentally. But then a very talented therapist re-introduced yoga into my life. I had to start from the very basics, but yoga got me back on track. I worked hard to get the "old me" back. Today, fully recovered, I'm stronger than ever - both physically and mentally. I'm proud of this accomplishment because it was so easy to give up, feel sorry for myself, and to succumb to the unfortunate circumstances. But I persevered and learnt a lot about appreciating what you have. Having my health back is the best personal accomplishment I could have.
What tools and resources do you use to help you stay on track with your fitness goals (apps, journals, books, websites, gadgets etc.)? For me, the biggest thing is music. A good playlist, whether it's something upbeat for my cardio or some relaxing yoga tunes, makes the whole difference. Music is fuel. That's why I invest time in building great playlists and I'm always on the lookout to add new great tracks. Other than that, anything else is optional. I love movement, I love working out, I love the feeling after a good workout, so luckily, for me, staying on track is not an issue.
Favourite spot for healthy eats: My kitchen! Nothing compares to my homemade, mostly plant-based dishes.
Favourite spot for tasty treats: Delysees. It's an amazing, authentic french bakery on King West and it's addictive! Don't say I didn't warn you!
Last book you read: My Fight / Your Fight - an autobiography by Ronda Rousey.
Favourite quote: "Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods." I'm not sure who deserves the credit for this gem!
Do you prefer routine or spontaneity? What does a typical day look like for you? I like a healthy mix of routine and spontaneity. I have things I do every day, but non of my days look the same due to the nature of my work. I begin every morning with a cup of black coffee (no sugar no cream!) and a banana. Then I do 10-15 minutes of yoga stretches to warm up my body and wake up my mind. Then, I look at my calendar, which pretty much shapes my day. Every day, I have meetings, events, and classes at different times - depends on my clients and partners. When I'm not at a meeting, teaching, or speaking at an event, I'm managing the business. So every day starts with a coffee and yoga, but looks completely different from the day next to it. And I love it. It's exciting and it allows me a lot of flexibility. If I have more time in the morning, I can do my cardio then. If I need a break in the middle of the day, I can fit in a yoga practice or cook something. But no matter what my day looks like, every day ends the same - when I'm in my bed, ready to fall asleep, I close my eyes and think about a few things that I'm grateful for.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced pursuing both career and health and fitness goals? Getting carried away with work is my biggest challenge. Managing a business, the work never ends. Being a workaholic doesn't help either. But practicing mindfulness during the day really helps me to maintain balance. Being aware and noticing how much time I'm spending working, setting a timer, or even scheduling "cook dinner!" into my calendar helps. Having your partner yell at you "That's enough! Let's go for a walk!" works as well :)
Do you believe work-life balance truly exists? I do! I just think that it's not as static as we're made to believe. It's a dynamic, ever changing, ever evolving thing, just like we are. You work-life balance is different from your friend's work-life balance, because you're two different people with different needs. Similarly, the work-life balance that works for you today might not work for you in five years from now, because you'll be in a different place in your life, prioritizing different things. That's why mindfulness is so important. When you're mindful, you pay attention to yourself, to where you are at the present moment and what you need at that moment. Thus you're able to adjust the balance accordingly.
Why do you think committing to health and fitness is important for young professional women? Because health (mental and physical) is your most valuable possession. I had learnt it the hard way. Losing my health and being barely able to move for 2 years during my twenties was an eye opening experience. It put everything in perspective for me. If you don't have your health, you can't do anything. It's especially important for young professional women, because we tend to think we're invincible. The truth is, you have to take good care of your health and fitness at any age. Making it a habit while you're young will make it easier for you as you're growing older. Committing to a lifestyle of health and fitness is not a luxury, it's a survival skill.