We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Maria Angelova. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Maria below.
Maria, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Let’s kick things off with a hypothetical question – if it were up to you, what would you change about the school or education system to better prepare students for a more fulfilling life and career?
If I had a magic wand to change the educational system, I would make education about encouraging and discovering who you really are stripped out of parental, societal and cultural expectations. I would alter the system to encourage you exploring who you really are rather than being fitted in a box. I would prioritize self-care a top skill to master. I would teach kids about serving others. I would teach kids to embrace their uniqueness.
Many of my clients have asked the exact same question: how come we are not taught all this in school? Great question!
Coming from a family where education is highly valued and having a BBA and MBA degrees myself, I have wondered the same. All these years of schooling …. no one taught me how to live life.
Physical and mental awareness are key to living an authentic life. Pilates and functional movement based on alignment, core and mind-body connection have been truly transformational for me. Connecting to my physical and inner core has led me to connecting to my intuition and then taking action to align my life with my purpose. I am a higher version of myself and I can serve the world from a completely different standpoint – one that is mine, not one dictated to me.
To give you a simple example probably relatable to many. When I was in elementary school, my parents signed me up for private piano lessons. Yes, music development is good for brain development. Piano playing is also a reputable activity in Eastern Europe, where I come from. I resented going to piano lessons. I wanted nothing to do with playing the piano. It was a chore, a thing my parents said I should do. What I wanted to do was dance.
Most people I work with are shocked how disconnected they are from their bodies. The empowerment which comes with the spike in awareness is transformational for them and a fuel to my purpose for me.
When the body moves in alignment, the movement is more effective and there is less wear and tear on the body. There is no need to do 50 reps. When you perform an exercise effectively, you can do 5 reps, and your entire body is on fire.
When you live your life in alignment because you are aware of your belief system, your thoughts, your emotions and how these influence your actions and results, then you can be in control of what happens in your life versus be at the mercy of life happening to you.
Alignment, whether physical or mental, frees people from pain. Pain does not have to be physical. Pain can be emotional, mental or even spiritual. Most people are unaware whether they are in alignment because they have no idea who they really are or what they really want. The life they have built has been dictated by the world around them, and it is a daily auto repeat.
I think the greatest gift we can give to our children is teach them to embrace their true selves – what motivates them, what makes them happy. Teach them to love and embrace their uniqueness and serve the world as fulfilled adults driven by their true desire and purpose. Imagine a world of people fulfilling their dreams; how cool would that be?
Maria, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
After close to 20 years in the corporate world, I resigned and started my own company – Rebellious Intl. I named the company ‘rebellious’ because many told me I was crazy to undertake this unusual change – from a Finance Director to a Pilates instructor.
Rebellious is about embracing your rebel – your true, authentic self – within. Being rebellious is about living your life on your own terms, driven by your desires and purpose, even if these are unconventional for the people around you and society. The rebellious journey to peeling the layers covering your authenticity is unconventional in a way – it starts with connecting to your body, enhancing the mind-body awareness and raising your awareness about how you experience life.
I was born in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. I grew up in a household with two Ph.D.’s parents passionate about science and academics; this translated to high standards for me to perform academically. My family moved to the United States in 1992 when my dad was invited to work at the University of Georgia as an exchange scientist. I attended high school in Athens, GA. I graduated salutatorian and continued my studies at the University of Georgia where I obtained my BBA in Finance. I later completed my MBA in Finance at Georgia State University. I completed both degrees with highest honors.
I spent close to 20 years in the corporate world where I worked in various areas of Billing Operations and Finance focused on process improvement, system analysis and finance reporting. Since I was 16 years old, I taught fitness classes. That was my passion! In 2012, I discovered Pilates. This discovery was the beginning of my transformation.
In 2013, I became a 600-hour certified Pilates instructor. Pilates allowed me to slow down and tune in. I was one of those highly stressed, anxiety-stricken professionals. I was moving up the corporate ladder, managing a family, teaching fitness on the side, not sleeping, doing HIIT-type workouts. I experienced burnout and adrenal fatigue.
Connecting to my intuition led me to quit my corporate career and start my journey into entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship started in the fitness arena. My huge personal transformation and development led me to integrate mindset and energy healing into my service offering. These 3 pieces have created the complete self-care offering leading to personal transformation – body and mind.
I help people seeking various solutions – from people rehabilitating from injuries to athletes, from people seeking relief from pain to people feeling stuck to people seeking a self-care routine they will enjoy and actually stick to. The goal is to get you to be your strongest, most flexible and elevated self so that you can function optimally in all aspects of your life.
Strong body and a calm mind – that’s the rebellious motto!
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
A great example of a story when I had to pivot was COVID.
March of 2020, Rebellious had its highest revenue month. My studio is home-based. April 2020, I vividly remember talking to my husband about closing the studio temporarily because of the pandemic.
Now what? I sat on the floor of the studio and had a good cry. Then I asked myself the question: where is the opportunity in this situation?
Right there and then, I subscribed to Zoom. I texted clients about the opportunity to resume classes online. Few took me up on the offer. Others decided to pause. New people joined in.
I was not sure whether it would be possible to teach online. I was very pleasantly surprised.
Prior to the pandemic, if a client traveled, we would cancel the session. Now, clients have the option to workout remotely. I have taught classes with people traveling all over the world.
Few clients loved the option to not have to commute and still get a great workout. They continue to workout remotely to this day.
Others were skeptical and held out.
Some decided to try the online option for an evaluation. The consistent feedback: I am shocked how much you can see and correct online; this was a great workout!
COVID was an opportunity to support people in staying strong and vibrant in challenging times – a win-win situation.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
Probably the best example of my resilience was the beginning of entrepreneurship. It was not a glorious start.
Above all, I was lonely. The mass feedback from the exciting (for me) change from corporate to entrepreneurship was: this doesn’t make sense.
I could not rationally explain my decision. I knew it didn’t make practical sense. However, it did make sense to me, and that was what was important. My transition felt right to me.
The change shook up my marriage. The change shook up friendships. The change shook up relationships with people who I thought would be my biggest supporters.
It was a difficult time to hear the constant negativity and unsolicited feedback, not to mention the behind-my-back mockery. Combine these with the stress of building a business from ground zero in a completely different and oversaturated industry, and the financial stress of having given up a 6-figure income while still having bills to pay.
I chose to raise above it all and stay true to my journey. I am beyond grateful for my self-care routine which not only kept me sane in a very difficult time but also helped me make the right choice – to listen my heart beat as I know I am now living in my purpose.
The good news is there were many valuable lessons learned on the journey and many amazing people I connected to who understood my why.
The lessons I now teach my clients are based on first-hand experience and much investment in my personal growth.
I teach you the secret recipe on how to transform based on my real and live experience.
- Website: https://www.rebellious-studio.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebelliousintl/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebelliousint
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rebelliousintl/
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2pSoJTvcV66c_OhAsa9img
Tran Bui Smith, Christina Barnett, Clint Arthur