“Your Spanish is so good!… Oh Really? You’re Mexican?”
Because I do not have the traditional Hispanic look, I am constantly misjudged by those of my own native heritage. There are times I feel lost with where I fit in.
I’m influenced by my family’s pride in the traditional Mexican culture and language, yet I grew up in Southern California. With an Australian husband, our daughter has a good mix from both of us which includes a very open mind to all cultures and values.
We live in a very Hispanic region of San Diego, and I have made sure she has kept up her Spanish. During kindergarten, in front of her peers, she would ask me to speak Spanish to prove her likeness to the crowd and fit in as all of us want to. The other mothers, like hens ‘gallinas’, peeking around their baby chicks listening to the ease of me switching from English to Spanish. “You’re Spanish is so good,” the shocked parents would comment, with a familiarity of this response, my consistent reply was, “Gracias, I’m Lizbeth, I was born in Tijuana, how about you?” They paused trying to put it together as I did not have the common physical characteristics, “Really, you’re Mexican?
As I reflect upon when I was a new mother, I, like most, just wanting to belong and my child to fit in. I learned that being yourself despite who you appear to others, can be a powerful tool to make a positive impact – an opportunity to change perception, to educate, to show that being both has many advantages. My life was enhanced because I’m both American and Mexican. I love all parts of myself, and I’m setting an example for my daughter to learn the benefits of both as well.
What does Mexican Independence Day/Hispanic Heritage Month mean to me?
It reminds me that you can achieve anything. It’s our birthright to deserve a life of freedom to ultimately choose your own life path goals with hard work, persistence, determination, and passion.
September 16th, the anniversary of the ‘Grito de Dolores’, is now celebrated as ‘Mexican Independence Day’ in remembrance of the 300-year fight and struggle for independence from Spain. It was Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest and revolutionary leader, saw the oppression of the people by Spanish authorities. He rang the church bell to call his parishioners to an announcement of revolution. His speech was a cry for racial equality and the redistribution of land known as the Grito de Dolores “Cry of Dolores”.
I saw this mural depicting the revolution as a teen in Mexico City. It’s a huge mural across a wall that wraps around you as if you were there. You feel overwhelmed by the fear, cry, and determination of the people’s fight for freedom (only partial image here). I did not know then, that I would be looking back to remember Mexico’s past – and grateful for the opportunity to share it with you today as a proud Hispanic American.
How my culture/background influences my work as a Pilates Instructor and studio owner.
In the late ’90s, professionally I realized that my name, Lizbeth Garcia, gave me a unique edge in the exercise video and TV fitness craze that was sweeping the world. While working at the world-renowned Rancho La Puerta Spa Resort (The Ranch) in Tecate, Mexico; I was scouted out to be the Star Instructor for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine spa workout video series. The Ranch’s signature routine ‘The Bottom Line’, a lower body workout at the barre; (before barre was a ‘thing’) was filmed in English and Spanish. The cover of the video was shot at The Ranch, featuring a long-legged blond female model –, not me. This was the point that fueled my determination to not only create and star in the video but have my image featured on the front cover, not someone else.
I’m grateful for the opportunities that I received from many, yet it was hard work, dedication, perseverance, and passion that ignited the spark in the female fitness video producers, Andrea Ambandos and Linda Shelton, to hire me and launch my video career. The hard work paid off, as I earned lead roles in ESPN’s International fitness show ‘Totalmente en Forma’, along with Telemundo’s fitness segment ‘De Mananita ‘. This segued into multiple videos for ‘Shape Magazine’, and ‘Natural Journey’s’ one of which was voted by ‘Health Magazine’ to be the video of the year which lead to my first book 101 Ways to Burn Fat on the Ball.
In 2005 we opened Tilcia Studios in San Diego (a name derived from the unity of my husband’s last name Tillack and mine, Garcia). The business combined our passions, my Pilates and Pete’s fine art. We were creative with our space offering Pilates sessions/group classes by day and nightfall transforming into a gallery – at sunset, we turned trap tables and mirrors into additional fine art exhibit walls and exchanged water for wine.
At the birth of our daughter Chilli, we learned to balance Pete’s workload of shows and exhibits on the road, while the team of instructors and myself focused on servicing our private clientele and students.
In 2007, I established ‘Tilcia’ as the only San Diego-based host site for the Balanced Body Education. Driven to gain more knowledge, I’m am now a Master Instructor for all their programming which includes, Anatomy in Three Dimensions, CoreAlign, Balanced Body Barre, MOTR, Bohdi, and Pilates in both English and Spanish.
I’m also very proud that many of my students have gone on to find their own success, from earning a doctorate in physical therapy, opening their own studios, and becoming lucrative media fitness influences. Together, my students and I are helping people experience the benefits of Pilates exercises in San Diego and throughout the world including Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Japan.
Our clients vary from working professional men and women to young athletes, local surfers, and retired veterans. Pre-Covid, I gave my time and knowledge at the local military hospital’s physical therapy clinic, working with injured soldiers, veterans, and sometimes amputees, while on the reformer, trap table, chair, and CoreAlign. My understanding of why Mr. Joseph Pilates chose to work with active military, is the drive from these men and women to regain their strength and get back to their fellow soldiers.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work in conjunction with physical therapists in this environment as I feel that I am both learning and giving back.
As I reflect on my life’s accumulated experiences as Mexican American, and daughter from immigrant parents, I understand that through their sacrifices and hard work, I’ve been given the opportunity to be able to choose my way of life and do it the best that I can which allows me to find my happiness and be fulfilled.
My passion is to teach people to improve their lives by being physically healthy and consequently allows them to get the most from their own opportunities.
Everyone has challenges and barriers, but it is your hard work, perseverance, persistence, and passion that will drive you to achieve what you want, and along the way find your pursuit of happiness which is stated in the United States ‘Constitution’ and is consequently why my parents left their homeland to bring my family here.