EDITOR’S NOTE: We reached out to the Pilates community in Ukraine to see how everyone was doing after the invasion. The responses, from those who have left and those still there, were eye-opening, heartbreaking and inspirational. The people of this country have an indomitable spirit that can’t be broken, and we thought we’d share some of their stories with you. Our next is Anastasiya’s. And, if you can, click on the link at the bottom and donate to assist Ukraine. Many thanks to Katherine Ryzhova for translation assistance.
My name is Anastasiya Ponedelko. I am from Kharkiv.
I planned to open a studio with my friend in March of 2022. We had ordered Balanced Body equipment from the USA to be delivered in late February. So, while we waited we planned and dreamed…how to make people’s lives better, more free, more functional, more…happy.
But the neighboring country had other plans. And on February 24 everything changed.
My children and I were forced to move to the Kharkiv countryside. For the next two months, I practically forgot that I was a Pilates instructor. There was no usual or steady food supply, no security, no normal everyday activities – like teaching Pilates. Only my husband kept me afloat. I don’t know where Ukrainian men get their strength and determination.
A couple of months later the Pilates community created a Telegram (a free instant messaging platform) group to help Ukrainian teachers who left the country find new jobs, while supporting those who stayed in the country. It was truly inspiring. I am still in Kharviv and don’t know English but I am very happy for the girls who found a job abroad thanks to the group!!!! It’s incredible. We have very good instructors, because everyone studied from the heart.
Kharkiv is a Russian-speaking city. In fact, I spoke it freely and worked only in Russian. Now so many people have switched to the Ukrainian language!!! This is something incredible. I am learning my native language and my goal is to teach Pilates in Ukrainian, this is my heart and soul. I am proud that most Kharkiv residents value our customs, our language and our country.
I believe awakening and rebirth awaits us! Through difficulties, pain, loss and death, we will find ourselves. We will lose a lot, but we will gain much more. There is this indescribable national feeling of love for our FATHERLAND. There is an incredible desire to build, restore and give birth to new ones.