"Strength is where love is, it is the recognition that you will give your life in pursuit of the things that set your soul on fire. Strength is always in you, and your life’s mission is to realize it."
A true epitome of beauty and strength. She's an ambassador for many brands, an international pole champion & coach, creator of Mighty Fit and a movement artist. A unicorn in her own right. For this feature, we are graced by none other than Kayleen Ortiz. Read and be inspired by her journey, greatest influence and life lessons below:
1. Can you share with us your fitness journey? How did you start?
I get asked this all the time, and I never really get tired of telling this story, haha! Pole was my first sport, and I stumbled upon it almost completely by accident. I was a university student, and had a paper to write for an Art Appreciation class. One lead led to another, and I happened to walk into a performance of Girl Vs Girl. This was the day I met CD, my pole teacher. That day, my life changed forever. I took my first pole class a few days after that first encounter, in a small studio along Wilson Ave. On that first day, I met Margaret, Kris, Myla, Caryn, and Mirrel. The very people who became the founding members of what is now Polecats Manila.
Pole allowed me to move in ways I never have before. I was never into physical sports prior to pole. It was like discovering a whole new world for me. With each class I took, I get stronger, I dreamt higher. I eventually discovered other types of aerial arts along the way. I discovered a love for silks, arm balances, and doubles. I took my practice to the next level through competitions, and won. I met many generations of Polecats, they have become my teammates and friends. I met Marga, Jenika, Vicky, Ahlex, Josyne, Kyla, Mae, Nikki, Hannah, AJ, Amaya, Duds, Nielsen, and Leeanne. I am grateful for the people who I started this group with, but equally grateful for the people that allow us to keep pushing that dream to continue.
I became a teacher, and started training teachers to grow into their own brand of instructor (Hello to all the IQP batches I’ve taught). Some of them I am proud to be teaching alongside, charging through this pandemic. I am so proud of all of them.
I fell in love with the process of creating, and helping people realize their own strengths. In many ways, I gained my wings through pole. My ultimate goal, is to help people find their wings too.
2. What is your favorite aspect of being a fitness instructor?
I am in love with teaching. I cannot imagine myself doing anything else but teach. My favorite part about being a teacher, is being there as students realize they CAN do it. That exact moment when things just click, is my absolute favorite. It is indescribable euphoria for me, to be in that room when a goal is conquered. We cannot change the way of the world, but in that moment I can assure you that we are standing on top of it. <3
Being given the chance to be a part of so many lives, of so many journey’s of self-realization is an absolute gift. I could be many other things, but I will always choose to be a teacher above it all.
3. Who had the most influence on your growth? How did it change or strengthen your perception on fitness?
My greatest influence is not fitness related. I come from a competitive debate background, and the person who has had the greatest influence in my life is my debate coach, now husband — James Oliver. He showed me strength I never thought I had. During my time spent in debate varsity, I learned a lot from my peers. I learned that how to overturn the odds no matter how high they be stacked against you. I discovered that my voice is powerful, and that fighting for the things you love is always worth every risk. I learned that it is never over, until it’s over. That in every round you better give it your full power, or nothing at all. My fire comes from that 4 year experience.
My strength is from fitness, but my heart was built in debate.
4. How would you define strength?
Strength comes in many forms, and there is not one definition that could sum it all up. Strength is the power to lift others up, without fear, without expecting anything in return. Strength is the ability to see good in others, and having the humility to recognize that you are not the best in all things. Strength is the decision to keep going despite the odds, and conversely it is the acknowledgement of knowing when it’s time to let go. Strength is where love is, it is the recognition that you will give your life in pursuit of the things that set your soul on fire. Strength is always in you, and your life’s mission is to realize it.
5. What lessons/ insights would you like to share this pandemic?
I want you all to know that you are doing the best you can. The circumstances that surround us are unnatural, and unprecedented, and the person you have managed to become during this season -- is enough. Train when you can, but more importantly be kind to yourself when you cannot. Understand that there is a season for everything, that you are no longer the same person that you were 500 days ago, and that is completely okay. Though you may have lost, you are stronger in many ways. Stand tall, and celebrate your wins no matter how small.
Despite the darkness, never stop dreaming. Hope for a future where you get to do the things that you love with the people that you love. Be the spark that lights a fire in the darkest of nights.
I love you! I am cheering for you! I am on your side.
6. What’s next for Kayleen?
I’m going to be global one day. I will change, an unchangeable world.
Catch Kayleen in her classes by visiting polecatsmanila.com or follow her in IG @kayleenortiz
Kayleen is wearing Ceilo Sports Bra & Leggings