When Mirela Craciun, a graduate of Ballet from the School of Arts, relocated from Romania to Canada in 1997, she never would have guessed just how much her career path would change after she began her new life in London, ON.
From her time as a ballet dancer, and as an avid swimmer, fitness was always an important part of her life. But working out in a gym was something foreign to her. So when a friend invited her to a workout at the local gym, she jumped at the chance and from that moment forward she was hooked on fitness.
“Once I started going I got really into it: ‘What do you mean we are not going to the gym today? I want to feel amazing!’” Mirela is fascinated by the technical aspects of personal training, which are quite similar to ballet. That connection made it easy for her to grasp the complexities of the human body and the best techniques for physical conditioning.
With a passion for fitness awakened, she set out on a new career direction acquiring various industry qualifications. Through rigorous training and intense study, she became a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition and Wellness Specialist with the Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals.
Mirela got her start at a large scale franchise where she worked as a personal trainer for one year. That was at a time when public interest in personal training was just beginning, but the programs offered at big box facilities lacked structure. Creating a cohesive strategy for truly personalized training was all but impossible there.
She wanted the ability to bond with her clients and didn’t want to compete for every client that walked through the door. She tried a smaller fitness studio for a short time, but it wasn’t quite right either. Her end goal was, and still is, to help her clients discover how wonderful it is to look and feel good, inside and out, at any age.She wanted to work in an environment where she could give her clients the individual attention they deserved, and to create a place where they would feel at ease. She decided to make her vision a reality and went out on a limb.Without any prior business training, but with a serious amount of passion, she opened her own boutique fitness studio.
“I didn’t care how big or small the business was. I just wanted something that was mine, where I could focus on the client. That was my vision from the beginning.”
A decade later, her studio, Elite Personal Training Studio, will be celebrating ten years in business. Over the course of these years, Mirela and her team of dedicated fitness professionals have grown quickly.
“We started off in a smaller studio and in three years outgrew the space. Now at 73 York Street, I have five beautiful well-equipped, one-on-one studios where we can cater to the needs of each client.” Mirela has achieved so much since those first days in Canada. She started from zero, in a new country, learning a new language, and had no background in business. When she opened the doors to Elite, Mirela had just turned 30-years-old and was venturing into an unknown field. Everything she learned about running a business she learned as she went along.
“One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that, in Canada, if you really want to accomplish something the opportunities are there. I had no formal training in business. But what I did have was passion and an end goal in sight. That was my business strategy. If I love what I am doing and my clients are getting the results they want, why wouldn’t it work?!”
Being completely integrated in the community and owning a business has been a huge achievement. Now 15 years into her career as a personal trainer, a testament to her naturally born business savvy is Elite’s longevity. Surviving ten years in the fitness industry without being part of a large franchise, and continuing to operate as a specialty boutique studio is an accomplishment in its own right. At Elite Personal Training Studio, they focus on long-term goals and developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime. The Elite team is also known for helping clients reach short-term goals, such as shedding a few inches before a wedding or providing pre and post-natal conditioning.
“We are willing to work with our clients for as long as it takes, in whatever manner that suits them physically and financially, to help them achieve results. This approach alleviates injury risks and clients benefit from smart individually tailored workouts.” Mirela has created a welcoming, non-judgmental, friendly environment for all clientele. Elite caters to everyone from young athletes and dancers to the elderly and professionals such as police officers and EMS workers. Elite staff are knowledgeable, well trained, and know how to listen to their clients’ needs.
“We will challenge you to succeed, but we will do so in a nurturing, fun, clean, professional environment.”
Elite offers all the services of a boutique fitness studio including, strength & conditioning, sports conditioning, pre & post-natal, ballet/dance plus weight loss, nutrition with meal plans. Clients looking to the weight loss program are encouraged to embrace a lifestyle approach to achieving their goals. To balance fitness training, clients receive comprehensive nutritional guidance and meal plans. Because no two people, or two pallets, are the same clients can weigh in on the meal suggestions to create plans that are realistic and achievable based on their own food preferences.
“When my clients arrive at a place where they tune into their bodies and appreciate the joy of working out, and when they can derive pleasure and happiness from the experience, it makes me feel good! Helping people achieve healthy lifestyles and setting them up for a longer, healthier, fuller, more youthful, joyful life, is my ultimate inspiration.” For Mirela, her greatest achievement of all is her family. Shortly after the birth of Elite, came the births of two healthy, beautiful, happy children. She is empowered with the skills to guide her family toward healthy living, all while owning and running a successful business.
Ultimately, her plan is to keep the momentum going. Elite staff stay up-to-date on developments in the fitness world and strive to update their qualifications and knowledge. “We are always learning. Whether that learning is enhancing technical know-how or having top-notch fitness equipment or what we learn when we work with our clients and design workouts that suit their needs and goals.”
Those are the aspects of the business that are constantly evolving. But what has not changed is Mirela’s passion, vision, and inspiration. “Yes, one wants to have a successful, growing business, with great employees and low turnover, but we will never lose focus on the needs of each, individual client. We want to stay a local boutique business and maintain successful relationships with our clients. Every day, our business operates from that same initial seed concept, and our philosophy remains the same.”
Owner, Elite Personal Training Studio
CFP, Personal Trainer
CFP Pre/Postnatal Trainer
Elite Personal Training Studio
73 York Street