In the modern-day post-industrial and technologically advanced world the principle of attention to self has become a criterion for a whole subdivision of the fitness industry. However, Anastasia Berg, psychologist, business consultant, and entrepreneur, believes there aren’t many people who understand the value of correcting age-inflicted changes of the body and the brain, the correct kinetic therapy systems, and — most importantly — the synergy of the psychological balance and functionality of a healthy body. Anastasia herself attempted to fill in this gap and drive the new mental attitude towards herself when she launched the now well-known fitness studio named “Filosofiya Tela” (Philosophy of the Body).
It was a conscious decision to create the personal fitness and kinetic therapy studio “Filosofiya Tela”. It was clear to me that the zeitgeist required something more than traditional gyms and swimming pools. It is time for comprehensive and analytic — if you will — approach to building your body and keeping it in order. Now my brainchild is running successfully on Trubetskaya street. I’m eyeing a second studio in Khamovniki district in central Moscow, at Sadovye Kvartaly (garden blocks) residential complex. There is a marvelous loft space with a perfect bespoke design.
– Do you plan on developing your project any further?
– We have come up with a business model that is going to allow us to create an environment for full-scale development. I wanted to open an anti-age therapy clinic, however now I realise just how many various ways of staying young and beautiful there are. Cosmetology and plastic surgery are more popular than dealing what actually contributes to ageing, hypodynamia or lack of motion. We aim at building a functional system of dynamic exercises to aid a harmonious personality via workouts and massage.
– It takes a lot of experience to understand the importance of meticulous monitoring of one’s personal condition functionality-wise primarily…
– Looking back I might say everything linked together into a logical string of events. I spent years practicing ballroom dancing. I also have a degree in psychology. At some point I faced a career choice. Psychology won. At the age of 25 I found myself in the fitness industry working as a consultant hosting sales and management training sessions. Then there were post-graduate studies at the faculty of knowledge management, and then executive MBA in strategic management. So my background is appropriate. Still, I believe the degree in psychology was what contributed most to my view of the world.
– What did you believe was wrong?
– I believe the state of the psychology market is. We tend to put aside everything related to the body. After all we live in the Judeo-Christian paradigm, and any emotional disturbance is tabooed. We often torture ourselves without knowing it. I was appalled by the number of charlatans on the market. However, I was still young and could not change the system. That is why I decided to move on to another field. I had a few successful consulting projects, I used to create concepts, and contribute to the launch of a few large clubs. There is no way one can ignore an IT startup these days, and I am no exception. I have never lost a desire to help people, especially knowing that my brain is calibrated for a clinical view of the world. All of the processes at the studio follow the same pattern: a clinical approach and a thorough diagnosis.
– Who are your clients?
– Public officials, businessmen, people over the age of 35 tend to care more about their health. They understand that daily motion is a part of the bodily culture. We live in an aggressive urban environment, and most of these people’s jobs are stressful. All of it affects the state of functional health. I am ready to take up anything related to motion and bodily connections because a good health condition defines a good life in general. The older you are the more attention should be paid to these issues. It is a simple rule: the more correct moves a person makes the longer they stay young and the more efficient the anti-ageing processes are. We are subject to depression. Motion is a way to combat it. Scientists believe that heart attacks and strokes have an autoimmune nature. Back at the university I was fond of psychosomatics, a very useful field of knowledge. I plan on hiring a psychotherapist for the team.
– The issue of hiring is still very much relevant. Where do you look for employees, what is your principle of selection?
– The principle of choosing a life partner applies here: we need to be equally odd. The employees should be eager to help people change, focus on their own development, and be able to work within a team. Real personal values matter, not the declared ones. However, this approach sometimes impedes the selection. Experts are very rare. I focus on inviting people with several degrees and do my best to provide conditions for professional development. If anyone wants to focus on kinesiology I will provide all of the possible conditions for the application of their talents. As a result, the system allows a team to work on a single person. This is why I care about the ability to be a team player. It should be a basic condition. I don’t fine my employees because a highly professional creative person involved in such an intimate field must never be fined. They are more or less equal to the managers, they just have different responsibilities. I respect my coworkers, and they treat me the same way. By the way, more often than not our guys are even more competent than our foreign counterparts. For instance, one of our employees who has a degree in sports and is responsible for anti-age fitness is also involved in an American program combining pilates, rehabilitation, and a flexible approach to the body. Apart from that she is also an expert in medical kinesiology. So you be the judge. We tend to offer comprehensive solutions, we make up our CRM, and program the diagnostics. The initial questionnaire may be filled in online, and we take it away afterwards.
– Fitness clubs are everywhere in Moscow…
– We don’t share the tasks fitness clubs have. They lease out square feet, and sell annual memberships. Nobody wants to spend time on new models. People don’t normally adhere to the shapes set forth by fitness professionals. It is not quite healthy for an instructor who practically lives in the gym and often has a background of professional athletics tries to bring his clients to his standards. The rest is fatshaming, bodyshaming etc. Most of all I feel sorry for young girls: they don’t get healthy and focus instead on exercises for their buttocks. This, by the way, can be achieved in many ways, and we provide the most efficient ones. Clients leave as soon as they achieve the desired result. My task is a common result when the whole group feels better. According to our national cultural patterns, body sells. And there is truth to that. However, before it goes up for sale it should undergo some preparation works. No woman should be old. Sadly enough, according to surveys, the social death of a woman occurs at the age of 38. Not accounting for the ‘golden billion’, the urban stats are changing. The society is healthier, and new trends appear.
– Do we have a chance of leveling with the leading countries on this index?
– Not any time soon just because of the demographic indicators. We have fewer men in this country. I was surprised to learn that South Korea and China are close to our numbers. Korea is the global leader in the field of cosmetology. There more men in China so the Chinese women does not have to care too much about their faces, hair, and hands, as they will be treated as princesses anyway. Any industry is based on consumption, and it only cares about selling its products more impulsively and in bigger numbers. Fear mongering about not being close to perfection is commonplace. It is even better to keep people in constant fear. When a 15-year-old model poses for a magazine cover and is being portrayed as perfection 20-year-old start worrying. We were the first players of the fitness industry to have the slogan reading “All for body-positivity”. Your shape or weight does not matter to us. Our aim is to make you functional and happy, and make you enjoy your own body and make it work.
– But these worries are common for women right across the world. Have you managed to find a perfect spot during your trips?
– I’ve been to about thirty or forty countries. You know, I can’t put my finger on where the most beautiful and the happiest women live. I just don’t know! I love Asia. I feel at home in Italy, namely in Florence, Umbria, and Tuscany. I adore Cambodia, it is a fantastic place. I love Mexico and its ancient cultures. South America was my last year’s discovery. I’ve been to the Galapagos Islands, and the mountains of Peru. That was an explosion of emotions I can barely explain with words. I always get ready for my trips: I read all I can find about the country I’m going to; I study historic notes, regional literature, culinary specialties, and so forth. Especially when it comes to country like Peru.
– Where do you feel mentally comfortable?
– First of all, at home. However, I feel just as comfortable elsewhere. I love coming to Europe. I believe Austrians are the closest to me mentally. I love France but as much as French people. I like Spain but it’s a bit too noisy. Northern Italians are quite appealing. However, all of them still have a different mentality. I love Russian men most, whatever people may say about them. Especially the younger ones as they are accustomed to the informational environment. Now that consumerism is commonplace I value a reasonable attitude towards commercial goods, and refusal of the transient. This is a story of personal independence. One might be fond of a certain brand only when it corresponds to the person’s own values. I mostly have my clothes tailor-made.
– Your great cinema club is another significant achievement of yours…
– Nine years ago my beloved ex-husband, a big cinephile, and I decided to open a space for screening intelligent and complex movies and exchanging opinions, i.e. a venue for talking about movies and life. We only screen arthouse movies, complex creations and talk about the characters’ psychology, changes over time, and philosophical constructs. We’ve had numerous guests, but we now have a core audience. Sometimes we travel together. Our last getaway screening took place on the Galapagos Islands. This is very fulfilling. Too many business affairs need to be balanced with some soulful activities. Cinema is a great tool for paying attention to the most painful spots. I notice how our audience changes their opinions on what they have watched over time. We are talking about various people with the likes of politicians, businessmen, and scientists…
– How do you balance the cinema club and the rehabilitation fitness studio?
– I believe they have a common goal of individual development. To be honest, it was my husband’s idea to launch the discussion club but my experience came in handy. I’ve been in charge of this club for several years now. He picks the movies, and I take care of the environment. The air is very important for a place like this. However, any person wishing to move forward, especially a young one, the environment matters a lot. We cannot possibly be fully independent. By the way, this is one of my complaints to the psychological training sessions that set psychotic reactions as norms. One cannot work constantly and be positive all the time when there is no relaxation and distraction from work. It is a well-known fact that psychopaths achieve the biggest success in business. I see that many of my clients have functional drawbacks stemming from their lifestyles and behaviours. Let’s take food as an example. The modern man wants to have a healthy diet. However, he also wants to enjoy food. It should be clear that urban people’s microbiome has changed so much it might be another reason for depression. We get so little serotonin that we are ready to go lengths to get some happiness. The easiest way to get some is sugar. Everybody agrees this habit should be dropped. And then people stop ordering desserts, fight themselves, and build a wall of prohibitions. These measures hardly ever yield any success. Food industry does not aim at making you healthy, it only wants to sell as many of their products as possible. This means you should get addicted to sugar and adjust your metabolism for what you consume. First off, we don’t need as much food as we consume. Secondly, we cover our stress with food. The body reacts by building up a safety cushion to protect itself from stress. There is genetics, but there is also lifestyle and a way of thinking.
– An intelligent person is able to manage his desires and actions, aren’t they?
– I remember hosting a training session for fitness club managers where we spoke about the management psychology, and basic concepts like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Then one of the guests asked ‘where does Ferrari go on this pyramid?’ Then we took Ferrari as an example of means of self-expression, individualization, bonding with a group etc. The Ferrari example was very clear!
– Adult and accomplished people understand explanations. How do you deal with younger people who get overwhelmed with their desire for self-expression?
– This is another major part of my job: dealing with my clients’ children. Teenagers go through a ton of troubles and stick to their gadgets. Some super-developed moms may have daughters of different genetics who may find it hard to be around their parents. Some accomplished men may have daughters who follow in their footsteps and very modest wives. We help these girls successfully. Gamer boys are no exception either. Gadgets are a big part of life these days but also constitute a serious problem. We’ve seen several transhumanists at the cinema club, i.e. people who only feel better about themselves by acquiring new gadgets. They believe humans should adapt to the environment, use more technologies, and enhance their memory by installing microchips.
– Does this work?
– I’m not sure yet. They like talking about longevity and quality of life. But these are different things: anti-age does not mean a higher life expectancy, it is more about changing the moment. Everyone’s got different genetics, and we can improve the quality of life, but we cannot extend it yet. However, if you have a healthier lifestyle, you have more chances. Several scientific researches suggest life expectancy might go up due to chromosome protrusions. However, results are yet to be achieved.
My approach is more or less therapeutic. A person should want to change and agree to it. We’ve seen many people with unrealistic goals like losing two sizes in a quarter of an hour. Still, most of our clients agree to long and tedious work. Those who joined two years ago are still with us. They stand out because of their psychological maturity. They see their bodies as a great but, sadly, finite resource. This is a story of a conscious and careful attitude towards one’s body. Everybody’s different; everyone grew up with different parents and in various environments. It is often a mystery what we get to understand at the age of 35. Fat builds up for a reason. Guilt-tripping a person for this is not a good thing to do. One might be pretty at any shape.
– What does it take to feel happy and desired?
– It takes being functionally healthy and feel one’s inner freedom, a harmony with the surrounding world. One should strive for development and search for new and original experiences. And I’m not just rambling. Come over to Filosofiya Tela, and we’ll do our best to make you happy and accomplished.