Meet Local Mom Vicki Giancola, Owner of Barre3 Solon
Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in CLE
What is your background & what’s your current profession?
I currently wear a lot of hats ~ Owner of Barre3 Solon Fitness Studio and CEO of my household!
Where do you live today and how long have you lived in this area?
I currently live in University Heights and have resided here for over 16+ years.
How many children do you have & what are their ages?
2 boys- Vince 15, Victor 10 and an amazing puppy Brutus~2 yrs
What are your favorite things about NE Ohio?
OMG there are so many. Sports teams, Hospital systems, Private and Public education options, Restaurants (some of the best chefs in the world are from CLE), the Arts (performing, museums, etc.), our Metroparks.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I am extremely sensitive. I feel people think that I am really hard or tough and I actually am quite the opposite.
Tell me about your Barre3 Solon! How/why did you start it and how did you know this is what you wanted to do?
Barre3 Solon is a total body balanced workout that combines strength conditioning, cardio, and mindfulness. My goal is to have everybody feel balanced in their body and empowered from within after every class. We are for everybody and every BODY! Started Barre3 Solon in 2016. I was introduced by a friend who asked me to try barre3 Classes online and see what I thought. I was a competitive gymnast at a young age and have played many sports (i.e. softball, volleyball, basketball, golf, skating, tennis, track, gymnastics, etc.) throughout my life. I have worked with a personal trainer and been a part of group fitness for years. I was (kind of still am) the sensation junky. I loved a really good cardio / intense sweat session. I loved kickboxing, step class, running, strike, HIIT, & yoga etc. However, they did not love my body after a while (well Yoga was fine). Fell in love with Barre3 after trying the online classes and a friend was opening a studio. I went to multiple community classes and became a founding member when the doors opened. I knew I wanted more. I fastly became an instructor and wanted to open my own studio and bring my love and passion for health and wellness to Solon, OH. I want to say that I tried many barre studio/classes and barre3 I fell in love with because of the cardio component. The class is for all fitness levels and all age groups as it is kind on your joints and we offer adaptations for you throughout the class to help you connect deeper with your body.
How did you grow awareness of your business?
Started with announcing on our social media channels @barre3solon. But fastly grew via word of mouth as I was teaching FREE classes all over my territories to bring awareness of what barre3 was. I worked with the Solon Center For The Arts as they allowed me to teach FREE classes in their studio space 3x / week. Keller Williams ~ allowed me to rent their large conference area to teach FREE classes. Local businesses (Lago East Bank, DRI, Nestle, Cleveland Clinic,ThornCreek) brought me in during lunch or after work to teach their employees. Local communities allowed me to use community or fitness centers on a regular basis to teach to their neighborhoods (Hawthorne of Aurora, Barrington, Lakes of Aurora, Aurora Shores, Solon Community Park). I did this for months leading up to our GRAND OPENING. This is where I ended up finding instructors, front desk & play lounge team members as well. I am truly blessed and eternally grateful for all that have generously helped out and shared a post or more importantly that have shown up to help. This is what has helped grow barre3 Solon.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My children and being mom. Truly is the hardest and most selfless job on the planet. My boys are my life, my angels, and my true miracles from God.
What was your biggest failure?
I don’t look at anything as a “failure”. I actually teach my children that if you “fail” at something that is AMAZING because you actually showed that you TRIED hard and that you cared deeply about something. I would say that I have made many mistakes in raising a family, being a wife, sister, daughter, friend, and boss. I have made multiple epic mistakes in business, however, I feel that I have learned and truly have grown from each and every one of them. One thing’s for sure, I am not perfect! I don’t give up easily (resilient). I surround myself with smart & kind people every day. I have a growth mindset and like to learn from each mistake and tweak to make better.
What’s the one thing you’re most passionate about?
Hard to say, as I have 2- Faith and Family. Without faith in my life, I would have crumbled years ago. And my family is my whole world and heart!
What’s the best payoff for working for yourself?
FLEXIBILITY. Can come and go when I please. Take a break with my family whenever I want. Work as much as I want from the comfort of my home. Can make decisions that I see fit to better the business or community. Learning and growing with my amazing team and changing things that we want to change!
Advice or resources for someone who wants to open their own business but doesn’t know where to start?
Research the type of business and interview current people that are in the business. There are great resources for Boutique Fitness Owners on the internet. I am part of the Boutique Fitness Solutions Group~ super helpful, especially during all the Covid issues. Ask hard questions. You want to educate yourself on every aspect of what the job will entail. Set a goal- what exactly do you want to get out of the job (i.e. money, purpose, helping others, etc.). Never let anybody tell you that you cannot open your own business. Is it hard? YES! But it is so worth it.
You discovered a lump in your breast just after having your second son. Can you tell me how you discovered it?
I noticed a lump on Christmas morning while pumping breast milk for my newborn son. It felt like a pebble on the surface, stretchable and moveable. Between childbirth and breastfeeding, I knew my body was changing and my husband and I weren’t too alarmed.
What were your next steps?
I couldn’t do anything over the holidays, but I did call my doctor on Monday as something just didn’t seem right. My OB/GYN ordered a mammogram and ultrasound but wasn’t too alarmed as everyone thought it was a cyst or fibrous breast tissue. The radiologist wanted to watch for 6 months. But I did not. My mom fought post-menopausal breast cancer, my aunt had recently passed away from BC and my dad was currently battling Bladder Cancer. I did not want to ‘watch’ over 6 months. I didn’t want it in my body. Fast forward, I had a partial lumpectomy & biopsy in January, and on Ground Hogs day in Feb., my world unraveled with the dreaded phone call from my surgeon with “are you sitting down, you have breast cancer.” Now I happened to be rocking my now almost 4-month-old to sleep and (for some reason) my husband happened to come home from work early that day as he was there when I received the call. The next weeks and the 8 months after were a whirlwind
What was your official diagnosis and what treatments did you decide to receive?
I was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS), stage 1 which meant meeting with a surgeon, oncologists, a genetics counselor to take the BRCA (breast cancer analysis) gene test, and plastic surgeons. Now came the difficult decision of Lumpectomy vs. Mastectomy. I felt very blessed that I was one of the lucky ones that were able to have choices to make versus being forced one way or another. However, no one at this age or any age wants to make these types of decisions. I gathered as much info as I could and not from the internet. The “C” word on the internet means death and that was NOT AN OPTION FOR ME. I called the surgeon multiple times to ask questions like “do I remove one breast, both, or none?” I called other BC patients…I went into robot mode shutting every feeling down and trying to make an educated decision based on facts and science, not emotions. Decided to have a lumpectomy in March and the sentinel node test to see if the cancer spread (woohoo it did NOT). After meeting with 3 different oncologists (wanted to get different opinions), I went with 4 rounds of Chemo at UH, one treatment every 21 days, with steroids, scans, blood work, x-rays, acupuncture & EKG’s to prepare my body. This was followed by 31 rounds of radiation to the breast. I wanted to throw everything at me including the kitchen sink as I have a lot of living still to do!!
Let me tell you that all 3 oncologists had different plans or course of treatments. Similar, but different.
How did that impact you? And your family?
At first I felt great. But then it got worse and I was extremely fatigued, yet had insomnia. I had neuropathy in my fingers and toes (like pins and needles all the time). Metal mouth – everything tasted like metal. Dry mouth- constantly thirsty. I lost my hair around 5-7 days after my first treatment. I had long brown hair. You can prepare yourself for so many things, but the first initial clump that falls out – is devastating. I cried and cried. My family ~ my newborn didn’t know any different (except that he thought everyone was dada – my husband is balled!). My 6 year old at the time, I tried to keep his life super normal. We just told him that I am taking really strong medicine and one thing that would happen is my hair would fall out. We told him a few years later the truth. My husband – my high school sweetheart, was devastated but hopeful. Really hard on him to watch his wife go through. I need to state that my extended family (mom and sister) had a really tough time as we just lost my dad to Cancer in April of that year (1 month before I started chemo). So needless to say, no one was thrilled. But all family and friends were hopeful, helpful, loving, and strong.
How has it changed you as a Mom and businesswoman?
I will forever be changed by the experiences I have gone through. As a mom, it truly helps keep me grounded and not to take things for granted. You never know what tomorrow holds. I am truly grateful that it happened to me in my family and no one else as that would devastate me. As a businesswoman, I like to give back to the caregivers, survivors, fighters, etc. each year. We hold donation classes that support local BC charities. Last year I did a GIVEBACK and hosted FREE classes for all for 2 days. I have current clients that are survivors and/ or fighting this disease so I honored them with tanks and giveaways. I brought in local partners to pamper our warriors ~ braid bar, nails, massages, treats and snacks. This year ~ it’s a little different because of social and physical distancing in the studio. However, ~ not giving up. We are having a Barre 4 boobies on Sunday, October 25, 2020, at 9:30 am – 11 am down at Lago East Bank on the rooftop. 45 minute barre3 Class followed by an education piece from our friends at Seidman Cancer about women’s breast health. We have partnered with Lago before (dear friends of mine) and this year have raffles and giveaways from barre3, Athleta, Kendra Scott, University Hospitals. Tickets are $25 for class, mimosa, and education piece. Proceeds going to Susan G. Komen NEO breast cancer education in non-affluent communities. Even if you cannot attend, you can still donate.
I want to always educate and give back to our community.
Can you give us one pearl of wisdom, the one thing you wish more people knew?
I don’t care what you believe in, but have FAITH and believe in something/ someone. You cannot handle everything yourself. And life is too short to be angry or sad. Life is GOOD! Love HARD and LAUGH OFTEN!
How do you juggle being a working mom?
HA! BALANCE….still trying to find it. I have to plan at least 2 weeks to a month at a time out with work, home, sports, appointments, etc. I am extremely type A personality and work better busy, under pressure but with a set schedule. I always make sure to find time with just my kids, just my family, just my husband, just my friends, and time for myself as well.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Healthy with my hubby, kids, dog, family, and friends! Making a larger impact on helping others.
If you could tell your younger self something, what would it be?
You’ve got this! Don’t let people tear you down for being you. And live everyday like it is your last! LOVE HARD. HAVE FAITH AND TRUST THAT GOD IS ALWAYS ON YOUR SIDE.
Is there anyone special you’d like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
My sister Denise, my mom, my grandmother (3 women that are hugely inspirational and important in my life). My ride or die friends ~ the ones that get you through the tantrums, sleepless nights, and making you feel that you ARE NOT CRAZY!
Lastly, what would you like all women/Moms to know about breast cancer that you didn’t know?
Don’t READ THE INTERNET! They put the WORST case scenario always. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting people that will get you through. Get to know your nurses~ they are your biggest advocates. Realize you are not alone~ there are so many amazing support groups both on social and in-person that you can connect with. Remember that CANCER DOES NOT DEFINE YOU! As I always say, Cancer chose the wrong woman to fight with! Get second opinions on everything. Not that the first doctor is wrong, but never settle. You are your best teacher. You will be okay and come out stronger. Losing your hair is not that bad – losing your eyebrows is worse! It is okay to feel sorry for yourself~ but put your big girl pants on and fight for yourself and your family. Always have faith! Oh and one good thing about CHEMO~ LESS SHAVING EVERYWHERE!! Know that I am behind you and here to support you always!
Vicki is offering all Cleveland East Side Moms a special Promo: 10% off a class package using promo code: BC2020
(Classes are good for instudio, livestream and outdoor barre3 Solon Classes)
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