Inspired By Issue No. 16 - Founder of Athaya Fitness and Lifestyle Coach, Chelsea Aguiar

Chelsea Aguiar
 Cheslea Aguiar, lifestyle coach and founder of Athaya fitness


We spoke to Chelsea Aguiar, whose inspiring story led her to become a professional Lifestyle coach after reconstructive hip surgery, and later launch Athaya fitness in 2014. Read on to learn more about her motivation to regain both physical and mental strength, as well as her favourite workouts, health food hangouts and what the future holds for Athaya! 

AM: Tell us a little bit about yourself and what motivated you to get into strength training?

CA: I studied dance seriously for 15 years. It was my life’s greatest ambition to perform on a Broadway stage and I never doubted that I would have a career as a dancer. In 2009, I was attending college at North Carolina School of the Arts as a contemporary dance major when I had to have a full hip reconstruction.

As heartbreaking as it was, I decided to leave my dancing dreams behind. I moved back to Santa Fe (my hometown) to begin my 6-month recovery process and reassess my life. During this period I became incredibly depressed, gained 30lbs, and felt hopeless. Thankfully my mother and aunt insisted I go with them to a Kettlebell studio where they both had been training. During my time at the studio I lost 20lbs and watched as other men and women continued to transform. I started to feel strong, powerful and confident again! Needless to say, I was inspired.

When I moved to NYC in 2010 I was an avid “kettlebeller.” The first time I stepped into an Equinox, the fitness manager who saw me swinging a 24kilo kettlebell in the back of the room approached me and asked if I had ever considered being a personal trainer. I told him no and that I wasn’t interested, but he insisted I think about it. He proceeded to email me once a month for the next 5 months until I thought, what the heck, maybe this could be a fun part time gig. I studied for my PT Certification and began working as a personal trainer in January of 2011. I never anticipated becoming as passionate about fitness as I am today.

Chelsea Aguiar

AM: What inspired you to launch Athaya?

CA: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was 10 I started selling candy at school to help my parents pay for dance clothes and classes. At 15 I founded Desperate Dancers, a company made up of 3 of my friends and myself that provided babysitting, gardening, home cleaning, and office services. Once I decided to pursue fitness as a career it only seemed right that I work for myself. I guess you could say I like to be the boss.

AM: Where does the name Athaya originate from?

CA: My mom (who is a yogi and organic farmer) gave me the name. Athaya is derived from the Sanskrit word abhaya, which means fearlessness. Abhaya in Buddhist tradition is represented by a mudra or ancient hand gesture that symbolizes protection, peace and the dispelling of fear. After my hip surgery, I was nervous and afraid to be physically active again. I remembered the physical pain and depression I experienced. I was afraid of getting injured and didn’t trust my weak body.

At Athaya Fitness, it is our goal to help each of our clients find harmony between the physical and mental body. Whether it is fear of injury, failure, or fear of new challenges, it is our mission to help people understand and overcome these fears. We are all strong, powerful, vibrant beings, and its time to honor our weaknesses by facing them head on with confidence, not by avoidance.

Chelsea Aguiar
 The name Athaya is derived from abhaya - which means fearlessness


AM: What advice would you give to build a strong mind as well as a strong body?

CA: Never be afraid of hard work or a challenge. If you can approach your workouts (and life) with a certain level of eagerness, excitement and purpose, no obstacle will feel too great. When we exercise we are asking our muscles and ultimately our brains to adapt to the challenge presented. If you do not provide it with an appropriate level of difficulty, then no adaptation is required, and we remain the same. Give your body the opportunity to do what it does best, adapt!  

Chelsea Aguiar
 Chelsea advises to never be afraid of a challenge


AM: We know you are trained in many different forms of exercise including Pilates, kettlebells and bodybuilding - what is your favorite style to workout?

CA: I do a little bit of everything. It is hard to say that I have a single favorite because I am really a lover of movement in all forms. 1 day I may do weightlifting, the next kettlebells and calisthenics, then yoga, rock climbing, or gymnastics! There are endless options out there when it comes to exercise and I encourage everyone to get out there and try as many as you can.


 AM: What are your top 5 tracks to work out to?

CA: I love (and I stress LOVE) hip-hop and R&B music. Currently at the top of my playlist I have:

  1. “Party” – Beyonce & Andre 3000
  2. “Fade” – Kanye West
  3. “Ratchet Commandments” – Tink
  4. “Chief Rocka” – Lords of the Underground
  5. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” – TLC   

AM: Where is your favorite health food spot in NYC?

CA: I love HU Kitchen (but who doesn’t), and you can never go wrong with Le Pain Quotidien or The Little Beet.

 The Little Beet in . Source:


AM: What’s next for Athaya?

CA: We have a lot of exciting things going on this year! I am partnering up with FitTender to bring unique fitness, recovery, and nutrition classes to NYC. In June we are teaming up with Ketanga Fitness for the Thrive & Revive fitness retreat in Tulum! It is a 5-day, 4-night all inclusive retreat focusing on wellness and regeneration of the mind & body. We will provide morning meditation & workouts on the beach, afternoon excursions to the Tulum ruins and local cenotes (underwater caves), and sunset yoga, mobility and trigger point classes. You can check out the links above for information and to sign up for FitTender classes and our Thrive & Revive retreat! Hope to see you there!

 Join Chelsea at the Thrive and Revive Retreat in beautiful Tulum. Source:

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