Ilaria Montagnani: my guru

The Powerstrike! creator and martial arts powerhouse has nothing but love for her two favorite teachers.

They're the innovators, instructors and trainers who inspire you — so who inspires them? In a new series, we'll ask your favorite Equinox personalitiesabout the leaders they follow. Read on to meet Your Guru's Guru.

Your Guru:
Ilaria Montagnani,group fitness instructor at Equinox in New York City and creator of Powerstrike!

Her Guru:
"Like with so many martial artists, I have had so many gurus in my life. And they have each contributed to me being the person that I am today, as well as to my love of teaching, and have each given me the confidence and strength that I now strive to pass on to my students. After many years of martial arts, there are two Sensei in particular—Sensei Edwin Gonzalez and Sensei John Merrione. And from them I learned about fighting as well as how to meditate."

When She Discovered Them:
"I started training with Sensei Edwin and Sensei John many years ago. Meeting both of them was a total chance, a coincidence that was not meant to happen. No one purposely introduced us. Sensei Edwin approached me out of nowhere when I was practicing martial arts and both of us, not even knowing what would happen, started to train together, and since then, he has been a huge part of my life for over 10 years now. I saw Sensei John training on his own one day and I went up to him and asked if I could train with him and we have also been working together since then."

What She Loves About Them:
"Both offer distinct and different styles and approaches when it comes to martial arts, but the takeaway from both has made me a better person and brought out of me what I didn’t know that I had—in terms of strength, both physical and emotional, and therefore I have become a more confident person. That is what a guru is meant to do—to be able to take you to a place where alone, you never go to, nor think is possible."

What She's Learned From Them:
"Now, I am teaching specifically to know how to fight and to be a martial artist yet still give people a sense of well-being—to make people more confident and stronger when they leave class, which is why they come back. But more than that, every day they can feel challenged and happy—working out and coming to class is not just about sweating and jumping around. I know from my experience, that every time a guru gives you the strength to get through a challenge, you feel on top of the world. And I try to give that to my students as well."

Read about Patricia Moreno's guru here.

Read about Geoff Bagshaw's guru here.

Read about Amy Dixon's guru here.