• Danica Kalemdaroglu

The Moment That Changed My Life

My mother told me that my generation would remember where and what we were doing the day of 9/11 like her generation remembers Kennedy. She did not tell me about the moment that changed the course of my life forever. The night I rolled over to close a window and shredded my lateral meniscus.

I wasn’t dancing or living it up like a reckless teenager. I was 16 and got cold. Rolled on my knees to get to the window and the crackling of soft tissue rang almost as loud as my screaming. I was in surgery two days later.

Gone were my big dreams of dancing professionally but I was to stubborn to accept it then. My parents knew. Insisted I choose a college program that would give me more of a skill set than just dancing. Off to Goucher College I went and that is where Pilates found me.


One semester of Pilates twice a week did more than two years of physical therapy. I was hooked. I knew I needed Pilates to do dance and move how I knew I could move. I kept performing in student works, residencies, and local grass roots companies. Pilates was my savior but at the time I still did not know how it would become my passion.

I went straight to graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder because in my gut I knew. I was running out of time. I didn’t have the luxury of cartilage to try and work the professional circuit and then go back to school for a MFA. It was one or the other. The last year of grad school I spent choreographing, performing and completing the full teacher training program at The Pilates Center, Boulder. On Friday September 1st, 2005, I defended my thesis, did my final test out for the TPC and got married in the Denver courthouse. That’s how I roll!

A week later we relocated back to the east coast and I landed a staff job at Excel Movement Studios in DC. A series of unfortunate events caused my husband’s inability to work. We had all the student debt, rent, bills and only my income. I had to figure out how to book clients and keep them! Being older I laugh at how stressful it was because I have learned that the greatest things in life usually stem from a series of unfortunate events. Like immigration losing ALL of your paperwork halting your husband’s work permit.


Is this where the passion comes in? Not exactly. I was teaching as a job and as an employee to someone else. I was happy but not satisfied. I was still dancing but icing like Baryshnikov. Then my father got sick. Let’s just say that the grieving process involved a lot of wine and the inability to manage my birth control. One day I woke up pregnant and I’m

still surprised thirteen years later!


We moved to Richmond, VA and I had our first daughter. It took me all of one month after birth to realize that I am NOT a stay at home kind of mom. I went back to teaching as an independent contractor in multiple studios across RVA.


I never hated teaching more. I was used to classical studios with a cohesive teaching style and owners of master quality. My experience as a contractor was like too many cooks in the kitchen and the head chef only makes salads. I quit the day one owner approached me to teach her Elephant on Reformer because she “Didn’t see the point in it”.

I took the deed to my husband’s car and bought a Reformer/Tower unit. I started DK Pilates 2008 as a home studio. This. This is when the fire was lit. I was in control of my space, my time and most importantly my teaching style. In 2015, I re-branded to Pilates 804 and moved into my current commercial space.


There were a lot of sacrifices, tearful hard work and unpleasant surprises getting here. So many times, I made a plan and then oops…Try again. So many times, I thought I nailed it and then oops…No response. Sometimes your plans work out exactly the way you want. Sometimes you get cold in the middle of the night and your life changes forever. Roll with it and never be afraid to ‘Step Ball Change Pivot Step Walk, Walk, Walk…5,6,7,8’!


Just when I think I've got to much on my plate I step it up a notch. I've launched Pilates 804 Online with the Movers Membership. A library of full mat classes with shorter and targeted workouts coming soon. This will also host my online Teacher Training courses so stay tuned for that announcement.


Want to stay in the loop like a cool kid? Then subscribe to my mailing list and you'll never miss a beat!