From California to Kickboxing

posted on | updated on | by Zuri Girl

The story of how one Zuri Girl embraced her lifelong hobby after following a ‘try it out’ love adventure and leaving behind her life in California and Fashion Design & Merchandising career.

Many of us know living in a foreign country requires high doses of motivation and openness to reinvention to face the many new things that come your way: home, friends, customs, language, and for many, even a career.

Zuri Girls loves chatting with courageous women who have started anew and charted their own professional paths. Here we meet Tina Mack-Gallo, from kickboxaerobics.ch in Thalwil. After 3 months of intensive German, it was time to look for a job. However, she only found posts in industries where English could be her fall back language and had nothing to do with her background. Sounds familiar?

Read and let yourself, be inspired!

Zuri Girl: Your background is in design, but you own a fitness studio. How come?

Tina: I had no plans for a studio, but fitness has been the only consistent thing in my life, a common thread that ties it together. Back home I used to teach aerobics as a hobby and once here, I continued to do so. Then, while working on corporate sales for a Fitness Center, I had the opportunity to learn Tae Bo and train other fitness educators. But I took a work break to have my two kids and was not planning on getting back into teaching. Until my son’s Taekwondo grand-master suggested I sublet his studio as many of the moms were looking for a fitness alternative. I consulted some friends to gather interest and within a month’s time, I was teaching kickboxaerobics two mornings a week.

Zuri Girl: How did it morph from a sublet into a full studio?

Tina: I had started doing some interior design, when pregnant with my oldest. And while one referral led to another, it was always on the back of my head that with two small children, I could not go forward the way I wanted. At the same time, I had been getting a lot of requests for the classes, thus had to look for a place where I could teach all of them under one roof. Then, I found this location and had to rethink all very fast: I decided I am not going to do interior design anymore and I am opening my own studio! And it all clicked. I found instructors that I had known for a long time or through referrals from people I really trust, and put together a well-rounded and fun team.

Zuri Girl: What does reinvention mean to you?

Tina: Finding the direction where you see yourself in and putting yourself into motion.

Zuri Girl: Any funny anecdote of when you first moved to Zürich?

Tina: That I felt like an outsider and very different from everybody else! Zürich has changed a lot and become very international. Back then it was an immense relief to hear anybody speaking English.

Zuri Girl: Do you have any tips for other Zuri Girls?

Tina: In Switzerland there are a lot of rules, but don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something! And, you can do things without speaking fluent German. It’s beneficial, but don’t be put off!


Article & Images by Zuri Girl Bruny Nieves…This Puerto Rican balances her mommy duties with freelance work in Public Relations, her Juice Plus franchise and writing about living in Switzerland from her tropical perspective in her TropiSuiza blog. Bruny likes to run, read and travel.