Fitness Coach, Ceo of her own Business, Freestyle Queen, Press Officer and Crew for the EFPT (European Freestyle Pro Tour). I was lucky to briefly have met Hanna with a glass of Chardonnay during a Capetownian after windsurf braai party many moons ago and will abuse the MyWindstories Blog to publicly catch up with and share a bit of Hanna’s stories.
Hello Hanna, first of all how are you and how is life after Corona treating you? Event communication and fitness studios are some of the industries that are hard hit by this crisis how do you deal with that?
Hanna: To be honest, the Corona time certainly struck me with some changes both economically and also personally. Just like you mentioned, both the businesses I am involved in were hit quite hard and I feel like we’ll have to deal with the ‚after-effects‘ for quite a while. However, I always try to remain positive and adapt in challenging situations. So me and my business partner and friend Flora developed online based trainings for our clients. In the EFPT I am lucky to work with a fantastic team, who is on point even if the budget for projects tends towards zero. Together with Adam Sims and Tom Hartmann we launched the EFPT Air-Time live talkshow on Facebook and our Website (every Monday at 20.00 CET) and I focus more on interviews and social media for now. Let’s see what the next weeks will bring!
You own your own fitness coaching business called EOS Active which you founded together with your best friend Flora. How is it being entrepreneurs together with your best friend and how did you come up with the idea for the business? Tell us a litte bit about EOS active.
Flora and me met when we both applied to get into sports university in Vienna. It was love at first sight. We went through our whole uni-time together, studied together for all the exams and also regularly skipped classes to get some windsurfing sessions in at lake Neusiedl. We share our passion for watersports and have very similar mindsets and motivations when it comes to teaching, studying and working. We always knew we kind of wanted to be our own ‚bosses‘ and live the life we imagine, even if it’s a bit unconventional. We founded EOS Active straight after university in 2015 and have been successfully running regular fitness classes (Pilates / Functional Training / Yoga), personal trainings as well as coorporate fitness classes ever since. Apart of this we organise small outdoor fitness events combined with a healthy catering. Last year we ran our first ‚Surf Breakfast Club‘ for ladies only at lake Neusiedl. We had 21 women participating, 16 were windsurf beginners. We had THE best time sharing our passion with those girls and were so happy to be able to inspire so many women to try out this sport. At the moment we run online classes via Zoom and hope to get back into our ‚hands-on‘ teaching latest in September.
What would be your recommendation for MyWindstories readers looking to start their own business in fitness?
I would recommend to have a good business plan, which involves where you want to take it in one, five and ten years as well as a small client base that you can start with. To build this base, talk to your friends and friends of your friends. If you do a good job, then the best advertisment you can get will be the people who like you and tell others about your business. Stay motivated, even if you don’t make millions straight away and the most important thing: stay authentic. Like this you’ll find the right clients, the right companies and develop cooperations that will fullfill you and create an environment that doesn’t feel like ‚work‘. I think it’s really important to love what you do when you make the decision to be self-employed, because you’ll be thinking about and you’ll be working for your business A LOT.
You and your business partner Flora are both passionate windsurfers, how do you combine your love of windsurfing with living in Vienna?
We are really lucky to have lake Neusiedl in a less than 60 minutes drive distance. This lake is quite famous amongst watersport enthusiasts all around Austria and Eastern Europe and got really popular worldwide because of the Surf Worldcup that is hosted there every year. Apart from this we have a great city spot called ‚The Bridge‘ in the middle of Vienna. It’s perfect to improve your freestyle game! During the winter and the high summer months, we try to get away from the city to live our passion. This is the only disadvantage of running a business together - we don’t make it on trips together anymore, since one of us always needs to be there for our clients. This year however we’ll take some weeks off and go on a roadtrip. I can’t wait for some vanlife, surfing and windsurfing!
You also work for the EFPT managing their communication. Historically the freestyle girls scene has always been underpopulated even more than wave and slalom. Having seen both sides as competitor and crew member what are your thoughts on the development of womens freestyle?
I have been working for the EFPT for eight years now and the development in freestyle windsurfing in general as well as the professionalism that it involves nowadays, is huge! In my early years in the EFPT I have seen girls fearlessly entering the mens fleet every now and then, because there haven’t been pure ladies competitions. I was always one to push and support the girls, knowing that it can be a blessing and a curse to be in a male dominated sport. It was so great to see the first EFPT ladies competition in 2015! Unfortunately it was always very hard to get all the girls that could actually compete involved, because of course it also costs money and time to travel to events. Some years we didn’t have enough girls enrolling to run an official contest (IFCA rules), so I signed up and was basically running around the event area like a crazy person between competing, updating social media and the website and helping with the event management. Wild times haha.
I think the top girls are amazing athletes and they impress me so much with their skills, I think some guys would be terrified to compete against them! I think there has been some amazing improvement over the past couple of years and it’s also great to see some young girls like Lina Erzen, Saloumé Fournier or Sterre Meijer to step up the game year by year.
How was your experience competing in freestyle windsurfing? Are you ambitious to step it up or do you prefer to windsurf just for fun now?
I have never been a ‚good‘ competitor I think, because I am not very competitive in general when it comes to windsurfing. I like to see progress even if other girls are becoming better than me. I like to focus on myself and the goals that I want to reach or moves that I want to learn and I don’t want to think about what I need to learn to be better than somebody else. When I competed in my first EFPT event I did it because I wanted to support the sport and I wanted to support the girls and show others, that it’s ok and not too scary to enroll into this competition. I wanted to be a good example, since I am also working in the industry.
For my first PWA freestyle in 2017 I had basically been signed up by my team-mates who work for the EFPT and also the PWA. They believed I could do it, so how could I not give it a try. Also I was always thrilled by the idea of being part of something as big as this. What I do love about it, is that I was pushing way harder for some moves, that I would usually probably not go for, like the forward loop. Competing with all those amazing girls pushed me a lot and made me a better windsurfer after all. I do like the atmosphere at the event, but I definitely prefer free sailing with my friends, without any pressure.
What's your favourite windsurf spot and which spot is currently number one on your bucket list and why?
My favourite windsurfing spot is Risco del Paso in Fuerteventura. It’s so perfect: strong wind, flat water, some nice ramps in between and the evening sessions there are second to none for me. On the top of my bucket list is Bonaire! I always wanted to go to this freestyle windsurfing heaven, that looks like a perfect turquoise bath tub! Also Sardinia is high up on this list! I hope I can make it there this year.
Is there anything in windsurfing that you found hard in particular because you are a girl? If yes, then how did you manage to overcome or deal with that?
I absolutely hated it, that when I picked up windsurfing I heard many times that this technique or move is ‚too hard‘ or it’s ‚too early‘ to learn it - being constantly underestimated is so exhausting. Men can be really ignorant in so many ways when it comes to women in this sport, I felt this on so many levels.
For many years I was working in a shop in Vienna, specialized on snow- and watersports. Most of the male clients who came in always wanted to talk to one of the male shop assitants when it came to windsurfing equipment - even if it was only new harness lines. I thought ‚fuck you‘ quite a few times in my mind and hoped I would meet them on the water one day, because I knew (and this might sound ignorant), I do windsurf better and way more regularly than 90% of the guys that walked in and out of this shop.
Once I am on the water I don’t feel there is a problem being a girl / woman - I think men like to see women windsurf and if they windsurf well, they also acknowledge and admire it. One could not like it it when some of them say ‚I’ve seen your foward loops, so I felt like I have no excuse now to not try it out as well.‘, because they kind of say ‚if a girl can do it, I can do it too.‘, BUT at the same time they also show their respect and admit they have been chickens before haha.
What best describes the feeling of windsurfing together with your girlfriends? Would you say it’s different then sailing for example with your boyfriend or other friends?
I absolutely LOVE to sail with girls! We are so supportive with each other and if I sail with some of my best girlfriends, well that’s even better. I love sailing with girls who are on my level, or levels above me because I feel like we push each other so much to try out new things. It’s amazing! If I am completely honest, I also always liked it to have a boyfriend who windsurfs because you can share your passion with the person you love, but my favourite scenario is still a mix of all my friends girls and boys, no matter the level, windsurfing together. This is perfection!