Meet June’s Health & Fitness Lady Lennia Emm Koteka-Wiki!

Emm Koteka-Wiki is a native of the Cook Islands and Tahiti and has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years teaching group fitness classes. Emm has a Fitness Diploma, is a New Zealand certified Group Fitness Instructor, Step Instructor, Zumba Instructor Basic I and II, Zumba Toning, Zumba Gold, Zumbatomic, HOT HULA Fitness Instructor, HOT FUSION and BOKWA Fitness Instructor.

Emm1-300x300Health and Fitness has inspired Emm for over 25 years.  Born in the Cook Islands, a chain of 15 Polynesian islands in the South Pacific, Emm grew up speaking the native Maori language and her life has been a journey in itself.  Before moving to Westport, CT in 2005, Emm spent 16 years traveling all over the globe with her husband, Pae Wiki, who works for the United Nations, and her three daughters.  In each of the many countries where her husband’s work took them (including Israel, Croatia, Cambodia and Kenya) Emm taught fitness and dance classes.  She attributes her passion and dedication to fitness and dance as the result of growing up in a French Tahitian, German, Polynesian family surrounded by athletes, dancers, singers and performers.

Much of the reason for Emm’s success is the friendly, inviting atmosphere she has created in her studio.  People of all ages, shapes and sizes feel welcome.  Studio M is a second home to all our members where they feel encouraged, inspired and surrounded by friends. Walking into Studio M is like going to a friend’s house.  Everyone knows your name, and you are treated like family. You meet and make new friends of all ages and backgrounds, and everyone supports each other as we all work towards our goals to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

What makes you an expert in Health and Fitness?

I started just over 25 years ago running one of the first classes in the Cook Islands.  Of course back then it was jazzercise.  When the Jane Fonda Workout video tape came out, I picked it up from there taking classes in a hall.  Then I went and got my New Zealand certification and have been teaching classes ever since then.  Of course this was in the 1980’s, when legwarmers were in.  I was fresh out of high school and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was number one on the charts.  Ever since then I remember having big dreams of owning my own fitness business.  Then came a time when I was no longer required at one of the Clubs I was teaching at. At the same time I had a fall out with the owner of a dance studio I was renting from here in Connecticut,  I decided it was time to open my own business called Studio M Dance Fitness… the rest is history!   My dream was finally achieved.

 If you had a personal mission statement, what would it be?

My personal mission statement would be to be true to who you are and appreciate others for who they are!

What has been your biggest struggle in achieving your goals?  How are you overcoming it?

Setting up your own business requires drive, hard work and commitment.  It took me about 3 months to formulate a plan to open my studio.  I found the best location in Norwalk but I needed $80k to get it up and going!  I started from scratch, I only had $7k of my own. The challenge was to get financing to buy into the idea and I was rejected, not once, not twice but three times before the whole package got pulled together.  With the help, love and support of my husband Pae, Studio M Dance Fitness opened its doors and heart to the public in November of 2010.  And it’s been a hard slog, but very rewarding – I love what I do!

What area of fitness do you specialize in?  Is there a specific reason why you picked that area?

I believe that you should focus on yourself and what your strengths are. Junecover-copy-231x300Specializing in what you excel at will benefit your business greatly. From there everything will fall into place. As a fitness professional, I have worked with various populations using many different modalities and methods.  I have worked for years to become a well-rounded fitness professional who can meet the needs of as many types of clients and students as possible, learning at least the basics of all the popular methods.

What I like best about being a Fitness club owner is that it gives me the freedom to have my own schedule and be my own boss.   It’s great to be able to make business decisions.  It’s great to be able to plan family time and vacations when it works for me. Studio M provides me the flexibility to have quality family time whenever I need it. I also have some really great members and staff that look out for the studio whenever I am away, which makes me feel comfortable to step away whenever I need to.

I love group fitness and dance!  I love to crank up the music and bust a move. I offer a variety of group fitness programs on my schedule. With so many fabulous classes to teach my specialty is in Step Aerobics, dance, core, strength and conditioning and high/low impact aerobics. The choices are many and varied. I also do many additional training to teach a licensed program and I usually combine my group fitness qualification with personal training or Boot Camp training.  This is also a great way to meet new clients!

One thing is for sure where you start is not usually where you will end up! The fitness industry has many different career paths and you can spend years exploring all your options. As your skills develop and you gain experience, new doors of opportunity will open. Each day can bring new inspiration and new challenges. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you will always be surrounded by people who love and are passionate about fitness.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is knowing that anything is possible and you can make things happen if you put your mind to it. What inspires me the most is love from my husband and my three beautiful daughters, Tiana, Reihana and Terena.Emm-Family-300x224

I have always shared with all my daughters what inspires me, what I am good at, and my beliefs.   All my girls share with me my love and passion for health and fitness and they all support and help out at the studio whenever they can.

My members also inspire me!  Getting to know all the wonderful people who come to Studio M, the love, support and the family community it provides. It’s a place where everyone is accepted and can simply be themselves.

Do you feel you can inspire woman in their 20’s and 30’s?  If so how would you go about doing this?

What keeps me going is when my students come up to me and tells me how much I’ve made an impact on their lives, how much weight they’ve loss through my classes and how I’ve empowered and encouraged them to believe in themselves.  I am the happiest when I see my members reach their goals!   Having all my daughters at the studio when they visit has inspired many women.  We now have mums, daughters and grandmothers all coming together and connecting – it’s all a family affair at Studio M!  I often get asked whether I force my girls to workout.  The answer is “No” my daughters are all addicted to working out.  The only way to do great work is to love the work you do.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishments are my three beautiful daughters.  They are the love of my life!  I have encouraged all my daughters to get an education, to be strong independent woman, and to strive to be successful in whatever they accomplish in life!

1. Tiana – Studying at Auckland University in New Zealand, works part-time and has a little business selling home baked cakes from home.  She also takes care of her 7 year old son Keanu who is a dedicated athlete and very talented rugby player.  Tiana is also a certified Zumba Fitness Instructor.

2.  Reihana – Studying at Auckland University and runs her own small business from home.  Reihana also just recently got certified as a Zumba Instructor, Hot Hula Fitness and Hot Fusion Instructor.

3. Terena – Is an 11th Grade Student at Staples High School in Westport, CT where we live.  Terena is also a Zumba Fitness Instructor.


What does Lady Lennia represent to you?

A Smart, strong, ambitious and independent woman who will move a mountain to get what she wants!  She also knows that giving up is simply not an option!

Check out Emm’s Website www.studiomfitness.com

Emm’s Facebook