Christi Nordby has an infectious zeal for life. The Chanhassen-based Pilates instructor, wife, mother, model and mentor seeks to live life to the fullest and help others do the same. Whether it’s spending time with her three sons and husband at a Twins game, instructing women, men, children and athletes in Pilates, or helping a new company launch its product line, Nordby is whole-heartedly invested in the endeavor.
Nordby’s career didn’t start out in personal fitness. Graduating from the University of Minnesota Mankato with a business degree, she went on to work for a company in New York City. It was there her life took a sudden turn and changed significantly. “I was hit by a drunk driver while walking across the street,” Nordby says.
The injuries she sustained from the accident required her to be seen by medical professionals for several years. “I was seeing a doctor for two years, and I was very frustrated [at the lack of results],” Nordby recalls. Wanting to try something different, she asked if she could have a personal trainer instruct her in Pilates, a program she believed would help her heal from her injuries. Instead, she was told she would have to see doctors for the rest of her life. “I disagreed,” Nordby says.
She began studying hard to learn Pilates on her own and then earned her Pilates Instructor Certificate in 1988 from the Physical Mind Institute in New York. That point in her life cemented personal beliefs Nordby still holds to this day. “We do have the ability to make choices; to make your own choice for your own personal body. I studied, and I believed in Pilates, and I got myself healthy,” Nordby says.
For the last 21 years, she has owned Core Pilates by Christi, and now runs her studio at Metro Karate in Chanhassen, teaching several sessions each week. She is also certified by both the American Fitness Professionals & Associates and the American Council on Exercise.
The inspired go-getter looks for opportunities in every area of life. When she and her husband were vacationing in Hawaii, Nordby met Anna Lieding on a fishing excursion. She discovered that Lieding was starting a swimwear company. “The product is made of plastic bottles washed up onto the beaches in Hawaii,” Nordby says. “The swimsuits are unique and soft and fun.”
What interested her in getting involved with Manakai Swimwear was that Lieding and her business partner believe that “if you’re going to receive, you have to give back.”
“I was just thinking . . where and what and how can I help?” Nordby says. “So I [suggested] Mall of America, right here in Minnesota.” She also used her modeling background to do a photo shoot with several of the Manakai swimsuits, helping to promote awareness of the new swim line. “Here’s a product that’s made out of plastic, and it turns out to feel like silk. It’s absolutely amazing,” Nordby says.
Clients and friends tell of the wide- reaching impact Nordby has with everyone she meets. The Pilates classes she teaches have a dual impact in helping her clients improve their physical fitnes and allowing her to share her philosophy of people living their best possible life. “I want people to know fitness is an ongoing lifestyle,” she says. “I tell them, ‘Our bodies are made for motion. Our bodies respond to what habits we form.’ ‘You should do Pilates four times a week,’ says Joseph Pilates. I personally do some Pilates every day. . . Anyone at any age, at any level can do my Pilates classes.”
“We love our Monday mornings,” Nordby says. “We talk the entire class. It’s not your typical class. My clients are talking the entire time they’re following me, and they’ll say ‘Oh my gosh, that was an hour?’”
It’s easy to see why her groups are so tight-knit. It’s not a class where members come for their workout, pack up and leave; quite often they will stay after class to ask how each other’s weekends went. Over time, they’ve bonded and gotten to know one another’s stories well.
Jennifer Fritz is one of Nordby’s students and attends classes Mondays and Wednesdays each week. “I’ve gone consistently for 13 years and love it,” Fritz says. “I kind of plan my life around it.”
Fritz says that Nordby’s classes provide more than just the physical aspect that the participants seek. “We are all so connected,” she says. “Over the weekend, we had multiple group texts going back and forth because one of our member’s daughters had an eight-and-a-half hour surgery at the Mayo to remove a tumor. You get a lot more out of it than just Pilates. It’s such a really unique bond of women and faith and just support.”
At the end of the day, Nordby is thankful for the turn of events that brought her the many opportunities she’s had so far in her modeling, fitness and instructing career. “The changes that I have witnessed in my clients’ lives are my biggest reward,” Nordby says. “They give me all that they can while they are in my class, and I mold and shape them, and together we get it done.”