14 Years Later, Pongo Power is Re-born | Pongo Power

14 Years Later, Pongo Power is Re-born

The year was 2007. On a sweltering and humid June 17th in Park Slope, my longtime client and friend Carol Oliver and I met with the then-landlord of 402 5th Street, Luiz Alava, and my first lawyer to sign the commercial lease for the first brick and mortar Pongo Power location.

For a first time small business owner in Brooklyn, the rent was substantial. Having invested the prior five years performing on the illustrious stand-up comedy (and oft open-mic) circuit of Manhattan, paying commercial rent would shift my focus away from my creative life, maybe for good. Being 33 years old and taking on a commercial lease was, for me, a fundamental life-change. But, to launch Pongo Power Personal Training, I was willing to do the work.

Innovation always happens during a crisis. There is an upside to people being more aware and changing their value system.

The public-facing timeline of the global financial crisis began to unfold on June 20th, 2007, just three days after I signed the lease. Financial markets began a brutal and relentless fall before the Dow Jones finally bottomed out in March, 2009, nearly two years later.

During that time, many people came to our fledgling Pongo Power community and told us, “I’ve just lost my job, and I have no idea how I’m going to make a living here in the city. I have no work. But I do know that I am going to use this time to invest in my body and take my health seriously. Now is the time that I’m investing in me.”

Innovation always happens during a crisis. There is an upside to people being more aware and changing their value system. It's the unknown that creates the risk. And throughout these 14 years, Pongo Power has been here to make it visceral.

In welcoming every living being into our community, it is our mission and vision to help not only our clients but also our amazing team of personal trainers and our neighbors. With proper exercise program design strongly rooted in evidence-based anatomy, physiology, and movement-science, a feeling of safety and security can return to the sentient cells of our living brains, muscles, flesh, and blood.

Elizabeth Pongo and Carol Oliver: our very first Pongo Power Client and professional Denmother standing on 7th Avenue in Park Slope in 2007. Over the years Oliver supplies continued support to build the business.
Elizabeth Pongo and Carol Oliver: our very first Pongo Power Client and professional Denmother standing on 7th Avenue in Park Slope in 2007. Over the years Oliver supplies continued support to build the business.

These bodies of ours need to keep our souls going, and we need each other to recognize that taking good care of ourselves takes responsibility, accountability, and partnership. 

The feeling that our bodies are at risk became painfully pronounced on January 20, 2020 when the first Coronavirus case was reported in the USA. We’ve been through the unimaginable. The world is still in the middle of this pandemic. We can all be conscious of our gratitude this summer, as we have the privilege of taking our masks off and hugging one another.

Throughout these 16 months of Covid-19, Pongo Power has cultivated our ability to provide personal training online through Zoom from the safety and privacy of our homes. Being able to exercise in a prescriptive way helped beyond words, throughout periods of deep isolation. We were able to support one another and alleviate depression through movement, sweating, core integration, and brain training.

When the fiscal chaos of Global Financial Crises concluded, Elizabeth hosted a night of comedy in Union Hall in Park Slope in 2011, laughing about the absurdity of fitness honoring her dedication to humor and healing.
When the fiscal chaos of Global Financial Crises concluded, Elizabeth hosted a night of comedy in Union Hall in Park Slope in 2011, laughing about the absurdity of fitness honoring her dedication to humor and healing.

Karin Meessen helped a fireman- who didn’t want to risk going to a doctor and potentially becoming even more exposed- with his neck pain via Zoom. We’ve helped clients in wheelchairs get stronger despite their having fewer opportunities to move around. We’ve helped pre- and post-natal clients before they give birth and after, to recover healthfully. We’ve helped Baby Boomers manage their blood pressure, and busy, sedentary professionals maintain their recovery processes after surgeries. 

Exercise performs the same function as medicine in your body, helping to regulate hormones like dopamine, serotonin, testosterone, and estrogen. But it is the human connection, the knowledge that a professional is going to hold you accountable and help you understand your physiology, that leads to stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is how we heal. In a time when profound healing is necessary to go on, we’ve adapted to meet the needs of humanity. 

Every body is unique. Every story about each human’s time on this planet matters.

In December of 2020, my husband Richard gifted me my first very own personal training package, so I could train twice a week over the course of the second half of the pandemic. Having switched to being CEO of Pongo Power and no longer training clients, I had gained 20 pounds over the course of the national shut-down. Saving Pongo Power and supporting the team had inadvertently caused me to sacrifice my body. Since January 2021, I've lost twenty-two pounds, and my back no longer hurts. 

Every body is unique. Every story about each human’s time on this planet matters. We know that taking care of a human body is hard. And we are here for you- in your own home, over Zoom, outdoors, and at Pongo Power 5th Street- to help you to stay on track and recover after a very hard period of history. We celebrate you, and honor your courage. Thank you for being there with us, and joining us throughout this journey.

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Meet the Author

Elizabeth Pongo
Founder & CEO

NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist, Barefoot Training Specialist by the Evidence Based Fitness Academy

 

Elizabeth received her Bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College with a major in psychology and a minor in education. Having studied psychology and education, in addition to kinetics and physiology, Elizabeth places a strong emphasis on life-style coordination when training clients and teaching proper form and technique.

Elizabeth was her 78-year-old father’s primary caretaker at the age of 29, after he suffered a stroke. As her dad recovered, she encouraged him to return to coaching Fencing, with the Long Island Swordsman. It was quite apparent how this improved his mood and his coordination. Simultaneously, Pongo signed up for her first New York City Marathon.  Clearly, it was throughout this experience that Elizabeth discovered how important it is for everyone in life to be physical. She resigned from her corporate job in order to become a Certified Personal Trainer upon realizing that proper exercise prescription, truly saves & improves lives.

“I’ve always felt great joy when being physical. From learning how to ride a bike; or go downhill skiing with my Dad; to training for the NYC Marathon and the NYC Triathlon: I’ve elevated my spirits and improved my health through solid program design and exercise science. I take great pride in teaching other people how to cultivate that lifestyle, truly.”

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