In the Press
Loving your Body is More
than Fitness,It's Art
By Natalie Downey
When people think of the creativity percolating in the city of Columbus, chances are they think of areas such as the visual arts, food and music. Few would associate creativity with the fitness and wellness industry. Erika Junco does.Creator and owner of The UP! Factory, Junco brings a colorful and unique branch of art to our community: the art of wellness. Junco has specifically designed her wellness studio to meet the needs of ordinary people in all stages of their wellness journey. She believes that “Fitness is not just for fit people in their prime!” Using an approach she calls “Whole Person Fitness,” which values a healthy mind as much as a healthy body,
Junco started The UP! Factory over six years ago.The fitness and wellness industries depend on negative thinking, and stereotypes: sleep images of athletes sweating and perfect, young women getting their spa treatment. Why can't we be real? We don't want to prey on that unhealthy thinking, or bank on the fact that people are going to hate on their bodies, vow to make a fast change every New Year’s, and then fall off the wagon or get hurt by spring,” Junco says.
With a focus on safety and using movement as a healing modality, Erika and her staff at The UP! Factory offer a wide array of signature, high-quality classes that are found nowhere else in Columbus. Every aspect of The UP! Factory has been intentionally planned out and pieced together, with attention to details such as lighting, aroma, music and colors to create what Junco likes to call “experiences” instead of classes.
Junco’s passion is for diversity and inclusion, creating what she calls a “community garden” of sorts. “We all have some soil to bring to the plot,” she says, enthusiastic about the prospect of continued growth towards wellness in our city. Using what she calls “plain speak” in her classes, she seeks to demystify practices such as yoga, making them more approachable to a wider spectrum of the community.
Junco uses her own knowledge from over a decade of experience in working with the body plus another decade of working with the mind to help show others how they can work with not against, their bodies and find mental and physical healing through breath, focus and movement. She is passionate about her work because it is personal to her. Her fascination with movement as medicine stems from her personal healing journey from injuries dating all the way back to her childhood. Her movement-based, non-surgical solutions treat the chronic pain that plagued her for years and inform her approach to her work with others.
While she understands that doctors are sometimes necessary, she values the natural healing abilities of the human body. “The body is giving out signals all the time. Listen to it,” Junco encourages. Her classes teach clients how to do that. Junco emphasizes empowering self knowledge with a focus on safely moving at your own pace, trusting that in time, you will advance.
Junco has used her extensive knowledge and years of experience to develop The BodyLab, where she meets with clients on-on-one to identify sources of physical pain and help them find relief. She uses what she calls “Movement Counseling '' to teach what she has learned firsthand: that moving the body helps heal the body and mind.
Not only is Junco sharing her knowledge and experience with the local community via The UP! Factory, she is ready to share it with the rest of the world. Junco has trained countless staff members in her approaches, many who have moved on to develop their own practices and businesses. Taking the knowledge she has acquired over the years from working with the community in Columbus, Junco has developed a unique methodology for teacher training and education that she is excited to launch in the next few months.
Upcoming UP! Factory training will include, yoga, workout, and aerial curriculums using Junco’s unique approach to movement, posture analysis, and movement-based pain relief. Locally conceived and created, this curriculum will soon be exported from Columbus, available as a training and development program for professionals in the fitness industry. Her curriculum mirrors the principles already being taught at The UP! Factory and is designed to equip trainees with wellness and movement-based healing skills as they help ordinary people through common stumbling blocks to wellness.
Junco’s fresh thinking continues to buck the trends. Despite the fitness industry’s reliance on memberships that require a financial commitment, this New Years, The UP! Factory did away with all but one of their contract-based memberships, and put a big “warning” on the one that requires commitment. “We really don't want people paying for something they are not using. We believe we can still succeed as a business along with our clients.”
If Junco’s passion is Movement as Medicine, her gift is creating a warm, safe space where anyone can take the next steps towards wellness, the community as a whole grows stronger and healthier. Junco is committed to being a part of that process.
“We’re a good match for people a little more interested in the journey than the outcome,” she says.
The UP! Factory is located at 1143 1st Avenue in vibrant UpTown (downtown!) Columbus. They have great specials you can catch now and then, and speaking from personal experience with the UP! No matter when you go, you will certainly be in for a relaxing, motivating experience. We hope to meet you there.