But for Renee Manzolillo, a former junior Olympic gymnast, competitive Latin dancer and IM=X Pilates instructor who broke her back in a “freak” training accident 13 years ago, nothing was going to get in the way of her passion for dance and movement.
“When my injury occurred I couldn’t feel my legs,” Manzolillo recalled. “I thought my life was over and it was about six hours before I had feeling again.”
She consulted 17 doctors who all recommended she get a spinal fusion to ensure no further injury occurred. She didn’t want to pursue this option, however, because it would mean no more dancing. And even with a fused spine, there was no guarantee that future surgeries wouldn’t still be necessary.
“I was scared, but what scared me more was the thought of every few years having to have another [surgery],” she said.
In the end, she was bound and determined to fight the odds and continue pursuing a life defined by movement.
“Zumba got me back into actual dance,” Manzolillo said. “It’s a little more stationary and I didn’t have to worry about my injury as much.”
It was a long road to recovery for the determined dancer, but after teaching at another gym for three years and then running her own studio on North Kent for three more, Manzolillo opened Breakin Boundaries at 607 Manhattan Ave.
She is now a Certified Movement Analyst (CMA) and an Applied Behavioral Analyst (ABA). As a CMA, she implements movement therapies for individuals who have sustained serious injuries. As an ABA, Manzolillo provides movement therapies to autistic children.
As to where Manzolillo finds her inspiration and drive, her theory is simple.
“I believe I had a really great upbringing,” she said. “I was taught to fight. Never give up.”