BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Fitness expert Diana Spiess is passionate about maintaining an authentic, healthy lifestyle. Her desire to achieve optimal health while helping others do the same motivated her to open Essence, a unique studio dedicated to nurturing the mind, body and spirit. “I really wanted to offer a space that was very much mind-body in everything we do,” she said. “The space is very important to me and it is very important that people do not feel intimidated when they come here.” Diana’s career in health and wellness spans 26 years, beginning at The University of Toledo, where she earned a bachelor of science with a concentration in health and wellness. After teaching classes at the UT rec center, she moved to the YMCA, first working as an instructor and then eventually as the fitness director. Over time, her area of concentration and expertise expanded from aerobics to the mind-body realm of yoga and Pilates. She holds a multitude of certifications including six ACE (American Council on Exercise) certifications and Full Stott Pilates. She is a certified yoga therapist, certified Reiki master, sound therapy practitioner, clinical and therapeutic aroma therapist, certified health coach and more. Diana is also experienced working with elite and non-competitive athletes of all sports as well as pre- and post-therapy and surgery patients. In 2006, she branched out on her own, opening her first studio in Perrysburg. Within two years, the economy crashed and several of her clients were left devastated, but to her surprise, many turned to the studio for solace. “The boom to yoga when that happened was immense,” she said. “I had clients walk through the door bawling and they would cry through the class. They were trying to figure out how to deal with their emotions and how to save their homes. It was overwhelming how many people were turning to the studio as a sanctuary.” In 2016, she moved to her current studio on Ford Street in Maumee. With 3,000 square feet of studio space, it is nearly double the Perrysburg location. Maumee resident Pam Place, who is a Pilates instructor and the manager of Heartland Rehabilitation Center, has been a regular client for two years. “I am confident going to Diana for yoga and Pilates because it is a safe place to come,” said Pam. “She hires great staff and I feel confident in even recommending that my clients come here after rehab. I am very particular on that and I think that Diana is very good,” she said. Nikki Parillo of Perrysburg, who attended a recent studio open house, was impressed with all of the classes being offered. “I have been dying to get over here because I want to do something for myself,” she said. “I want to take everything.” For Diana, providing a broad mix of classes at a variety of times throughout the week is critical, so with a staff of 17, the studio offers 75 classes each week “We are a multi-faceted being and we need to use our body, this great tool, in many different ways. Our life demands that. If our stress levels get too high, we need techniques to learn to calm ourselves down. Sometimes we get into a lull and we need to boost ourselves up. That’s what working with all of these different modes helps us do,” she said. Classes include Pilates, yoga, TRX, cycle, Butts and Guts, Power Beats, Jump Board, sculpting, Women on Weights and Zumba. “That was really important, even if people have a big-gym membership and they want to still take classes where they have the specialized attention, I wanted to offer that as often as I could,” she said. Diana also regularly practices the techniques that she teaches. “I use my body so much for what I do that I absolutely, positively have to stay on top of that,” she said. “All of the aspects – the limbs of yoga, all of the parts and pieces of it – I use daily. In fact, I use it all day long. If I didn’t. I wouldn’t be able to manage it.” Diana admits that the journey with Essence has ranged from overwhelming to joyous and everything in between. “This has been a learning journey and it really is a community here,” she said. “Some of my clients were with me when I was pregnant with my oldest son, teaching water aerobics. We are very much a family and I really do love it.” Essence is located at 725 Ford St., Suite B, in Maumee. For information, please call the studio at (419) 873-6463 or visit www.essencembs.com.