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Tanay Warerkar Renee Manzolillo and Stephanie Lombari Tanay Warerkar

Pioneering Fitness Studio Finds New Home in Greenpoint

In what’s become a trend, another Williamsburg business, Breakin Boundaries, a popular Zumba and fitness center, has moved north to Greenpoint, taking up residence at Manhattan Avenue’s Awakening NY, a yoga and wellness center.

More than just a fitness center, Breakin Boundaries is a sanctuary for healing, a place to enable people to feel comfortable in their skins, said its founder and owner, Renee Manzolillo. It was also one of the first centers to offer children and adults with disabilities, particularly Autism, therapy sessions that focus on healing through dance and movement.

It was a form of study Manzolillo specialized in while she was in school. Apart from being a certified ABA therapist, Manzolillo earned a Certified Analyst Movement degree from the Laban/Bartanieff Institute of Movement Studies, a New York City based training center that teaches individuals to adapt movement to fields as varied as sports, diplomacy and health care.

Manzolillo’s school thesis too focused on the treatment of autism through movement therapy.

Her focus on assisting individuals with autism began about 10 years ago while babysitting her two-year-old cousin who had been diagnosed with autism. She continues to look after her cousin today, and has utilized many of her early experiences working with the autistic child in her work at Breakin Boundaries.

Around the same time Manzolillo was looking after her cousin, she was seeking a form of therapy for herself, and feeling largely unsuccessful. She had been training as a dancer and a gymnast since she was three. As an adult she danced for the Connections a Modern Latin Dance company based in the city. But at age 22, she suffered a serious back injury, which ended her professional dance career.

Manzolillo visited a string of doctors who she felt were unable to correctly diagnose her condition and the trauma associated with it, and it wasn’t until she began taking lessons at the Laban Institute that she truly began to overcome her physical and mental anguish.

“I’m a fighter,” she said. “I will fall on my face and get back up. I want to establish myself in my current position and go far. I really do believe everything happens for a reason.”

The spirit of resilience is something she continues to stress even in her lessons at Breakin Boundaries. When conventional forms of treatment fail, Breakin Boundaries offers an alternative.

And even though her injury was one of the stimuli that prompted Manzolillo to open the studio, it was in fact a dream she has nurtured since she was 14. She opened the studio six years ago in Williamsburg, where she continues to live today with her husband and two young children.

Currently Breakin Boundaries has over 2,500 registered members, with 75 to a 150 members visiting each week. Once she gets her grounding in Greenpoint, Manzolillo hopes to take her form of fitness and healing to other parts of the city as well.

“There is really a strong sense of community here,” she said. “And it is only when we collaborate that things are achieved.”

Further details on Breakin Boundaries including schedules and pricing can be found at http://www.breakinboundariesnyc.com/Home_Page.html.

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