A Happy Career Twist

Sonya Plavcan Ditches Big Business for Small
 By Livia King

Sonya Plavcan had been a chemical engineer at a Madison biotech company for 11 years and, she realized, her passion for the work was waning.

It was her after-hours pursuits as a personal trainer and fitness instructor that turned her on. So Plavcan, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, decided to make the leap to entrepreneurship. She and her husband Mark, also a Jiu-Jitsu trainer, opened Twisted Fitness gym in 2006. In addition to Jiu-Jitsu, it offers Muay Thai kickboxing and mixed martial arts training. She also does neuromuscular massage therapy. “I’m a much happier, healthier person,” Plavcan says of ditching the corporate world. “I love what I do!”

How did you come up with the name Twisted Fitness?  It was sort of a fun play on words. I was teaching a lot of yoga at the time, and there is a lot of twisting involved in both yoga and Jiu-Jitsu. We also had some students that trained and competed at a high level in mixed martial arts, Muay Thai kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Which some people might argue is pretty twisted!

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? The worst? The best thing is being your own boss and knowing each day that you are solely responsible for the success or failure of your business. You also get to do something every day that you are completely passionate about! The worst thing is also being your own boss and knowing that you are solely responsible for the success or failure of your business. It requires you to be pretty organized, self-motivated and driven.

What attracts you to martial arts? Learning how to defend yourself can be so empowering to people. As an instructor of Jiu-Jitsu, I love watching my students gain skill and confidence when they start training. Personally, I love Jiu-Jitsu for both the physical and mental aspect of the art. Jiu-Jitsu is primarily a ground style of fighting. It teaches you how to get your opponent to the ground and then control them on the ground by using their weight and leverage against them. It allows a smaller person to defend themselves against a much larger opponent. Some people refer to it as “chess on the mat” because there is such a mental component to it.

Are your hands lethal weapons? I would argue that my whole body is a weapon, since Jiu-Jitsu requires you to use your whole body!

Do you live by a certain motto? Winners never quit and quitters never win. My Dad told me that over and over from a very young age and it has served me well. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, not because I think I am the smartest, strongest, fastest, etc., but often out of sheer willpower and determination.

What would you say to women who may want to make the kind of entrepreneurial leap that you have? It’s never too late to change the direction of your career path and do something you really have passion for. It’s easy to stay at a job you don’t like because you feel comfortable, but most personal growth happens outside your comfort zone!

Don’t miss BRAVA’s stories on other amazing female entrepreneurs in our August edition and online.


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