Hana Engel: Founder of ModernBody

Hana Engel

I first heard about Hana from a university friend of mine a few years ago. His eyes lit up as he told me that a friend of his, close to us in age (early 20's), had opened up her own yoga studio in Ottawa - one he was frequenting regularly with his family. Trendy and equipped with a modern juice bar, I remember being incredibly impressed with ModernBody's branding and vision... and, of course, Hana's young age.
When I got the idea for "Celebrating HER", I immediately thought of Hana and ModernBody - a hot yoga studio and home-away-from-home to some of Ottawa's most prestigious athletes. Hana embodies all 3 qualities of a woman to be celebrated: hard-working, entrepreneurial, and resilient. Now grab your afternoon coffee, get comfy, and read on! 



Name: Hana Engel

Business Name: ModernBody

Website: www.modernbody.ca       

Tell us about your business.

ModernBody is a yoga studio with a modern touch. All MB classes have a unique modern twist (music, class style, etc.). Inside our studio, you can find our Juice Bar, also known as ModernJuice. The two compliment each other nicely. A big part of our culture at ModernBody is community. We value each person who walks through our doors and immediately take all our members, teachers, and staff in as family. In an out of the hot room.


What was the biggest obstacle in building your business and how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle in building my business was probably establishing a solid team. At the start, you kind of see what and who works with your brand. You have a vision of the people who represent your brand and its kind of a never-ending cycle of playing trial and error. I found the perfect team eventually by hiring people with the same views as I have - mainly within the Yoga industry. It is not all "Namaste" and smiles. Yoga teachers put a lot of time and money into training, so expect high compensation. No yoga teachers want to do admin work, so establishing a team with top-notch teachers and smart, well-rounded individuals to run the business has been a huge obstacle. It is a never-ending one, but it eventually finds a groove.

What motivates you? What are some ways you stay motivated?

Planning, Re-organizing, and Re-Strategizing is what keeps me motivated. Here is what I mean by this: planning ahead will fill your hours - this will keep you from getting bored. I usually even plan my down time because when I first opened my business I didn’t really account for any downtime and I had 2 years of non-stop hustle and bustle. This burnt me out. I found when I paused, created a set schedule, not only did I get more done in the long run, but my energy was always where it should be. Same thing applies for staying organized and keeping tidy. Buy yourself a new agenda, clean your bedroom, clean out your desk drawers, re-organize and separate your files. I promise it will give you an instant motivational boost!

What made you resilient to the fear of failure?

I was never really scared of failure. Failure isn’t really a scary thing. Or it shouldn’t be at least. All failure is, is a change of plans. Your effort didn’t work out as hoped for. Is that a big deal? No. I think failure is a very strong word. Failure to me would be if you never tried. Failure to me would be someone who lived their lives not doing anything because they feared their plans not going as expected. That’s life though. You go through roads that you didn’t plan on taking - failure is natural, failure means you tried to do something not everyone is able to do.

Failure to me would be if you never tried. Failure to me would be someone who lived their lives not doing anything because they feared their plans not going as expected.

What is an important lesson you’ve learned through running your own company?

There were so many lessons learned in the journey of running my own company. An important one I would pass on to someone stepping into entrepreneurship would be: start slow, keep things small, and grow with your means. Take care of yourself first. You are the business so without YOURSELF as the owner, the business is not going to perform at 110%.


What is the best part about running your own business?

Definitely being able to work on my own clock. That would be a day-to-day bonus…other than that I’d say it’s a really rewarding feeling standing in my facility watching people enjoy and be happy with something I created and a team that values all the work that has been put into building an establishment.

If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?


Go to the gym, make sure you are keeping your body and brain healthy and at its optimal performance level.  It seems like such a minor tip - but it is something a lot of people end up drifting away from - their personal health. I would tell my younger self to keep up and not let anything else get in the way. Establish a safe zone for yourself where you can go, and leave everything else out the door.  You have to be able to step away from your entrepreneurial self, maintain a social life, and be happy. I went through several months of a downward spiral. I stopped working out, I stopped doing things that made me happy, and it was extremely discouraging to go to work with a smile on my face - all I was thinking about were the things I hadn't gotten around to. Don’t wait, don’t save things for later. Respect your time, and respect your personal life.

Describe your daily routine from the moment you wake up.

I usually wake up to my dog Ace (German Shepherd) jumping on my bed to kiss my face. I go let my bulldog out of her crate, let the dogs outside, make a coffee, check my emails and watch the news.

I workout anywhere between 7am-11am depending on my day… I always wake up an hour earlier than I need to be, to get the above routine done. I won't have a good day without that hour.

Then I head to meetings. I usually book all my meetings in the earlier afternoon so I am able to drop into the studio during the evenings when it gets busier.

I will run home to let my dogs out, grab some lunch and make my way to the studio or private clients (again, depending on the day). Sometimes I will go to my clients' residence, sometimes they will be booked in at the studio, and sometimes we work out of partnered facilities. It's nice to keep the everyday schedule different.

I don’t think there are many entrepreneurs who wake up, and have the exact same day every single day. At least, not me. And even though every day has a plan, no day goes as planned. 😛

And even though every day has a plan, no day goes as planned.

What’s your favourite day of the week? Why?

Thursday. My cleaning lady comes which is a nice break for me. Tomorrow is Friday (TGIF) and I usually do most of my work out of cute local cafes.

What is your go-to pick-me-up?

Cuddling my dogs immediately picks me. Going for runs also clears my head and gets me feeling awesome.

What is your spirit animal?

My spirit animal… probably Sophia and Rosie …the little girls on Ellen.

What is your favourite app?


What is a quote you live by?

“Life is not about the time you spend, but the quality”. My mother's friend wrote this quote before she passed away. She was battling cancer for years, and passed at the young age of 18. My mom carries that quote, written by her, and ever since I saw it I really valued the quality of life and living for YOU and no one else.




Huge thank you to the inspiring Hana Engel for sharing her story! If you're from Ottawa, you can check out ModernBody, located on 2194 Carling Avenue. Be sure to pop into ModernJuice for a smoothie! You can follow ModernBody on Instagram @modernbod.

Tune in on October 18, 2017 to peep who we interview next. 

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  • Heather Fortin

    Hi Hana, it’s Heather, your mom’s former hairstylist. I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful article this is. Your mother must be really proud of you!! Keep up the good work and I’ll try to pop in for a class and a smoothie?

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