Founder | Owner of THE LAGREE STUDIO, Artist, Singer, Songwriter, Wife & Mother
Valentina Gaylord has always lived her life passionately, as for her there is truly no other way. Her passion for music, dance, fitness, and a healthy way of life began as a young child by virtue of ballet. As a ballerina, she was able to express herself in ways that she could not with words. For her, it was always the music that inspired her to become more, to reach further than her imagination could take her and beyond any limitations that she thought she had at that particular moment in time. Music has always been an essential part of her life in many ways.
By the age of seven, Valentina was fortunate enough to be discovered by Bonwit Teller and a Gloria Vanderbilt representative. She began her career as a model, which led to etiquette school by the age of eight, charm school by the age of nine, and modeling agents in New York, Chicago, and Michigan. She grew up in the fashion industry, surrounded by the top designers, so she was very excited to be part of this world. Her grandmother owned a clothing boutique on the Islands of Malta, where Valentina is from, and her mother was an executive for forty years in the fashion industry, working for Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue. By the time she was seventeen, she was ready to end her career in modeling; Elite Petite in New York was closing and she was five feet four on runways with six-foot tall models towering over her…that had to end eventually, right?
In her early twenties, and with her modeling career behind her, she moved to Southern California. She was determined to be an artist, a writer, an attorney, and an entrepreneur. Valentina spent her first year in California working as a senior legal assistant––in the Corporate Compliance and Investigations, Military Aerospace division at Northrup Grumman––on a top-secret case that involved the F/A-18 and the B-2 Stealth Bomber and being mentored by their top attorney Joseph F. Coyne, Jr., who she still calls a close friend. This was an incredibly fascinating time in Valentina’s life, she was surrounded by brilliant people…it was quite inspiring! Once that case had come to its conclusion, a Federal Bureau of Investigations Agent, whom she had worked closely with during that time, approached her. He encouraged Valentina to consider joining the Bureau as an agent. She was intrigued by the possibility of becoming an agent and then eventually pursuing a career at the Central Intelligence Agency. Her passion was still music and becoming an artist, so she politely passed on that opportunity.
At that point, as an impressionable twenty-four-year-old, she knew that she needed a career while she was pursuing her dreams. She took a position with CIBC World Markets, Corp., working in its high-yield division. She found the financial industry absolutely fascinating and knew that it was going to be part of her life for many years to come! A few years later, she was recruited by Colony Capital, LLC (now Colony NorthStar, Inc.) and two of the most powerful men in the private equity industry, who would not only mentor her but would teach her, the opportunities, the firm, and all that it represented. She was now working in high-yield leveraged finance for an international company with people that to this day she still loves, admires, and holds dear to her heart. During this time, she came to know, love & admire her mentors and friends Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., William L. Rogers and David Bonderman.
In 2004, the firm was decentralizing to Europe, so Valentina took some time off to finally write, coproduce, and release her first album. Finally, it would be about the music! She was living on a cliff in Malibu, California, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean with her Baldwin piano, her Martin acoustic, and her pink Stratocaster always on hand. She was always inspired to play, but until that point, never had the time, as her schedule was literally 24/7/365. Any free time that she had was spent running the track at Pepperdine University, working out in her home gym, or trying to catch a Pilates class in Brentwood, California, on her way home from her office in Century City in order to stay fit and healthy. “Can you say Type A?”
Now it was finally time to take her lifelong passion for music and bring it to life. Valentina spent much of 2004 working with her producers prior to recording her album. Her goal was to complete her album in California and then move to Europe to release it. Her album was inspired by world music and included over 120 musicians from several different countries, the Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen, led by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso and Don Augustine, a Shaman from Ecuador. She has dual citizenship, American and European, and had always imagined releasing her album overseas surrounded by her family and friends who live there. She was just about ready to record for the next six weeks while preparing for her move to Paris, France in January 2005, and as fate would have it, she met her husband, Mitch. Yes, it was love at first site for both of them and they were married within six months. Thankfully, he was naturally very supportive and encouraging when it came to her passion for music and fitness! She had finished her album in six weeks as she had planned to, but the move to Paris, France, to release it did not happen. She needed a new strategy. Together, with Mitch they found representation for her album at Sanctuary, and it was in the hands of the top executives at Universal Music Group. She thought she had found her new path to releasing her album, and then the music industry started to change, so she decided to put her album on hold. She was newly married and in a situation that nothing in her life up to that point could have ever prepared her for. Valentina eventually released her album, Sacred Places, on iTunes in 2007.
The years had passed and Mitch and Valentina decided to have children. She was determined to have her children at Hoag Hospital in a suite overlooking the ocean . . . her sanctuary, so to speak. So, she left her home in Malibu and moved to Newport Beach, California. She soon became pregnant with their daughter Valletta, who was due on Valentine’s Day 2009. After Thanksgiving, she began to have complications, and they were told on Christmas Eve that she only had a 10 percent chance of survival and that they should make other arrangements for her. Valentina and Mitch were devastated but had faith that Valletta would survive and that she would be that 10 percent. On December 26, 2008, Valletta was born via an emergency cesarean. The next six weeks in the NICU were an emotional roller coaster for the family and close friends. The doctors and nurses at Hoag Hospital and at CHOC were absolutely amazing! Both hospitals referred to her as a miracle, and they could not agree with them more! Valletta was finally able to come home, and it was now time for Valentina to begin her journey back to health and healing.
This is when Valentina found The Lagree Method! She had noticed signs for a new studio called Pilates Plus OC opening up in Newport Beach close to where she lived. She had always loved Pilates but she knew that she needed something much more intense in order to get back in shape. She had absolutely no core strength at the time and was looking for something powerful enough to rebuild her core, her mind, her body, her soul—you name it! So, she decided to sign up and see just what Lagree Fitness was made of. Well, it was LOVE at first class! The Proformer was unlike anything that she had ever seen before. This was not Pilates, but it had the therapeutic elements of Pilates and was exactly what she needed. As the workout was based on core strength, Valentina knew that she would be incredibly challenged. Faced with the realization that this was not going to be an easy road back and that it was going to take some time, she spoke with the instructor before class about her surgery. She gave Valentina some valuable advice. She told her to take a class every day, and within ten days, she would notice her core strength starting to come back. She was in love with this new method and determined to see if she was correct in her assessment. Valentina went home inspired, motivated, and in a lot of pain (the good kind) and told Mitch that she wanted to open up one of these studios to ensure that it would always be in her life. She did as the instructor advised and went to the 6:00 a.m. class every day, holding back the tears and silently telling herself that she can and will do this. After ten days, she was right! She was feeling stronger, the pain in her abdomen was lessening, and her soul was rejuvenating! She absolutely loved the group classes and had to take one every day! Thanks to this new method, it took two and a half months to recover completely from her surgery and three months to get her body back! During that time, she was fortunate enough to meet Sebastien Lagree, the visionary and creator of Lagree Fitness, Inc. He was incredibly humble, gracious, and intensely passionate about his creation—it was endearing and inspiring. She thanked him profusely for his creation and told him that she hoped to open a studio of her own someday.
Soon after, Valentina became pregnant with their son Luc. She went to class almost every day during her pregnancy. She simply could not get enough! After Luc was born, they moved to Texas. Upon their arrival in Texas, they were met by some of the kindest people that they have ever known, which was quite welcoming and refreshing! The first thing she did, after she got their family settled into their new home, was search for a Lagree Fitness Studio close to where they were living. She was absolutely astounded! Not one Lagree Fitness Studio anywhere to be found! Her plan, after moving to Texas, was to recover from the life that they had left behind, enjoy her family, get back into shape via her beloved Lagree Fitness, get back into the financial industry, record another album, and raise their children in a safe and healthy environment. Not too much to ask for, right?
Valentina set out to do exactly that. Then, soon after their move to Texas, she passed her Series 7 and her Series 66 and became a financial advisor working for Morgan Stanley and then moving on to Merrill Lynch. The only part that was missing was her music and a Lagree Fitness Studio that she could go to every day—her sanctuary, so to speak! Lagree Fitness Studios were starting to open up in Texas, which she was so excited by, but none of them were less than an hour drive away from their home in North Fort Worth. Much like most people, her time is so limited that she needed to get the most out of a workout in the least amount of time, and The Lagree Method was the ONLY way that she knew how to accomplish this! The Lagree Method, to her, is not just a workout, it was an essential part of her life, and she needed it back—desperately! She also knew that there were people out there, just like her, who needed the same solution, so Valentina reached out to Sebastien Lagree, they moved their family to Austin, TX, and The Lagree Studio in Bee Cave, Texas, came to be. Now, almost two and half years later, Valentina teamed up with Hope Smith to brand THE LAGREE STUDIO. Together, they opened their second studio in Downtown Austin on January 2, 2016 and now their third studio location in the Arbor Town Square in Austin on June 6, 2017!
Valentina’s conclusion is this: Finding yourself again or even for the first time is a very powerful thing. Having a healthy mind, a healthy body, and a healthy soul is truly the foundation to a fabulous life. It all begins within.
Her hope is that THE LAGREE STUDIO will inspire people and change people’s lives in the way that it has for her and continues to do so! They will share with you an amazing workout and music from all over the world in hopes to inspire you, revitalize your soul, and embrace or recapture your passion for life, love, health, wellness, and fitness!
See you at the Studio!