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Faced with an unexpected cancer diagnosis, NYC fitness guru and health ambassador Ilaria Montagnani must embody her philosophy in the most challenging way.

The Story

“WHEN YOU FIND THE DISCIPLINE TO EXERCISE, THE DETERMINATION TO DO IT, EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD, WHEN IT’S UNCOMFORTABLE, AND YOU PUSH PAST THAT, YOU DEVELOP THE KIND OF STRENGTH THAT EFFECTS ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR LIFE.
EXERCISE MAKES YOU STRONGER FOR LIFE.” – Ilaria Montagnani

More than 40,000 New Yorkers, every year, make their way through crowded streets and subways, break from demanding schedules and pressing family obligations, to show up at the one place that restores their reserves of willpower to take on everyday challenges. They gracefully yield wooden swords like samurai warriors, kick and punch in sequence and technique like martial artists and test their physical strength by moving weights like olympic athletes. In over 960 in-person fitness classes each year, and countless others worldwide who faithfully subscribe to on-demand programs, you will find an inspired community of people who come together to strengthen and engage their bodies and minds. Ilaria Montagnani motivates them do so.

Ilaria arrived in New York City from her native Italy 30 years ago and stayed because she loved the way Americans embraced fitness. In between English lessons and work she trained, obtained her black belt and began developing her own workout methods based on martial arts and strength training. The methods are what we now know as the popular training programs of Powerstrike Inc., a foray into east meets west series of uniquely complex programs designed to demand physical and mental engagement.

Nike endorsed her. For The Wall Street Journal, she’d be a “leading force” in the fitness world. For New York Magazine she’d be one of the City’s top fitness gurus. Major media outlets recognized her and enthusiastically publicized her philosophy and Powerstrike programs. She would travel around the world certifying thousands of instructors and touching people with the principle, that is the heart behind each workout: EXERCISE MAKES YOU STRONGER FOR LIFE.

For thousands she’d be –and is—a daily source of inspiration, strength and hope. For the mirror in front of the strong entrepreneurial warrior, the reflection was of gratitude and invincibility.

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On August 15, 2016 Ilaria was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two months later she received a phone call from her mother in Italy , her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
In the quickest moment, all aspects of her strength, built through years of disciplined training were tested like never before. She now needs to embody the very premise to which she has dedicated her life in the service of others.

Named after the guiding principle, Stronger for Life follows Ilaria during this period in her life. Notoriously private, she courageously shares this journey through hardship publicly. Stronger for Life brings us Ilaria’s most inspiring lesson yet –one that recounts how a disciplined commitment to strengthening our bodies fortifies our hearts and minds, too; one that reminds us that while life can be hard, we can be strong.

This film is an opportunity for Ilaria to use her influence to promote early breast cancer awareness, detection and education for everyone – with a specific focus on athletes. She will also continue to live her core philosophy and advocate for a life that includes exercise and training for ultimate physical and mental health.

The creation of this project offers us an opportunity to come together with Ilaria’s strong stance against adversity. We hope you will join us through a financial contribution so that, together, we may bring this powerful and uplifting story to life.

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We were honored to obtain non-profit status through our fiscal sponsor, Creative Visions Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

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