“Here at Forge, we call her the pilates wizard,” says Svet Borojevic fondly, gesturing toward his childhood friend and co-director of Forge Studio Dijana Radojevic.
Forge is an integrated fitness hub on Montague Road. The name means “to form or make something strong and enduring” — representing the union of the studio’s three pillars: physiotherapy, exercise physiology and clinical pilates. “No other clinic in Brisbane has this integration of the three,” explains Dijana. “There’s some that touch on all of them but we completely bring them together to provide the best service for clients. Whoever comes in we assess their individual case and refer them to the right person.”
Having played “heaps of volleyball” growing up, a career in physiotherapy seemed a natural decision for Dijana. She graduated from The University of Queensland in 2012 before moving to London for two and a half years to work at the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute (APPI). “The clinic was very different to what I’d seen in Brisbane beforehand,” says Dijana. “It integrated clinical pilates with physiotherapy so effectively — I fell in love with how they ran the clinic and the premium service they offered to clients.” The institute, it seems, fell in love with Dijana too. She has become a leader in the field of physiotherapists leading clinical pilates, helping run the APPI courses and seminars in Brisbane.
Dijana dreamed of running her own studio as soon as she returned from London, but spent time educating herself first. “I started the process of looking for a location and studying different equipment. I wanted the best services out there — after that everything fell into place.”
Forge fosters a real sense of community. Before it opened, the directors, including Dijana’s husband Serge, committed to donating part of their profits to charity each year. Last November, they sent one of their physiotherapists to Nepal to help treat disadvantaged and disabled children who did not have access to therapy. “That’s a commitment we made rain, hail or shine, regardless of how everything is going,” explains Svet.
The pair agree the most rewarding aspect of their day-to-day is the “fist pump moments” when they see their clients make progress. “Sometimes the little things that we wouldn’t think are big achievements like learning to walk up the stairs or getting up out a chair are a big deal for them,” says Dijana, admitting that running a business has been a learning curve. “You don’t have someone telling you how to do things,” she said. “Like when it’s a hot day in Brisbane and you’re trying to get people moving, you have to remember to turn the air-con on,” adds Svet, laughing.
Commitment is key to the studio’s success, with no plans to franchise Forge for risk of sacrificing the quality of its work. “Our vision is not to take over the world with heaps of locations,” explains Svet. “As soon as we exceed our current facility, our plan is to get more clients and move to a bigger facility in the West End. We are in the people business and we want to keep giving back to the community.”
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