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Open for business: Kolodjashnij primed after finding post-football passions

If the glass was half-empty, Kade Kolodjashnij’s concussion-related issues might have been described as career-ending.

A series of head knocks forced the classy half-back flanker into early retirement at the end of last year, as he drew the football curtains to a close at only 25 years old.

But Kolodjashnij’s glass was always half-full, and his time on the sidelines might well prove career-sparking.

He had already begun plotting his path into the business world after a degree in commerce and finance in an extended off-field period, while also playing a role in Settlers Insect Repellent. Kolodjashnij launched Settlers alongside his sister and her partner, as well as brother, Jake, who remains an important member of Geelong’s back-six.

Combining his passion for business with his penchant for fitness, however, was a natural post-football path.

This weekend, Kolodjashnij is set to open his own Strong Pilates franchise on the Gold Coast.

Strong Pilates follows a similar business model to other fitness organisations, such as F45 and Body Fit, but provides a distinct point of difference to competitors by offering a high intensity, yet low impact, workout through the use of the ‘rowformer’.

“On one end is a rower, and the other end is a Pilates reformer machine,” Kolodjashnij explained. “It’s a combination between the two to provide that high intensity, low impact workout.”

“Pilates-style movements, time under tension, no jumping or plyometrics, so it’s easy on the joints and you still get the same workout as what you would with all the jumping and high impact.”

Rising from football adversity to find prosperity in the business world seems to have been a surprisingly swift process for the 80-gamer, but then again, emerging from misfortune appears to be a Kolodjashnij trait.

Kolodjashnij’s grandparents fled Ukraine — a country that had been occupied by Nazi Germany and later reclaimed by Soviet Russia — after World War Two. 

“All the credit goes to my grandparents and my father; they didn’t really have much,” he acknowledged.

“[My grandparents] fled the war, so it was quite a poor family a few generations ago. Dad really had to work his way to be where he is now. Seeing that as a kid growing up — his work ethic — really helped me, my brother and my sister.

“I’ve been around businesses my whole life (Kolodjashnij’s father ran a joinery company), and I’m really passionate about fitness and health. I really wanted to run my own business, not move into a ‘nine-to-five’ role.”

Kolodjashnij is already drawing on lessons from his football career to ensure Strong Pilates succeeds, placing an emphasis on relationship-building and clear communication.

“I’ve already found a lot of similarities between football and business,” he said.

“You’re around 40 guys every day, so that transitions over to managing staff. Having schedules in football, that transitions over to putting a schedule in place for your staff and even for yourself as a business owner.”

He also attributes his resilience to a commitment to mindfulness, with meditation and gratitude proving as important in business as they were in football.

“Mindfulness, it’s quite big in most AFL clubs now. [It helps] to keep me grounded from the rollercoaster ride that was playing football and is the business world,” he explained.

“I’m pretty big on meditation — I do that quite a bit — and gratitude as well. It’s easy to get caught up and say, ‘Why me?’, so I reflect and think about things that I’m grateful for. That puts me in a really good state of mind.”

Kolodjashnij’s Strong Pilates centre will be located at 6 Ferry Road, Southport.

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