about us

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SONJA SMITH-NOVAK

Sonja has had movement at the forefront of her life for as long as she can remember - growing up as a competitive figure skater in Austria, she later moved on to compete in show dance with her group Royal Jokers Dance Crew. Subsequently she's expanded her interests to include her current obsession with handstands which has brought her to travel the world in order to learn from several renowned teachers. She shared her journey, including many interviews with handbalancers all around the world, through her work at Handstand Diary. Acting as the Founder, CEO, and Head Coach at nook.

 

Sonja currently resides in the beautiful foothills of the Alps with her husband and now business partner, Ivo. She has found her purpose in showing up daily for her students to guide them to their full potential and in building a community of movers from all around the world through nook.

Experience:

  • since 2013: Personal Trainer

  • 2009-2016: Master of Science in Sports and Nutrition Science, University of Vienna, Austria

  • 2010-2012: Certified Personal Trainer, Austrian Academy of Sports

  • 1996-2009: International Competitive Figure Skater under Coach Elena Romanova

  • 2009: Certified Dance Instructor, University of Sports Vienna, Austria

  • 2009-2015: International Competitive Dancer at the Royal Jokers Dance Crew, sponsored by Boris Nebyla e.u.
    Ongoing education through attendance of several workshops, courses or training one-on-one, including Ido Portal, movnat, Yuri Marmerstein, Emmet Louis, Mikael Kristiansen, Ulrik Ask Fossum, Yuval Ayalon, Miguel Santana, Handstand Factory, Coach Bachmann, Harry Williams, Mau Jara (INAC Circus School, Portugal), Kiyv Academy for Circus and Variety Arts

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KATIE MCKENNEY

Katie is a yoga teacher and handstand coach currently residing in Portland, Oregon. Growing up she played team sports and spent winters snowboarding in the Pacific Northwest, and has since developed an additional passion for weightlifting. Resultantly, her yoga and handstand teaching focuses not only on helping students to improve their finite muscle movements and alignment, but also advancing their practice by focusing on the importance of overall strength.

 

Sharing her joy for movement and health has become a source of daily inspiration and creativity, which feed into her full-time profession as an Art Director & Graphic Designer. Over the last decade she's managed to combine her true loves of sports, nature, culture, and art - landing design jobs for companies such as Nike, Adidas, Leatherman, Intuit quickbooks, Mokulele Airlines, and Bonfire Snowboarding - and she continues to do the same while now working as the Creative Director and Yoga Teacher at nook.

Experience:

  • 2016: RYT 200hrs

  • 2017: RYT 300hrs

  • 2018: RYT 300 hrs

  • 2018: Handbalance training with Ulrik Ask Fossum

  • 2019: Handbalance training wtih Mikael Kristiansen

  • 2019: Handstand Factory Retreat in Antalya Turkey

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IVO NOVAK

Ivo is originally from Austria and has long been fascinated with not only the art, but the science of photography and film. Several years ago he began working as a photographer and videographer, shooting for Handstand Diary as he and Sonja traveled the world. It was during that time that he realized film was the amalgamation of his appreciation for not only capturing the moment, but also sharing it with others.

 

Similarly, Ivo loves optimizing processes and has a natural affinity towards all things tech and numbers. He is therefore perfectly suited to be the one behind the scenes (and behind the lens) at nook, making sure that the website and video platforms stay up-to-date. Ultimately, he strives to provide you with an excellent quality interface and digital experience so you can stay focused on what's truly important.

Experience:

  • 2013-2018: Managing Technical Ingenieur in Constructions at Sozialbau AG

  • 2018-2019: Trip around the world; shooting & editing countless interviews for Handstand Diary

  • 2018-2019: Freelance Photographer and Videographer shooting for clients, such as Handstand Factory, Montée, Bali Handstand Retreat and several weddings

  • 2019: Inventory Manager, Photographer and IT Manager at Sarah's Silks