WAGS Work: Shelly Ruggiano
Tell us who you are, how you got into the baseball world, and a little bit about you and your husband
My name is Shelly Ruggiano and my husband played professionally for 13 years. We both went to Texas A&M, but never knew each other during college. I worked in Austin, TX after graduating college, and Justin was living there during the off season. He was drafted in 2004 and we met in the off season of 2006, but didn’t start dating until 2007, while he was playing in AAA in Durham, NC. We knew as soon as we started dating that we were in love and that we wanted to be together as much as possible. I quit my career in sales shortly after and moved to Durham, NC that spring of 2008.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I had my degree, I had a great career ahead of me, and all of my family and friends were in Texas. We had no money, I had to work odd jobs in NC to make ends meet, and we always had other baseball players living with us. The amount of feelings and emotions and questions you have during this transition can be overwhelming and endless. As much as I loved being with Justin and watching him play every night, I always missed having something for myself.
That off season, we got married, and the following season, I was pregnant with our first baby, our son, Brooks – now 8 years old. Justin was called up to play for the Tampa Bay Rays and sent back down to Durham – more times than I can count! We drove up and down the east coast with a baby on board every other month for a few years.
In 2012, we had our second baby, Ava – now 5 years old. We lived in Miami, and he played for the Marlins for two seasons. We then bounced around for the next five seasons. Justin played for the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, LA Dodgers, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and ended his career this past season with the San Francisco Giants. The past two seasons, he had been sent down and called up between the majors and minors. It was starting to get harder as a family to travel when we had no security as to how long he would be in a certain city. This will be our first season not playing.
What inspired you/how did you get started?
Throughout this time of following Justin’s career all over the U.S., I knew I wanted more and I knew I needed something that would help retirement be a little easier on the both of us. As a mom of young children, I felt swamped with everyday life of diapers and feedings, timeouts and huge messes! But, I knew I had a passion for helping others, I knew I was capable of doing more, I had a passion for fitness, and a passion to learn as much as I could while also enjoying our crazy lifestyle.
In baseball, we have this incredible opportunity to meet people from other areas with different expertise and different passions. I had a very close friend in baseball introduce me to her pilates instructor and take me to a class. I knew after that class that I wanted to teach pilates one day, maybe even have my own studio after retirement.
In 2016, during spring training for the Mariners, I started my first pilates certification course. I dove in, not really knowing what I was doing, at all. From there, I was hooked. I kept taking more certification classes, teaching anyone and anywhere while on the road for baseball!
Tell us about your business, what do you do, and how long you’ve been werkin’ it.
I am now a Power Pilates certified instructor. In order to get this status, I had to log 600 hours and take a lot of tests. I am also certified in barre and TRX. In the past few years, I have taught equipment, barre and mat classes at a studio in my hometown - when I was actually home. We recently were able to purchase my own pilates equipment so I can work out of my home in my very own studio!
Was your success immediate or did it take time?
It took so much time that I would convince myself that this wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I would sign up for a certification class and then Justin would get traded. I would set my class schedule at home and then Justin would get picked back up. I wanted this process to go a lot faster, but I had to keep my dreams and desires last – my family always came first. Selfishly, I wanted to stay home with the kids and finish all of my hours. But I knew that God wanted me to keep our family together, and ultimately that is always more important.
My time eventually came and I finally finished my 600 hour certification. Looking back, I am so thankful it took longer and I didn’t speed through it. I have learned so much more about myself and how I want to train and motivate my clients! I am grateful that God’s perfect plan always prevails – even when I don’t want to comply!
What obstacles have you faced and how did you persevere in the hard times?
Moving while training was hard, but I think the most difficult part was combining Justin’s stressful trades with my new career. I had to try and explain our schedule changes and uncertainty to so many people that could not possibly understand our life. I felt like we had so many changes in baseball in the last year of my training – that clients, co-workers, and my bosses had to think I was crazy at times.
It was also hard to put myself out there when I had only focused on being a wife and mom for so many years. I felt out of my element, insecure, embarrassed at times. I would teach a class and then stay up all night worrying about what my clients thought. I would look on social media and see other women doing what I wanted to do and I always thought they were better – and that there was no room for me in this industry. I constantly felt unsure about myself and wondered if I was any good at all. Being out of my comfort zone felt paralyzing at times. I prayed for courage, wisdom, and strength constantly – and He always delivered! It may have taken longer than I wanted, but I felt like God placed inspiration in my life when I needed it the most.
How do you balance running a business and living the baseball life?
We are very blessed with a loving and helpful family. Both of our parents help out with the kids every chance they can. We have a great support system where we live during the off season and have met the most amazing friends, neighbors, and sitters during this journey. It truly does take a village! Now that we are facing retirement, the balance is different. I wouldn’t say it is easier because the truth is, no matter if you travel with your husband, or you stay at home – balancing LIFE is a struggle! Kids, spouse, pets, bills, cleaning, cooking, work, social life, and so on – it is all hard to juggle!
The balance has to come from within, and for me, I had to completely rely on God’s plan. I think we can get too caught up in trying to do it all ourselves – but the truth is, we can only do what we can do – and God will do the rest. “A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
How did starting your own business impact your life personally, and for the two of you?
Once I started my training, I loved getting to share my day and what I was learning with my husband! Taking time away from my family was something I had never done – and with a 5 and 3 year old, I was ready for a break. Going to an 18 hour weekend course felt like a weekend at the spa during that stage of our life! I came home revived, inspired, and a better version of myself. When we fill our own cups, we can definitely pour more into our husbands and children’s.
What’s a typical workday like for you in the season? In the off-season?
During the season, it all depended on if I was traveling with Justin or staying back in Texas. Wherever we lived, I started my day with a set of small goals that would eventually lead me to my long term - end goal. My long term goal was that when Justin did retire, I would be a certified pilates instructor and a fitness leader in our community. As we all know, in baseball – we don’t know what the “end” looks like, where we will live, how long we will live there, and what opportunities we will have in front of us as a professional in our own field. Some days during the season, my short term goals were to research nutrition, try a new pilates studio, write a letter to studio owners asking for advice…I would do anything it took to learn more about what I wanted.
For example, this past season, Justin played for the San Francisco Giants and was sent down to their AAA in Sacremento, CA. All four of us lived in a one bedroom apartment during the summer so my short term goals were to find a studio and learn as much as I could about how they operated. I would take both kids and their iPads and sit them in the waiting room of a studio (if there wasn’t kid care) and I would take a class. I ended up meeting the owner and fell in love with her studio, her work ethic and positive vibes. She was incredibly encouraging and taught me so much in just two months time.
When you put yourself out there, God will place the right people in your lives. We move so often, it can be painful to meet new people who you adore and then leave. But I encourage all of you to just go – meet the people – do the things you love – and your life will be enriched more than you can imagine.
What’s been the HARDEST part so far? What’s been the BEST?
The hardest part for me, was learning to ignore my inner negative voice. Putting myself out there, believing in myself, and not letting the world bring me down. The best part, is seeing my clients improve physically and mentally.
What are you currently working on and what’s next for your business?
Justin is now retired, and once again we are learning a new normal! We have been blessed with amazing friends and family and they have given Justin opportunities to learn a new career path. He is the hardest worker I know…just two weeks after retirement, he started working and learning about real estate development and construction. He is home more often and able to help more with the kids and the house, but we still aren’t ready for me to open my own studio outside of the house. I’ve definitely learned the value of patience through baseball life! I have the best clients that I train in our home studio on a weekly basis. They inspire me so much more than they know. I love seeing their hard work and progress – and I truly feel honored that they trust me to help them with their fitness journey.
I plan on taking the next steps day by day. I would love to do more online videos and facetime personal training. If the opportunity is right, I would love to have my own studio. However, I will always put my family first and want my time to be spent on what is most important. Right now, I get to make their breakfast, kiss them goodbye, volunteer when I want – and at the moment…easily rearrange my day to stay at home and love on my daughter who woke up sick…and I still get to do pilates!
What advice do you have for other WAGs who hope to start a service-based business?
Stop scrolling through Instagram and convincing yourself that other women have it better. Stop believing that you aren’t good enough or that you can’t do what you want because of your husband's career. Make a long term goal and every day that you can’t get to that goal because of situational reasons – work on a short term goal to keep you on track. Bloom where you are planted.
Where can we find you online / how can we keep up with you?
You can follow me on Instagram @sruggiano I always post workouts with my clients and I will be posting more in the future! Facebook me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about pilates or any other fitness certifications! I would love to help you in any way!