There are a lot of folks out there trying to keep us fit and sane through virtual interaction. Nick Raimondi is a graphic designer, photographer and man who likes to stretch. A member of Stonewall Sports, Raimondi has been teaching yoga classes for all levels at the William Way Community Center for about a year. In this global pandemic, the fit, dark, and handsome instructor has graciously moved his teaching online and made it available for all. Even a couch potato like me found I was able to do a modified version of his workouts, which are suitable for beginners and advanced viewers alike. You can participate in live streaming classes on Zoom or watch recorded programs if you need to pause for a break.
Tell me a little about Nick R.?
I come from the suburbs — a little town called Horsham, about 40 minutes outside of Philly, near Willow Grove. I was the artsy kid who listened to a lot of music. I was a little bit on the outside of things. I went to Hatboro-Horsham High School. Then I went to Temple University, which I graduated from three or four years ago.
Mmhmm, 26 years old.
Big family? Little?
Big. Both of my parents remarried, so I’m actually one of 11! A lot of step-siblings, eight of them in total.
What do you do for the holidays?
It’s hard. I go back and forth between both parent’s houses. Mostly I stay at my mom’s, then I stop by my dad’s, and I was in a relationship the past couple of years, so that made it even more complicated!
What do the folks do?
My father is a chef over at Valley Forge Casino. He’s been there for about 10 years, and my mom works for a home decor company in Oaks, Pennsylvania.
Were you snapping pictures from the start or did you discover it in school?
I’d say I started getting into it in my later teenage years.
What were you like as a kid?
I dabbled in a lot of things. Sports really weren’t for me. I kind of gravitated more toward the arts. I went to a technical school for classes in commercial art and did a lot of photography and graphic design, mixed media, all sorts of things. I’ve been doing photography for about 10 years, and about two years ago, I started my own company. I do a lot of weddings as well as freelance portraiture.
Did you shoot for the yearbook or school newspaper?
I wasn’t really much a part of things at my high school, but I did a lot at the technical school. I designed a lot of their artwork for various campaigns and worked on the newspaper. I even competed in a nationwide contest for tech students. It was really exciting. I came in first place for Pennsylvania and third in the nation for the design competition.
Not too shabby! What did you study at Temple?
Well, I went to Montco Community College first and took mostly gen-ed classes, because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then, I transferred to Temple and majored in advertising with a focus on art direction — that involved designing and building brands, the creative side of advertising. But I haven’t even used that yet; I’ve been working in the restaurant industry and concentrating on my photography business while I figure out where life is taking me.
I did wedding videography for some time, and it was really stressful! The pressure to not miss a single key moment and the fear of something going wrong on someone’s big day was intense. Everyone I knew in the biz had some recurring nightmare; mine was that we’d miss a date on the calendar. What’s yours?
Mine is something going wrong with the digital files and having everything get wiped out! Some kind of malfunction like if the flash drive didn’t save properly or broke when plugging it into the computer. Or like you said, missing one of the big shots, like the kiss or the cake cutting or some spontaneous thing that happens when you’re not in the room. Knock on wood, nothing’s ever happened like that, but that’s my nightmare.
At which restaurant do you work?
Well, not working there now, but it was at the William Penn Inn in Bluebell. It’s a high-end colonial restaurant and is the oldest continually-operated country inn in Pennsylvania. I just left there to train as a flight attendant, but as soon as we started training, we all got sent home because of the coronavirus situation. Not the best timing!
Aww, that’s a shame, so I guess you like to travel.
I do. Right after college, I spent some time traveling Europe. I went to visit one of my girlfriends who lives in Italy and then visited friends in England and Ireland as well — that was a lot of fun.
What were your best and worst travel moments?
The best moments were the breathtaking views we saw in Italy. It was hot, over 100 degrees most of the time, but beautiful. If you ever go, you should check out a small town called Sorrento. It’s right off the coast and overlooking the island of Capri. The worst part was figuring out all the different currencies. Even with the Euro, it’s hard figuring out the different exchange rates, and just trying to navigate around with everything in a different language can be tough. Thankfully that was the roughest thing we dealt with. You never know when traveling. Especially traveling with girls, you need to make sure everyone is safe from something bad happening.
Back to life here, how did you get involved with Stonewall Sports?
I’ve been playing various sports with them for a few years now. I started out with kickball and then played volleyball. Last spring I played basketball, and I’ve been teaching yoga for them for about a year. I’ve also been doing photographs for Stonewall for the past few years. I’ve done several of the sports meets/games as well as the bar crawl and the end of year gala. I love being involved, and it’s a great way to meet people!
Which was your favorite sport to play?
I enjoyed kickball the most. We play outside, so you get to be in the fresh air. You’re running around a lot, and each person has a position to play that caters toward their skills — not like volleyball where you play all the positions, same thing for dodgeball, though that’s the last man standing.
What prompted you to study yoga?
I’ve always loved the fact that when you practice yoga, you can tune out everything that is going on in your life and just focus on specific poses and trying to hold them, balancing and breathing. You block out everything that’s going on in your world for the time that it takes to do your workout.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I like teaching the type of yoga that’s higher energy and more inclusive, so I play a lot of fun music while I teach. I also make sure that everyone knows they’re in a judgment-free zone in my classes. That lets me encourage people to try new things that might be a little scary or intimidating for them, knowing that they are being supported, not judged by others in the class. At Stonewall, we have all levels in the class, so I make sure to demonstrate what it should look like and what forms we’re going for, by doing the entire workout in front of the class so everyone can follow along. It’s a little unique, most instructors spend the time walking around assisting or correcting the students, but I prefer to demonstrate first. We normally do the classes at William Way, but who knows when we’ll be able to start up again.
And now you’re teaching virtually.
Yes, I’ve been doing it since the quarantine. A little bit of mindfulness goes a long way. If I can share a little light with anyone, I’m happy to do it, and I wanted to be able to do something for people, especially my friends and family, to let them follow along and practice with me. It’s been on Facebook Live and Zoom and Instagram. I do about three sessions a week, and you can find the schedule on my Facebook page. I think the next one is on Sunday at 9 a.m. It’s usually in the evenings on weekdays. Stonewall Sports has also been doing a lot of live programming — everything from workouts to trivia games and a live yoga session with a variety of instructors every Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. (http://stonewallphilly.leagueapps.com) I did a session about two weeks ago.
Tell me about coming out. What’s your story?
I came out the summer after I graduated high school. I was afraid of being the first one in my class to come out. I was bullied at the time, and no one else I knew was out, so I didn’t want to make it any harder for myself than it already was. When I did come out at 18, my family already knew or had a good idea, and it was very comforting to hear that. I wasn’t particularly flamboyant or anything, but they’d caught on. But before I knew that, I gathered all of my mom’s side of the family in the living room and told them, and they were all very supportive. Then, I had to tell my dad’s side. They’re more traditionally Italian and all practicing Catholics, so I wasn’t sure how that would go, but they were all very accepting as well. My dad had a little bit of a harder time; he’d try to joke about it: “When are you bringing your girlfriend over?” But since then, he’s come to understand it. The one I was afraid to tell was my grandmother. It’s hard for me to talk about without getting emotional. I was dating a guy for a while, and he’d come with me to my grandmom’s house, but I never said anything to her. Then she was in the hospital for a serious intestinal problem that put her in a coma, but before she slipped away, she asked me, “Are you two together?” I told her yes, and she just said, “OK.” And that was her message to me before she passed away — that she wanted me to know that she knew and it was all right.
Are you single or partnered now?
Newly single, as of about a month. We found we just weren’t compatible, but I’ve come out of the relationship with a good friend.
I hope you weren’t living together. I think that’s the quarantine nightmare, to break up with someone and then be stuck in the house 24/7!
[Laughing] No, we weren’t. We broke up right before the shutdown.
What’s your favorite sport to watch?
I really love football. There’s so much going on and a lot of nuances. Some sports can be boring to watch, but if you know all the rules and intricacies of football, it’s really exciting.
Agreed, it’s like a chess match. Finish the sentence, I’m so gay …
I show up late to events with an iced coffee in hand.
Three scents that make you nostalgic.
Freshly cut grass — it reminds me of spring. Coconut — it reminds me of lying on the beach and the smell of cedar, which reminds me of family vacations, going to a log cabin in the summer; it’s very comforting.
Something that you like that other people think is a chore?
I really enjoy indoor cycling. Some people don’t like it because it’s hard and a lot of people can’t handle it. [Laughing] I’ve tried to invite friends, but most don’t want to try, or if they do, they can’t keep up and don’t come back.
That would be me…
Really? I love it, I enjoy competing, so I go to CycleBar where they have these big screens in front that show your stats. I get charged up to try to compete with everyone.
Favorite movie line?
I love “Pretty Woman,” and my favorite line would be when she’s shopping, and the salespeople were really rude to her. She comes back the next day with a ton of shopping bags from another store and says, “You work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
What’s the most money you ever found?
I once found $400. I was at the Cheesecake Factory, and there was a wad of $10 bills on the ground. I picked it up. It was all 10s, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I figured it fell out of someone’s pocket or bag, so I gave it to the server. It was a lot of money, but I had to in case the person came back. It was the right thing to do.
What’s your comfort food?
Something Italian! Maybe a cannoli? Or lasagna. It depends on the situation!
For information about Raimondi’s yoga classes, visit www.facebook.com/nick.tyler.raimondi