About Me

I’m Sonja and movement has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. 

It all started with my figure skating career that I started when I was 6 years old. As a competitive figure skater I got to experience all of the aspects of what it means to be an athlete. One thing that made a big impression on me was the relationship with my coach, who was like a second mother to me, guiding and teaching me every day. I knew very early on that I wanted to be a coach, just like her. So I moved away from the small town I grew up in to Vienna to study Nutrition Science and Sports and become a Personal Trainer.

My personal movement journey took me further and after finishing my figure skating carreer at age 20 I started to dance competitively in a Show Dance group called “Royal Jokers Dance Crew”. After 5 years of competing with them, working as a personal trainer and finishing my Masters degree, I got obsessed with handbalance and went on a trip around the world with my husband. That was when we started my Youtube Channel “Handstand Diary” which was focused on everything around handstands. This trip around the world lead us to move to Santa Rosa, California, where we live today.

In addition to my movement journey, I have started singing and love to write songs. I strongly believe that we are creative beings and that experiencing freedom in our creativity is the backbone of living a happy and fulfilled life. Our bodies are our vehicle for self-expression in many ways and to me there’s nothing more satisfying than to see people experience what their bodies are capable of!

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My Education and Experience

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  • Personal Trainer since 2013
  • Private Lecturer at the Danube University, Austria. Teaching the subject “Weight Management” in the faculties for “Sports and Nutrition” and “Clinical Nutrition Medicine” (2016-2018)
  • Master of Science in Sports and Nutrition Science, University of Vienna, Austria (2009-2016)
  • Certified Personal Trainer, Austrian Academy of Sports (2010-2012)
  • Certified Dance Instructor, University of Sports Vienna, Austria (2009)
  • International Competitive Dancer at the Royal Jokers Dance Crew, sponsored by Boris Nebyla e.u. (2009-2015)
  • International Competitive Figure Skater under Coach Elena Romanova (1996-2008)


I am a professional horse trainer and in order to get the most out of my horses it is imperative that I ride fluidly and in harmony with them. That takes an athletic body and excellent posture, which is why I chose to work with Sonja. In my first session we jumped right into the work, pinpointing my struggles in terms of posture and fitness. Within the first couple of sessions, I could feel the positive effect it had on my riding, which is now so much more improved and consistent, not to mention my overall posture and health. As I have continued to work with Sonja I am amazed by her easy communication as well as her attention to detail. Her written recaps of each session make practice so much easier and successful. She is a workhorse, but in her lovely soft, positive demeanor. It is apparent that she possesses education, knowledge, skill and expertise not found in most personal trainers. Sonja is a rare gem and I consider myself lucky to have found her!

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Sher B.
Professional Horse Trainer

Sonja made exercising fun again! I feel younger than ever after having given birth to my little daughter, who watches us while we exercise at home!

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Haya A.
Mother and Wife

Training with Sonja is so motivating! I started training with her while I was preparing for my first marathon. She found weaknesses in my running technique and my stability. Working on that helped me tremendously in reaching my marathon goal! 

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Franz Y.

I have been working with Sonja since Feb., one day a week. I love how I feel after each session! Thank you Sonja for making my summer clothes a lot looser than they were last year! This new format will be a great supplement to what we are doing now!

Eileen K.
Business Owner

I was at least a year deep into a handbalancing world when I reached out to Sonja. I had read all the books, followed all the notable handbalancers and teachers on Instagram, seen every youtube video on how to do a handstand. Although I had quite a good understanding of what constitutes a nice straight handstand, I was overwhelmed by the amount of sometimes contradictory information and the neverending list of must-do drills. And I did them all, for a week. I trained with religious consistency, but very inconsistently at the same time. After I finally admitted to myself that I didn't know what the fuck I was doing, that's where Sonja comes in.

She put a structure to my consistency, tailored a programme suiting my needs and most importantly dragged me out of my comfort zone where I was stuck falsely thinking what a hard worker I was. She pushed me to do drills I'd never do by myself and she challenged me not to quit them just because I sucked at them. She taught me to embrace the suffer of repetitive drilling that handbalance is and she was within a message reach for each and every sob of despair or scream of frustration I had, pep talking me back into positive mindset until I could finally see the progress myself!

I'd say she's the perfect balance between a coach that pushes you forward and a friend you commiserate with, two at a price of one … :-).

Petra K.

Working with Sonja has transformed my connection with my body. In the short time I have been doing Daily Movement, I have seen and felt improvement in balance, posture, flexibility, and muscle. Sonja is a gifted and knowledgeable teacher, and her sessions are just as much about educating as they are about movement. She is constantly keeping classes interesting and well balanced by adding in new exercises, and different levels of difficulty within those exercises. There is something in it for everyone! I'm grateful that the Virtual Gym platform allows me to work with her from a distance. I can't say enough good things about Sonja as a person or as a teacher!

Allie K.
Working K9 Trainer

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    If you want more free resources to back up your handstand training, go ahead to my other website!

    Handstand Diary

    © 2020 Sonja Smith-Novak | Austria