Bronco Profile

Range of motion

Range of motion
Photo courtesy Misha Patel Bechtolsheim
by Patricia Yollin |
Misha Patel Bechtolsheim ’05 studied business and dance at SCU but assumed they were mutually exclusive. She soon learned otherwise.

Misha Patel Studio in San Jose is a place where one Santa Clara grad has fused her knowledge of marketing and movement into a light-drenched haven with wood floors, muted blues, and a view of the downtown skyline. Her clients, about 150 at the moment, have ranged from professional athletes, including a few San Jose Sharks, to a recent amputee and people with rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

“My father gave me the best advice I’ve ever gotten,” says 30-year-old Misha Patel Bechtolsheim ’05. “He said, ‘Do what you’re passionate about. You’ll work hard and success will follow.’”

That was in 2005, after she had graduated with degrees in commerce and arts and was pursuing brand management jobs in fashion. But her father detected a lack of spark. She moved home to Southern California, became a certified Pilates instructor, started a company where she worked with competitive figure skaters—she’d been one until college—and returned north in 2007.

After two years with Club One Fitness, she opened her own studio in April 2009. Seven months later, she relocated to a bigger space in the same building and married her college boyfriend, Sebastian Bechtolsheim ’04, M.S. ’08, MBA ’09. Misha works 60 to 70 hours a week, broken up by walks with her Welsh terrier, Jax.

The reformer

Studio portrait: Her place. Photo by Charles Barry

The ninth-floor studio offers fitness sessions such as Pilates, yoga and TRX training, massage, nutrition counseling, and culinary classes. At 5-foot-3 and 110 pounds, Misha is especially fond of the Reformer, a machine that helped her recover from a knee injury.

As she takes a pair of clients through an hour-long Pilates workout, two Reformers glide back and forth. She scrutinizes every move, snaps her fingers as she counts, and is firm but not merciless.

“Squeeze your inner thighs like you have a winning Lotto ticket between those knees,” she urges.

Valerie Forney, 49, heeds every word. “Misha is sensitive to my physical needs,” she says.

Misha’s parents, who trace their roots to India, grew up in Nairobi and own a company that makes fireplace screens. They went to college in England and prize education—which meant that their daughter felt guilty for “prancing around” when she became smitten with dance and choreography at SCU.

Her mentor, Kristin Kusanovich ’88, helped her see the larger value of theatre arts. “I applauded after one marketing class and everyone stared at me,” Misha says. “Part of me felt awkward, but part wondered why appreciation and respect are not instilled in all classes.”

Kusanovich, a senior lecturer in theatre and dance as well as liberal studies, lauds how “Misha found a way of integrating two pretty disparate fields. She has approached her business as an artist and has a completely different outlook. The performing arts teach leadership, discipline, follow-through, and collaboration.”

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Spring 2014

Table of contents


Radiant house

Building a house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. That, and changing the world.

Américas cuisine

Telling a delicious tale of food and family with chef David Cordúa ’04.

Lessons from the field

Taut and tranquil moments in Afghanistan—an essay in words and images.

Mission Matters

Carried with compassion

The Dalai Lama’s first visit to Santa Clara.

Farther afield

Building safer houses in Ecuador. Research on capuchin monkeys in Costa Rica. Helping empower girls in The Gambia. And this is just the beginning for the Johnson Scholars Program.

What connects us

The annual State of the University address, including some fabulous news for the arts and humanities. And the announcement of Santa Clara 2020, a new vision for the University.