What does an internationally renowned fitness expert and entrepreneur do when faced with a diagnosis of breast cancer?
When internationally acclaimed fitness expert Ilaria Montagnani received her initial diagnosis of breast cancer in the summer of 2016, she decided to film footage documenting this emotionally and physically challenging journey. Her whole life, she has been driven to acquire strength and knowledge to help herself and others –and this terrifying cancer diagnosis was no exception to her life’s mission.
Ilaria’s main belief that hard work teaches you to never give up - was truly put to the test and she wanted to honestly show how this disease would affect her physically and emotionally.
For anyone, a diagnosis of cancer is a frightening and life-changing experience but for a professional athlete and international fitness instructor, it is a challenge of unprecedented impact. Ilaria sought out a woman who took her workouts, Noriko Sugiura, a Japanese filmmaker friend to help guide her in the process.
More than a 100-hours of footage in on a hand-held camera, Ilaria next sought out a team of editors and cinematographers – Corey Florin (“Dream Factories,” “High Expectations”), Stephanie Gaweda (“Summer Moon,” “Mates”), and Federico Rosenzvit (“Years of Living Dangerously,” “Laredo, Texas,” and “City of Joel”), to guide and shape the documentary chronicling her journey. This is the filmmaking team that eventually shot and edited the movie that became “Stronger For Life.” “Stronger For Life,” is a cinematic sibling to inspirating and relatable documentaries “Dancer,” and “Any One Of Us,” which have chronicled the physical and mental struggles of athletes where life has thrown them unseen medical curveballs and a chance to make it through to the other side of illness.
Multiple media outlets from around the world have covered Ilaria fitness journey in her more than 20 years in the fitness world, including: The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show, The Dr. Oz Show, The Tyra Show, and CBS and ABC Evening News, among many others. The Wall Street Journal called her a “leading force” in the fitness world and New York magazine labeled her one of the city’s top fitness gurus. In 2017, Ilaria received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Equinox Fitness for top group fitness instructor in the country.
“Stronger For Life”
Ilaria Montagnani arrived in the United States from Florence, Italy at nineteen. She loves New York City and its potential to be anything you want to be if you work hard and have vision. During the next 20 years, Ilaria overcomes many obstacles as a pioneering woman entrepreneur developing weight-training and fitness workouts based on martial arts.
She is one of the first women to bring strength training and martial arts to gyms in the U.S.In 2016, Ilaria, then an internationally recognized fitness expert at the peak of her career, was diagnosed with breast cancer. For an athlete of her magnitude, it was devastating.
Shortly after her struggle, Ilaria learns of her father’s diagnosis of terminal cancer. Stronger for Life documents Ilaria’s fight against cancer and how she embodied her own philosophy: Exercise makes you stronger for life, to overcome the heartache and challenges she encounters.