I was a Musical Theatre major at my University and needed to correct my awkward posture. I was a late staring my dance training and my body did not have the flexibility and fluidity that my fellow students had, having danced all their lives. I saw a documentary on a ballerina that was on the Cadillac working with an instructor and I thought that might help me. This was PRE internet, so I got lucky when I saw a flyer on our community board at the School of Dramatic Art and contacted the woman-who had studied dance at NYU and worked her way through school in Carola Trier’s studio, but was not married and living in a suburb of Detroit, MI. I drove across international borders from my home in Windsor, Ontario Canada once a week to study for 90 minutes with her! One summer, every week and when I got back to school, the dance teachers asked me if I had been taking dance intensives all summer and my breathing and posture helped me heal my damaged voice.
What inspired you to become a Certified Peak Pilates Instructor and then a Peak Pilates Master Instructor?
I moved to Chicago in 1996 and had been working as a professional actor and singer. I wanted to continue my Pilates practice, but prices in Chicago were a LOT more than what I paid my first instructor who taught in the basement rec room of her suburban home. At that time there were less than a half dozen studios there, so I started looking into a teacher training program so I could learn enough to teach myself and perhaps make a part time income while I took classes, went on auditions and performed in shows at night. I found a Teacher Trainer in Chicago and offered to answer phones, take out garbage, run errands-anything in exchange for discounted lessons or tutorials. There weren’t a lot of teacher training programs then-Peak didn’t even have one yet. This teacher trainer had studied at the Pilates Guild in NYC but was now affiliated with the PhysicalMind Institute-which at that time had many teacher trainers who had come up learning under Romana Kryzanowska, Ron Fletcher, Kathy Grant and Carola Trier. So, I convinced my husband to use a good chunk of our gifted wedding funds and took my comprehensive training. I was one of 4 candidates that flew to New Mexico to become the first ‘class’ to test out and become a certified Pilates instructor. After a year, I started helping out the Teacher Trainer in her courses and she encouraged me to do workshops since I was working with Resist a Ball and she loved what she saw me doing with the clients and wanted the other instructors to learn how to use it. I was also an ACE certified personal trainer and AEA aquatic specialist at the time, so I was working in several gyms in the Chicagoland area. Pilates was fairly new to the fitness scene and we had only 2 classes on the schedule. Eventually I convinced them to add 2 classes PER DAY and build out a small studio with 2 reformers, a cadillac, chair, barrels and mats. With me and 2 other instructors I hired, we pulled in more than the personal training staff of 15 in our first quarter. People were getting as excited about Pilates as I was!
As I saw other fitness instructors become intrigued with what I was doing and they were curious to learn more. Health club management started asking me to do staff trainings since now they were buying small props like Power Circles. At the time I already had almost a decade of experience as an Examiner and Instructor Trainer for The Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada, Red Cross and YMCA where I was training candidates to become teachers of Lifesaving, Swimming and Lifesaving courses. I enjoyed teaching teachers, so when I moved to LA in 2001, I started investigating how I could follow the path to align myself with a school or organization that was globally recognized in the Pilates community. I was working at Equinox and they had Peak Pilates equipment, which I loved. I saw they now offered education so the next time I was up in Boulder, CO taking some continuing education, I met with them and we started discussing how I could go about following the path to become a Master Instructor for them. I had expressed my frustration that although
I had learned much from so many teachers and courses on the method itself, I was grateful to have the teaching and communication background I had to actually TEACH people-something I found that was lacking in several programs. It was THAT aspect-learning HOW to teach not just WHAT to teach-that validated my decision to pursue a teaching position with Peak Pilates. I was so excited to do my assessment and become a Peak Pilates Comprehensive Certified Instructor and Master Instructor!
What do you love about teaching Pilates classes?
Seeing progress happen quickly with people who have tried ‘everything’ to correct their aches, pains and issues. That ‘aha’ lightbulb moment when they truly FEEL the connection and initiation of movement from their Powerhouse. There is always more to learn and my longtime clients STILL get so much out of this system and express their need for it to be a part of their lives, just like breathing air and drinking water!
What is your favorite apparatus?
I love the Reformer. It’s the first Pilates apparatus I ever worked on and everything about its versatility appeals to me. The glide of the carriage and the ‘hum’ of the springs pulling working as I do footwork or legwork is like music to my ears!
It’s gentle on the body but intense in its execution. Its one stop shopping-I get an adjustment, massage, pressure point work, flexibility, toning, core work, cardio and alignment correction all in one hour. I love cross training, but with Pilates, I will be doing that into my 90s because I can! My body-through age or injury might not be able to handle a spin class or flip tractor tires in a cross fit studio, but I’ll be able to do Pilates.
Share a memory from your experience as a teacher/coach/presenter that embodies the value of being a Certified Peak Pilates Instructor or Peak Pilates Master Instructor?
I had a new mom taking my Pilates classes not too long ago and saw how she really keyed into the Pilates principles and connected to the work. She was so passionate about her classes and how great they made her feel and the questions she would ask about Pilates history and the specifics lead me to tell her that she should really become an instructor. She laughed, but I kept telling her the best clients become the best Pilates instructors! She thought I was out of my mind because she had 3 kids and was a stay at home mom.
She barely had time to carve out to come take class! Well…she let me know recently that she DID end up getting certified and now has opened a studio! It felt very good to know I had a part in nudging her along! She said it was my enthusiasm not just as a teacher, but as an emissary for Pilates that convinced her she should just ‘go for it’!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a Certified Peak Pilates Instructor?
Leave the ego at home. It is not a competition to see who can do the best teaser. You will be working with bodies that need healthy movement and correction and you will be responsible with the care and execution of Joe’s work. Becoming a Peak Pilates Instructor requires a commitment of time and energy both IN the module and in BETWEEN the modules on your own. You have to put in the time to practice. It is intense, but rewarding. The beauty in Peak’s program IS you can schedule the modules and pace yourself. You are empowered to set your route on this path in a way that works for you. It is truly an investment that pays immediate returns!
What’s one of your favorite motivational quotes?
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”- Martin Luther King Jr.
Do you have a hero in the Pilates community, someone who deserves recognition for their leadership?
When I moved to LA, I was so excited to meet and work in Jillian Hessel’s studio in West Hollywood. She is truly generous with her knowledge and experience working with and learning from Carola and Kathy. I consider her a mentor in my approach to Joe’s work and aspire to reach teachers as she has, preserving the work of her own mentors and passing the torch to all of us.
Is there anything about you that would surprise people?
I am a HUGE NHL hockey fan. My favorite team is the Montreal Canadians! (Although, being Canadian that MIGHT NOT surprise people so much!) I’m fanatical about them.
General Biographical information:
I was born in Detroit Michigan and moved with my family across the river to Windsor Ontario Canada when I was 2. My father was an autoworker and my mom stayed at home to raise my 2 sisters and I. I started performing at a young age, singing in award winning choirs. My first professional recording was when I was in the 7th grade. After studying music, drama and dance at the Windsor Center for Creative Arts, I gained entry into the prestigious BFA program at the University of Windsor. It was there that I had exposure to the Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement-which I connected with immediately. I thought Pilates would be a great addition to this bodywork to help me free up my voice-which I had injured working on a summer gig singing with a professional top 40 band. I studied Pilates and became a certified instructor in 1999. I helped a major Chicago health club launch the first ‘in house’ fully equipped Pilates studio in the city and started offering workshop in Pilates to fitness instructors. Upon moving to Los Angeles in
2001, I helped manage the Pilates studio at the first Equinox that opened on the west coast. I became an MVe Master Instructor for Peak Pilates in 2011 after giving birth to our first and only son in the fall of 2010. I am now a Peak Pilates Classical Master Instructor and live in LA with my professional comedian husband and our little Pilates preschooler apprentice!
List relevant professional certifications in health and fitness (define acronyms):
American Council on Exercise-Personal Trainer
Aerobics and Fitness Association of America-group exercise instructor
Resist a Ball Trainer
Aquatic Exercise Association-aquatic fitness instructor
Speedo Aquatic Fitness Specialist (Canada)
PhysicalMind Institute Comprehensive Pilates Certification
Peak Pilates Classical Master Instructor
Peak Pilates MVe Master Instructor
Peak Pilates Comprehensive Certification
Pilates Method Alliance-Certified Pilates Instructor
American Heart Association Basic Life Support/Heartsaver AED/CPR Instructor
Red Cross CPR/First Aid Instructor
What year did you join the Peak Pilates Master Instructor Team?
Confirm your location (city and country OR city and state if you are in the United States):
Los Angeles, CA
Where do you teach Pilates classes and/or Pilates Certifications/ Continuing Education workshops:
Facets Pilates, Burbank CA
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