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How the Balanced Body Scholarship Transformed My T...

How the Balanced Body Scholarship Transformed My Teaching

When I first heard of the Balanced Body Community Expansion Scholarship Program, my immediate thought was, “What’s the catch?” As a veteran of the fitness industry, with over 30 years of experience, I was skeptical. I mean, this level of education and access to immense resources doesn’t come for free. Nor has a program of this magnitude ever existed with the sole purpose of elevating the Pilates industry, worldwide, by increasing the number of Black teachers in the Pilates and fitness community. Balanced Body has taken the unprecedented step of providing access to world class education, so a new generation of students can explore the life-affirming and career enhancing benefits of Pilates. As a scholarship recipient and among the first group of students selected for this program, I’m both elated and gobsmacked. This program is a dream come true.

I must admit, my introduction to Pilates wasn’t love at first sight. As a college freshman at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, my first Pilates lesson was in the most unlikely setting, a high impact aerobics class. Looking back, Pilates and I have always been crisscrossing paths. I just couldn’t get into Pilates. It was too slow. At the time, I loved moving fast and lifting heavy. Little did I know that would all change when I began working at Canyon Ranch Resorts in Tucson, Arizona as a full-time instructor/trainer. Ron Fletcher came to the resort to teach our Pilates department. There was something about those Pilates instructors, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. They stood head and shoulders above all my other colleagues. That’s when I realized that Pilates had caught my attention. It wasn’t until 8 years later that I finally, let down my guard and enrolled in my first comprehensive Pilates teacher training program in San Diego, California.

The greatest lesson I took from that teacher training experience was that you never know what you don’t know until you start to venture out. My training felt incomplete. I knew something was missing. There were holes that needed to be filled. So, I searched far and wide, trying to satisfy my new hunger for Pilates. I was on a quest to learn, grow and understand. I took classes with teachers who trained under Ron Fletcher, Romana Kryzanowska, Kathy Stanford Grant and Lolita San Miguel. I finally got to a point where I began to wonder if there was an exercise science based, contemporary teacher training program that would unite the genius of Joseph Pilates and the contribution of his 1st generation students. A place where could I go to learn this method and understand the best way to apply it so I can efficiently and effectively train the body/bodies in front of me? Then one day, my prayers were answered. While scrolling through the Black Girl Pilates Facebook page, I came across a post about the Balanced Body Community Expansion Scholarship Program. This program has transformed the way I think and teach.

Please do not be fooled! This Balanced Body program is rigorous. The coursework is demanding. The leadership, academic support, community and mentorship, found in this program, are out of this world! I’m confident that every teacher who graduates from this program will think more critically and communicate more effectively to achieve excellence in and out of the studio.

I want to thank Tonya Marie Amos for her vision. Thank you, Tonya and Misty Lynn Cauthen, for your leadership. Thank you, Nora St. John, for your unwavering support. Many thanks to Fabrice Lamego, Tiza Wynn Riley, Roger Gonzalez Hibner, Sylvia Byrd-Leitner, Melissa Frances, Janet Sunderland, Lisa Reynolds, Lizbeth Garcia and all the Balanced Body ATCs and administrative staff who have dedicated their time, expertise and energy to this program. I am eternally grateful to you for helping me to become an exceptional Pilates teacher.


Michele is the owner of Boundless Women's Fitness and Pilates in San Diego California. Michele is a certified personal trainer with over 30 years experience. She's a prenatal and postpartum Pilates instructor, acroyoga teacher, Thai massage therapist and birthing doula specializing in women's health and wellness.

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