Daniela Gonzalez Ares
Merrithew™ Lead Instructor Trainer
STOTT PILATES® Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels, ISP, Total Barre®, ZEN•GA® Matwork
Certified Gyrotonic instructor, Certified yoga instructor, massage therapist, Pïnk Ribbon instructor
When Daniela Gonzalez Ares was 21, her main pastime was training racehorses in Holland. But an unexpected injury left her unable to walk for more than a few minutes at time. Daniela’s road to recovery included discovering Pilates, an episode of serendipity that was to change her path to recovery, and put her on the road to a career as a Pilates instructor.
This is her story
In 1990, Daniela Gonzalez Ares was 21 and working part-time as a racehorse trainer in Holland when an unexpected horseback riding accident injured her back. She was unable to walk for a year, and doctors were puzzled over her injuries—she hadn’t broken any bones. Medical professionals ordered CAT scans and MRIs, but nothing detected what was causing her such severe pain.
“So I did what I knew best. I went to the gym,” she says. Before her accident, Daniela had been an avid swimmer and gymnast, but the pain made it difficult to get out of bed. She had a removable body cast that she could only remove at night, and while wearing it, she could only stand or lie down. “I was in so much pain,” she says. Her doctors prescribed painkillers and sleeping tablets, as her pain kept her up at night. “I was taking 10 pills a day,” she says.
The attention to detail, integrity of movement was the beauty of Pilates…
She began bodyweight training at a nearby gym as a way to rebuild muscle strength and to hasten her recovery. “My sacroiliac joint was out for months,” she says. “I only learned that much later, through my STOTT PILATES training.” Her injury sparked an interest in fascia and movement. Eight years later, she was working as a personal trainer in Dublin, Ireland, when a client from New York City told her about a new exercise program that had been working for her. It was called Pilates. She tried it, and fell in love. “The attention to detail, integrity of movement was the beauty of Pilates, but I didn’t know it then,” she says. “No one in Ireland had heard of it,” she says. So she went to the book store and bought a copy of Pilates for Dummies.
Daniela’s curiosity was piqued, and she began searching online for Pilates training courses. She discovered Pilates on Fifth, a studio in New York that offered STOTT PILATES training. She booked a plane ticket to take some classes, and knew she had found a new calling. “I loved the professionalism of it, with clients getting the best results,” she says. She took her STOTT PILATES training in the UK, and in 2005 she was invited to become an Instructor Trainer. Since 2012, she has been traveling regularly, teaching for Merrithew.
In 2012, Daniela won the Outstanding Personal Achievement Award from Merrithew, which was given to an Instructor Trainer who is always in search of ways to improve their knowledge base and teaching skills or has achieved something of note. In 2013, she took over Complete Body Movement, the Merrithew Licensed Training Center in Dublin, Ireland. And in 2016, she won the Leadership and Mentoring Award, which recognizes an Instructor Trainer who has gone over and above to ensure students and peers are guided and mentored through their Merrithew Education Path and beyond.
At Complete Body Movement, in addition to STOTT PILATES training, Dani also offers Total Barre®, ZEN•GA® and CORE™ Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training™ at the LTC. “I wanted to offer a wide variety of modalities that are complementary to the STOTT PILATES method,” she says. “These programs give my clients a chance to train in other modalities while still using familiar principles. It’s a natural progression.”
Dani recently completed the Fascial Foundation course with Melanie Byford-Young, and hopes to be able to offer this programming at her LTC, and possibly when teaching abroad in the near future.
ZEN•GA has been especially useful in connecting to the yoga community, she says. “It’s a way to connect yoga teachers to STOTT PILATES at the LTC,” she says. “It’s about being able to offer students and clients more,” she says. “I often use the knowledge I’ve gained from the ZEN•GA® Instructor Foundation Course, Mat in my yoga teacher trainings. The principles of the ZEN•GA Mat Foundation Course and workshops are familiar to yoga instructors, and they are applied to many yoga practices in a similar way. They may have already heard some of the terminology used in ZEN•GA, so it is interesting to them to delve deeper into these principles. Yogis are very interested in the principles of tensegrity and are eager to learn about the myofascial system, as they understand it can contribute to improvements to their mobility and stability, therefore improving their yoga asana practice.”
Her dedication to teaching remains at the heart of Dani’s career, and it’s what keeps her going. “I enjoy it very much,” she says.