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Lead Instructor Trainers

The designation of Lead Instructor Trainer is awarded to an individual who inspires others through leadership and the Merrithew Community of Excellence philosophy. These Instructor trainers have a strong sense of team and demonstrated commitment to ensuring consistency and continual growth across Merrithew branded programs. A Lead IT has recognized experience teaching both teachers-in-training as well as private and group clients, and has been empowered with educating our worldwide network of instructors in valuable repertoire and curriculum additions.

Christine Heckel
Balance: Pilates Training Center
Richmond, Virginia, United States

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; ZEN•GA®

Additional credentials and designations
ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Bio

Fifteen years of classical ballet training brought Christine to Merrithew and inspired her to become a Merrithew Instructor Trainer, specializing in STOTT PILATES® and ZEN•GA®. Christine owns and operates Breathe Pilates Place (2015) in La Plata, Maryland, and trains her clients in STOTT PILATES and ZEN•GA principles.

In addition to her studio, Christine also provides STOTT PILATES training at Balance Pilates Training Center, a Merrithew Licensed Training Center in Richmond, VA. Plus, she teaches Pilates and ballet clients throughout the Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland and Washington D.C. metro areas – including at Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA, and College of Southern Maryland in La Plata, MD.

Christine is also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. She continues to challenge her own body to learn new movement forms through the study of circus arts, flying trapeze and aerial yoga. In 2020, she became a Merrithew Lead IT.

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Claudia Fink
The Studio/Pilates Italia
Milan, Italy

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP, SPX, Rehab Matwork & Reformer; Total Barre®; ZEN•GA® Mat & Equipment; CORE™; Halo® Training

Additional credentials and designations
Fitness and Aerobics; Iyengar Yoga; Cancer Rehabilitation Specialist; Multiple Sclerosis and Neurologic Rehab Specialist; Myofascial Release Techniques; Isometric Rehabilitation Specialist and Pink Program® Instructor Trainer; Osteopath

Bio

Claudia first got involved in aerobics and fitness in Paris, France where she was studying for a bachelor’s degree in Business and Tourism. She was drawn to Pilates for rehabilitation after several athletic injuries and soon discovered the STOTT PILATES® method. She became an Instructor Trainer and taught at the Corporate Training Center in Toronto until she opened her studio and Licensed Training Center, Pilates Italia, in Milan, Italy and a satellite location in Brussels, Belgium. Claudia is proud to be a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer. She is also an Osteopath. Claudia is fluent in four languages and is a cancer, multiple sclerosis, neurologic and isometric rehab Specialist, as well as a Pink Program® Instructor Trainer. She strives to continue her athletic life, and loves teaching students and clients alike.

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Connie Ierullo
The Pilates Body
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; Total Barre®; ZEN•GA® Mat

Additional credentials and designations
BA Hons; Osteopathic Manual Therapist, M. OMSc

Bio

Connie discovered Pilates while earning her BA in Dance at York University in Toronto, Ont. She received her full STOTT PILATES® Certification in 1997 and later became a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer. Connie co-founded The Pilates Body Studio in Mississauga, Ont. which is now a Merrithew Licensed Training Center. Connie has fueled her passion for teaching movement as an avenue to improved health by continuing her studies in anatomy, biomechanics and physiology at the Canadian College of Osteopathy. As an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Connie is inspired daily by her patients and their journey to achieving health and ease of movement. Connie is a member of the Ontario Osteopathic Association.

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Daniela González Ares
COMPLETE BODY movement
Dublin, Ireland

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; Total Barre®, ZEN•GA® Mat

Additional credentials and designations
Certified Gyrotonic Instructor, Certified Yoga Instructor, Massage Therapist and Pink Ribbon Instructor

Bio

Daniela González Ares is a Lead Instructor Trainer for Merrithew specializing in STOTT PILATES®, Total Barre® and ZEN•GA® and is owner of Complete Body Movement in Ireland a Merrithew Licensed Training Center. Residing in Dublin since 1994, Daniela (called Dani by friends and family), was born to Spanish parents in the Netherlands and is a fluent speaker in various languages. She has always been interested in sport, particularly in swimming, karate, gymnastics and horse riding. Unfortunately Daniela suffered a horse-riding accident in her early twenties, which indirectly led her back to the gym, and a move to Ireland led her to STOTT PILATES. Daniela owns a personal training and Pilates Studio called AJNA in Dublin, is a certified gyrotonic instructor, certified yoga instructor, massage therapist and pink ribbon instructor. In 2012 Daniela received the award for Outstanding Personal Achievement by Merrithew.

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David Freker
DFX Pilates
Sacramento, California, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP

Additional credentials and designations
ACE Personal Trainer, BS and MS in Electrical Engineering

Bio

With Bachelors and Masters degrees in Electrical Engineering, David worked for fifteen years designing computer chips for Intel Corporation. He was first introduced to Pilates in 2000 by a Physical Therapist as a cross training method for cycling and mountain bike racing. With a strong technical background, he was fascinated with the precision, biomechanics and effectiveness of the method. He pursued instructor training with several organizations before choosing the STOTT PILATES® method and becoming a fully certified instructor. Passionate about Pilates, David changed career paths and became a STOTT PILATES® Instructor Trainer in 2004. After teaching the program in Northern California for several years, he founded DFX Pilates which serves as the Merrithew Licensed Training Center for the Sacramento region. David became a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer in 2016.

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Debra Hunt
SweatShop Fitness Health Club
Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; ZEN•GA® Mat & Equipment; Merrithew™ Fascial Movement

Additional credentials and designations
BA Dance, Mills College

Bio

Debra began her journey with STOTT PILATES® after experiencing 18 years of chronic pain from injuries sustained in a car accident. She immediately took a liking to the STOTT PILATES method, realizing it was the only modality that actually worked to heal her body. Becoming a Full Certified Instructor in 2005 and an Instructor Trainer in 2006, her STOTT PILATES training is complemented by a background in dance and gymnastics. She is now a Merrithew Lead IT.

She works with people in all states of health, wellness, recovery and restoration, including high level athletes. Debra was chosen to work with touring Cirque de Soleil performers in 2013, and in 2014 she began to travel annually to Korea to provide STOTT PILATES professional training for enthusiastic Korean students.

Debra revels in learning about new, innovative mind-body modalities and anatomy. This is exemplified by her enthusiasm and leadership in ZEN•GA®, Merrithew Fascial Movement, and other mindful movement modalities. She has been immersed in the study of fascia for over ten years and is consistently successful with client concerns, addressing complex dysfunction through a fascial lens.

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Elizebeth Ellison
Floating
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; Halo® Training

Additional credentials and designations
NASM CPT, CES

Bio

Elizebeth’s career in the fitness industry began as an ACE certified personal trainer and her interest in Pilates initially began as a pursuit to discover how Pilates could help improve her father’s golf game. Elizebeth became fascinated by the STOTT PILATES® approach and its accessibility for all levels. She then expanded on her fitness education to include becoming a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor in 2004 and then a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer specializing in STOTT PILATES. In 2009, Elizebeth received the distinction of Merrithew IT Rookie of the Year. Her fascination and dedication to continuing education inspires her to continuously learn more about the discipline.

Eva Powers
Equilibrium Mind-Body Fitness
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP

Additional credentials and designations
Gyrotonic

Bio

As the Chair of the Maggie Allesee Department of Dance in the College of Fine Arts at Wayne State University, Eva’s primary research is in education, pedagogy, teaching methodology and dance science. Her courses in Dance Kinesiology and Movement Analysis reflect her interest in the integration of body and mind conditioning for dancers. Eva was recently named a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer for STOTT PILATES®. She has also achieved Level 1 Certification in Gyrotonic® and apprentice level in Gyrokinesis. Eva is a dancer, choreographer, gifted professor and mentor to new STOTT PILATES instructors at Equilibrium.

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Gidget Anthony
Floating
Plano, Texas, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, ISP; Total Barre®; Merrithew™ Fascial Movement

Bio

Gidget began her career in movement while performing in musical theater. Her love of dance gave way to a passion for fitness. She was a personal trainer for many years before she turned to the more mindful movements of yoga and Pilates. She opened her Pilates studio in the Dallas area in 2003. From 2012 to early 2018, she owned the Merrithew Licensed Training Center in the Dallas area. In 2016, Gidget was designated a Merrithew Lead Instructor Trainer. This has been the honor of her career. She considers teaching and educating her gift to give, and actively mentors students both during and after they complete their education programs.

Heather Lawson
John Garey Fitness & Pilates
Long Beach, California, USA

IT qualifications
STOTT PILATES® Matwork & Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels, ISP; Total Barre®

Additional credentials and designations
ACE, BFA

Bio

Heather Lawson is an Instructor Trainer for Merrithew specializing in Total Barre® and is a Lead IT for STOTT PILATES®. A valuable member of the company's prestigious programming team, she has been teaching Pilates for over 10 years and is also an ACE Certified Instructor. Heather graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet Performance. Heather was involved in the most recent DVD production for Merrithew as a featured performer and instructor

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