Our fully certified teachers have fulfilled a minimum of 700 hours of active training in all apparatus and mat work, seminars, and apprentice teaching. In addition to regular study, our teachers also fulfill 16 hours of continuing education annually. We strive to share/inform consumers of the power of the original Pilates Method by offering apparatus and mat sessions with experienced professional teachers in a safe environment. See “About – Our Commitment to the Original Pilates Method.”
Lesa McLaughlin, Owner
Lesa was certified as a teacher in The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning by The Pilates Studio in New York in 1995 under the tutelage of Romana Krowsanavska and is a Second Generation Teacher. She received a Gold Certification by the Pilates Method Alliance in 2005. She holds a BFA in Dance from George Mason University (1984) and has taught dance, movement, and exercise for over 40 years.
In 1998, she co-founded Pilates at Excel Movement Studios (now Excel Pilates DC), a 5,000-square-foot Pilates studio in Washington, DC. In 2002 she opened a satellite studio in Annapolis, MD, with then-business partner Kerry De Vivo. She has worked with clients for 23 years in The Pilates Method Of Body Conditioning. Ranging in age from 10-85, clients have included athletes such as dancers, gymnasts, swimmers, ice skaters, runners, golfers, equestrian jumpers, and bodybuilders, all working to achieve better performance or to gain a competitive edge. Lesa has also worked with clients at a rehabilitative level as well as for injury prevention. Conditions and issues have included herniated discs, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, MS, knee surgery prevention, knee and hip replacement, and pregnancy.
In 2001 she collaborated with Kerry DeVivo to create and establish a comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training Program at Excel Movement Studios in which she developed the curriculum, program outline, and training manual. Currently, she teaches all system levels as well as continuing education.
Lesa McLaughlin’s experience is that of a Master teacher. She considers her strength in teaching to be a deep understanding of the work of Joseph Pilates and helping each client to see, feel and reach their fullest potential. Lesa considers the work of Joseph Pilates to be an inspiration. She has experienced personally the depth and power of the work and considers her ability to practice and teach Pilates a true privilege. The most satisfying aspect of her Pilates experience is to see daily, through her teaching, the meaningful impact it has on others.
Stefanie has been practicing Pilates since 2005 when she lucked into a deal at a Denver Pilates studio and quickly fell in love with the movement, focus, and mind-body connection she found in the work. Since moving to DC’s Brookland neighborhood in 2012, Stefanie has been a dedicated student at Excel Pilates. In 2016, Stefanie completed Excel Pilates’ 700-hour Teacher Training Program, studying under expert teachers who learned from instructors taught by Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. She is a certified, third-generation classical Pilates instructor. She brings to teaching her lifelong dedication to helping people change their lives. She’s passionate about helping others improve their health and wellness and is excited to guide students through their own discoveries, victories, and healing through Pilates. In addition to practicing Pilates, Stefanie has spent her career fundraising for nonprofits that help people who are homeless, abused, and in need.
Jacqueline is a third-generation instructor of Joseph H. Pilates. She has practiced classical Pilates for over 20 years and has been a certified Pilates instructor for over 3 years. Upon graduation from the exclusive Excel Pilates Teacher Training program, she began teaching in the D.C. studio, where her learning and practice continue to grow. Jacqueline believes that Pilates is a meaningful way to help people improve and maintain a high quality of life. Her approach is to both challenge and nurture clients. “Pilates has been an invaluable inspiration to me and I want to help people of all levels realize the energizing benefits of the method.” Growing up in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with an active outdoor lifestyle, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and yoga. She lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and two daughters. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Denver University.
Renee Gerardo has been teaching Pilates for 19 years, receiving her Pilates Certification in 2002 under the guidance of Romana Kryzanowska, a direct student of Joseph Pilates. She has also studied also with Sari Mejia Pace, Michael Fritzke, Ton Voogt, Brooke Siler, Bob Liekens, Nikkie Eager, Peter Fiasca, Alycea Ungaro, and Cary Regan.
She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Colorado in 2000 and an MA in Exercise Physiology from Columbia University in 2009 an MFA in Dance from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2021.
Renee believes that with Pilates, one can find their true potential whether that is on a physical, emotional, or mental level, and strives to support everyone regardless of where they may be in their Pilates practice.
She has extensive experience working with those who are seeking to improve function and vitality while navigating issues such as orthopedic injury/rehabilitation, arthritis, chronic and acute spinal disorders, connective tissue disorders as well as neurological conditions. Renee has also worked extensively with pre and post-natal clients as well. Beyond Pilates, Renee is an established dancer and choreographer with work presented in NYC for over 18 years and in Maryland for the last 3 years. Renee raced triathlon for over 7 years and coached as a USAT Level 1 coach and USA Cycling Level 3 coach for a New York-based competitive triathlon team. She is proud to have earned the honor to compete in the Half Ironman World Championships in 2009 and Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in 2011.
Renee received her training in MELT Method in 2013 and has found it to be a life-changing method for herself and for those she works with.
Brianne Barrow Little
Brianne has been teaching Pilates since 2006, first experiencing the method as a graduate student in dance. Not surprisingly, its complement to dance drew her toward deeper learning and teaching. Trained through Power Pilates and PMA certified in 2013, she enjoys helping students find their “a-ha” movement moments and translating those into life outside the Pilates studio! She enjoys working with bodies of all shapes and capabilities, with specific experience with pre-and post-natal, osteoporotic, and hypermobile students. Brianne brings positive energy with a focus on proper alignment for maximum efficiency and strength-building to her teaching. In addition to teaching, Brianne enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, swimming, and gardening.
Laurelle has studied Pilates at Excel Pilates DC since 2008. Laurelle took a circuitous route to Pilates: she trained as a ballet dancer in her hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Later, she worked in the Canadian House of Commons and secured a B.A. and M.A. in History from the University of Ottawa before moving to Washington, DC, and getting her J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center and pursuing a career in corporate litigation. After starting a family, Laurelle focused on pro bono work for global health and educational causes, while returning to dance part-time. It was then that she began studying Classical Pilates in earnest, quickly discovering for herself that Pilates, as a system of thoughtful, precise, and invigorating movements, always makes her feel stronger (and taller!). Laurelle hopes to impart her love of Pilates and the rewards anyone – dancer, lawyer, teacher, parent – can reap from Pilates by bettering the mind and body, from your core to the tips of your toes. Laurelle received her Pilates certification from the Excel Teacher Training Program in 2018.
Michelle Mendelson (online only)
Michelle has studied The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning since 1999 and received her teacher certification from Excel Pilates DC in 2002. She holds a Gold Certification from the Pilates Method Alliance and is Pink Ribbon Program Certified to work with breast cancer survivors. Michelle has worked with people of all ages, from childhood into their 80’s, and with many different fitness levels, sizes, shapes, and conditions. She has worked with women through the ninth month of pregnancy, and with women returning to Pilates after giving birth. She truly believes that Pilates is for everybody; yes, even for men! Michelle holds a degree in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia and worked in her pre-Pilates life in journalism and elementary education. In Michelle’s words: “It’s a good feeling to see people getting stronger and healthier and to know I’ve had some part in that, and to share my love of Pilates with others.”
Rachel Peterson (online only)
Rachel was born and raised in South Dakota, where she spent every day in a studio, dancing from a young age. She continued her education at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, pursuing a B.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography. After graduating, she accepted an internship at the Kennedy Center and moved to Washington, DC. That same passion for dance easily translated to Pilates when she began taking classes first at the Kennedy Center from Brianne and then more seriously at Excel Pilates DC. Rachel soon found that her love for Pilates was becoming more than just a workout or hobby and entered the Teacher Training Program, graduating in 2020. She currently teaches remotely from South Dakota, where she took over as the new owner of her former hometown dance studio.
Susan received her teacher certification from Excel Pilates in 2013. She began studying Pilates in 2003 in order to develop a more balanced body as she struggled with scoliosis. The patience required in her own journey gives her a unique perspective, and she finds it rewarding to help others grow stronger while finding more balanced, efficient ways of moving through Pilates. Building on earlier training in ballet and modern dance, Susan now teaches and performs the Argentine tango. During the day she’s an acquiring editor of psychology books for a local press.
Fay started her Pilates journey in 2012 as a client at various studios in Washington, DC. Pilates immediately helped improve her posture, and overall strength and reduce low back discomfort. She quickly became a devotee. In 2019, she completed a 600-hour classical Pilates training program through the United States Pilates Association (U.S.P.A.) under the direction of Senior Teacher and Director of Education Brett Howard. In 2022, Fay completed the 800-hour Romana’s Pilates certification program under the tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska’s daughter Sari Mejia Santo and granddaughter Daria Pace, along with the supervision of Fidel Garcia at Capital Pilates Studio and Cynthia Shipley at LifeSpan Pilates. Fay is strongly committed to the depth and power of the original Pilates Method.