A Classical Pilates studio transforming your body and mind through strategic guided movement.
The principles of natural movement inherent in the Classical Pilates Method is the lens through which we observe and address biomechanical inefficiencies. Using specific Pilates techniques, imagery, classical apparatus as well as “hands on” spotting and cueing, we analyze gait, posture and muscle imbalances and teach you how to take ownership of your movement practice. At Reform Pilates we teach movement as dynamic and interconnected and routinely customize and adjust the repertoire in our specialized groups to suit the unique bodies that we are guiding.
The Classical Pilates repertoire is comprised of exercises designed to address the whole body so that range and ease of movement, flexibility, and strength is re-gained or achieved in a balanced way. However, not anyone can perform pilates exercises correctly without embodying essential movement skills–especially students with specialized needs. At Reform Pilates students build strength in a knowledgeable, safe and supportive environment. We teach progressive, awareness based movement skills that have practical, functional, real life application. Please contact the studio to inquire about our specialized individual or group sessions.
Photo credit: Kristine Cofsky
Motivated, Adaptable, Supportive
Marlene became fascinated with the mind body relationship early in her career. Having struggled with depression and anxiety, she found exercise to be an effective way to manage stress and subsequently found her niche leading fitness groups, coaching swimming and eventually becoming a certified Stott Pilates teacher in 2002. Cycling and Pilates continued to be a powerful means to diffuse stress during university as well as pre and post pregnancy. Her interest and study of movement eventually led to discovering Classical Pilates. The immersion in Classical training and the dramatic psychophysical results spurred the completion of her second pilates certification in 2015 in the Advanced Program at The Pilates Center, Boulder, rounding out over 2000 hours of Pilates training.
Marlene graduated from UBC with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and while studying public policy, gender and systems of government, she worked part-time in fitness and health services. What she found most fascinating was discovering how movement played a crucial role in managing anxiety and in supporting her own as well as her students’ emotional well being.
Marlene’s passion for Women’s Health in particular led her to working as a physiotherapy assistant in 2013 and was a member of the Physiotherapy Association of BC for 3 years until she founded Reform Pilates in 2017. She is also a Certified Level 1 Hypopressives® Teacher. Marlene’s innate curiosity and openness to learning was an asset in the clinical Pilates setting but ultimately she wanted to create a workplace environment and culture that reflected the history, knowledge and collaborative opportunitues that support the physical and emotional development of Classical teachers and practioners alike.
Marlene enjoys organizing complex information about the body into simple concepts with a fresh perspective and applying the Classical Pilates Method specifically to address clients’ unique adaptations. She is passionate about facilitating learning opportunities and exploring creative ways to teach others about the Classical Pilates Method with its roots in integrative health. Marlene has overcome personal adversity with a positive mindset and helps clients overcome fears and limiting beliefs through movement education and awareness. In teaching the Classical Pilates Method, Marlene supports practitioners in feeling more confident and knowledgeable about Pilates, promoting self inquiry with a positive, informed and effective approach to self care.
Away from the studio, Marlene can be found in the forest, hiking our scenic local mountains, reading and spending as much time with her two teenage sons as they can bear.
Elsa van der Merwe
Intuitive, Honest, Creative
Elsa has always been sketching and making little things since an early age. Initially she pursued art as a career and sport as a hobby, completing a degree in Jewellery Design and Manufacture in 2006, which eventually led her into 3D design and 3D printing. While she enjoyed the art work and the process, too many hours behind a desk, poor posture and muscle imbalances eventually lead to a recurring shoulder injury in 2014. After much pain, frustration and many specialist appointments, she discovered Pilates and its rehabilitating power. While healing her shoulder injury, Elsa soon noticed her whole body strengthening and mobility improving in ways she did not know was possible for her. Along with improving her sense of proprioception, Pilates created a balance in her body unlike any other sport she had done before.
Elsa felt inspired to share the Pilates Method with others so she decided to take a break from her career as a designer and immerse herself in Pilates Instructor Training. In 2015 she obtained her Mat Certification with Pilates Academy SA in her home country, South Africa and following that, in 2017 she completed her apparatus training through National Pilates Training in Melbourne.
Some pivotal workshops and continuing education include studying Fascia in 2016 with Katya Kinski, who was trained about fascia with Benita Kropman, a leading Facia educator in South Africa and then with Geri Taylor in 2019. This education greatly influenced the way she looks at the goal and intention of the Classical exercises and their sequence in the repertoire. During her teaching time in Melbourne she also worked with a number of clients with scoliosis and in 2019 had the opportunity to participate in a workshop with Helen New who specializes in Pilates for Scoliosis and who also does extensive training on an international level. This exposure had a massive impact on her approach to clients with alignment issues. Since her arrival at Reform Pilates, Elsa has delved deeply into the Classical Method with her own self practice and through diligent observation and research. She is passionate about the Method and is working towards completing her Classical Certification.
These days, in her free time she has started sketching again. She prefers enjoying her creativity as a hobby and being a Pilates Teacher as a career. Elsa moved to Vancouver in October 2019 and is in love with the beauty of this city and the wonderful nature that surrounds it. Just steps away, she finds nature very accessible with the ocean and the mountains right at her doorstep. A reminder of her home city, Cape Town, she considers Vancouver her second home for now.
Photo credit: Michael Slobodian
Energetic, Thoughtful, Genuine
Kat first fell in love with movement through dance. She graduated from the Professional Program at the School of Alberta Ballet and later received her diploma in dance from VCC and the Arts Umbrella Professional Graduate Program. She feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from a variety of renowned professional dance artists and to travel worldwide. However, she decided to shift her career away from performing and delve deeper into the study of movement. Kat completed her 200 hour yoga certification in 2019 and has been teaching yoga ever since. Her experience with Pilates as cross-training when she was a dancer, inspired her to learn more about the method, eventually leading her to begin her STOTT Pilates Certification in early 2020, under the direction and tutelage of Darcy McMurray. Kat is also currently working towards a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree at the University of British Columbia and plans to pursue further education. She is passionate about rehabilitation, physiology and neuroscience which has directed her interests towards neurological physiotherapy.
Kat believes movement and exercise should be fun. She believes everyone deserves to be empowered by understanding their body and how to move, in a way that is functional, sustainable and pain-free. This is why Kat loves to teach the Fundamentals programs at our studio. Kat’s continuing education with STOTT has focused on pre and postnatal pilates. She absolutely loves working with mothers and mothers-to-be. Her experience with pre and postnatal clients has been so rewarding, sharing their journey and supporting them through their pregnancy and their postnatal recovery. Kat’s background as a dancer has also inspired her to learn more about working with athletes. She is currently working towards her personal training certification and is excited to start working as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the varsity athletes at UBC this fall. Kat has a lot of interests and has pursued education about movement and the body from a wide variety of perspectives. Kat loves to learn and apply all of this knowledge to her clients’ individual interests and goals. Whether you are new to pilates, a mother or mother-to-be, an athlete or have been doing pilates for a long time, Kat would be very excited to work with you!
Aside from yoga and Pilates, you can find Kat in spin classes, dance classes and at the gym. The beach and the mountains make Kat super grateful to live in Vancouver. She hikes, swims and tries to surf! She also loves to explore and to travel. As much as Kat loves to be on the move, you can also find her studying at cute cafes, cooking something fun or enjoying a good Netflix series.
Compassionate, Intuitive, Curious
Olga is a lifelong student of movement. Growing up as a dance enthusiast and yoga lover, she has always felt a strong connection to movement. She was initially drawn to Pilates for healing and personal growth purposes. Pilates helped her recover from several stress and work related complications with her spine as well as chronic pain. She was amazed by how quickly her body responded and ‘opened up’ after only a few Pilates lessons. Pilates has made a significant impact on her physical and mental health and she believes in the power and longevity of this work. Our bodies are intelligent, resilient and designed to move!
Olga loves how Pilates brings people together from all ages and walks of life and how it provides a 360 degree perspective to movement and wellbeing. Whatever the day brings, she encourages her clients to have fun and move with playful curiosity. She is excited to share her knowledge and passion and empower people to learn how to trust in their bodies so that they can experience their full movement potential.
Olga graduated from the Pilates Centre, located in Boulder Colorado while under the direction and tutelage of Katherine Denham, Kalijo Founder and Owner, on the west coast of B.C., Canada. Olga’s certification encompasses over 950 hours of training including theory and self practice, physical assessments as well as observation and practice teaching.
Passionate, Fastidious, Affable
Melanie is a certified Classical Pilates Instructor and Movement Educator who recently graduated from the Pilates From the Center teacher training program, which is one of the most rigorous and comprehensive program (850 hours) in Canada. The program combines the Classical Method repertoire of exercises and Franklin method imagery and bone rhythms leading to a deeper understanding of the body, its movement patterns and how it is functionally designed to work. In addition to teaching Pilates exercises, Melanie educates clients on how to incorporate healthy movement patterns into daily activities to heal pain and improve functional movement.
As a former competitive athlete experiencing injuries, surgery and rehabilitation, Melanie has lived with pain for much of her life. She has discovered intimately that repeated improper movement patterns and posture results in pain which can be easily rehabilitated using Classical Pilates exercises as they are designed to strengthen the entire body. She happened upon the Pilates method in 2018 after an exhaustive search of activities which would support her deteriorating health condition. Very weak and unable to do much physically, and living with constant abdominal pain, Pilates was the only movement practice that was available to her that worked. She found the supportive exercises performed lying on her back alleviated the strain gravity creates and allowed her to exercise in a relaxed fashion while her digestive system recovered.
Motivated to learn the Method in more detail, she started the teacher training program and discovered that the majority of her hip/back/shoulder pain had arisen from improper posture and body misalignment while playing sports and chronic desk sitting and reading. This was both surprising and fascinating, that despite a life time of sports, movement, rehabilitation and academic study, there were still parts of her body that were not available to her. Regular practice of the Pilates Method helped rehabilitate years old injuries and alleviate chronic pain.
Melanie has a scientific mind and methodical approach to solving problems. She holds a B.Sc in Biomedical Biology and worked for 12 years in forensic toxicology studying how the brain controls mental and motor function (ability to create movement). She was naturally drawn to the Classical Pilates Method which is specifically designed to promote universal body development through mindful movement practices. Following Joe Pilates’ theme of universal body development, Melanie has not only learned academically how to train a body, but has been able to rehabilitate her own pain away.
She is passionate about sharing this method. Having lived with pain most of her life, she has a lot of compassion for anyone suffering. She understands how pain can overtake your life and make coping with daily responsibilities difficult to near impossible. When her pain prevented her from being able to work and function, she realized she needed to do something drastic. She quit counting molecules in the lab and decided to pursue the promotion of healthy movement. Living without pain has made her feel reborn. She feels younger at 43 than she did throughout her 20’s and 30’s. When not in the studio she can be found pursuing her newest passion; sailing.
Teach at Reform
- Spots are limited! Pre-booking your preferred class times well in advance ensures your spot and prevents class cancellations and interruptions to programming.
- We encourage students to bring their own water bottles whenever possible to aid with hydration before and after class.
- Please remove shoes upon entering the studio as we do not allow footwear.
- Please refrain from wearing perfumes or potent scents in the studio.
- Please arrive a few minutes early for your class as we do not allow late arrivals.
- Due to the intimate nature of our studio please keep electronic devices turned off so as not to distract students currently in session.
Follow Our Lead