Our Studio


We don’t change the exercises. The exercises change us.

The principles of natural movement inherent in the Classical Pilates Method is the lens through which we observe and address posture. Using specific Pilates techniques and state-of-the-art Classical Pilates equipment we teach you how to calibrate your movements for optimum results. We believe that movement is dynamic and interconnected and we encourage exploration, curiosity and play.

The Classical Pilates repertoire consists of exercises designed to address the whole body so that range and ease of movement, flexibility, and strength is achieved in a balanced way. Rather than holding poses or focussing excessively on stabilization without context, students build biostructural strength, stability and support.

Photo credit: Kristine Cofsky

Marlene Amado


Founder, Director

Knowledgable, 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 move away from the rehabilitation setting to teach Pilates as it was intended.  She also wanted to see how far she could take her own practice and to create a workplace environment and culture that reflected the history, knowledge and collaborative opportunitues that support the physical and spiritual 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 physiologies. 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.  As a teacher Marlene supports students’ developing self-confidence and knowledge about Pilates and loves to offer a space and the tools that are most effective at delivering this unique experience.

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.

Alexandra Nicolas



Thoughtful, Committed, Empathetic

Alex first came to the Pilates Method because of low back pain induced by many years of sitting at a desk. After a few months of practice, she was feeling better and her low back pain was all but gone. A few years later, reading Joseph Pilates’ Return to Life through Contrology, she was blown away by his vision: empowering people to take care of their physical and mental health in a proactive manner through breath and movement. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she took the opportunity to enroll in The Pilates Center Intermediate Plus Teacher training program. Having recently graduated, Alex is looking to inspire and empower people to take care of their physical and mental health in a proactive manner through breath and movement.

Alex graduated from The Pilates Center Intermediate Plus Teacher training program in November 2021. She is also currently enrolled in the Bridge Plus Program with completion expected summer 2022. Graduates of this program receive The Pilates Centre Advanced Teacher Training diploma.

Lucas Brown



Playful, Inquisitive, Sincere

Plagued by injury and a hypermobile body, Lucas found Pilates and began his teacher training with Alison Ward and Tiffany Johns in 2019. He’s fully-certified in the Pilates Process™ method and has completed additional Pilates coursework through Body Harmonics™. A registered Physiotherapist Assistant, Lucas maintains a regular clinical rehab caseload. He’s also a student of the Starting Strength™ method for barbell training and coaches a women’s powerlifting group.

Lucas began his movement training in 2010 with Shakti Mhi, one of Vancouver’s original yoga teacher trainers. He holds a BSc in Neuroscience through SFU’s Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology. During his undergraduate studies, Lucas studied with renowned primatologist Biruté Galdikas and spent time at her Central Kalimantan facility with orangutans in the wild. His first-hand experience interacting with apes and observing their locomotion, combined with an understanding that nervous systems evolved in complexity to better perceive the environment and move towards or away any given stimulus, makes Lucas’s perspective on human movement very unique.

As his personal Pilates practice deepened, Lucas found, and fell in love with, the depth and rigour of a more Classical approach. It’s now his primary focus and he’s absolutely thrilled to join the team at Reform.

Before Pilates, Lucas worked for many years in commercial aviation as a sky hostess, a peripatetic period in which he once managed to circumnavigate the globe without meaning to. He’s an accomplished choral singer who’s studied abroad and competed internationally. When Lucas isn’t napping, he sometimes performs stand-up comedy around town.

Teach at Reform


We are currently hiring Classical Pilates Instructors. To apply, email your cover letter and resume to Marlene with the subject line “I love Contrology”.

Studio Etiquette


  • Spots are limited! Pre-booking your preferred class times well in advance ensures your spot and prevents class cancellations and interruptions to programming.
  • We now offer recurring memberships, for your convenience. Cancel anytime, this one-time setup makes it easier for you to book into your regularly scheduled sessions in advance at a reduced rate. Please call or email the studio for more information.
  • 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.


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