Our Studio


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

Marlene Amado


Founder, Director

Motivated, Adaptable, Courageous

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 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 has had hands on experience working directly with injuries and was a member of the Physiotherapy Association of BC for 3 years until Reform Pilates launched in September 2016.

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 innate curiosity and openness to learning was an asset in the clinical Pilates setting years later 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. Marlene continues to explore opportunities for learning that complement her work such as having her own Pilates practice, meditation, learning about the body and the different approaches to health as well as regularly pursuing continuing education workshops and studies.

Away from the studio, Marlene can be found riding her bike on and off road, 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.

Noticing how common it is for people to suffer unnecessary pain and discomfort due muscular imbalances and poor posture, Elsa felt inspired to share the Pilates Method with others. 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, her understanding of the Pilates repertoire and how she designs and structures sessions for individuals. Last but not least, she had the fortune to learn early on about the Buteyko breathing technique that has guided her cueing and education with beginner students.

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

Katrin Denson



Energetic, Thoughtful, Genuine


Kat fell in love with analysis through professional 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 travel and learn from a variety of renowned professional dance artists. However, she decided to shift her career away from performing and decided to delve deeper into the study of movement. Kat completed her 200 hour Yoga Certification in 2019 and has been teaching ever since. Her experience with Pilates as cross-training, inspired her to learn more about Pilates, eventually leading her to begin her STOTT Pilates Certification in early 2020, under the direction and tutelage of Darcy McMurray.
Kat is currently working towards a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree at the University of British Columbia. She believes movement and exercise should be fun, as well as an important aspect of functional movement. She is excited to help people understand how to move and enjoy exercise in a way that is sustainable and pain-free. This will come with an understanding and awareness of one’s body, while consistently maintaining a curiosity to learn. Stability, awareness and understanding allow us to experience freedom and capability in our bodies and that is super fun and empowering. This is why Kat is so excited about teaching the Fundamentals Series program!
Aside from yoga and Pilates, you can find her in spin classes and at the gym. She still loves dancing, taking class and creating her own work. The beach and the mountains make Kat super grateful to live in Vancouver. She loves to be on the move, but you can also find her studying at cute cafes, cooking something fun or enjoying a good Netflix series.


Melanie Brisson



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


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 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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