Master Pilates Instructor, Founder and Owner
Born and raised in Sicily, Maria fell in love with Pilates while rehabilitating from old injuries while performing in a small circus in San Francisco. With a full certification from Stott Pilates®, including the Injuries and Special Population course and one from the Pilates Method Alliance®, Maria draws from her diverse background–various courses on osteoporosis, fascial movement, scoliosis, back injuries, shoulder and pelvis stability, breast cancer rehab, hypermobility/EDS, prenatal and postnatal and Birth Doula training–to create an extensive, skillful, engaging and all age and all body inclusive practice for her students. For the last twenty-two years, Maria has trained a wide variety of clients, from the fittest athletes to those who are injured, elderly and with limited mobility. Her goal is to have them regain body awareness, alignment, balance, stability and functional movement while feeling safe, relaxed, and empowered. With her husband Danny she is the owner of Begin Pilates since 2015.
Maria invented the Begin Chair™, and created the Grace Pilates Method® a Pilates program for people with limited mobility which will be soon offered as a training program for Pilates instructors and personal trainers. She also designed Bones & Balance, an Osteoporosis-safe class for people who want to improve balance, bone mass and ease of movements. Register for Bones & Balance.
Maria is the author of Pajama Pilates, a book about doing Pilates in your pajamas in the comfort of your home, now also a livestream class at Begin! Register for Pajamalates.
In her spare time Maria loves to paint, hike, cook and watch British murder mysteries.
Master Yoga Instructor, Meditation Teacher and Owner
Danny has been studying and practicing Yoga for more than twenty-five years and teaching for twenty. He has completed teacher training in Iyengar Yoga with Julie Lawrence, Yin Yoga with Sarah Powers and Therapeutic Yoga for Seniors and Mindful Yoga and Meditation for Chronic Pain with Kimberly Carson, Carol Krucoff and Jim Carson. He studied extensively with Tony Briggs and has taken workshops with Richard Rosen, Aadil Palkhivala, Richard Freeman, Lois Steinberg, Shandor Remete, Donald Moyer and Julie Gudmestad. He is passionate about Yoga’s therapeutic benefits and its power to help people live healthy active lives. His teaching method is calm, humorous, and compassionate.
Danny is also a dedicated practitioner of Mindful or Vipassana Meditation and is currently in a teacher training program. He has attended retreats and training workshops lead by Robert Beatty, Phillip Moffitt and Nikki Mirghafori.
When not teaching, Danny loves to read, hike, meditate, sing and play the ukulele.
Expert Pilates Instructor
Kacie began her Pilates practice in 2011 to manage her scoliosis and fell in love with the body awareness, mindfulness and confidence that the Pilates practice sparks. She then quit her corporate career to focus on her new passion of learning about bodies. In 2013 Kacie earned her STOTT Pilates certification. Watching her clients transform from a place of pain and discomfort or a sedentary lifestyle to a place of mobility, stability and wellness brings her the greatest joy and inspires her to continue on her own path to wellness.
Kacie firmly believes in HAES (health at every size) and that Pilates and movement are for EVERY BODY. Her classes are known to be movement focused and accessible for all. Kacie specializes with special populations, pre/postnatal, scoliosis, and hypermobility/EDS.
When not on the mat Kacie can be found outside, reading, playing in the kitchen or backpacking in the Pacific Northwest with her dog Theo and partner Devin.
Expert Pilates Instructor
Emily Jones is a movement educator, bodyworker, and dancer. She holds certifications in STOTT Pilates and Axis Syllabus, and is also a Licensed Massage Therapist. Emily has been teaching Pilates since 2009 and has augmented the STOTT Pilates approach with various other somatic practices and the study of specific pathologies and conditions. Emily specializes in working with acute injury and chronic pain rehabilitation, headaches and migraines caused by tension, pre/postnatal exercise, diastasis recti, back pain, disc pathologies, osteopenia, osteoporosis, hypermobility and EDS. Additionally, Emily enjoys working with dancers, cyclists and runners to cross train and promote resilient movement patterns.
Emily’s teaching emerges from a place of curiosity about the human body and a desire to see people live more embodied and expressive lives. She brings attention to detail and relays specific anatomical information with simplicity and purpose. As an ongoing student of anatomy and functional biomechanics, Emily approaches body/minds with an inquisitive and holistic perspective, admiring the uniqueness of each individual. She is committed to cultivating a practice that is antiracist, queer affirming, and divested from ableism within fitness culture.
Senior Pilates Instructor
Hannah began Pilates in her teens as part of her ballet training, and started pursuing her STOTT Pilates Certification during high school. She completed her Pilates certification in 2010, and also has her B.S. in Health Studies with a concentration in Physical Activity and Exercise.
Hannah loves that Pilates can meet everyone where they are at in their own health and wellness journey. She prioritizes an attention to proper form during her classes while also ensuring you leave feeling strong and energized. Her favorite moments with clients are when they learn something new about themselves and their bodies
Outside Pilates Hannah works full time as an event manager for conferences, and enjoys spending time with her husband, their mini Goldendoodle, and renovating their new home.
Grace Pilates Method® Instructor
Nellie began her fitness training at a young age, playing any sport available to her while growing up in NE Portland. In high school, she pursued competitive volleyball, which led to an athletic scholarship. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and taught for 24 years. After college, still drawn to physical activity, she spent many years in the gym as a player, coach, and fan. Participation in Pilates, yoga and strength training classes became her method to manage the aches and pains associated with chronic injuries from the repetitive movements of playing volleyball for many years. Her successful recovery from these injuries inspired her to become a personal trainer, focusing on aging adults wanting to move with less pain and regain strength and stamina. Nellie completed her Personal Trainer certification in 2021 through the American Council on Exercise.
Nellie designs training sessions to improve mobility, boost strength, and increase flexibility and balance, allowing clients to perform daily tasks with more ease and comfort. She loves leading older adults toward more vibrant, active, and independent lives.
When not teaching, Nellie enjoys traveling with her husband, attending concerts with friends, and gathering around the table for Sunday dinners with her family.
Expert Pilates Instructor
Sarah brings a focused, calm, kind, and playful energy to her work as a Pilates Instructor. Highly interested in the overall wellbeing of her clients, she holds space for each person she works with, tailoring the work to their needs.
She finds Pilates to be a grounding practice of self empowerment and healing, and recognizes its positive effects on the nervous system, as well.
Holistically minded in her approach to the work, she welcomes authenticity and presence in her client relationships.
She received her certification and training hours through Balanced Body, at EHS, in San Francisco, and has a BA in musical composition from Mills College.
For over 7 years now, Sarah has been teaching Pilates professionally – finding joy in bringing people more ease in their bodies.
A California girl by nature, she recently migrated to the Pacific Northwest to grow new roots. Her passions include: being a mother, making music, reading/writing, poetry, film, dance, and birds!
Certified Pilates Instructor
Alina was introduced to Pilates while studying dance and holistic health in college. Pilates allowed her to move through life with strength and greater body awareness. Before transferring to Humboldt State, she was in a car accident which left her with severe neck pain from whiplash and a hip injury that made walking unbearable. Pilates became even more important in her life as she dealt with chronic pain during the recovery process. In 2017, Alina graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science/Health Promotion, then enrolled in a comprehensive 500-hour Pilates teacher training at Innerstellar Pilates & Yoga Studio in Berkeley.
Alina believes Pilates is so much more than an exercise method; there is a mind-body connection gained that can be utilized in every aspect of daily life. Alina wants to help her clients unlock this magic, so they can begin to heal and find balance within their own bodies no matter where they are on their fitness journey.
When she’s not teaching, Alina loves to dance, read, sew, crochet, and play video games.
Expert Pilates Instructor
Eva Strickland has been a massage therapist since 2008, a dually-certified yoga instructor since 2005, and has been teaching Pilates since 2015.
She is forever a student of the body and likes to make movement specific, accessible, and humorous.
In her free time, Eva likes to do handstands, read, travel, and joke with her partner and her old English bulldog.
Lisa didn’t dive deeply into yoga until 2005, when she was looking for an outlet where she could shift focus while raising two small children. She stumbled into an Ashtanga yoga studio, where she practiced for six years. As a former high school gymnast, she appreciated the athleticism of the Ashtanga yoga practice but also found value in the connection to yogic philosophy that it embodies. She eventually transitioned to a less demanding vinyasa practice and completed teacher training in 2022 at Firelight Yoga.
She enjoys creating positive, dynamic classes that emphasize alignment and breathing and encourages anyone who may be curious to dip a toe and see if yoga ignites a spark.
Lisa also does marketing and communications for a small software company and in her spare time hikes in Forest Park, tends her small garden, and sings with a women’s choir.