Leslie Clayton – Founder/Director
Leslie Clayton’s extensive background in Pilates training, professional dance, creative movement, yoga, and energetic healing modalities found the perfect outlet in 1993 when she opened Body Awareness Studio, the first Pilates exercise studio in the Atlanta area.
Leslie discovered Pilates the hard way: by accident. In 1992, she survived a traumatic car accident and underwent months of physical therapy that only returned marginal results. A dancer friend told her about Pilates, but Leslie was hesitant to try it—after all, so little was known or understood about it at the time. With curiosity and caution, Leslie took her first ½ hour private Pilates session. The outcome was profound. The next day, she could balance on one leg and move with more strength and ease than she could the day before.
Leslie began Pilates training a year later and travelled to New York to study with Romana Kryzanowska, a student of Joseph Pilates, the originator of the Pilates method. Leslie continued her training with other luminaries in the field, including Jennifer Bury, Elizabeth Larkam, Michelle Larsson, and Michael Miller.
In Pilates, Leslie felt like she discovered a new territory that went beyond mere fitness, health, or creative artistry. Pilates brought it all together for Leslie: her love of movement, her relentless passion for helping others heal, and a profound personal discovery that she wanted to share with the world.
It was during one of her first Pilates Teacher Training programs that she experienced an extraordinary sense of peace and a transcendent bliss that transformed her. She knew that this was her purpose in life: to help others discover their own pathway to freedom and bliss.
“Pilates gently and profoundly works on many levels all at once, returning you to yourself. You feel strengthened, centered, relaxed, uplifted, and incredibly energized. It goes to the core of all that you are.”
Leslie is a Pilates practitioner, certified as a Pilates Method Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance), Balanced Body Master Instructor, Polarity Therapy Practitioner, Heart IQ Coach, White Winds Integrative Energy Medicine Coach, and Natural Rhythms Creation Coach. She has been a member of several highly respected professional dance troupes including the Ballet Concerto of Miami in Miami, Florida, the Carl Ratcliff Dance Theatre in Atlanta, and the Lee Harper Dancers of Atlanta.
Come learn from Leslie and awaken your own power within.
Sara Sammons-Ulmer – Associate Director
Sara Sammons-Ulmer experienced firsthand the benefits of Pilates when it improved her chronic back pain. Sara was trained as a rhythmic gymnast and ballroom dancer with a BFA in Art/Interior Design at the University of Georgia and appreciated the technique behind Pilates. In addition to feeling better physically, Pilates was a catalyst to help Sara live a more balanced life in accordance to her values. After experiencing the positive effects of Pilates, Sara decided to become an instructor and share the benefits with others so they could live life with balance, joy, ease and grace. Sara enjoys working with people of all ages and abilities who want to make a positive change in their life through movement. Her step by step approach makes it easy for her clients to grow and feel strong in their Pilates practice. Sara strives to help her clients feel good about what they accomplished and see and feel the effects in their every day lives.
Sara has been teaching since 2004 and is a Body Awareness Studio Pilates Instructor, Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Certified Instructor, ACE Group Fitness Instructor, and Balanced Body (BB) Master Instructor.
“One of my biggest inspirations is seeing the look of joy on a client’s face when they master a new skill.”
Susan Frenzel enjoys working with a variety of clients of all ages and abilities, but especially with clients who have been limited in their exercise due to injuries or challenges, making previous exercise regimens difficult to continue. Working on the Pilates apparatus is the answer providing both assistance and resistance to increase strength, flexibility, and balance. As Joseph Pilates said, “Pilates will develop the body uniformly, correct wrong postures, restore physical vitality, invigorate the individual, and elevate the spirit.”
Susan is a summa cum laude graduate of Georgia State University with a B.A. in Theater & Dance. She is a former professional dancer, dance teacher, and creative dramatics teacher. Susan has been part of the fitness industry since 1983 & holds certifications with the Pilates Method Alliance and the American Council of Exercise. She received her Pilates training from Polestar Pilates Education. Susan is also a SilverSneakers Master Instructor.
“The body changes as you age, sometimes resulting from genetics, old injuries, surgeries, or other issues. An exercise routine should be modified to adapt to those changes and limitations in order to become a new you. After my neck surgery, I was losing strength, unable to lift weights, take a yoga or Pilates mat class. I needed an alternative to the classes and my usual gym workout. The Pilates apparatus gave me a new world of staying mobile and allowed me to exercise with joy again. I love sharing my experience with clients.”
Cory Garner became a student of Pilates thirteen years ago while completing her BS in Industrial Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In the years following graduation she found working in an office setting stimulating and challenging yet somehow unfulfilling and knew that her career and her life path needed a radical shift. Taking Pilates and being in the studio environment was the most relaxing and uplifting part of her week. When the studio owner approached her about becoming an instructor it was clearly the right time to make a change.
In 2003 she was certified in a Classic Style of Pilates from a small independent studio and has never looked back to those corporate years. Since her certification she has taken numerous Continuing Education workshops emphasizing contemporary concepts, and her teaching reflects a mixture of Pilates’ styles to benefit each individual. Cory loves that the analytical skills her engineering education taught her translate perfectly to helping others improve their well-being through Pilates.
Cory is an accomplished Instructor Trainer joining the Balanced Body® Master Instructors in February of 2008. She is also a PMA Certified Instructor.
“I believe that wellness is the key to a joyous life, it is attainable by everyone. A happy, healthy body is a good place to start.”
Susan Leeder’s philosophy is that pilates is a practice that mindfully challenges our physical state making it a form of exercise that is great at any age. Susan loves to help clients discover that connection and teaching them a new way of seeing how their bodies can work with more efficient and safe movement. Susan fully embraces the spirit of always learning, with openness, new ideas and strategies that will help her clients connect their mind, body and spirit.
Susan is a Balanced Body graduate with a Comprehensive Instructors Certification. She participated in the Apprentice Program at Body Awareness Studio allowing her to continue observing, working with and studying the Balanced Body Teacher Instructors. During this three-year process, Susan has been able to learn the deeper and subtle nuances necessary to connect clients to the beauty and value of the Pilates Method.
“Pilates evolves as the individual becomes more aware of each layer of subtlety, bringing new awareness and mastery of the body, which is a challenge to all levels of clients.”
Trina Bordere is accredited to teach Pilates, a certified Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® instructor and has been teaching in Atlanta for the past 12 years. Her study of the Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® methods has taken her across the U.S. and to Europe. With an ongoing dance career (thanks to Pilates and Gyrotonic®), Trina Bordere remains active, performing most recently with T. Lang Dance. She provides training for therapeutic to advanced fitness levels in both Pilates and Gyrotonic® and offers specialized training for pre-professional and professional dancers and athletes.
Estelle Harford of Stellar Strength and Wellness has recently relocated to the Atlanta area from Chicago. She is a Movement Therapist and helps her clients eliminate pain, increase flexibility, range of motion, tone and strength. Estelle is a Ki-Hara Master Trainer and a John F. Barnes Myofascial Release Therapist.
She works closely with clients on a one on one basis and helps those with acute as well as chronic injuries. She has the ability to determine which muscles are not firing properly due to injury, stress or weakness; and neuromuscularly reconnects the pathways so your body is able to work as a whole again. Each session is completely customized for you, as every body is different. Resistance flexibility is a wonderful tool Estelle utilizes that works with the eccentric motion of your body. Estelle can help you be more active and get more out of the activities you already love to do.
Estelle also offers Myofascial Release to help her clients. Fascia is best explained as a 3-dimensional web that interpenetrates everything in your entire body. A high percentage of people experiencing pain or limited range of motion may also be experiencing fascial restrictions or adhesions. If not properly released, the fascia continues to tighten and constrict, eventually affecting many other parts of the body. Releasing this system is extremely important to restore balance and eliminate pain and dysfunction everywhere in the body.
Some of the Benefits of working with Estelle:
- gains in flexibility , range of motion, strength, tone and aerobic capacity
- improved performance and recovery
- removes chronic joint stress and injuries
- prevents injury from overstretching
- targets specific areas of existing or potential injury
- realigns the body to improve posture
- eliminates both chronic and acute pain
- greatly increases core stability
- great for circulation and inflammation problems
- helps flush toxins
- greater lung capacity
- less tension headaches
Estelle Harford is a Movement Therapist and a nationally recognized Ki-Hara Master Trainer. She is the only Ki-Hara Master Trainer in Georgia. Please call to set up an appointment at 630-730-1410. www.stellarstrength.com,Estelle@stellarstrength.com