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TWENTY YEARS WENT BY.
The year was 1999 and Pilates was pretty new in Toronto. There were less than a handful of studios, mostly downtown. I had recently completed one of the city’s first comprehensive Pilates teacher training programs. I was teaching private clients out of my west-end apartment and had started a Pilates program at the Boulevard Club. A client of mine suggested I teach in Swansea. I replied, “What’s a Swansea?” I soon found out!
That spring I began offering group Mat classes at Swansea Town Hall and Retrofit Pilates was born. In the fall I expanded my classes at the Town Hall, later adding more group classes at Windermere United church. In November of 1999 I opened an 800 square foot private training studio at the corner of Bloor and Windermere. Within a month I was hiring additional teachers and looking for additional space.
By 2002 we expanded the studio space and began offering daily group classes including Reformer classes, as well as private training. In 2009 we expanded again and continued to increase our group class options to include Springboard, Pilates Chair, Circuit and more. We offered specialized workshops on how Pilates can help manage chronic health conditions. In 2013 I became a Master Instructor for Balanced Body, a world leader in Pilates Teacher Training and equipment and began training Pilates teachers at our authorized training centre.
From the beginning, I had incredible support from the communities of Swansea, Bloor West Village and the Kingsway. Forward-thinking allied health care practitioners including Maureen Borghoff at Essence of Life, Andrew Appell, Dinah Hampson of Pivot, Sarah Nottingham of Ohana Wellness, and others trusted us and worked with us to include the benefits of Pilates training in their patients’ care. I am forever in their debt.
Many talented teachers and staff played and continue to play a pivotal role in the growth of Retrofit’s reputation as a centre for excellence. Beloved teachers and staff have gone on to grow their careers in visual arts, dance, birth support, physio– and massage therapy or to run their own studios and Pilates programs at studios and clubs all over the city and beyond. I am humbled by, and grateful for their generosity and creativity.
Of course we would be nowhere and nothing without the trust, enthusiasm and support of all of you, our clients. Whether you have been here since the beginning days at Swansea Town Hall or you just tried a class for the first time, we thank you for making a commitment to your health and for giving us the opportunity to guide you to increased wellbeing and vitality.
Over the past twenty years my body, lifestyle and my mind-set have changed often and dramatically. I stopped the high-performance training of my dance career and began movement training for new and ever-evolving goals. I experienced the joy and the mind-and body-altering challenges of becoming a mother of two in my fourties. I lived through injuries, car accidents, debilitating back pain, the relentless anxiety of parenting, and the epic grief that comes with loss, and personal and professional change and growth.
Fast forward to today. I have arrived in middle age (arguably I arrived in middle age 10 years ago, but that’s just a detail). I have been fortunate to accompany my clients on their journeys from athletic endeavors and new parenthood, to middle age and through to the time that comes after middle age that we need a new name for.
And we are still standing, tall, strong and resilient. Ever more convinced that physical and mental fitness is the first requisite of happiness and that we are only as young as our spines are flexible. Looking forward to the challenges, changes and rewards of working with you all for another 20 years!