Leila’s first contact with Pilates began as a teenager and an old VHS Tape — yep, no DVDs or YouTube back then! “At that time, I was a young ballet dancer getting the unhelpful cues, ‘hold your abs!’ and, ‘use your turn-out!’ without a real education as to how the body functions. So I was trying to get it from Pilates.” She continued to work on her goals of being a professional dancer, using Pilates as a cross-training tool rather than as its own discipline.
Leila earned a BA in Sociology and a BFA in Dance then moved to New York City, like many aspiring young ballerinas. Once there, she received a grant to train as a full-time student at The Ailey School in their Certificate Program. “I loved it, however my body did not. I became so strong, but my muscles were always tense and in knots and I developed multiple injuries.”
In 2011, she decided to get certified at the Kane School for both Mat and Comprehensive Pilates (Reformer, Tower, Chair and Barrel). “I loved Kelly Kane’s hands-on, muscular release, anatomy-focused approach. And soon after, I began to ‘people watch’ on the subway; carrying heavy bags, groceries, pushing children in strollers, hauling musical instruments. I watched them sit slumped over, standing arches of the feet pronating, shoulders caving in and tensed up to the ears and holding their lower back as if in pain. I realized that our busy, fast-paced, always-on-the-go society was causing our bodies to ache. It wasn’t just my tired, dancer self. At that point, I started to become more and more interested in making Pilates a career.”
Leila eventually retired from dance, but as a mother and wife finds Pilates even more valuable. “After I became pregnant with my first son, I had a regular prenatal Pilates workout, which I believe saved me from needing a C-Section during the challenging delivery. So I really love working with pregnant clients. Throughout pregnancy and post-natal, Pilates was a key part in not only my physical health, but my state of mind as well. And I learned that what I thought about myself had a huge affect on how I felt in my body. I believe that I am the best mom to my three sweet boys and best wife to my amazing husband when I keep up with my Pilates self practice. The same reasons that I love doing Pilates are the same reasons why I’ve found such a passion for teaching it.”
Leila still teaches ballet but Pilates has drastically altered how she approaches teaching dance. “I feel fortunate that I’ve been able to merge the two. Whether through dance or Pilates or a combination of both, I hope to help people find ways to feel better physically and mentally, move more efficiently and provide people with a ‘re-set’ from the wear and tear of everyday life.”<< Back to the Faculty Page