Is it easy to go from a small home studio owner to a Host Studio for one of the most prestigious Pilates Teacher Training Programs?
Is it easy to make this happen in 2-3 years? While having a family life and a small child with special needs?
Most people would say that it is not impossible, but I have a real-life example that would prove the opposite.
In 2016 I received an email from Erica Walters, she needed help with her home studio website and she hired PilatesBridge website services for the job. Over the past few years, I was managing Erica’s studio website and saw amazing and inspiring growth. She went from teaching Pilates in her basement (while caring for her then 2-year-old son) to running a storefront Classical Pilates studio in Louisville KY equipped with state-of-the-art GRATZ Pilates apparatus. Her studio has also become the host center for Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates Teacher Training Program. I would like to embarrass Erica a little bit and call her a superwoman (she does not know that I am writing this intro for her:-)
While Erica’s accomplishments are truly extraordinary, I feel that her story is very similar to the stories of many Pilates teachers out there. In fact, when I asked her to share her Pilates journey, she didn’t see why anyone would be interested in it. So, I will let her take the “podium” and share her story with us. Be inspired!
Erica’s Story Begins…
I’m a Southern California native and I have had a love for movement since I stepped into my first gymnastics class at five years old. Gymnastics came natural for me, and I felt really accomplished with the sport. At eight years old, I began competing and loved the thrill of the meets and traveling all over southern California. When high school rolled around, I didn’t want to compete anymore. Not because I wasn’t good at it, but because I didn’t want to leave school at 3pm, practice till 8pm and then do homework all night. I wanted to be a cheerleader with my girlfriends. I tried out and made the team. It was fun but not challenging me in any way physically, so I tried out for the co-ed all-star team that competed all over the country and made the team. Now I was in my element. I could use my gymnastics and stunting was awesome! I did this through my senior year of high school as well as high school cheer. At the end of my senior year of high school, I was asked to be a part of the USA cheer traveling team. I did this for one year while I was at Arizona State University. At the end of the year, I decided not to return to the team to live a normal college life.
From a Fitness Instructor to a Pilates Teacher
Halfway through my sophomore year of college, I was a tad chubby from all the partying and non-activity. I had a great idea one day that I could be an aerobics instructor! How hard could it be, right? I applied at the gym closest to campus and they gave me an audition. I had no idea what I was doing but I could hit the beat of the music and understood an 8-count. I also made it up as I went along. They loved it and hired me. Looking back, it makes me laugh because I had no business teaching with no certification. But I was 19 and they didn’t care; I had full classes every night of the week and was thrilled the chub was gone.
As I was preparing for graduation from ASU in 2004, the chiropractor inside the gym I taught group fitness at, approached me about teaching Pilates in the clinic. Of course, I said, yes! But then I realized he wanted me to teach on the equipment and I didn’t know anything about the equipment.
This is when I discovered Classical Pilates, Clare Dunphy, and her Peak Pilates program. Everything I was reading made sense with the history and the order and why we did things. Over the next two years I completed my comprehensive training with Peak and really enjoyed the program.
In 2011, I moved to Dallas and was hired to teach in a studio where there were Pilates Center of Boulder graduates and Colleen Glenn and Clare Dunphy graduates. I knew that they knew things I didn’t know, and I wanted to know what they knew. I approached Lindy Irwin, another instructor in the studio, about going through The Pilates Center of Boulder program and what exactly that would entail. Lucky for me, Lindy was an Advisor TPC and there was another teacher in the studio getting ready to bridge as well under Lindy! The next day I began working with Lindy to prepare to test into the program and a week later, I tested and was accepted. Yes, it went that fast!
I flew to Boulder every other month for 10 days at a time and immersed myself into the program. Amy, Rachel, Deb, Kailey, and my three advisors, Lindy, Dia and Toni (I had 3 because I moved to Oklahoma to another TPC studio halfway through the program, but that’s a story for another day: the adventures of having a pilot in the air force as your husband), were incredible mentors.
Looking back, I thought I was just going to dive further into the work and just know what these gals knew. Of course, that’s what happened, but what I didn’t know is that it would change the direction of my life; I not only understood the work on a deeper level, but it also changed my perspective on working with people.
Teaching Pilates … with a Baby
After moving to Louisville, KY, in 2014, at 37 weeks pregnant, I thought I’d just settle into mom life and teaching on the side. I had my equipment in my home and word caught on I was in town and people started calling for lessons. I wasn’t even offering my services at this time, and I had a baby!
Within a year, I was BUSY. So busy I needed to move out of my house, but I wasn’t ready. I waited until my son turned three years old and moved into a tiny commercial space with two other teachers to help me grow the studio.
Walking into Real Pilates in Tribeca was as if angels were singing to me, and I was home!
And then it happened, I met MeJo Wiggin in 2017 who introduced me to Alycea Ungaro and there was a magical spark from the minute I walked into Real Pilates in Tribeca.
It was as if angels were singing to me, and I was home. I was mesmerized by the people and the energy of the studio. I spent the day at the studio and did an assessment for the graduate program to bridge. Once again, I was traveling every other week to and from NYC and Dallas to work with Alycea and her esteemed staff.
Becoming a Host Studio for Real Pilates Teacher Training
The decision to become a host studio for the Real Pilates Teacher Training in Louisville was a natural continuation of my journey toward professional growth and passion for the Pilates method. I chose Real Pilates for a few reasons.
- The first is because they stand out in the industry for their academic excellence and full comprehensive syllabus.
- The second is I have been supported not only as a Host and business owner but also as an individual.
The academic portion of the program covered special populations and case studies that fueled my desire to further my education and get a Master’s degree in Exercise and Sports Sciences. The business skills and systems taught inside the program also helped us define a new way we would operate the studio. Pilates Fit Studio is thriving with a full staff who all receive benefits (something that is not offered in this industry as standard), a thriving education program with Real Pilates, and a second studio location opening in Q4 of 2024. Becoming a host was the best decision I made in 9 years of business.
Pilates Teacher Training in Louisville, KY
Start Your Real Pilates Teacher Training Journey
The Real Pilates Teacher Training Program® stands out in the Pilates teacher training industry and is recognized as one of the most prestigious Pilates certifications in the world for its academic excellence and full comprehensive syllabus. Pilates Fit Studio in Louisville is a trusted partner and branch of New York’s renowned, Real Pilates.
- Learn directly from legacy teachers and industry leaders
- Learn to teach Joseph Pilates’ original method, “Classical Pilates”, the optimal foundation to learn and teach from
- Learn to teach on the original apparatus and across all the apparatus, including the historical pieces.
- Learn the power behind teaching Pilates as an integrated movement system
- Learn to teach the complete beginner system through the advanced system
If you’re serious about your teaching career and want to get your primary certification in Classical Pilates, or you’re already a certified teacher in another platform of Pilates/Pilates-inspired program, we have a graduate program with a bridge option where you can advance your skills to teach Classical Pilates as a third generation teacher.
Running a Pilates Studio is More Than Just a Business, It’s My Passion
I founded Pilates Fit Studio because Louisville’s growing wellness space demanded a high level of education around quality training with globally recognized standards. It was only fitting that I bring the gold standard of Classical Pilates to Louisville.
My esteemed staff and I strive to maintain a body-positive and goal-focused culture in the studio. We are friendly, upbeat, all-embracing, and multi-talented.
From our modest beginning in a 500-square-foot space in Crestwood to our beautiful location in east Louisville’s historic district of Pewee Valley, our clients and students have come to rely on the caring and professionalism that is a part of our culture.
Stay tuned because in Q4 of 2024, our second Louisville location will be opening.
About the Author
Studio Owner, Level 3 Certified Instructor, Real Pilates Teacher Training Host, Level 1 Gyrotonic® Teacher in Training. B.S. Exercise Science.
Erica Walters is a force in the Pilates industry. She is a nationally known fitness expert, instructor, trainer, and author. Walters is the Owner of Pilates Fit Studio, and her Pilates studio is Kentucky’s only Authentic Pilates Studio and teacher-certification center for Real Pilates® of New York City. Walters is also the author of The Better Back®, Pilates for Osteoporosis, an at-home workout guide.
Living in Louisville, KY with her husband and young son, Walters has dedicated her work, life, and creativity to sharing the gifts of Pilates and movement. She is a Pilates certified instructor in Louisville and has been teaching Classical Pilates full-time since 2005. With clients, she programs custom workouts for each client based on their specific goals and needs. Her teaching style is encouraging, motivating, and welcoming, with an emphasis on good technique, alignment, and control. Walters also mentors and certifies the next generation of Classical Pilates Teachers with Real Pilates® of New York City.
Originally from Southern California, Walters is a graduate of Arizona State University in Human Communications and completed a post-baccalaureate in Exercise Science from the University of Louisville. Currently, she is working on her master’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science at Tulane University and has a projected completion of May 2025.
Walters is a distinguished graduate of New York’s renowned Real Pilates Teacher Training® program where she studied in New York City under Alycea Ungaro. She completed The Classical Syllabus under second-generation teacher, MeJo Wiggin, and is also a graduate of the Advanced Teacher Training program with The Pilates Center of Boulder, CO. Erica is now working through. her level 1 Gyrotonic® certification.
In 2020, Walters developed an online at-home studio for Pilates & Fitness. In her online platform, she created multiple Pilates programs for beginners, intermediate, strength-specific, pro-tips, and a focused series on Osteoporosis. Additionally, she brought on Louisville’s certified Pilates instructors and trainers to include strength training, barre, yoga, HIIT, and nutrition workshops on the platform. In 2022, she sold the online platform to a Canadian company.
After graduating from ASU and certifying in Classical Pilates, she had the opportunity to travel and teach in Scottsdale, San Diego, and Dallas. Walters also served as an adjunct professor for the Department of Exercise and Sport Science at Oklahoma City University. She has been a guest writer for Pilates Style Magazine and led health and fitness videos for Blink Energy Water in Los Angeles. She’s been featured in Style Blueprint, Louisville Business, and the Arizona Republic, and was one of Oldham County’s top 40 under 40 in 2021. She is often asked to give fitness advice in blogs and articles, such as Kentucky Living, Byrdie.com, Beaute Written, and redfin.com.
In her free time, Walters enjoys gardening, spending time with her young son MJ and husband Mike and being active outdoors.