Our Pilates Heights Team

What’s special about us is that we are a small boutique studio that’s been a neighborhood gem since 2005.
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Our talented and experienced instructors at Pilates Heights are dedicated to empowering clients toward their fitness goals.

Elizabeth Walker

Studio Owner

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I received my Pilates certification in 2001 with Ellie Herman.
Other certifications: MELT Method Instructor, Preggo Pilates (prenatal/postpartum)

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I love change and growth. I love witnessing my clients evolve over time. Pilates is a practice and something you do, Pilates is not something that a teacher does to you. This collaborative process is what I love about Pilates both as a practicing student myself as well as a teacher. We all have hidden strengths within us and I love helping my clients uncover those hidden strengths while finding an easier way to live in their bodies. Teaching Pilates is a wonderfully dynamic profession. Every client is unique and I love how the Pilates repertoire is beautifully adaptable for all ages, experiences and body types. I feel empowered as an instructor, to have such a rich canvas to draw from. And in turn, my clients are empowered. Our bodies have an amazing ability to heal and have an innate desire to be balanced, in harmony with nature. When we have the right tools and set aside time to rebalance and drop in, real change CAN happen and I love being witness to this process.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I grew up in a small mountain town of 3,500 people.  I spend a nerdy amount of time on pub-med reading medical journals and articles. I have a deep passion for holistic medicine / healing and love learning as much as I can about our bodies deep desire & innate ability to heal itself. Most of all, I love being a mama!

Carrie Ferguson

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I received my certification from Balanced Body University in 2010 and the intensive program at EHS Pilates in San Francisco in 2013.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I used to work in a corporate position that required long hours in front of a computer. I soon found Pilates, which helped me get out of pain, improve my coordination, core strength, body awareness and so much more. Within a year I left the corporate world to pursue and share my passion for Pilates. I love seeing my students reach that “ah-ha” moment, where they understand and feel the correct muscle group engaging. That moment is what they take from our sessions and apply to their daily living patterns.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

Just recently, the travel bug bit me! I enjoy experiencing different cultures and using these opportunities for personal learning. I have visited Bali, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the last year.

Melissa Harrington

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I received my Pilates certification in 1997 with Ellie Herman.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I love helping people discover increased mobility and movement after practicing Pilates. It’s very rewarding to see clients improve their posture, stand taller, and develop coordination. I love hearing about how they incorporate what they’ve learned into their daily lives.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I was a preschool teacher for 18 years. Although I’ve lived most of my life in San Francisco, I’ve also called Los Angeles, NYC, India and Italy home.

Sarah Palmer

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I completed my training through Balance Body in February 2017 at EHS Pilates.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I was lucky enough to grow up in the wild west of California. As a Pilates teacher in San Francisco, I love to harness the creative spirit that runs rampant throughout this vibrant city. I endeavor to make the work fun by integrating the imagination into my teaching. I believe that creating new narratives for ourselves is a way to reshape/rethink our physicality. I love teaching Pilates for this reason- it acts as a brilliant new story for the mind/body connection. 

Tell us something we may not expect about you

I was homeschooled as a child. I am a singer/songwriter, and love to perform onstage. A few of my favorite things: motherhood, good music, tall trees, October light, lemon water, coffee, and pineapple.

Cindy Sheppard Sofranko

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I received my Balanced Body Pilates certification in Feb 2017 at EHS Pilates.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I love watching people achieve their goals and gain strength. I get a real sense of joy when a person masters an exercise that they couldn’t even imagine doing a month ago.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I danced professionally as a classical ballet dancer for over 20 years and I’m a proud mama of a 4 year old boy.

Megan Gulbahce

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I completed my training through Balance Body in February 2017 at EHS Pilates.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

My passion has always been in teaching. I studied Education in college, but decided to pursue a different career path after graduation. I love helping clients connect with their bodies, and witnessing both the physical and emotional changes that come with practicing Pilates. It is incredibly rewarding to guide a client through their “stuck” moment, and see the joy and excitement when they have a breakthrough.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I find cooking to be extremely stressful, but I love to bake.

Olivia Coombs

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?
I have been teaching Pilates since May 2018 and finished my comprehensive training through Balanced Body University at EHS Pilates in San Francisco in 2019.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I love helping people feel better. I love empowering people through movement. I love watching my clients get stronger. I love helping people feel more connected to their body. I especially love introducing people to Pilates who have never tried it before.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I was a cake decorator in a former life and still occasionally will bake and decorate a cake for a special occasion. I love food in general, worked in the food industry for over two decades, and the kitchen is my happy place. I also love to sew and sometimes make my own clothes.

Suzanne Astar

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I discovered Pilates after editing the Physical Mind Institute’s teacher training manual as a part-time job while at University. I became passionate about mind-body movement and Certified through the Physical Mind Institute under Doris Pasteur-Hall and Leslie Powell in New York City in 2006.

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

I love that Pilates can help us love our bodies, breakthrough pain and discover true confidence in movement. Spinal freedom is truly a pathway to reclaim not just our bodies but also our sense of personal power. This movement form has been the foundation through which I have continued to be able to trust my internal guidance and expand in directions that continue to bring me inspiration and vitality.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I practice flamenco, hip-hop and ecstatic dance. I didn’t start Pilates as a dancer, but because of Pilates found an inner spark that I feel is the life blood of all things I do. For me the goal of movement is to tap directly into pleasure, authenticity and joy.

Lee Sahlaney

When and where did you receive your Pilates certification?

I completed my comprehensive teacher training through Balanced Body in early 2019 at EHS Pilates. I have been teaching movement-based therapies for over a decade, and I am so excited to join the Pilates Heights community!

What do you LOVE about teaching Pilates?

Movement is my passion! Whether it’s helping to bring someone out of acute or chronic pain, or guiding someone through a challenging fitness session – I love helping people to make the mind-body connection to feeling better.

Tell us something we may not expect about you.

I am a Certified Medical Reiki Master Practitioner, specializing in women’s health. I find that Reiki is such a wonderful complement to Pilates because it works with the body’s parasympathetic nervous system to help to manage pain, heal from injuries, and promote a holistic balance of mind and body.

What We Also Offer

types of pilates classes

private pilates sessions

Private sessions are ideal for designing a program that addresses your unique fitness needs and goals.

Pilates Duets

Duets (2-person sessions) are a great way to experience many of the benefits of personal training, with a partner, at a reduced rate.

Small Group Pilates Mat & Springboard Classes

Mat work is the heart of the Pilates program and can be a lot of fun in a group setting.

pilates heights

♥ Love

After one year (of doing Pilates regularly) I rarely experienced muscle spasms. Posture improved. Gait improved. I now have tools I can use anywhere (movement sequences as well as props) to realign, stretch and strengthen muscles. My muscles are learning new ways of responding to my curved spine. When my body talks I am more likely to listen and be respectful of what she is saying. I try to be interested and not annoyed. You (Elizabeth) listen and watch intently and give me feedback and suggestions that are invariably insightful and beneficial. I feel I have a partner in health maintenance. Although I continue with my little morning program and wakeful awareness, I will not continue to improve without the ongoing guidance you provide. Thank you.

-lee

(After my first session) I felt sore and a little dubious that I could achieve what was promised doing these exercises that seemed so unchallenging in many ways, certainly not what I’d ever had experience with before. I started feeling and seeing results within weeks. I first noticed how strong I FELT. Then I noticed that my abs looked killer. Then I noticed that without noticing I’d become almost pain free!

-amy

I decided to start taking better care of myself and started Pilates as a birthday gift to myself. I’m not fond of “gym culture” and I wanted to try one on one training… I started to notice a difference after the first month or so, having more energy, enjoying the challenge of each session, feeling stronger, more confident. I feel excited about continuing my Pilates workouts: I am stronger and more flexible + more knowledgeable about body mechanics and how to deal with aches and pains when they arise. Pilates has definitely contributed to an increase in self esteem, open myself up to venture, ever so slowly, into other physical activity (at least try it and see if it’s for me). I see myself speaking up with more confidence, “having more weight”, feeling grounded… My mood uplifted.

-liliana