Noted as one of the most sought-after Pilates Instructors in the world by both celebrities and individuals with life-changing injuries, Risa Sheppard is dedicated to the methods of classical Pilates and the many benefits that accompany the practice. While her life’s work is dedicated to helping others achieve personal perfection and maintain optimal health at any age, her practice and teachings are deeply rooted in the mind, body, and spirit connection as they tie directly to personal empowerment.
Risa began teaching “The Pilates Method” in 1975 where she found deeply in love with the work and decided she would never look back. Having gained her formal Pilates training education by working directly with Ron Fletcher, legendary Pilates elder and founder of Fletcher Pilates®, Risa’s work undeniably incorporates the Graham-based elements of movement and dance into the equipment-centric structure of Joseph Pilates’ original creation.
Since then, her practice incorporates an understanding of the thoughts of the mind and how they affect our lives and bodies. Through every classical Pilates class taught at Sheppard Method Pilates, the trainings are based on teaching and healing, expression of the authentic self, and allowing the body to move in a fluid, efficient, powerful, coordinated, and relaxed manner. Through this method, it is Risa’s hope that the results will allow each client and student to move beyond their limitations, allowing them to feel more and more comfortable in their own skin. With this, Risa’s practice and The Sheppard Method is movement with grace, agility with beauty, and power with a gentleness that brings out your true inner spirit.
Not only is Risa the founder and owner of the Sheppard Method Pilates Studio based in Los Angeles, but she is also the founder and remains as one of the head instructors of the Sheppard Method Teacher Training Program, a Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) certified program with successful graduates who teach throughout the world.
Backed by more 24 years of experience as a Pilates teacher, Janine Venable-deZarn brings an unmatched wealth of knowledge to the team at Sheppard Method Pilates and remains as the Co-Teacher for the studio’s Pilates Teacher Training Program. Her passion, which stems from helping clients learn to use their bodies optimally through Pilates so they feel better in their physical presence, allows her to improve the quality of life of every client by empowering them to care for themselves. As a result, one of her greatest joys as an instructor is when she hears a client say that Pilates is helping them in unimaginable ways, that they no longer have pain every morning, or that a lifelong injury has healed after so many other forms of treatment. This is what keeps Janine going and lets her know that she has done her job well. For this reason, it is without doubt that her favorite part of teaching at Sheppard Method Pilates is the personal nature of the studio’s instruction, where the team seeks treat the whole person, not just the body.
In 1998, before the practice was ever popularized, Janine discovered Pilates. She had been a professional dancer in musical theatre on the East Coast. Years after she had stopped dancing, Janine moved to Los Angeles and a friend who owned a Pilates studio asked if she would teach Pilates at her studio. Her friend admitted that she desperately needed an instructor and said she would even pay her to learn. A seemingly good offer that was too good to refuse, Janine thought, “What have I got to lose?” Little did she know, she would soon fall in love to with Pilates, creating for herself a career of teaching clients and not too long after, a career in also training future Pilates instructors.
For the next two to three years, Janine continued to work at her friend’s studio until she was offered a job by a pain management doctor where she would work closely with the doctor’s patients. In this arena, Janine worked with patients suffering from chronic pain or recovering from a surgery/illness and who needed rehab, which in turn, completely changed her outlook. Over the next 16 years, Janine absorbed nearly everything about the human body from Dr. Axler and developed an appreciation for the power of healing through Pilates. Through this journey, Janine realized that anyone could learn Pilates, no matter their age or physical ability so long as they had a willingness to do so. In 2005, Janine began working with Risa, training future Pilates instructors and thus began a new chapter in her Pilates career. All in all, Janine’s journey has been one that is nothing short of amazing, and the evolution only continues.
Backed by more than 23 years of experience practicing Pilates and more than 18 teaching the practice, Rini brings an edge to Sheppard Method Pilates that would not be possible otherwise. After witnessing the endless benefits of Pilates in her own life, Rini decided it was time for her to show others just how the practice could enhance anything anyone does in their own life. Now, she is able to help clients feel better in their bodies, whether it’s by helping them rehabilitate an injury or gaining core strength. All in all, it is the mind/body connection that Rini loves to witness most when working with her clients.
Rini began by taking mat Pilates at a gym and was immediately intrigued by the method. After just a few classes, she felt herself standing taller, feeling stronger, and becoming more flexible than ever before. Not too long after her beautiful run in with the practice, Rini was the victim of a car accident that would eventually lead her to chiropractic treatment where she would rehabilitate her injury on the Reformer and Cadillac. From that point forward, Rini decided she would become a certified Pilates teacher to keep improving her own strength and flexibility while spreading her knowledge and awareness with clients. Nearly 25 years later, Rini is still impacting clients’ lives today.
Backed by more than 5 years of experience in practicing Pilates, Emily Carr Anderson knew it was time for her to dive deeper into what had become her passion. As a former accountant whose primary job was to handle numbers and other mundane tasks, Emily felt as if something was missing. That’s when the pandemic occurred. Emily knew that waiting was no longer an option and she decided that a career change was necessary. Her love for movement would be used as the goal to help others move their bodies through her favorite practice, Pilates!
As an adolescent, Emily lived an active life and spent much of her years as both a swimmer and gymnast. In time, she would learn to discover the power, variety and community of Pilates group classes. After attending just a few, Emily was completely addicted and decided that she would never look back from her love for Pilates. The further in love with the practice that she fell, the more she was convinced that becoming a Pilates instructor was her next and greatest move.
Now, Emily is an adored Pilates instructor at Sheppard Method Pilates, whose greatest passion is helping people move and feel more connected to their bodies by placing an emphasis on Pilates’ most important principles, body, mind, and spirit.
Emily’s favorite part about teaching at Sheppard Method Pilates in being led and taught by the world renown Risa Sheppard, whose emphasis has and always will be on community, small clalss sizes, and great Pilates equipment!
With a deep-rooted belief in the power of movement to heal emotionally and physically, Pilates Instructor Brittany Burns brings exactly the kind of light and energy sought out by the Sheppard Method Pilates team. In her years of experience with Pilates, Brittany has found the Pilates practice to be a special place where she is able to release herself from the worries of the world and dive deep into an explorative, connective journey with the body. Through movement and the method, Brittany has discovered an unparalleled joy that she is not able to spread with every client she meets and teaches.
Since beginning her Pilates instructor journey at Sheppard Method Pilates, she has developed and evolved new ways to practice the mind, body, spirit connection that is intrinsic to the Pilates practice, and in doing so, she is able to teach the unique person, rather than just the physical body. In this, Brittany believes that ever person is different on a day-to-day basis, making her focus as an instructor to utilize her intuition to determine what each client needs both physically and emotionally in every class. It is for this reason that Brittany’s greatest joy as an instructor is bearing witness to client growth—not only in strength, but in connect and appreciation of their bodies. According to Brittany, “There is nothing quite like seeing that happen!”
Unlike most Pilates-lovers, Brittany’s journey to adopting Pilates as her favorite form of moment was actually an “accident of fate,” as she calls it. Though she has always loved various forms of movement, Brittany was quite intimidated of numerous Pilates’ contraptions and machines. One day, as she normally avoided Pilates, Brittany booked a yoga class. When that yoga class wound up getting canceled, Brittany decided that she would sign up for a Pilates reformer class next door, pledging that she would be just fine if she fell flat on her face in front of a group of strangers. But, when she finished the class, she knew something had happened. She had instantly fallen in love. As Brittany describes, “I loved feeling like a dancer, moving slowly and with intention, gaining a deep connection to and understanding of how my body was working.”
After that single Pilates class, Brittany decided to take a leap of faith from her finance career to Pilates. Now, she cannot imagine a better life than teaching something she loves so much to others who may eventually discover the same joy.
With a notable background and expertise in dance, Karinna Greksa brings a wealth of knowledge and poise to Sheppard Method Pilates and the classes she teaches. Her background allows her to deeply bond with clients, allowing each person to connect more deeply with their bodies and the movements they produce throughout every class. Having earned her certification directly from the Sheppard Method Teacher Training Program more than a year ago, Karinna’s teaching methods and classes continue to evolve, granting clients the ability to grow as her methods develop and take flight to new levels.
Karinna’s journey to discovering Pilates and becoming a Pilates instructor is unique in that she originally began as a professional dancer (she was even casted as one of the twins in The Great Gatsby 2013 film). Like many dancers who experience the constant, ongoing physical demand of their practice, Karinna suffered from repeated injuries, causing her to need physical therapy. She realized that each time she would visit her Physical Therapist, he would recommend Pilates as a method to promote healing and strength-training. One day, she took the leap of faith, diving all into the Pilates movement, and after experiencing the incredible changes in both her body and mind, Karinna was hooked. She became obsessed and would eventually become a certified Pilates instructor.
With an appetite for movement and an even greater desire to make others smile, Karinna now views it as her responsibility to help her clients feel great by brightening their days and helping them achieve a pain-free life. It’s no wonder Sheppard Method Pilates immediately felt like home for her. As Karinna states, “every time I walk into this studio, it feels like home. The environment is friendly and welcoming at all times.” Since she began teaching clients in the studio, Karinna has continued to create the environment for every one of her students—bringing to life the family-oriented atmosphere constantly sought out by the team at Sheppard Method Pilates.
With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, Pilates Instructor Ashley Stauffer is enamored with the idea of creating a space for clients to connect deeper to their bodies and minds. Through Pilates, Ashley witnesses the growth and improvement of her clients as they become more united with their physical selves. For this reason, Ashley finds Sheppard Method Pilates to be the perfect studio for her to connect with clients since the studio’s atmosphere is founded on an intimate connection.
In 2021, Ashley began her training in New York City. After deciding to make a big move to west coast to beautiful California, Ashley discovered Sheppard Method Pilates. Within an instant, she knew she had found home. As she typically does, Risa took her in with open arms and a fun spark that Ashley couldn’t deny. After her first mat Pilates class, she realized she had fallen in love with the mindfulness, body focus, and strength that is central to the Pilates practice. From that day forward, Ashley vowed to learn all that she could, and on her first day of certification, Ashley was introduced to the Cadillac and Reformer. Her world of infinite possibilities expanded even further, and Ashley never looked back.