67; STOTT® Pilates instructor for 24 years and an Instructor Trainer for STOTT® Pilates for 10 years; Director of Pilates + Wellness at Ballet Memphis

For Pam VanGilder, Pilates became a physical and mental healing practice following a traumatic injury. Pam was working for Ballet Memphis as the Director of Educational Outreach in 1997 when a car accident left her with extensive injuries that required months of physical therapy. Conveniently, Ballet Memphis had just started a Pilates Program, and Pam found that through Pilates, she was able to fully integrate her movements and feel whole again after the accident. “Through the recovery process, I came to appreciate the ability to move with ease and fluidity in daily activities, and I wanted to help others maintain their movement capabilities, too,” Pam recalls.

Pam became certified to teach Pilates through the Merrithew STOTT® Pilates Program. STOTT® Pilates combines traditional Pilates practices with modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation. The program and its different specialties (Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrels, Levels 1 and 2) require in-course training, physical practice, observation of experienced teachers, and practice teaching hours. She then became an Instructor Trainer, which required several years of teaching experience and the completion of additional training courses. 

At Ballet Memphis, classes can be private, semi-private, or group. There are only five or fewer clients per class, allowing instructors to personalize each class for those in attendance. They use specific Merrithew Pilates equipment and have Reformers, Chairs, Spring Wall, Wall units, Cadillacs, Barrels, Ladder Barrels, and other small equipment.

In a typical class with Pam, she focuses on each client’s movement challenges and goals while building continuity from one class to the next to see advancement while keeping classes fresh and interesting. Pam is eager to help people become more aware of their body and postural alignment, gaining strength, mobility, and coordination. “It is fulfilling to watch my students progress and accomplish their movement goals, whether that be hitting the tennis ball with more power, skipping with their grandchild, getting up and down from the floor with ease, or simply moving without pain,” Pam says. 

One of Pam’s students, Celine Croce, notes how exceptional STOTT Pilates and Pam have been in her wellness journey. “I have been working with Pam for 20 years and love it! She has been trained to know the body’s muscular system, the skeletal system, and body mechanics, and she is very watchful to ensure each exercise is performed correctly to achieve the best and safest results,” Celine says. 

Outside of Pilates, Pam finds deep connections through her family and community. She loves spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, whether it be through hiking, biking, playing games, dancing, or singing karaoke. Her daughter, Sarah, has Down Syndrome, so Pam coordinates Sarah’s weekly schedule to ensure she has challenging and fun activities that interest her, including her Inclusive Dance Class at Ballet Memphis. 

Pam says, “I truly believe that with its focus on proper alignment and balanced muscular and fascial support, a quality Pilates practice is the foundation of all healthy movement for longevity in both functional and athletic fitness. Just keep moving!” 

For more information contact Ballet Memphis Pilates and Wellness at 901.753.4177 or visit Balletmemphis.org/pilates