Journey to Becoming a Pilates Master Instructor

My journey to becoming a Pilates Master instructor began when my mom handed me a pair of “Reeboks with the strap” and told me about an opportunity to audition as a fitness/group exercise instructor for a local organization. Given I had been dancing and doing gymnastics since I was ten, it seemed like a natural fit. So I happily went to auditions and got the job! That was just the beginning and it propelled me to study Fitness Management in college. I began teaching aerobics and gymnastics and was the president of the dance company. My job naturally kept me fit and strong and helping others to become fit and strong became my goal.

After my college graduation, I worked for the YMCA as a fitness director and while there I began competing in the National Aerobics Competition. I ended up doing very well with my mixed pairs partner who was a dancer. After several years of intense training and competition, it took a toll on my body and I ended up with a severe avulsed fracture of C6&7. Training clients and personal workouts became difficult for me. I decided to go to a physical therapist for my neck and they gave me exercises that were very similar to Pilates. It made me feel so much better that I ended up attending a Pilates workshop. Immediately I was sold!! Although I didn’t study physical therapy in college, I had a real passion for it and decided to specialize in Post Rehab/Corrective Exercise Training for my clients. Working with local PT’s and chiropractors in order to bridge the gap between fitness and the medical community created a relationship among my professional network in DC. I was happy to send my clients to the right practitioners and in return, they returned the favor by referring clients to me. It was a win-win! I then began providing CEC workshops for everything fitness. Whether it was step, low impact, muscle conditioning, post rehab, cycling or Pilates,I presented my workshops at multiple conferences on the East Coast. I had found my passion!

Being a gymnast, I have always been a very structured individual. Naturally the discipline of Pilates was appealing and it came very easily to me. After attending a weekend with Janine Galatti, a 2nd generation Romana certified instructor, my body felt amazing. I was sore in places I hadn’t been sore before (the good kind) and I found areas of my body that probably never had been trained that way. Following that weekend, I signed up for a year long certification program. For the entirety of 2001 I drove to Philadelphia every other month and learned the classical Pilates method. During the course of that year I experienced many different things, but one thing stays clear in my mind. I had a hip flexor release during the roll up and FINALLY my neck didn’t hurt during any supine exercises. As part of my training I had to work with other instructors, observe, take lessons and have practical teaching hours. It was during this intense process that I truly began to understand the classical method of Pilates and how important it was to learn, practice and teach the original classical order. I was blessed to have had this experience as a health and fitness professional and it only improved my skills as a personal trainer, group exercise instructor and education provider.

In 2003 I began my journey to becoming a fully comprehensive classical Pilates instructor. I met with Cameron Macdonald, a Master Instructor for Peak Pilates. She was starting a Level 1 weekend and I was ready to go! Over the next two years, I made the investment of time and money and finished my Level 3 training and, despite having two young children, I committed to opening a studio. During my training we talked multiple times about using my fitness presenter skills and becoming a PIlates teacher trainer. Peak was still building their program, and my children were really young so I decided to wait until the time was right. I LOVE learning, especially Pilates and anything health and fitness related so I attended every workshop I could find and filled my brain with knowledge. It was in 2014 that I decided to attend a three day Pilates and PT workshop with Clare Dunphy. Cameron always wanted me to train with Clare, she said we would be a great fit! I was so happy to finally have the time. The weekend was wonderful and the workshop blended two things that I truly love: Pilates and post rehabilitation/PT. It was nice getting to know Clare and as we walked on the beach and talked about my desire to be a Pilates Educator, I was driven to begin the process.

In late 2014, Peak was adding to their list of Master Instructors and I was encouraged to apply. Quickly putting everything together, I gathered references, filled out a lengthy application form, provided instructing videos as well as Pilates performance videos AND had a zoom/skype interview. There was a lot of work to be done in order to make it happen. When I received my acceptance into the Peak M.I. program I was nervous and excited but so proud and eager to get going! Over the next two and a half years, I attended M.I. camps and co-taught with other Peak Senior M.I’s. It was a great experience to go through the entire comprehensive program AGAIN. Their backgrounds were so well rounded and it was an amazing yet an exhausting and worthwhile experience.

Oprah Winfrey said “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.” I am incredibly passionate about helping others learn to teach the Pilates method. My journey has not been a direct path, but all of the steps along the way and the people who have helped to shape me into the Master Instructor that I am have only served to fuel that passion. Since 2017, I have been a Level 3 Master Instructor and the time spent with each and every instructor I have trained and certified has been all that I dreamed of and more.

“Debi on Demand” Vincent

Debi Vincent is the owner of Active Body & Health Inc., a Personal Training, Pilates and Sports Performance company. 
As a certified instructor through Peak Pilates, NCPT and a member of PMA she is a recognized leader in the fitness industry and is regularly called upon to share her knowledge and expertise with other trainers across the country. As a Comprehensively Certified Pilates Instructor and Master Instructor for Peak Pilates, Debi has spent more than 30 years in the industry as a trainer, educator and athlete. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fitness Management and has been a fitness pro for over 30 years. As an athlete, Debi has been a national aerobics competitor, regional champion, Lululemon ambassador and a highly competitive collegiate gymnast. Her specialized training and competitive experience, coupled with her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for sharing knowledge, have been the foundation of her successful business. She has numerous dedicated clients who are continuously inspired by her enthusiasm, knowledge, and constant support. 

Debi is proud to be an Education Center and Instructor trainer for the Peak Pilates Comprehensive Training program, offering only the best in quality Pilates Instructor Education. She also enjoys offering continuing education workshops for instructors. 

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