My Pilates Journey by Clare Dunphy Hemani

my story begins…

Like most kids I experienced the world through my senses: touching, tasting, smelling and especially moving. I was a kid on the move all the time. My competitive swimming career began at age 7, summer and winter all the way through high school. In junior high, field hockey and lacrosse entered the picture ushering in not only a new phase of my development but taught me discipline, sportsmanship, self-respect, leadership and patience. This marked the beginning of my curiosity into self-mastery.

In high school, I recall making a conscious link between physical activity and how it magically and consistently balanced out my mind and teenage emotions. Every sport season brought new life lessons and I was thrilled to be varsity captain for several consecutive seasons. I was awarded a full athletic scholarship to Northeastern University for lacrosse, and it is probably no coincidence that I chose Physical Education as my major.

finding my calling…

Soaking up all the information I could on the science of the body and movement, I was fascinated to discover that what I had intuited growing up had a scientific basis. Freshman year, I began teaching aerobics and a new passion emerged. I was able to apply what I was learning academically with my love for movement and sport. The following year I began personal training in residences and then expanded to teaching sports teams and businesses. By senior year I had my own aerobics studio and personal training business. By the time graduation came, I knew what my calling was: to be a teacher.

I began leading educational programs to prepare group exercise instructors and personal trainers for their national exam, presenting at multiple fitness conventions and creating DVD exercise programs. My teaching took me all over the globe including visits to the US Air Force bases in Japan, Guam, Okinowa, Korea, Hawaii, and Alaska; and teacher training in Russia, Europe, and around the USA.

questioning the status quo…

After 18 years in the fitness industry my interest was growing in the mind, body, spirit aspect of movement & health. I began to question the “more is better” model of fitness that was prevalent and sought out other avenues to health and well-being. What attracted me to explore the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning were the underlying concepts of Pilates, absent from the current mainstream fitness approaches but which happened to resonate with what I was resolutely cultivating in my own teaching.

When I was introduced to Pilates formally in 1995, it changed my life, as I rediscovered the pure joy that movement had always provided me. Walking into Drago’s Gym the first time was like touring a history book with all the crazy looking contraptions and gymnastic-like movements being performed by people of all ages and sizes all with amazing strength and ease. Romana Kryzanowska was the grand master teacher, formerly a student of Joseph Pilates. Her knowledge of the body coupled with her infectious spark for life and generosity with her knowledge, will forever remind me of the type of teacher I aspire to be like.


A few years later in 2001, I was invited by Peak Pilates to co-author their comprehensive education curriculum. Up until I finished my term with Peak Pilates in 2013, we had created several education programs which are offered worldwide through the dynamic network of teacher trainers whom I have had the honor of developing and mentoring. I love my role as a teacher’s teacher and am excited to continue developing programs, tools and interactive experiences to help Pilates teachers as well as students gain self-mastery through Pilates as both a movement system and a lifestyle choice.

I’m committed to preserving the authenticity and tradition of Pilates, and creating learning environments that are refreshing, energetic and supportive. To that end, I have created The Advanced Teachers Seminar, a 60-hour master’s program for comprehensive teachers with 5+ years experience, Learning Labs #1 (a Going More Joe production) which is a 15-hour online learning experience for teachers interested in understanding more about the “classical” style, and ongoing workshops on multiple topics for continuing education.

My newest “baby” is Pilates Avatar®. It’s an audio program designed to help people become more independent with their practice and in turn achieve real results. The mission is simple: to get more people doing more Pilates! I developed this program in large part out of frustration – since for many people Pilates is out of reach. I believe that Pilates should be affordable and anyone interested in empowering themselves and transforming their bodies could do so. Joe Pilates encouraged his students to learn the work so they could be more independent and I see Pilates Avatar® as being a great stepping stone toward owning one’s practice. He also recommended 4 days a week and most people don’t do that! My students continue taking lessons and use Pilates Avatar® at home or in the studio to supplement their lessons. The best part is they make progress! An added bonus for studio owners – you can offer Pilates Avatar® and earn income from otherwise un-booked studio time.

My Pilates journey has brought so many experiences and wonderful community to my life and I am excited to see how the rest of the journey unfolds. I can honestly say that since I love what I do, I’ve never ‘worked’ a day in my life; I feel blessed.

Clare Dunphy, Director of Progressive Bodyworks Inc. has an extensive background in the fitness industry, spanning nearly 40 years. She holds a BS in Physical Education with a concentration in Cardiovascular Health and Exercise from Northeastern University along with certifications through ACE, PMA and the Pilates Guild. Her experience includes aerobics instructor, personal trainer, fitness educator and Pilates instructor. Clare is a popular presenter, guest lecturer and master class presenter in the United States and internationally. She is featured in many Body Bar videos including Balance, Line, and Strength; Ripple; Innovative Stretch Integrating Strength to name a few. Clare has received the “Best of Boston” Award for Pilates in 1998 and Boston’s Best Award in 2000. As Master Trainer with Peak Pilates from 2002-2014, Clare developed certification programs, mentored Pilates teacher trainers worldwide and has co-authored eight instructor training manuals.

She is a presenter on and, and hosts two free video channels on for students and teachers. Clare is excited to bring her talents her latest project, a comprehensive audio program designed for practitioners of all levels and as a new program offering for studios and her year-long master’s program The Advanced Seminar. Her integrated and wholesome approach to exercise and health is refreshing and she is dedicated to providing progressive and innovative education and instruction to fitness professionals and enthusiasts who are pursuing an enhanced lifestyle through physical fitness. Follow Clare at and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr.

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