Tag Archives: Joetta Dickerson


Check out this fun crash course on the History of Pilates


I fell in love with Pilates and committed to study it and share it with others after I experienced life-improving results from it 12 years ago.
Out of college, I earned my AFAA Group Fitness Certification and began teaching fast pace, high energy, sweaty group fitness classes at Memorial Hermann Wellness Center in Houston, Tx.  I loved it!  After some time my boss, Joetta Dickerson  [opened the first Pilates studio in Houston] told me she wanted to start training me in Pilates through the PhysicalMind Institute because she was wanting to add Mat and Reformer Pilates to our schedule there at the Wellness Center.  I originally thought, “Sure, that will be an easy class to teach.”
First order of business, take a Pilates class. At this point I had NO IDEA what this even was… and I was probably pronouncing it wrong as well!  So, first class,  I set my mat up in the back of the room and was ready to memorize these exercises.  I remember the lights were dimmed and the atmosphere was quiet and calm.  I was afraid I would fall asleep… after all, we were laying down… with the lights out…  Joetta had us breathe and she led us into the first exercise.  WOW… it was really hard!  I could’t do a lot of them, and what I could do felt very sloppy, tight and uncoordinated.  Ugh, what was happening??? I was an athlete and a group fitness instructor!  I thought I was strong before and what I quickly learned was that my strength was extremely imbalanced.
My takeaway… I NEED TO PRACTICE!!!  I started practicing Pilates every night just so I could build strength to perform the exercises.  I started reading materials that Joetta gave me to study and began observing her sessions.  At this point Joetta was working with the Houston Rockets Basketball Team. An impressional moment I will never forget was watching Joetta work with Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon on his Roll-Up.  It was CRAZY!  This giant man could hardly do it… and his flexibility was not great.  At all.  This was the moment Pilates got my attention.

Photo credit: Memorial Hermann Wellness Center

Joetta Dickerson and Hakeem Olajuwon
 So after a month of daily practice, my hubby started noticing changes in MY body!  My shape was changing!!!  Now, I didn’t start doing this for my own benefits.  This was my job.  I wasn’t looking for results but the results found me!  I gained flexibility I’d NEVER had before.  I felt great.  My shape completely changed and I rehabbed my shoulder that I was suppose to have had surgery on 5 years prior and didn’t.   This happened during the time I was studying Reformer Pilates.  I COULD NOT BEIEVE THIS!
As I studied this Method, I began to identify with Joseph Pilates… being that we were both sick kids and wanted nothing more that to be strong, fit and healthy.
I enjoy and see the benefit in a variety of fitness methods, but Pilates will ALWAYS be a part of what I do and what I teach.  This is something that will keep my body young and add value to my life as long as I live.

And now the NEW Tye4® System from Pilates PhysicalMind Institute is the latest in the Pilates evolution.  It’s a wearable Reformer that can go anywhere!

More TYE4 videos and workouts on my Youtube Channel:

Ashley Benson Fitness – SUBSCRIBE!!

New classes and programs at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital Wellness Center, Murfreesboro Tennessee.

Pilates Classes

Check 840west.org for more info.



To All My Prego Friends Part 2

This is my personal experience with exercise during pregnancy.

Round 1

Prior to my first pregnancy, I was working at the Memorial Hermann Wellness Center in Houston, Tx.  I worked as a fitness specialist and also taught various group exercise classes like step aerobics, ball & band classes, and abs and stretching.  I was in good shape.  When I became pregnant, I kept the same exercise schedule for a while.

A friend of ours was a massage therapist, certified to work with pregnancy, and worked on me a few times during that 9 month period.  Early on I had a little sciatic pain that he was able to help relieve.  I continued teaching – following the pregnancy guidelines.  I do remember that it was much harder for me to teach while pregnant.

 At the end of my 5th month I went back to my massage friend with quite a bit of sciatic pain.

He said I was too strong to be having this pain and asked what all I was doing.  When I told him I was still teaching step aerobics, his eyes grew large and he said, “STOP THAT!”  All of the knee lifts were doing a number on my back.

 Gradually I weaned my way off of my classes and in my 7th month got promoted to a

“Sit and Be Fit” class!  LOL  The sad part for me was that this class even became hard!  It was hard to bend and twist… even sitting down!

The last month I found my way to the water.

I started attending some water classes and LOVED it!  It was just what I needed.  I felt better on the days I swam and I slept better on those nights.

Labor and Birth

I went into labor in the spring of 2001.  I chose to have a natural birth and had prepared for it mentally as best as I could.  My doctor was not supportive of my choices, but I stuck with her anyway not realizing I had a choice.

I labored for 8 painful hours and pushed for 7 minutes.  That was a LONG 7 minutes.  It was hard and it hurt!  After it was all said and done, I found out that I had been given regular doses of pitocin… a medication given to induce labor.  Instead of my body contracting at its own pace,  the medication was controlling the contractions.  Pitocin is supposed to be given with an epidural…  I WAS NOT GIVEN AN EPIDURAL!
Well, it hurt worse than it had to, but I did it!
My baby girl was born 🙂

The 6 Week “Go Ahead”

I recovered quickly after having Taylor.  I was up and moving in no time.  It felt like it took forever, but finally I had my 6 week checkup and the doctor said I could start exercising again!  Yay!

So THAT night I attended a kickboxing class……..


My brain thought I was right back where I was before pregnancy.  My body was not!

What I thought I looked like.

What I thought I looked like.     

What I ACTUALLY looked like.

Parents Square

I remember hardly being able to jump off the ground.  I remember my heart rate being high and my feet not moving quickly.  I also remember having to leave class a few times for the bathroom 🙂

It made me mad that I couldn’t do it like the other women, so I pushed harder…..

 I hardly made it home.  The rest of the day I laid on the couch and couldn’t get up.
 I felt BAD.
I learned to start back slowly and not to expect to be like I was right away before pregnancy!

A Year Later

I stayed home with my baby for the first year and began teaching classes again after her 1st birthday.

 At this point I was weaning her off of nursing and ready to get out of the house,
so I started back teaching my exercise classes.
Soon after, my boss began training me in Pilates.

After a few months of studying and teaching this type of exercise, I decided to stop teaching the high impact exercise for good and focus only on pilates.

5 Years Later — Round 2 

During the time I was blessed with our second child,

I was teaching only pilates classes throughout the week.

I continued instructing until the end of my 1st trimester.  At this point it was not smart to lie on my back anymore.  The first half of my class was performed lying on our back, while a good portion required us to lie on our stomach… not great either!

In the 2nd trimester, the uterus gets bigger and when you lie on your back, it puts pressure on the vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart. This could interfere with the flow of blood & nutrients to the placenta & your baby.

The 2nd Trimester

When I stopped teaching pilates, I began weight lifting.  This was not new, I had consistently lifted weights long before my pregnancy.  I began having braxton hicks contractions during weight lifting in my 5th month.  I kinda ignored them and continued lifting.

We also moved during this time.  Me being me couldn’t wait for my husband to come home and decided to unpack and rearrange all the furniture… by my self.  Again, NOT SMART!

In the beginning of my 6th month, my contractions were VERY regular and I was told to avoid ANYTHING that caused contractions!  WOW, what didn’t????  I wised up and took it easy from this point on.  I even had to walk slower to avoid contractions.

Labor & Delivery

My baby and I made it to full term!  This time around I knew that I had a choice in doctors and found one who supported my natural birth plans.  He was a great doctor and I had a great day.  I labored easy from 6 am to 4 pm.  Then I labored hard from 4-5:15, and then I met my son!
It was such an easy experience.  First of all, not being shot up with pitocin made all the difference.  Second, my body was a rock star in pushing my baby out.  3 pushes and ta-da!!!!   When the baby popped out, my nurse turned to my mother and asked, “What does she do?”  As I was delivering my afterbirth
(I hope this is not TMI for you… it’s just reality!),
I explained what pilates is and how it has changed my body.

The Future

I don’t know what the future holds for us.  I am so happy with the way my family is right now, but if we were to grow in number, it would thrill me!
What I DO know is that I will learn from my mistakes!
I hope my mistakes can help you have a healthy, blessed pregnancy.

Enjoy this unique season!