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Meet Melanie Nasser of centerAlign Pilates in The Woodlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Nasser.

Melanie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I first discovered Pilates during my professional ballet career when I suffered an ACL ligament tear in my knee in the mid-90s. I was in Ohio dancing with Ohio Ballet at the time and had surgery and my rehab at the Cleveland Clinic. My physical therapist was also a Pilates Instructor and the Clinic had all the Pilates equipment there so much of my rehab included Pilates.

In the late 90s I returned to Tulsa Ballet and when I was considered retiring from my ballet career I had an opportunity that presented itself to train to become a Pilates instructor and work at a local massage/Pilates studio. It was a perfect match for me transitioning into a field that still worked with the body, but also dealt with helping others learn more about their bodies, help with injuries and help them feel better.

I worked there for 9 years until my husband and 3 children and I moved back to where I grew up in The Woodlands, TX. When I moved back home I found work at a couple of local Pilates studios and started building a clientele. The studio in Tulsa was a small environment where I focused on the students I was teaching.

The Pilates world was changing to larger studios where instructors taught private sessions next to each other in a large environment. I really struggled teaching like this.

All the sharp skills I had refined on stage as a dancer to know what was going on at all times was causing me to be exhausted teaching in this environment. I would have to work so hard to focus and not get distracted. So, after two years of this I decided to take a leap to find the environment that I needed and wanted for my clients to truly experience private sessions, where I could focus and they could focus on themselves and get away from the crazy, busy, stressed lives we all seem to lead nowadays.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
A smooth road! Never! I don’t think there is any small business that can say it’s just an easy sailing ride. We all have challenges along the way! We opened in 2012 and continued to build easily until 2015. We got hit with some things that were out of our control and that was a very stressful year for the business. I think until someone runs a small business you have no idea how much a few “rainy” days can hurt your survival. We made it through that year and got back on better ground, but it’s always constant. We live in an area that has so many choices and is also affected by the oil and gas ups and downs. But, since I’m the daughter of a petroleum engineer who opened his own business in the middle of the 80s oil bust I have a little bit of Lebanese stubbornness in me that doesn’t give up so easily. The one consistency that has been present the entire time is the kind of people that have walked through the doors of centerAlign. We’ve met so many amazing, wonderful people through the years and that part of the journey is what makes it all worth it!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
centerAlign is a very different environment. Each private session or semi-private session takes place in its own room with its own instructor. That way there are no distractions from other people working with their instructor. We specialize in rehab Pilates. We have clients with MS, spinal issues, hip replacements, knee replacements, rheumatoid arthritis, to name a few. We also specialize in dance injury prevention and injury recovery. Our strengths are helping clients look at the repetitive motions in life that are causing pain and problems and educating them on the anatomy of movement and how to change these patterns so that they can feel better each day. We look at the big picture.

Clients are only with us one to two hours in a week. When Pilates becomes a practice in their lives by being aware of how they walk, how they sit, how they pick up something, how they drive…that’s when it makes a huge impact and difference…. that’s what we do.

I’m a perfectionist, it’s in my nature and that’s probably what drove me to become a ballet dancer and I can never stop trying to get better at something. It also makes me very picky, so it took me awhile to be ready to bring other instructors on my team. And, I have to say that’s what I’m most proud of…my team. I’ve been so fortunate to find knowledgeable instructors who really care about working and helping people and who also have an impeccable work ethic. That’s not easy to find in the Pilates industry now…we are saturated with instructors now…we have too many instructors that fall in love with Pilates and become trained to have it as a hobby. At centerAlign, Pilates is our career and we love it and love sharing it with others!

What were you like growing up?
My father always said I was a 30 year old in a 12 year old body. I guess because by age 12 I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I had two dreams as a child…to become a professional ballerina and to be a Mom. Even though I had to put so many hours into my ballet training I didn’t want to miss out on growing up. I loved being a part of drill team the few years I could swing the schedule, I enjoyed being with my friends and tried to be a part of high school activities when I could. That wasn’t always so easy because most of my hours had to be divided between school, homework and dance. The Woodlands and Houston were much different 30 plus years ago so my Mom and I were on the road quite a bit because there weren’t ballet studios on every corner like there are now. I guess I really wasn’t a normal kid…I knew what I wanted to do as a career at age 12 and I left the day after graduation to start my first ballet job at the age of 17.

Contact Info:

centerAlign Pilates and Body Rolling —
duet Chair Pilates Session

centerAlign Pilates and Body Rolling:
Duet Session with Amber and David Barnett

centerAlign Pilates and Body Rolling:
Duet Session with Amber and David Barnett

centerAlign Pilates and Body Rolling:
Duet Session with Linda and Cary

Image Credit:
Christopher Jean-Richard

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