Boditree Instructors and Staff
Risa Mathews, MA
Owner & Director
Risa’s personal practice in the Pilates Method began in 1987, whilst studying at SFU, attending dance classes on campus & at the Dance Gallery, and working in aquatics for the Vancouver Parks Board. A chronic knee condition led her to eventually give up dance and begin Pilates in 1988. In 1993 Risa was involved in a motor vehicle accident which left her unable to walk the following year. The combination of aggressive rehabilitation involving chiropractic, osteopathic, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and rehabilitative pilates, assisted the healing process. The focus on personal well-being also set the ground for a change in careers from academics to movement education.
Apprenticeships in a number of established Pilates studios took place in Sydney, Australia, where Risa was attending post-graduate studies in Communication. Her many years of teaching (swimming, aerobics, movement for rehabilitation, as well as teaching in academics) combined with a personal need for ongoing physical rehabilitation, set the foundation needed for moving full-time into physical medicine. Risa’s first studio “Boditree Physical Conditioning Pilates Studio” opened in 1995 in Sydney, Australia, seeing regular referrals from local Osteopaths, Physiotherapists, and Massage Therapists. In 1999 Risa sold her Sydney studio to return to her hometown of Vancouver, BC, to open Boditree Pilates & Healing in Kitsilano.
Since 1996 Risa has presented workshops in Canada, the US, & Australia, in addition to training and apprenticing Instructors through Boditree’s in-house educational programs. Risa’s work has been greatly influenced by a number of Master Instructors including Dianne Miller, Michelle Larsson, Megan Williams, Ron Fletcher and Marie-Jose Blom Lawrence. What makes Risa’s work unique is the integration of classical Pilates with pain management techniques found in Osteopathic stretching principles, physical medicine release work, and brain integration exercises developed by Applied Kinesiology (TFH). Since becoming a parent in 2004, Risa has developed a comprehensive protocol for pre and post-natal workout designs, catering to the multitude of needs associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and the months of physical changes that often follow the birth experience.
Risa’s dedication to assisting people with pain management has resulted in the development of a number of in-house systems, applications, and protocols that are used to help participants transition from a pain-relief styled exercise program to one that is more athletic, and focused instead on gaining strength, control, balance, and improved flexibility. Clients with conditions such as chronic pain, post surgical atrophy, c-section recovery, scoliosis, hip replacement, migraines, and arthritis have motivated Risa to continuously explore and develop new ways of helping people eliminate pain, and get on the path towards moving with grace, power, and ease.
Risa is a founding member of the Pilates Association of Canada, and served on the Board of Directors for 3 years. In 2004 Risa participated in a focus group made up of Instructors and fellow studio owners, to develop standards for BCRPA Pilates Matwork fitness leaders. Risa was first recognized as a registered Pilates Instructor by the APMA in 1997, and upgraded to practitioner level 2 status (7000 hours of teaching), in 1999. Risa also holds certification in Touch for Health levels1-4, Hyperton-X stretch and release systems levels 1-4,and is studying cranial-sacral therapy. Since 2004 Risa has created a scoliosis protocol that has been recognized by BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and sees many referrals from physicians working with teenagers diagnosed with the condition. 2017 will see the publication of Boditree’s first book, dedicated to the exploration of all the releases, stretches, and imprint methods that make up the foundation of pre-pilates release work that is practiced at the studio. We are also launching our new online education this year, featuring workshops, lessons, and specialty classes to enable instructors around the world to access our work without the need for travel !
Christine Halicki, BA
Christine started dance in Stratford Ontario, at the age of 3, studying ballet, tap, and jazz, and progressing to competitive dance in the Russian style of Ballet, touring internationally and competing in all 3 dance forms. Christine completed her competitive dance career at the age of 17, and went on to study at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, completing a BA in Fine Arts, majoring in Visual Arts. Upon settling in Vancouver Christine attended Boditree’s Instructor Training & Apprenticeship Program, completing her studies with honors, in 2007. Christine has been teaching at Boditree full time since completing her Apprenticeship, and is now Studio Manager.
When Nicola was 15 years old she was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and over the years has dealt with it’s accompanying symptoms. After learning about Pilates while she lived and traveled in Europe from 1998-2000 she thought it may be a good fit for her lifestyle. She was looking for a fitness regime that could be both therapeutic yet strengthening. Nicola trained under Risa Mathews in the first instructor training and apprenticeship program Boditree offered in Canada, in 2000/01. Around the same time Nicola found Pilates she also found swing dancing. For ten years she danced, performed and taught all the traditional partnered swing dances. Between the two, swing dancing and Pilates, she finds herself in almost complete remission from her Fibromyalgia. Lucky for her, as she now spends most of her time very busy with two young children when she isn’t teaching Pilates. Over the years Pilates has also supported her body through rehabilitation from three surgeries. Though she knows and has experienced the fitness side of Pilates, she has always been amazed and inspired by it’s therapeutic, rehabilitative and healing potential. After having giving birth to two children and returning to Boditree’s teaching team in 2012, Nicola was inspired to complete some recent training and specialize in Pre- and Post- Natal Fitness. Nicola is Boditree’s assistant manager, and contributes to the development of all studio programs and in-house training modules.
Caitlin Brown, BFA
Caitlin is an independent contemporary dancer. She trained professionally at Arts Umbrella in Vancouver, and completed her BFA Honours in Dance at Toronto’s York University in 2008. Caitlin has taught locally for Arts Umbrella and Blue Egg Studios, teaching both ballet and contemporary dance. After a knee injury Caitlin discovered pilates through Boditree, and was able to experience first-hand how the practice can transform the body and aid in injury recovery. Caitlin happily chose to participate in their in-house Instructor Training program, and is thrilled to be teaching at Boditree.
Alberto’s bio is coming soon!