pilates institute of southern california

Instructor Bios

Stacey | Candy | Robin | Karen | Debbie | Michelle | Jessica | Lori | Julie

Stacey Vargas
Stacey Vargas founded the Pilates Institute of Southern California (PISC) in the year 2000, and is currently an active instructor and the Director of the PISC Pilates Teacher Certification Program which started in 2002. She has been teaching pilates locally since 1997.

Stacey has been dancing since the age of 2. At the age of 10 she was the youngest member of Oakland Metropolitan Ballet Company. She continued her dance career in the Los Angeles area with many talented and distinguished choreographers. Because of her commitment to dance, Stacey's career flourished. She moved-on to perform in numerous venues, such as theater, film, television, and, for a brief time, worked with the world renown “Laker Girls.” Stacey graduated from California State Long Beach with a BA in Dance.

With an intrinsic love for the human body, Stacey understands the body's natural movement not only from a dancer’s perspective, but from an athletic standpoint as well. As an active runner and swimmer, Stacey has been working with all types of athletes to help them re-pattern their movements to become more efficient in their respective field and to help strengthen existing injuries.

Stacey began studying Pilates in 1994. She initially began her study of the Pilates method in New York and later obtained her Pilates certificate at the internationally known Pilates Center of Boulder.


Candy Currie
Candy has been practicing Pilates for over seven years. She started doing Pilates as a way to develop her core strength and diversify her fitness routine. She developed a passion for Pilates because of the physical and mental challenges that it provided her, along with the deepened core strength in her body. Inspired by her instructors and wanting to share her personal experience with others she became a certified instructor at the Pilates Institute of Southern California, in the summer of 2007.

Candy is a Southern California native and has been a resident of Manhattan Beach for the past 11 years with her family. She is active in local charities and schools where she has served on the Board of Directors. Candy has a Bachelors of Science Degree from Cal State Northridge.

We encourage you to call or stop by the Pilates Institute for any further questions.

Cancy Currie

Robin Gary
Gained from a career as a professional dancer, Robin brings to her Pilates instruction a knowledge of human mechanics and movement. She helps each of her clients achieve their best performance.

Building core strength through Pilates can be done by anyone, and benefits everyone. Robin believes that Mr. Pilates' basic philosophy of integration of mind and body make for a more healthy body. It gives you an awareness and strength that carries over into everyday movement whether you are lifting your child, swinging a golf club, sitting in front of your computer, or running on the beach. "Most people don't think about how they move," says Robin. "Pilates gives you controlled, directed strength. It teaches you to be aware of your movement and change it in ways that make you feel better, move better, and look better. Pilates is for everyone no matter what your age, gender or fitness level."

Robin is certified through the Pilates Institute of Southern California. She emphasizes a friendly, relaxed, and supportive atmosphere in which you always succeed. Pilates with Robin is an energizing, fulfilling experience that lets you see and feel a real difference from the beginning. Reach her at (424) 241-8073 or email Robin.

robin gary pilates instructor

Karen Richardson
Karen Richardson has been in the health and fitness business for over 20 Years as a Group Exercise Instructor and Manager for the elite Spectrum Clubs. With bad hips and back from years of high impact aerobics, Karen began taking private lessons from long-time friend Stacey Vargas. After just a few sessions she began noticing a dramatic difference.

Karen entered the Pilates Institute of Southern California teacher training program in 2004 and completed over 700 hours of comprehensive study to achieve her certification. She retired from management to become a full-time Pilates instructor.

Thanks to Pilates, Karen continues to run, cycle and everything she never thought she would be able to keep doing. “Pilates is the voice between the mind and the body. My desire is to empower my students with this knowledge and encourage them, through Pilates, to live a healthy and balanced life.”

Karen Richardson

Debbie Young
Debbie Young began her study of the Pilates method in 1998 with Stacey Vargas. Debbie's passion for the Pilates method as the premier vehicle for achieving overall fitness led her to obtain her teacher certification at the Pilates Institute of Southern California in 2006 and her Certified Pilates Teacher designation from the Pilates Method Alliance in 2007.

Debbie's love for teaching began in the classroom after she obtained her B.A in Speech Communication and Multiple Subjects teaching credential form UCSB, and an M.A. degree in Special Education. Debbie has held a lifelong devotion to movement and physical fitness, and continues to pursue her love of swimming, hiking and, of course, Pilates.

debbie young

Michelle Akeley
Michelle Akeley has been motivated about movement ever since a young age. Growing up in the South Bay, she studied dance, voice and acting. They grew to become a passion of hers and led to her earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA for musical theatre. While in high school Michelle started her Pilates practice and she was fortunate enough to continue her study while in college. While in her junior year she wanted to learn even more about this wonderful form of movement and decided to apply for the PISC certification program. She was accepted into the following year's class and completed her certification mere months after earning her college degree.

Michelle has also been teaching youth musical theatre in the area for several years now and is able to bring a youthful/fun element to all of her teaching, be it a kid or an adult. She is passionate about learning and growing and passing on her knowledge to her clients. If you would like to book a lesson with Michelle, reach her at 310-489-0350 or email Michelle.

michelle akeley

Jessica Hansen
Jessica Hansen is a classically-trained certified Pilates Instructor with over five years of teaching experience. As an avid student and teacher of the classical method of Pilates, she values the Pilates Institute of Southern California for seeking to uphold the integrity of the exercises the way in which we understand Joseph Pilates designed them to be. When students take lessons from Jessica, she envisions teaching them through the lens of Joseph Pilates himself where the outcomes, according to his book, Return to Life, should be uniform body development, correct posture and alignment, restoration of physical vitality, invigoration of the mind, and elevation of the spirit!

Jessica is focused and FUN! She brings with her to the studio years of experience as a hip-hop and modern dancer, continuing education from the Pilates Center in Boulder, CO and graduate education in Somatic "Body" Psychology. Jessica continues to learn and teach awareness of mind/body integration for the purpose of releasing stress and tension and increasing flexibility and resilience for added comfort and enjoyment in everyday life.

For a lesson please call Jessica at: 310-405-5804 or email Jessica


jessica hansen

Lori Sakai

I discovered Pilates after living with chronic back pain since the age of 14. In Pilates, I found a set of exercises that turned out to be so much more than that. These exercises unlocked my mind and my muscles, and finally, I could move! I could do things I never thought possible.

I left my career in Finance, and completed the PISC training program. Now I share all the "secrets" of Pilates with my clients. I ask them each to find their center, and not just physically but mentally as well. I enjoy helping them to experience the mind, body and spirit working as one.


Lori Sakai

Julie Manzier

Bio on the way...