Naturopathy Homeopathy Acupuncture Massage

Downtown Pilates

Studio | Instructors | Pilates | Pilates FAQ

For Information or to schedule an appointment, please call  (907) 456-1452 or


Pilates Instructors

Ann Turner

Ann Turner is co-founder of the Downtown Pilates Studio. She was certified in 1997 by the Pilates Studio NYC and has fifteen years experience teaching the method. Her expertise serves a broad spectrum of clients -- from professional athletes seeking to improve performance to individuals of any age with injuries, chronic pain, joint replacements, and degenerative diseases.

She first witnessed the powerful rehabilitative benefits of Pilates as a student, when she was immersed in an elite milieu with direct lineage to Joseph Pilates. She credits the rigor of the training she received from Romana Krysanowska for her own success in supporting the health of her clientele. Master Trainer Bob Liekens was also a formative influence.

Ann holds the distinction of having established the first Pilates studio in Alaska. Prior to the opening of its doors in 2000, in her hometown of Fairbanks, she taught in various cities in the U.S. and abroad. She has since overseen a number of apprenticeships, most recently for Lucy McCarthy and Diane Ruess.

Her additional professional credentials include certification by the Kundalini Research Institute to teach yoga, which she earned in 2009 under the supervision of Devta Kaur Khalsa and Guru Meher Singh Khalsa, students of Yogi Bhajan. Ann also received a BA in art from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, an MFA in theatre from Ohio University and has worked for several performing arts organizations, including Circle in the Square Theatre in New York City, Cleveland Play House and Juneau’s Naa Kahidi Theater.

A longstanding commitment to health and wellbeing, to the arts and to education is reflected in Ann’s local community involvement. In collaboration with Norman Shelburne, artistic director of the North Star Ballet, she developed and implemented a Pilates curriculum for young dancers. She currently has plans underway for a dry-land Pilates program for the Stingray Swim team, and a Jr. Apprenticeship Work-Study Program for teens she launched early this year. In both her professional and volunteer efforts, she is delighted to support others in gaining the tools they need to achieve their goals.

Ann lives in downtown Fairbanks with her husband and three daughters.

Diane Ruess

Diane first discovered Pilates in 2002, when she started taking mat classes and private lessons at Ann Turner Studio in Fairbanks. Years of physical training and an active lifestyle kept her fit, but she was inspired by the strength, vitality and mental focus that she experienced through Pilates.

Her enthusiasm for the Pilates method prompted her to look toward Pilates as a second career in anticipation of retirement from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

She initially earned certification in 2010 through Peak Pilates. Then, in 2011, she entered the True Pilates comprehensive training program at Seattle Pilates International Studio, with Ann Turner and Pilates Seattle International jointly overseeing her apprenticeship. She has completed training seminars with Romana's Pilates Senior Instructor Lauren Stephen, Romana's Pilates Master Instructor Trainer Roxanne Richards-Huang, and Romana's Pilates Grand Master Instructor Trainer Cynthia Lochard.

Diane retired from UAF in 2012 with professor emerita status after serving 23 years on the faculty of Elmer E. Rasmuson Library.  Pilates is an ongoing learning experience for her as she progresses as a teacher and enthusiastic practitioner.

Diane leads an active life enjoying her dogs and the Alaskan outdoors.  Her husband Roger is a professor of biology at UAF and is also an advocate for the strengthening, and rehabilitative value of the method.

Lucy McCarthy

Mother of five and grandmother of seven, Lucy and her husband, Paul, came to Fairbanks in 1964. Lucy began Pilates with Ann Turner in 2002 to help with serious back problems associated with a spinal fracture. She credits Pilates with providing her a method to increase and maintain her flexibility and physical health, as she grows older, a gift she is eager to share with others. In 2011 she became a certified instructor in the Peak Pilates system under the instruction of teacher trainer Shauna Laszlo. More recently, January 2013, she certified as a Level II instructor in Peak Pilates.

She is currently teaching privately at Downtown Pilates as she continues her education through Peak and continues to train under Ann Turner Johnson.

Lucy is also an award winning fiber artist specializing in hand dyed clothing and art quilts. In addition to Pilates she loves running, hiking, cross-country skiing, bicycling and trekking around the world

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the benefits of doing Pilates? Pilates builds core strength and promotes flexibility; imparts vitality and focus; improves posture; enhances performance in other activities and sports; and teaches new patterns of movement that rehabilitate and help prevent injuries. It protects the joints and connects the body and brain, increasing body awareness and control. Pilates gets results fast. Not only does it tone and sculpt more effectively than other forms of exercise, people who are otherwise unable to workout due to injury or illness can also do it.

What medical conditions is Pilates known to support? Pilates is especially beneficial for joint problems and arthritis; back pain and disc issues; degenerative neuro-muscular diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s; injury rehabilitation.

Will Pilates give me a good workout? Nearly everyone finds Pilates physically and mentally challenging, even professional athletes. It does not increase the heart rate to the levels needed for a cardiovascular workout, however. Nor does it typically create the kind of muscle soreness associated with traditional workouts. Beginners often say they find themselves using muscles they didn’t know they had.

Is Pilates for the older person? As a form of exercise, Pilates protects against a number of age-related conditions. Pilates is effective in improving balance, coordination, flexibility and strength, as well as bone density, and, rather than impacting the joints, it strengthens them. The method exercises both brain and body and promotes vitality of the whole person – it is a key to maintaining health and youth.

Why should I take private sessions?  Because private sessions target an individual’s specific issues, clients who take them advance much more quickly than those who do not.  Injuries can also be taken into greater account; attention can be directed toward unlearning the engrained and often unconscious habits that might have contributed to or are likely to exacerbate an injury. The focus on individual needs consequently makes private sessions cost effective.  Privates are both an important precursor and adjunct to group lessons.

Can I do Pilates if I am pregnant?  Yes.  It is highly recommended for pregnant mothers.  Pilates strengthens the pelvic floor, imparting the strength needed for carrying and birthing a child.  It promotes tone following childbirth as well.

What should I wear? Comfortable clothes that conform to the body and allow freedom of movement are ideal. No footwear is needed.

How many times a week should I do Pilates?  The frequency recommended depends on a client’s goals and specific needs.  Consultation with an instructor can help you determine how many sessions a week would suit you best.  Generally, however, two sessions a week allows clients to progress and three sessions a week will give dramatic returns.  A commitment of two to three private sessions a week for a period of six weeks can be valuable in learning the method efficiently, without backtracking, particularly if the client is new to the method.  A strong foundation is also important for being eligible for semi-private lessons in which two people, who are fairly well matched in their knowledge of the method, workout together.

Do men benefit from Pilates? Men were Joseph Pilates’s primary clientele, and he largely developed the exercises for them. He formulated his method not only for people who were bedridden and injured, but professional dancers and athletes, including boxers – whose sport, at least at the time, was exclusively male.

Is Pilates like yoga? While some of the exercises might appear to be similar to certain yoga postures, and both do promote flexibility, Pilates emphasizes the development of core strength.