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How Leslie Lawson Came to Make Renegade Pilates’ Miami’s Hidden Fitness Gem

Leslie Lawson, the founder of Miami’s Renegade Pilates, is a community leader, top-rated Pilates instructor, and business-savvy fitness entrepreneur. However, looking back, she recalls that her first brush with Pilates was just for fun. They were classes she took with a friend. “I didn’t understand the process and didn’t really consider it a workout,” says Lawson. “We just figured it would be fun.” Over time, Pilates became a consistent practice for her, but a shoulder injury pulled her away.

After a botched surgery, Lawson turned to stem cells and Pilates to aid in recovery. “With a lot of hard work, I began the slow and steady process of working the body as a whole and rehabbing my shoulder. I went to a lot of classes where the teachers, as long as I was safe, let me do my own thing at my own pace.” She continues to explain that she felt lucky to be allowed to do this because she couldn’t afford private lessons. “And that was important to me,” Lawson continues, “because I wasn’t working at that time, and I felt really isolated, and I just wanted to work out in a group.”

Thankfully for Leslie Lawson and all her students today, Pilates worked. Driven by the desire to create a welcoming Pilates space to help others discover, like she did, their own path to wholesome health, Lawson went on to launch her studio, Renegade Pilates, in November of 2016 on Miami’s Upper East Side.

Her studio has been described as an oasis, a little getaway from the city. “It’s a nice space,” she says happily. “I get a lot of compliments on it.” Aside from the class space, the studio features a kitchen, lounge, workout room, a reception area, and a 650-square-foot terrace. “People don’t expect it to be so spacious and have so many windows when they open the door and climb upstairs.”

The gorgeous studio is peppered with orchids and natural light. Often a furry friend can be found underfoot as Lawson also lives on the property with her three cats, Monkey, Freddy, and JJ. A cat or two has been known to join classes. They’ll sometimes make appearances in private sessions and on special occasions, and dogs and cats are always welcome during privates.

According to Leslie Lawson, it was a space designed with comfort in mind. She wanted people to feel comfortable and inspired at the same time. “I always try to run the business through the eyes of the client,” she says. “We firmly believe that the client sets the goal, Pilates is the tool, and the teacher is the guide. I just try to find somebody’s motivation. Some people want to learn advanced skills and tricks, and that’s what keeps them going. Others just want to feel like they’re getting stronger, and they’re becoming more mobile. It’s all up to the client. This is your journey, and we are here to help.”

Pilates transformed Leslie Lawson’s life, and she wants to do the same for others. In her own words, “Pilates has given me a greater understanding of how the whole body works as a whole. And that’s one of the benefits of Pilates. Pilates made me stronger, and my journey, with all its ups and downs, has made me a better instructor. There’s no such thing as someone who can’t do this. If you’re having issues, all that means is you need an instructor willing to be patient and work with you and find out what your body can do. And I hope I can do that for as many people as possible.”