Meet The Instructors

Melissa Pope

Melissa first became aware of Pilates at the Spoleto Festival in the late 1980s. She was quite impressed with the ability and bodies of the dancers in a particular dance company, and went on to read in all their biographies that they practiced Pilates. Melissa, a Charlotte native, became fully certified to teach mat and equipment classes in 1994; she opened Alternative Fitness in 1995. She rounds out the optimal instructor’s repertoire with a bachelor’s degree in dance education and psychology, along with experience teaching anatomy/kinesiology at UNC-Charlotte, and dance at Queens College, UNCC and Winthrop College. A former dancer with a back injury, Melissa found Pilates provided the relief and rehabilitation she needed when nothing else short of surgery worked. Her mission became to pass on the healing benefits to others. Thus, Melissa became fully certified, with the good fortune to study with Pilates “pioneers”—Carola Trier, Ron Fletcher and Romana Kryzanowska—all of whom studied directly and intensely with Joseph Pilates himself. Backed by a highly touted, extensive background and longevity on the local Pilates scene since the mid-90s, Melissa has earned a reputation for optimizing her clients options to deliver the most beneficial health and fitness results. What Melissa enjoys most about Pilates is the variety it offers—its universal appeal to so many different types of clients, and how it can be gentle and rehabilitative, or  intense body conditioning.  Melissa is a NCPT through Pilates Method Alliance and is a certified YUR Back Instructor and Rehabilitation Specialist through PHI Pilates.

Mary “Ryan” Tiernan RYT

Ryan began her Pilates work in 1997 due to a knee injury. A former dancer since age 3, she went on to graduate from Radford University with a BFA in Dance. Ryan continued to practice Pilates after graduating, and decided to pursue a certification in Pilates mat work and apparatus in September 2001 from the Physical Mind Institute, NY. Her training was completed at the Orchid Pagoda Pilates studio in Fairfax, VA and the Body College in Washington, DC. During this time, Ryan also explored several different styles or yoga and body work before deciding to pursue a Classical Hatha yoga certification through the Yoga Alliance with Pat Joslyn in Charlotte, NC in 2007. Ryan says her reward in teaching Pilates and yoga is she gets to offer a type of movement experience she truly believes is beneficial for the mind and body. She has seen amazing results in the way people have responded to the work, and truly enjoys opening the door to those who seek a safe and lifestyle-changing way to exercise and to develop an internal awareness that reflects to the outside. Outside of the Pilates studio, Ryan has become passionate about volunteering and helping children in the Charlotte area. She continues to take care of animals, write, create art, and live in the moment.

Vicki Rust

Vicki has been a Pilates instructor for over ten years and brings her considerable fitness and dance background to her Pilates classes. Vicki began her fitness career as an instructor in aerobics and calisthenics. A former dancer with a background in ballet and jazz, she turned to Pilates in 1999. Vicki is a nationally certified Stott Pilates instructor, and studied with and holds certification from the Body Awareness Studio in Atlanta, Georgia whose coursework combines traditional Pilates exercises with the latest research in sports medicine and biomechanics. One of Joseph Pilates’ goals was to help your body last a lifetime – and it’s one that Vicki shares as well. She enjoys seeing her students develop their strength, and recover from conditions and injuries. Vicki provides variety in her classes and private sessions, tailoring the program to students’ needs and desires. Her classes are focused on precision and challenging students to achieve their goals, incorporating modifications as appropriate. When Vicki isn’t teaching, she enjoys mountain bike riding with her husband, visiting her three grown children and enjoying the company of her two dogs and cat.

Amy Esterhay

Amy has been teaching and training in the Charlotte,NC area for 30 years. Her experience includes an independent corporate fitness business, activities director at Olde Providence Racquet Club, group fitness director at Carmel Fitness Center and Tower Club, Charlotte. Amy hosted a nationally syndicated fitness show, “HOMESTRETCH”, for 10 years as well as producing 20 fitness videos and an instructional video for a new product called “PRO BAR”. Now she is primarily personal training and teaching classes, focusing on Pilates and Pilates principles for women’s strength training. Amy’s certifications and training includes ACE personal trainer, CPR and First Aid, Mecklenburg County Fitness Instructor Leadership Program, Master Trainer in cycling , AFAA kickboxing, and Reebok Flexible Strength and Power Yoga. Her Pilates training began with Glenn Studio training followed by the Powerhouse Institute mat and reformer training . Amy was also trained in reformer by Melissa Pope at Alternative Fitness, Charlotte, NC Amy’s special interests are tennis and gardening. Philosophy: Staying healthy, functionally fit and active as we age are of utmost importance. The discipline of Pilates is an avenue to achieve these goals. A positive attitude and laughter are also keys to longevity!

Becky Tin

As a child, Becky started hanging upside down and climbing trees as soon as she could walk.  Her passion for using her body led her to pursue a career in gymnastics, competing through high school and then for Cornell University’s Big Red Varsity Gymnastics Team.

After graduating from college, Becky coached gymnastics and track while working as a public radio journalist for NPR in New York City and Philadelphia.  She later went to Harvard Law School and returned to her hometown of Charlotte to work as a civil rights lawyer.  She was elected to the district court bench in Mecklenburg County in 2002 and served as a district court judge for 16 years.

Becky never stopped using her body during her practice of law.  She studied Tai Chi and Shaolin under Sifu Sbarge at the Peaceful Dragon; became an avid Yoga practitioner; and fell in love with Pilates when she started training with Melissa Pope at Alternative Fitness in 1999.  Becky has been with Melissa ever since.

Becky received her 200-hour Yoga certification in 2011 and enjoys teaching Hatha, Slow Flow and Yin Yoga.

In addition to many years studying under Melissa, Becky completed a 300-hour Pilates certification program with Jenn Giavanni at Fusion Pilates in Asheville.  She has been a regular teacher at Alternative Fitness since 2016.

Becky enjoys creating sequences that reinforce basic alignment principles while challenging students to move beyond their comfort zones.  While Pilates principles supply the foundation, Becky sometimes reaches to other genres of movement such as Tai Chi or Yoga in her sequencing.

Becky is the mother of three young men—Carl is a lawyer; Will is pursuing a career as a firefighter; and Kiran is currently attending Becky’s alma mater, Cornell University, as an undergraduate.   Her husband, Noell Tin, is founder and managing partner of the law firm Tin, Fulton, Walker & Owen.  When Becky is not teaching or working on sequences, she is either helping her mother or playing or hiking with Kona, her beautiful and lively Lab-Boxer-Pit rescue dog.