Who We Are

  • Alyssa Hjembo

    Alyssa is a busy mom of 4 kids.  After experiencing chronic lower back pain as a result of abdominal weakness and great amounts of stress due to deployments and frequent moving due to being married to a U.S. Navy Officer, Alyssa turned to exercise to help recover physical and mental strength.  The success of this led her to want to share its benefits with others.

    Alyssa does personal training and teaches a variety of classes around Alexandria including cardio kickboxing and PIYO.  Her certifications and training include AFAA Group Exercise, NASM Certified Personal Trainer,  and AFAA Perinatal Fitness. She is a committed life-long learner, believing that the more you discover, the more questions you have.

    “My classes incorporate free weight and body weight training, balance training and dynamic stretch with elements of Pilates and yoga choreographed right in to the workout.  I focus on moving with control and grace and I believe in the many physiological and mental benefits that challenging exercise provides”

  • Brianne Peña-Serrano

    Brianne Peña-Serrano has 16 years of classical ballet training including at the University of Oklahoma while obtaining her BA in Journalism. She received her barre training at Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria where she also instructs. Brianne is a certified Group Fitness Instructor through the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) and is Level One YogaFit Teacher Trained.

    “I enjoy inspiring wellness in others through my passion of dance and fitness, and empowering my students to love the body they have and the strength that lies within.”

  • Chris Denby

    Chris Denby has been a percussive dancer for more than 25 years. He began as a step dancer then later dove headfirst into tap. As a tap dancer and teacher, he focuses primarily on rhythm tap – tap dance often without musical accompaniment – where the true music is created by the dance. He has performed and taught classes/workshops across the DC area and internationally for kids, teens and adults.

    “My classes focus on understanding rhythm, improvisation and combining multiple beats together to form a finished piece.”

  • Christine Heckel

    christineChristine Heckel grew up in Tucson, Arizona and since then has devoted 19 years to the art of classical ballet as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher, and has danced, choreographed, and taught with Tucson Regional Ballet, Ballet Rincon, Ballet Arts Academy at The Old Waldorf School, and The Studio Cooperative, dancing principal and soloist roles in many classical ballets as well as several contemporary works. Her teachers and mentors include Christopher Hird, Danile Geisy, Randall Marks, Daniel Catanach, Carolyn Haatainen-Wallace, Gary Mackenzie, Devin Krahling, Jayne Stephanie-Keating, and Oscar Hawkins.

    In 2009 Christine was introduced to Pilates and found it provided strength and control in her dance technique, as well as a method to both prevent and rehabilitate injuries. Her desire to share this with her students led to continuing her studies of movement, anatomy, and kinesiology through a contemporary, anatomical approach to Pilates. She studied at Balance Pilates Training Center in Richmond, Virginia and obtained her full certification as a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor in 2011. This includes training in the essential through advanced levels of Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Stability Chair, and Barrels as well as training in the use of props and exercise modifications through the Injuries and Special Populations (ISP) course. In 2012, she was accepted into the STOTT PILATES® Instructor Trainer course for Matwork and Reformer in Toronto, and will be continuing her study of Pilates at the next level. She currently teaches at The Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, Virginia.

    Christine continues her study of ballet in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. She has practiced yoga for ten years and believes that the mind/body/spirit connection is at the core of all forms of movement.

    “In my ballet classes, I have made the study of the Vaganova (“Russian”) ballet syllabus with its artistry, passion, discipline and simplicity, a key component of my teaching philosophy. It is my goal to provide any student who wishes to learn or return to dance with the skills needed to safely develop or hone their technique in a positive environment.”

  • Eboni Jones

    Eboni Jones is a professional dancer with 20+ years of training and performing and 10+ years of teaching. She graduated from The Ohio State University with her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Pre-Med. She also holds a Masters degree in Health Administration from The University of Phoenix. She is an American Council of Exercise (ACE) certified group fitness instructor and is level one YogaFit teacher trained.

  • Emily Rusch

    Emily has been teaching for 10 years and is passionate about overall health and wellness. She received a BS in Health Science from Brenau University, and is AFAA certified in group fitness. She loves incorporating functional movements, combination exercises and athletic drills into her classes.  Any class with Emily will focus on balance, core strength and heart pounding fun.

  • Guylene Prophete

    Guylene grew up in the DC area and participated in dance classes, theater productions, track, and choir through out her childhood. She studied dance locally and overseas, beginning her study of classical ballet with the Alexandria Ballet Company before attending the Bird College of Performing Arts in England. She performed with the Washington Savoyards, Kathy Harty Gray Dance Theater, and the Little Theater of Alexandria. She has also been practicing yoga, Pilates, and other movement forms for over 15 years, as well as continuing to study dance. Guylene found a passion for barre as a blend of cross training and dance.

    “I am looking forward to the opportunity to teach and train students about the benefits of dance and movement in their lives because I believe exercise is a great way to set aside time to focus on yourself. I integrate different exercise methods into my teaching to give a varied approach and I continue to learn new ways to keep my class dynamic.”

  • Ila Conoley

    Ila Conoley Paladino began her studies at the Dance Center of Colorado Springs and continued her training at the Alabama Dance Theatre. She earned her BA in dance from the University of Colorado at Boulder and MFA in dance from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Ila returned to Colorado to chair the Pikes Peak Community College Dance Department. Ila choreographs concert dance, site-specific work, dance theatre, and community modern. She is an instructor of modern dance, ballet, dance appreciation, dance history, and composition. Currently, Ila is faculty at The Kentucky Center Governor’s School of the Arts teaching dance composition each summer, an instructor at Local Motion Studio in Alexandria, Virginia, and director and choreographer of ICONography Dance, a pick-up modern dance company.

    “Whether the students are recreational or professional, the classes technical or academic, I seek to instruct intentionally and correctly while bringing gaiety and humor to the classroom. I work to create exercises and phrases that challenge the participant intellectually and physically while instructing in a manner that builds confidence and supports the whole person.”

  • Kat Buechel

    Kat grew up in Southern California before moving to Washington, D.C.  After the move from West to East, and being immersed in a busier and faster paced culture, she was searching for a way to de-stress. She found herself moving towards her calmer California roots through her practice of yoga.

    Kat’s specialty is working with athletes. Her work with CrossFitters in Northern VA has been published in Mind Body Green and she is a regular contributor on yoga to Box Life Magazine. She has helped active military, police force, ROTC, and fire fighters train for everyday service through the use of yoga. Kat holds a yoga certification as an E-RYT200hr/500hr Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance and completed teacher training through Tranquil Space.

    “I offer an open yoga class for all levels. I strive to provide an enlightened experience to nurture your mind, body, and spirit. All classes include an athletic vinyasa flow with hands on assists to safely guide your practice and special touches of aromatherapy sprinkled throughout class and during relaxation.”

  • Kate Fahs

    Kate is a trained dancer who has studied ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip-hop, ballroom, and musical theater. She grew up in Traverse City, MI where she studied dance, performed and taught. Kate furthered her studies in dance at Hope College and Columbia College Chicago, as well as trained at Point Park University.

    Following an injury, Kate spent many years studying yoga and Pilates as a way to heal her body and continue to immerse herself in the world of movement. As a childbirth educator, doula, and prenatal fitness educator, Kate has a passion for women’s health and coming alongside women as they enter into motherhood.

  • Kristine Duba

    Kristine Duba grew up as a competitive gymnast, track and cross-country running athlete. She became familiar with lifting weights and taking her mothers group fitness classes at just ten years old. She has since earned her B.S. in Exercise Science, M.S. in Sports Management, and become a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor.  For over eight years, Kristine has been teaching strength training, cardio conditioning, spin, TRX, Zumba, flexibility, and core-focused classes. She also specializes in developing personalized exercise programs and nutrition guidelines for adolescence, athletes, weight loss clients, expectant mothers, seniors, and special populations.

    Post college, Kristine discovered the “Fitness” division of bodybuilding and saw this as an opportunity to fuel her competitive drive as a former gymnast. She began competing in Fitness in 2012, earned her IFBB Professional status in 2014, and has since competed professionally around the world. Just this year, Kristine has competed in the Arnold Classic competitions in Australia, South Africa, China, and Spain. She also qualified for the Fitness Olympia in 2015 and 2016 and is currently ranked eighth in the world in the Fitness division.

    “I have an extensive background in personal training, HIIT,strength training, core, stretching, spin, TRX and even Zumba. I pull the best exercises and concepts from each of these classes to create a unique workout tailored to my classes and my students. You can expect to learn something new every class .”

  • Lynn Liebreich

    Lynn began her yoga practice in 2000 while working as an engineer in North Carolina. Her initial yoga experiences revealed how inflexible her body had become from years of running track & cross-country, and rowing on a college crew team.  Lynn has scoliosis in her lower back, which required her to wear a back brace in her tween years.  After years of yoga practice, her back has become more flexible, and balance improve.

    Lynn is a registered yoga teacher RYT-500 with Yoga Alliance.  She completed the YogaWorks 200-Hour teaching certification in 2007 and the 300-Hour advanced teacher certification in 2017.  She hopes to inspire her students to study, practice, and explore with curiosity and wonder, what they can do.

    “I remind my students to honor their own bodies, as I guide them through a class incorporating many styles of yoga including: hatha, vini, ashtanga, vinyasa, and principles of BKS Iyengar. I often allow time near the end of class to “play” where seasoned students may choose to practice their inversions or backbends, and beginners can receive assistance in a new pose that they are learning.”

  • Mara Stewart

    Mara Stewart is a singer, dancer, actor and a teaching artist for Encore Stage and Studio. She has choreographed multiple musicals and is excited to combine her passion for group fitness and dance. She is certified in Zumba B1 and is an ACE Group Fitness Instructor. Mara received her BFA in Musical Theatre from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina and when she is not leading classes, you can find her performing at local theatres.

  • Melanie Petronzio

    Melanie discovered hatha yoga in 2002 after leaving the Midwest for the East Coast; however, it was not until she found vinyasa flow a few years later that she developed a consistent practice. Initially drawn to yoga only for the physical benefits, she soon noticed that exposure to the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga provided new reasons to show up on the mat. Melanie is registered with Yoga Alliance (RYT 200), completed her 200 hour certification through Tranquil Space and is currently enrolled in their 500 hour Advanced Teacher Training program.

    “I bring a light-heart and a sense of humor to teaching while offering an upbeat class, full of fun sequencing and sprinkled with challenging poses.  I encourage students to make each practice authentic by working within the limits of the day.”

  • Nadiya Mahmood

    Sitara Nadiya Mahmood has been practicing yoga asana for over 12 years. Nadiya received her 200 Hour CYT in Costa Rica in 2016 at the Marianne Wells Yoga School. She teaches different styles including flow and Vinyasa classes. Nadiya enjoys practicing power yoga and Rocket yoga on her own time. She prides herself on incorporating more movement into her classes then the typical flow class and she likes to introduce a few postures that challenge each student. She also makes sure that her class is available to students of all skill levels from beginner to intermediate and advanced students are welcomed as well.

    “I like to make sure all my clients feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. Maybe you wont be able to get a certain posture today, but if you continue to practice, one day you may be able to get that pose. Make the goal to be consistent, not to get to a certain destination.”

  • Renee Miller

    After over a decade of chance encounters with yoga asana classes, Renee found herself signed up for an Iyengar Yoga series in 2000. It was in this series with a master teacher that she began to deeply experience the transformative effects of a consistent, diligent yoga practice. Practicing yoga has been a profoundly empowering experience for her and she aims to share a sense of wonder and empowerment with each of her students.She teaches yoga to adults, children, and families. With adults her classes are anatomically focused explorations of movement and action in the body. When teaching children she embraces fun, age appropriate yoga that encourages kids to develop healthy and peaceful minds and bodies. Her sense of humor infuses her approach to life, including her practice and teaching. By approaching the asana practice in a humorous, playful and light-hearted way, she hopes to find the depth of human experience that we all share.

  • Sara Lavan, Owner

    Sara is the founder and co-owner of Local Motion Studio. She started her movement journey studying ballet in her home town of Sandy Hook, Connecticut. She continued her dance training at Peridance in New York City with Igal Perry and Deborah Damast, and at New York University. She performed and taught in NYC and surrounding areas for over a decade before moving to Alexandria, Va. After moving she joined Choreographer’s Collaboration Project as a dancer and choreographer.

    Sara received her Pilates training at the Kane School of Core Integration. She has continuing education in Pilates from Kinected Pilates Center and Balanced Body University. She has also completed trainings in Franklin Method, Brain Dance developed by Anne Green Gilbert, Pregnancy and Postpartum fitness with Debora Goodman MSPT, where she completed the advanced training and she has completed Ring One Teacher Training in Circus Yoga. Sara has her certification in Holistic Health Counseling from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University’s Teachers College.

    Sara is a commissioner with the Alexandria Arts Commission, and also the founder and executive director of Local Motion Project; a non profit dance organization. With this organization, Sara co-developed the first dance integration program in Alexandria City Public Schools. More information at www.localmotionproject.com.

    “I encourage my students to be their own movement investigators, knowing there is no “one way” to do anything. All my work highlights the importance of movement quality and an understanding of how to use the core muscles reflexively and dynamically. My passion for movement and all of its wonder and benefits spills into every modality I teach.”


  • Sarah Craig, Owner

    Sarah Craig came on as business partner and co-owner in 2016. She was a client at the studio and a long time enthusiast of creative and well taught group classes.  Sarah has completed her 20 hr aerial yoga fundamentals training and is currently working toward her AFAA Group Fitness Instructor certification.  After discovering aerial yoga in 2016; she was drawn to teaching to deepen her awareness of the practice and share the joy of aerial yoga with everyone.

    “My classes incorporate traditional yoga poses, core and strength work, mixed with fun non traditional poses and creative sequences.”

  • Shelly Pease


    Shelly studied Corporate Wellness at John Brown University and graduated in 2000. She completed her Masters in 2016 in Education Theory. That same year she also competed in the Hawaii Stingrey Classic fitness competition (the Women’s Open Masters Figure division). She is also an AFAA certified group fitness instructor and personal trainer. When she’s not teaching group fitness classes or training clients one on one; she is busy with her two boys.

    “There is always something new to learn. My passion for movement and fitness comes from challenging my perceived limits and making small changes in my life. Never stop learning or trying new things!”

    For more information about me, visit my website at:

  • Silvia Burstein-Hendi

    Silvia Burstein-Hendi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied at the National School of Dance, obtaining her degree as National Teacher, and studied at the prestigious Teatro Colon where she obtained her Diploma as Professional Dancer. Ms. Burstein performed extensively in Canada with Le Ballet Classique de Montreal, Theatre Ballet of Canada, P.M. Ottawa Jazz and Le Groupe Lab (Le Groupe de la Place Royale). Ms. Burstein’s teaching experience includes  Le Groupe de la Place Royale,  Elaine Hunter Dance School, Le Petit Ballet, Dance Educators, Atelier de Dance Carole Brouard, and Ottawa University. She choreographs and performs with Choreographers Collaboration Project.

    “I strive to challenge each and every student in each and every class. From a beginner to a professional, there is always something to work on. The main goal of a ballet class to me, is not to do everything perfect, it is to try to make small achievements each time. I ask them to sense the joy of moving to different types of music. It is amazing how active the brain has to be in a dance class. It is constant stimulation for the body and soul!

  • Tess Dorrier

    Tess Dorrier received her Pilates training with Physical Mind, her yoga training at Tranquil Space and Barre training at Barre Body.  Additionally, she studied ballet though college. Has been teaching yoga and Pilates since 2003 and barre since 2014.

    “My classes draw from dance, Pilates, strength training and yoga.  My Cardio Strength class is a high energy full body workout that will move quickly and challenge mind and body safely.  My yoga teaching aims to help raise body awareness with a focus on anatomy and breath. My Pilates class incorporates movements from other disciplines, and includes arm and leg work as well as traditional mat work. I strive for creative classes that are challenging, but also offer modifications and variations for all levels.”