Ruth Gordon, Owner
When I was a child, I was not very athletic. In fact, I was typically the last person chosen for kickball at recess. Most recesses, you would find me by the school wall with my girlfriends, taking turns singing lead to the song, “Joy to the World” (ok, I have really dated myself!). My family was, however, very active: hiking, camping, swimming (most summers we would spend the entire day at the pool). Through my high school years, I participated in music and theater, but found there wasn’t much opportunity for girls’ sports.
Once in college, I was active in dance, music and theater, but was also feeling the need to explore other avenues of my physicality. I had taken up long-distance running to try to lose a little weight, when a friend convinced me to join the Cross Country team. I was hesitant, not ever competing in any sport in the past, but I did it and amazingly enough, I found I loved the challenge. At the same time, I was introduced to a new aerobic studio in town: the Body Asylum, where I began to take aerobic classes (now regularly called Group Exercise classes). I absolutely fell in LOVE with this new form of exercise! (Back then, it was so new and it was all about Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons!) After a couple of months the owner asked me to start teaching classes and I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I soon found that people enjoyed my classes because of my encouraging and motivating style, and especially because I liked to have fun! It was such a joy for me to watch the changes happening with my class participants and to know I was helping them to achieve a greater level of health and fitness.
After gaining the trust of my class participants, I would get numerous requests for me to help them on an individual level with their fitness needs, so the natural progression was for me to continue on my path of health and fitness education and become a personal trainer as well. Over the years I have worked not only as a class instructor and trainer, but also as a Group Exercise Director and Fitness Director at numerous facilities and have mentored many new instructors and trainers just coming into the fitness industry. I have trained and taught so many wonderful individuals and I never get tired of helping others to discover the joy of movement.
I look forward to meeting each and every one of you and gaining your trust and confidence in CORE!
- B.S. Exercise Science & Wellness
- Certified Personal Trainer – American Council on Exercise
- Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist – American Council on Exercise (Gold Certified)
- Certified Personal Trainer- American Fitness & Aerobics Association
- Certified Personal Trainer – National Strength and Conditioning Association
- Certified Pilates Trainer – National Pilates Certification Program
- Polestar Pilates Comprehensive Trained
- MindBody Pilates Comprehensive Trained
- TRX Sports Medicine Trainer
- MELT Hand and Foot Instructor
- CES (Cancer Exercise Specialist) – certified thru the Cancer Exercise Training Institute
- KBE Certified Golf Fitness Specialist
- YogaFit trained
- Reebok Reactive Neuromuscular Trainer
- Spinal Stabilization Specialization
- IDEA Elite Member
- In the Fitness Industry 20+ years
- Trained Professional, College & HS athletes
- MindBody Workshop Pilates Master Trainer
- YWCA Fitness Director
- Fitness for Women Fitness Director
- Mercy Center (Post cardiac-rehab facility) Fitness Director
- Group Exercise Director- Gold’s Gym (Bakersfield, CA)
- Group Exercise Director- Coca-Cola Fitness Consultant
- Wrote for Senior’s Fitness column in local community newspaper (Bakersfield, CA)
- Created and taught after-school program for kids “Fun with Fitness” at Rockledge Elementary, Woodbridge, VA
- Fitness Presenter/Instructor for the Commonwealth Preventative Medicine Institute
Colleen loves to share her love for physical fitness and to teach the importance of a healthy lifestyle. She became certified in Group Exercise and began her career specializing in working with the senior community. She brought her experience and expertise to CORE Personal Training and Pilates Studio in the fall of 2012 as a Pilates Mat and Apparatus Instructor after serving as Pilates Director for the local Sport & Health Club.
Colleen holds certifications with Balance Body, AEA, TRX, GRAVITY training. She is consistently promoting the importance of a healthy mind and body and strives to expand on her already long list of certifications. Colleen has the amazing and unique ability to work with a wide range of clients. Whether you are an experienced athlete, rehabilitation patient, a senior looking for increased mobility or a beginner needing motivation she posses the skills, knowledge and personality to help you achieve your goals. She feels very fortunate to be able to share her time between her family her church and her clients at CORE.
Kim was hooked on Pilates after taking her very first class. Early on in her practice she knew she wanted to share its amazing benefits with others and set out to learn all she could about this unique method of exercise that incorporated a harmonious combination of body, mind, and spirit. Nine years and two certifications later, she is still inspired by the method and is passionate about helping her clients experience the benefits of Pilates in their own bodies.
Kim has contemporary and classical certifications and her sessions are a fun mix of both styles. She has an eye for proper alignment, tailors sessions to suit her clients needs, delivers with creative cuing and will introduce you to muscles you didn’t know you had!
She is certified to work with clients of all levels and believes Pilates can be for everybody at whatever stage of life they are in. Kim believes Pilates can change lives for the better and is thrilled to be sharing it with the wonderful clients at CORE.
When she is not teaching, Kim is a perpetual student learning or taking workshops with masters in the industry. You can also find her hiking, camping, climbing, traveling, and spending time with her husband and three amazing children.
Shara practically grew up in gyms due to her mother who has been in the fitness industry for over 25 years. Shara loves to dance and was an avid lacrosse player throughout her childhood and college career. She had her heart set on being a “HOKIE” and studying aerospace engineering. It was during a fall semester at Virginia Tech that Shara realized life had other plans for her. At 19 years old, she became very ill and began her journey towards getting her health back.
After spending a long period of time studying nutrition and consulting with doctors, Shara finally regained her health and felt more powerful and stronger than ever. She discovered that in order to change herself physically, she had to start by bettering herself mentally. Throughout all of the setbacks and moments of discouragement, she had to keep repeating to herself not to give up and the only way to improve began with HER attitude and HER actions. This life-changing moment is what sparked Shara’s passion for health and fitness. She wanted to help others feel this same empowerment that one can accomplish ANYTHING with perseverance and most of all, trust and belief in oneself.
She began motivating others through group fitness classes, instructing formats such as kickboxing, yoga, pilates, bootcamp, and Bodypump. She is also a certified Personal Trainer with A.C.E. and currently studying kinesiology.
Monica was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia and has lived in the United States since 2001.Monica’s fitness journey didn’t start until she had her first baby in 2007. “I never worried about my weight until I have kids” and the weight did not come off easily. It was then when she decided to give fitness and nutrition a chance. Monica discovered a passion for fitness and loves to share that passion and knowledge.
She is a certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist, Mat Pilates certified , yoga, TRX, weight management certified among others. She is also starting her training in Pilates Reformer with Balanced Body and is one of CORE’s newest interns for the equipment work.
Monica’s philosophies are “everyday, I get to do something I love and make an impact on people’s lives” and “Motivation come from within, no one can hand it to you, but no one can take it away either”. She loves to eat fresh to nourish her body, mind and spirit. “Let food be your medicine”.
She enjoys many activities; especially anything she can do with her kids including rock climbing, rowing, Taekwondo, playing soccer or basketball (which she is really bad at). She loves to watch movies with the family and enjoy a cup of coffee with friends. Monica is a very proud martial arts student and is pursuing her black belt at Tae kwon do. A Tae kwon do quote She really likes:
“be kind, but fierce.
be gentle, but strong.
be humble, but powerful.
these are some of the traits of a true warrior”
Emily has always had a love for movement. She completed a comprehensive Pilates training program from Pilates Defined in West Hartford Connecticut and is currently working to finish her 200 teaching hours before sitting for the Pilates Method Alliance national certification exam.
In addition to Pilates, Emily has danced since age 2. She continued this love for movement throughout her life and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Brooklyn College in 1992. Emily has continued to dance through her adult life, performing and teaching in New York City with Danz Ahora, and has recently performed Flamenco in Hartford, CT and Ballet in the Nutcracker in Rochester, Michigan.
In addition to Emily’s movement experience she is a Registered Nurse, licensed in Virginia. Emily received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Syracuse University and her Masters of Science in Nursing at University of Hartford. In her spare time Emily likes to cook, exercise, sew, hang out with her husband, two cats (Mischa and Graham) and their Golden Retriever, Charley. Emily is excited to be teaching at Core!
Dagmar Kolarska Riddick
Dagmar is a certified Pilates Mat, Reformer & Apparatus Instructor by the Balanced Body University and certified thru Pilates Method Alliance, an internationally recognized Pilates certification. She is also a certified Yoga Instructor by Yogafit, and a certified Personal Trainer by the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America. In addition, she completed her training for Cancer Exercise Specialist thru the Cancer Exercise Training Institute.
Originally, from the Czech Republic, she came to the United States to broaden her horizons and to seekthe wonderful opportunities that this country offers. Dagmar has always been interested in staying strong, healthy, and fit.
Her enjoyment of exercise led her to pursue a second career in the fitness industry. She has been physically fit her whole life, engaging in several sports, competing in club level track & field and later becoming an aerobics instructor.
Dagmar’s belief is that fitness is best achieved from working consistently with motivated instructors and trainers who deliver constant positive reinforcement and correction; however, none of this will be possible if you don’t first get up out of your chair. Your routine should include a variety of cardiovascular exercises, strength, flexibility and balance training. No workout should ever be the same all the time. Variety is the spice of life; that adage applies to fitness training as well. Whether you are seeking overall physical fitness, a better appearance or more comfortable living, Dagmar can help you achieve your goals.
Melanie is originally from the United Kingdom and moved to the US after meeting and marrying her military husband in London. Melanie holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration but says her passion has always been deep-rooted in fitness and helping others. In her teens, Melanie was a seasoned athlete, holding National titles in Artistic Roller Figure Skating. She trained and competed at top international events around the globe. Melanie hung up her roller skates in 1990 and wanted to stay active in sport and health. Melanie found personal training the next generation of UK skaters as a way to give back. She says “It was an incredible way to give back what the sport had given me. Watching the athletes improve on and off the rink, overcome challenges, injuries and exceed their goals was simply amazing. I knew helping others with their health and fitness was what I wanted to do”.
Despite being one of the newest Pilates equipment interns at CORE, Melanie has been certified and working in the Health and Wellness industry for almost two decades. She is certified as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Fitness Instructor Mentor and an Elite Spinning® Instructor. Melanie has taught Mat based Pilates and is excited to develop her Pilates foundation surrounded by the expertise of the CORE team.
Melanie’s favorite quote is “It’s not always about the destination, it’s about the journey”.
For Renee, fitness was a way to keep her body strong maintain standards as an Air Force Officer for over 20 years. Additionally, she realized exercise helped release the stress of balancing career with family and focus on herself for one hour a day. Now as a health professional she realizes exercise does merely mean an hour of cardio. Instead she encourages her clients to explore yoga, functional training or HIIT training. Just keep moving!
Before coming to CORE, Renee was a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at a local club and Coached a Parkinson’s Patient group. She was also involved with the Northern Virginia Adult Health and Development Program (ADHP), an Intergenerational Exchange in exercise. She also is a certified trainer in the “Staying Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) program.
Fifteen years ago, during the last year of her military career, Renee was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. After rebounding from right side paralysis Renee comments, “I am so blessed to be strong and healthy”. She and her husband enjoy scuba diving, long distance road biking, triathlons, and hiking with their dog Ranger. By using her knowledge in health, fitness and nutrition she’s thrilled to be giving back and pursue her passion. Her Goal: Help you put more life in your years.
She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach. She holds certificates in Aqua and Barre. Next spring Renee plans on completing her third Master’s Degree this time in Health Education and Promotion from Marymount university.
Emily Harkness has been working in the fitness field for the last 3 and a half years, but has always had a strong love of fitness and health throughout her life. She swam competitively for 16 years and had a mindset of always pushing herself to be better each and every day. That is a mindset that she loves to give her clients, that each and everyday that you are coming to the gym to workout you are doing more than you did yesterday and making yourself better for it. She still loves getting in the pool when she can, but now it is just for fun. If she can’t get in the pool you will see her burning those calories walking her puppy Miley, doing a little Yoga or on a very short run (as running is still not a favorite of hers).
She has a Bachelors of Science in Health and Physical Education with a concentration in Health Promotion and minor in Personal Training. She is a certified Personal Trainer through ACSM and certified Group Exercise Instructor through ACE. She also completed the ACE Functional Training Specialist Program.
Jennifer Kooyoomjian has been teaching yoga since 2010. Jennifer has a Master’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. While pursuing her undergraduate studies, Jennifer also earned a minor in dance and a concentration in Athletic Training. In her full time career, Jennifer works with at-risk youth here in Prince William County.
Jennifer teaches private indoor and outdoor yoga classes. She is also a certified barre above instructor and she shares her knowledge of barre and yoga with her students at Gold’s Gym, CORE and in private sessions. Jennifer is certified through YogaFit Training Systems to teach level 1 and level II yoga. Jennifer also has YogaFit specialty certifications in yoga for seniors, as well as pre-natal/post-partum yoga.
Jennifer teaches a vinyasa flow yoga class on Monday evenings at CORE. This class works with beginner to intermediate yoga students. Yoga helps to increase flexibility, strength, and balance, while reducing stress and increasing body awareness.
Dana’s love of Pilates began 14 years ago when she was Ruth’s Pilates student. She regularly took classes and began to appreciate the toning, precision and breathing associated with Pilates. She continued her practice from then on. Little did she know at that time, she would one day be working for Ruth!
Dana is passionate about fitness and incorporating it into the community. Initially a teacher in the public schools, she was a stay-at-home mom for 19 years and began her “second career” in 2020 gaining certification in Reformer 1 through Balanced Body. She also has prior certifications of AFAA Group Fitness Instructor, Hoopnotica, and Silver Sneakers. She believes exercise and fitness should be fun and part of a healthy lifestyle. Success is achieved by commitment and practice.
She is currently a Pilates Intern and administrative assistant at CORE and has been here since January 2020. Her enthusiasm for Pilates and the CORE studio are evident in her interactions with clients and staff.
When she is not in the studio you can find her hiking, traveling, involved in church ministry, and spending quality time with her family.
Pilates instructor Suzy Thompson always loved playing sports, but fitness was not part of her life until a friend encouraged her to join a health club together. Suzy found she loved the group classes, especially step aerobics. Back then it seemed to all be about the cardio! She kept up with going to the gym, but also began to amass many home fitness videos and used them faithfully (the collection is now embarrassingly large, even converting the old VHS ones onto DVD’s!).
An elementary school teacher, Suzy fell backwards into teaching fitness while lifeguarding at a pool where the aqua aerobics instructor was a no-show and Suzy stepped into the gap. Encouraged by the participants’ enthusiasm, she has never looked back. AFAA and AEA certified for more than 25 years, Suzy branched out into mat Pilates, and continued on her group fitness journey, learning to teach many other formats as well, including kickboxing, yoga, boot camp, HIIT, and barbell strength. While starting a family and continuing to teach school, and later homeschool her own children, she kept teaching group fitness part time at various clubs in Northern Virginia.
With the introduction of a Pilates studio at one of her clubs, Suzy decided to build on 13 years of teaching mat Pilates, and finally get comprehensively trained. Now certified through PEAK/Lifetime Academy, she continues to teach both group fitness classes and Pilates. Suzy recently took additional steps to become a National Certified Pilates Teacher (NCPT), originally called the PMA Pilates Certificate.
Most fitness instructors never planned to end up where they are, but many would not trade the connection with clients and the meaningful work they do for the world. Suzy is thrilled to be able to find ways to help clients discover the healthy patterns of movement provided by a Pilates practice and encourage everyone to utilize Pilates – it really is for “every body”! She enjoys crafts, movies, sports, and time with family; and she may find herself back in a classroom one day – who knows?!