Our Pilates Trainers

Meet the team of Pilates instructors.

Our senior trainers are Ashley Kim Ritchie, Louise Pannell, Zayn du Plessis and Hilde McCullough

Ashley Kim Ritchie

Globally recognised Pilates aficionado and Principal BASI Faculty Presenter. Co-founder of Body Mechanix Wellness Centre.

With 23 years of Royal Academy of Dance ballet training and having studied the New York Method of Pilates behind her, Ashley met her mentor Rael Isacowitz in 2000, and immediately fell in love with the BASI Pilates Method. She re-did her original Pilates training under Rael and started teaching as a BASI Pilates instructor in 2001. Ashley is also qualified to teach Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis.

In 2004 Body Mechanix Wellness Centre became a host studio for BASI Comprehensive and Mat Courses in Johannesburg. Ashley became faculty and began lecturing for BASI in 2005. In 2007 she first presented the Pre and Postnatal programme.

She developed, “Pilates Through Pregnancy and Beyond”, which is now part of the international BASI Advanced Continued Education Program and it is taught around the globe.

It was not only her Pilates training that focused Ashley’s deep interest in her work on pregnancy. It was also her life. She celebrated her first baby in her 20’s, her second in her 30’s and her third in her 40’s. Providing her with unique insights and understanding of pregnancy and childbirth and its effects on the body, spanning three very different adult life phases.

Transform How You Perform

Pilates has become part of Ashley’s family’s DNA. When Ashley saw how Pilates as Cross-Training transformed her husband Mark Ritchie’s triathlete performance (Mark has been an Iron Man gold medalist several times) she was inspired to develop a series of workshops that cover Cycling, Running and Swimming. Much to the advantage of both her family and clients.

“Let’s make it happen”

As BASI Facilitator, Ashley continues lecturing across the world, in many countries including:

BASI CTTC and MTTC Courses

The United Kingdom
South Korea
South Africa

Pilates Through Pregnancy and Beyond Certificate Course

The United Kingdom 
South Africa
South Korea

Conferences and Symposiums

Learn From The Leaders South Africa
Learn From The Leaders USA
ProBridge Canada
Mentor Programme South Africa and USA

Workshops that Ashley is presenting are:

Pilates for the Mature
Spice Up Your Mat Work – Pole/Glider Disc/Thera Band/Magic Circle/Foam/Big Ball/Small Ball
Art of Cueing
F2 System – Classic Armchair and Spine Correction
Transform How You Perform – Pilates for Triathletes
Pilates for Osteoporosis
Rotater discs and Gliders
Core and Power of BASI Pilates Principles for Sports Women and Men
Pilates for Tall and Abundant
Refine and Align

Wherever she is on the world, whether it relates to work, home or play, Ashley Ritchie remains true to her mantra: "I do what I love and love what I do. What a blessing it is to be in a career that gives me the opportunity to share my passion and to make a difference in someone's life."

Ashley Ritchie was appointed as a Principal Faculty member for BASI and presents BASI Pilates courses globally, from South Africa to Bahrain, from Greece to Indonesia and as far afield as Japan. All Ashley’s expertise is yours through her hand-picked trainers at Body Mechanix.

Hilde McCullough

Hilde’s warm and engaging personality makes the challenging and demanding classes she offers a pleasure. Coming from a strong athletic background, Hilde became a certified BASI Pilates instructor in 2005. She joined Ashley at Body Mechanix in 2007 and is one of the Senior Instructors at the studio.

Her clients range from athletes to mothers-to-be, from men and women wanting improved muscle tone, to sportspeople working through injuries. Hilde is renowned for her ability to read a body. Her expertise in muscle activation as well as her training in identifying uncontrolled movement patterns adds to her personal intuition of the human body.

Hilda’s expertise encompasses the art of muscle activation, as well as pre- and post-pregnancy training.

Zayn du Plessis


Zayn’s passion for life has taken him on a body-and-mind journey of exploration across the world. From playing professional ice hockey to studying Qi Gong, from an interest in circus performance to meditation, Zayn has focused all his life-knowledge to enhance his teaching.

Since his introduction to Pilates in 2006, Zayn has become a certified BASI Pilates, Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor. He is a senior instructor at Body Mechanix and is schooled in the art of muscle activation, he also has a special interest in the rehabilitation of spinal injuries. Combined with a compassionate and patient nature, all Zayn’s experience is dedicated to bringing out the best in you.

Louise Pannell


Louise is one of the Senior instructors at Body Mechanix. Her love of functional movement grew out of her years of ballet, modern jazz dancing, provincial hockey, various forms of yoga and martial arts (soft and fighting forms). She combines this rich movement experience with knowledge gained from a BSc Life Sciences, various diplomas and certificates in nutrition, anatomy and movement, an in-depth Masters Certificate in NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) and a Henley Business School Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching. This allows her to bring an integral experience of Body-Mind to client sessions.

Her commitment is to facilitate your personal journey towards greater well-being, through challenging, considered training and movement beyond perceived limits

Melanie Eisenberg


From a career and personal perspective, Melanie(Mel) has always been extremely passionate about developing people. Her caring nature and commitment to her clients’ progress is focused on helping them achieve their potential through movement and exercise. She concentrates specifically on improving posture, spinal flexibility and muscle strength.

To advance her understanding and application thereof, Mel successfully attained her certificate from the American Council  on Exercise in 1990, whilst studying Microbiology, Zoology and PR.

After graduating from the BASI Comprehensive Teacher Training Course, she also attended the BASI Pilates through Pregnancy and Beyond Certification Course.

Mel is a devoted instructor who finds joy and fulfillment in Pilates, both in her own practice as well as in her work with her clients.

Chelsea-Ann Ingledew

(BA Honours)

Chi studied psychology, drama and education. She specialized in physical theatre and choreography. It was during her time at University that she qualified as a BASI Pilates instructor as well as completing the Gyrokinesis course.

With a passion for movement and for teaching, Chi loves the creativity required for working with children and offers a special Pilates for Kids class.

As an enthusiastic triathlete, it is her knowledge of the inter-relationship of body and mind that allows her to incorporate the most applicable exercises and movements to enhance your physical capabilities. Chi feels that nothing is more rewarding than seeing you on your way to reach your goals.

Dagmar Delmarco

Dagmar’s career in mental and physical health and wellbeing commenced in London in 2002 when studying gym instruction and personal training. Following this she branched into therapeutic and chair massage, Tai-Chi and Advaita Verdanta meditation. These disciplines, practiced over time, provided an improved understanding and appreciation of the body on a holistic level.

Back home in SA she did her Basi Pilates (Mat), Anatomy & Physiology and Pilates for the Senior Clients courses.

Apart from teaching at Body Mechanix, Dagmar is also contracting at a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre and Addiction Rehabilitation Centre doing classes with the clients based on movement, Pilates being a primary focus. The essential spin offs of inner balance and quietening of the mind has supported the clients recovery.

Dagmar is a very compassionate, energetic and well-articulated young lady who strives to help others attain a mind-body connection and in doing accomplish moving meditation. Reconnecting with one’s own body is a beautiful gift we can all give ourselves on a daily bases.

Melissa Schafer

Melissa’s interest in Pilates began as a young girl amidst a ballet class. Through her years dancing, and many a time working through injuries, she began to learn the benefits of Pilates in posture, movement, flexibility and most of all injury prevention. The use of Pilates to build a strong and stable body lies close to her heart. She began her teaching career with Body Mechanix Wellness Centre in July 2017 after completing her Comprehensive Teacher Training Course at the studio that same year. Combined with her love of dance and love of people she finds Pilates the perfect platform to combine her passion with her career.  


Melissa Schafer Body Mechanix BASI Pilates Trainer