Rick Williamson

Rick Williamson, owner of the Fitness Institute and Pilates Studio, has been involved in the fitness and rehabilitation industry for over 20 years. Rick got his start in fitness and rehabilitation after being involved in a serious head-on collision in 1980. Rick sustained severe whiplash and nerve damage. After undergoing numerous forms of rehabilitation, and after seeing many different physicians about his constant neck and back pain over the following 3 years, Rick began an educational journey developing advanced methods of self rehabilitation. In the process, he developed and built a rehabilitation facility in his home, and over the next five years, was able to rehabilitate himself.

Rick is a certified Pilates Rehabilitation Practitioner through Polestar Pilates Education. He was trained in Pilates Rehabilitation at the University of Miami and Long Island University by Brent Anderson, PT O.C.S., President and co-founder of Polestar Pilates Education and Elizabeth Larkam, MS. He is also certified by the American Council on Exercise, Senior Fitness Association, and is an active member of the American College of Sports Medicine and The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). He then earned his Bachelor of Science in Biomechanics from The Alternative Medicine Research Institute (Canada).

He has become a PMA Gold Certified Teacher by passing the PMA Pilates Certification Exam.

For the last thirteen years, Rick has owned and operated The Fitness Institute where he has performed individual assessment and program development in the Pilates environment for a wide range of clientele. He instructed Pilates for persons with spine and extremity injuries, neurological diseases, postural deformities, and general de-conditioning while designing new and innovative Pilates based movements for special rehabilitation needs.

Rick Williamson

Rick has had the opportunity in working with and designing specialized rehabilitation programs for professional and recreational dancers and athletes. He has had the opportunity of working with Ron Fletcher, a master teacher, and one of Joseph Pilates personal students. Rick has trained and mentored many Pilates teachers that use Pilates Rehabilitation techniques from fitness professionals, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and medical doctors.

Rick served on the Board of Alternative Therapies at the Erie County Medical Center, and was also a steering committee member of the 50-plus fitness campaign at Degraff Memorial Hospital. In 1995, he was a guest speaker and presenter at the first Alternative and Complimentary Therapies conference held in Buffalo at the Center for Tomorrow at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Amherst campus.

Julie Williamson, MS PT

Julie Williamson

Julie Williamson is a licensed physical therapist, co-owner of the Fitness Institute and Pilates Studio, and Director of Rehabilitation. She has been involved in the Fitness and Rehabilitation industry for 10 years. Julie earned her Masters in Physical Therapy from Ithaca College. She is a certified Pilates Rehabilitation Practitioner who specializes in spine, orthopedic, and chronic pain rehabilitation.

Her background includes treating patients with neurological, pulmonary, cardiac, and orthopedic diagnosis. She has worked with elite athletes participating in the development of injury prevention programming. She has worked at the Fitness Institute and Pilates Studio where she has performed individual assessment and program development in the Pilates environment for a wide range of clientele.

She instructed Pilates for persons with spine and extremity injuries, neurological diseases, postural deformities, muscle imbalances, and general de-conditioning while designing new and innovative Pilates based movements for special rehabilitation needs.

Leanne Rinelli

Leanne Rinelli has been a dancer all her life. A member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Leanne graduated with a B.A. in dance from the University of Buffalo. She has extensive training in ballet and modern dance, and went on to dance with a modern dance company in Ohio after college. Leanne is now an adjunct instructor at Buffalo State College, where she incorporates Pilates techniques into her dance courses. In the past, she has worked for Moving Miracles, a dance therapy studio for children and adults with special needs.

Leanne enjoys using her dance skills to enrich her Pilates teaching. At the same time, she loves to strengthen and challenge her dance students with Pilates. In her free time, Leanne performs locally with Janet Reed and Buffalo City Ballet.

Leanne Rinelli

James DeMay

Jim DeMay

James DeMay is a Partner/Owner at the Fitness Institute & Pilates Studio. He is an advanced certified personal trainer with decades of experience. Jim comes back to the Fitness Institute specifically in the fitness area to help as many people as he can improve their quality of life. Jim has passionately devoted most of his life to health & fitness and shares this way of life with everyone. Jim is a fitness specialist with a B.S. from Salem State University of Salem MA and has a Master’s degree from Canisius College of Buffalo, NY. Jim is also a Yoga practitioner who leads our Yoga classes and typically will include this into his sessions. Jim has worked and trained individuals all over the country and returns back to Western New York from just north of Boston, Massachusetts.

Practical experience and motivation: Jim grew up in a tough environment including family obesity, smoking and disease. These have always been the core motivating factors for helping others to change their life for the better. Jim first started as an umpire for girls’ softball as a teenager and has coached girls softball just after serving in the United States Navy. In between he has completed many events in support of various charities ranging from Climbing City Hall in Buffalo, finishing 3rd overall, Century bike tours to training individuals to walk/run a marathon. While in the Navy, Jim would regularly run on the flight deck when there weren’t any flight operations on the nuclear aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz. (2) laps on the flight deck adds up to a mile. Jim has since run numerous marathons at the 3 hour pace including (7) Boston Marathons. Locally, (3) Buffalo Marathons and a few ½’s, including one year just missing the 3 hours mark by 63 seconds.” Never did break the (3) hour mark!” He added triathlons back in the mid 90’s including the Ironman Triathlon distance with an 11th place finish overall. Health & Fitness is for everyone at all levels and Jim enjoys helping others learn about what they are capable of and helping them discover new interests!

Beth Mesnekoff

Beth is a pilates practitioner who has worked at the Fitness Institute & Pilates Studio for multiple years providing both individual and group class training in Pilates. Beth holds a B.S. and also a M.S. degree and has over 30 years experience teaching. She brings this passion for teaching and helping others to work with her every day. She is a member of IDEA and actively participates in continued education. She has attended multiple seminars and workshops as she continues her journey of helping others “Keep Moving”. This motto “Keep Moving”, represents her philosophy for a persons’ well-being and the journey we all make through life.

Beth believes that Pilates is an extremely effective exercise and movement option for people of all ages, size or background. She works with a wide range of clients from women who are pregnant to local youths. She is ambitiously moving forward and looks forward to helping others as she continues her career in Pilates and fitness.

Beth Mesnekoff

Kevin Baker

Kevin Baker

Kevin is a certified personal training through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). Kevin is also certified in CPR-AED through the American Heart Association. Kevin came to the Fitness Institute and Pilates Studio for his own successful journey of rehabilitation and really believes in “fitness as a way of life”. Kevin specializes in Sport Specific Training & Circuit Training and works with a wide range of clients from seniors to youth. He currently enjoys working with many local High School students improving their sports performance while limiting their risk of injury. He also enjoys coaching youth athletics in our local community.

Kevin is passionate about improving his client’s health and fitness levels because he truly enjoys his career and believes that a person’s quality of life directly correlates with their level of health and fitness. He will help you meet your personal goals as he designs individual routines to help you better understand how exercise and diet impact your overall quality of life. He believes “wellness is a lifestyle rather than a goal” He wants to work with you to provide the tools to take your current routine and make it an invigorating life-style change.


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