Fitness Trainers | Staff

Katie Thornhill

The owner of Personal Pilates Plus, Katie Thornhill, has a Bachelor of Science in exercise and sports sciences, and an Associate’s Degree as a physical therapist assistant. She is a certified personal trainer with National Strength and Conditioning Association, a certified Pilates instructor, and a certified prenatal/post-partum instructor. She has worked in the fitness and health industry for 20 years. Other specialties include stability/core training, ball exercise, and free weights. Her philosophy is facilitating a balance in life with family, education, occupation, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual wellness.

Heather Lee

Heather Lee has her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1993. She obtained her Physical Therapists Assistant degree from Denver Technical College in 1999. Heather received her Pilates certification from the Donna McLean studio and has been using her knowledge in both a rehab setting and here in the studio. She has worked in the physical therapy setting since 1995 in sports medicine and manual therapy settings. Heather continues to work full time as a Physical Therapist Assistant. In her spare time, Heather enjoys the Colorado outdoors and telemark skiing and competes in triathlons.

Erika Cunha

Erika Cunha never really got over her goal to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Unfortunately, the show was discontinued while she was in elementary school so she had to reevaluate. Since that time, Erika acquired a BA in Psychology and began her graduate studies in Expressive Therapies. Here specialization is in movement. She is a certified pilates teacher with over 400 hours of training in the STOTT method with a focus in rehabilitation and has taught yoga nationally to students of all ages for 10 years. She continues to dance a few times a week and balances her workouts with eating sweets from her bakery Living the Sweet Life.

Jen Duffley

Certified Pilates instructor, Jen Duffley, began her fitness journey at a very young age. A former competitive gymnast and coach, Jen was trained to work diligently, developing a sense of confidence, and an eye for form and technique. This, she believes, is the foundation to achieving the best results with any activity. Incorporating patience and a calming mind-set, Jen encourages her clients to accomplish the ultimate: core strength and balance. Jen is passionate about finding that perfect combination of mind and body, and believes that any good fitness program should be challenging and integrative.

Outside of her Pilates life, Jen enjoys skiing, biking, and traveling. Jen continues to educate herself through PhysicalMind Pilates and passes this expertise on to her clients.

Heather Phifer

Heather began her love and exploration of Pilates as a student at Personal Pilates Plus in 2008. She found Pilates to be such an invigorating and relaxing practice that it became crucial to include it in her life permanently and to explore the practices of Joseph Pilates in more depth. In 2009, Heather received her certification from the Donna McLean Studio and continues her education under the supervision of second generation Pilates masters and the senior staff at PPP. In her spare time Heather enjoys making modern, unique children’s rooms and home decor at her local business, Elevated Scraps.

Nikki Virnelli

Nikki is a recent graduate of the National Personal Training Institute of Colorado. She has always had a passion for fitness and outdoor adventure, so she decided to turn this passion into a career. Nikki is very excited to begin teaching TRX and boot camp classes at the studio within the next couple of weeks.


Awanti has been practicing yoga since 2003 and has her Dad to thank for getting her into it (he clearly knew her better than she knew herself!). Lucky enough to grow up in Pune, India, home of the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI), she began attending classes there and almost immediately fell in love with yoga. But it wasn’t until she finished her Master’s degree – in a completely unrelated field – in Sydney, Australia, and travelled around the world for a whole year, that she knew what she wanted to do – share her passion and experience through teaching yoga. Awanti completed a countless-hour Teaching Apprenticeship with Abhay Javkhedkar, her favorite teacher from RIMYI in Pune, India and returned to Denver to complete her 200-hour Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher Training at the Samadhi Center for Yoga & Meditation. Awanti lives in Denver and teaches classes as well as private yoga sessions at various studios around the city. When not practicing or teaching yoga, you can usually find her hiking, backpacking, cooking, running or travelling. Awanti is eternally grateful to her hubby for patiently supporting her, while she spends her days doing backbends.