The creation of The Studio by The Pilates Blonde, 26-year-old Katie Dudley, was a long time coming. Back in 2006 at the age of 12, Dudley was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in every joint but one. Subsequently, doctors put her on a regimen of low dose chemotherapy drugs. By the age of 15, the conversation shifted to talks of a double knee replacement as her medication had withered her joints. In the years that followed, those medications began to shut down the frontal lobe of Dudley’s brain, causing seizures, severe weight gain and the inability to remember menial tasks like starting a car.
Feeling hopeless, the Dudley family reached out to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. The team ruled out a brain tumor and multiple sclerosis, concluding that the symptoms were a result of an allergic reaction to her current medications paired with an undiagnosed case of the autoimmune disease Lupus.
“When I came home, I broke up with my doctor and found a new one,” Dudley says of her life-altering trip to Minnesota. “That moment was so freeing because it wasn’t a death sentence.”
Following that trip, Dudley took a break from college and started physical therapy five days a week, eventually regaining her lost brain function and mobility. During that time, she also spent a lot of time researching how to heal herself with an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, including kale smoothies, and Pilates. “I went from spending 23 hours a day in bed to taking two Pilates classes a day,” she recalls.
Not long after, Dudley began working on a Peak Pilates certification—a 500-hour program to become an instructor—while simultaneously completing her nursing degree at Gwynedd Mercy University.
This month, she’s using her years of strife and recovery to launch her own fitness studio in Schwenksville. Set to debut on Feb. 29, the studio will offer private Pilates instruction, nutrition consulting and mindset coaching. There will also be weekend group bootcamps and mat Pilates classes at the studio when it opens. Plus, the space is wheelchair accessible, making it truly inclusive.
“My background in nursing sets me apart from a lot of other instructors,” says Dudley. “I feel confident in taking clients that have disabilities or are on certain medications.”
The studio is an expansion on her brand, which began with her blog, “The Pilates Blonde.” There, Dudley has worked to create a judgment–free zone for anyone on the path to bettering themselves. “I think about the ‘Pilates Blonde’ the same way Beyoncé thinks about Sasha Fierce—she’s who I wake up in the morning and aspire to be,” she says.
1117 Bridge Road, Schwenksville.