From ballerina to pilates instructor: A look into the life of a local performer

By Jenna Carpenter |

Being active is a key to a fulfilled life, and Jennifer Dournaux, a former dancer and Power Pilates mat certified instructor at Flagler College, is doing just that.

Jennifer Dournaux, or Jen, as she is known to her students, is a retired ballerina who turned her passion for pilates into a career. Dournaux started ballet at the age of 3, and in high school, danced for the Orlando Ballet.

“My years in high school were very different than many of my friends because I was so dedicated to the ballet. At 17, however, I chose college over a career with the company,” says Dournaux.

Dournaux went on to receive her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Masters in Humanities at Tiffin University. She believes that her college education along with her pilates and dance experience “served [her] well.”

Dournaux started pilates in the 80s. She was practising as a dancer, and the exercises she was doing to prepare for class turned out to be pilates. She fell in love with it, and 9 years ago, took her first real Pilates class.

“The exercises were familiar, but even more so than that, the sensation of elongating my limbs while maintaining a stable core was so reminiscent of how my body felt in ballet class. I wanted to take a pilates class every day, and so I did,” she explains.

It wasn’t long until she realized that she would save money if she became certified to teach, because then, the classes would be free. She received her Power Pilates mat certification in 2005, and has been teaching mat pilates for 7 years. In order to be Power Pilates certified, Dournaux was required to take at least 30 hours of classes under an instructor. She then had to attend a weekend certification program that tested her knowledge of anatomy and understanding of the mat exercises.

Dournaux has been teaching pilates at Flagler for 5 years now.  Sarah Jackson, one of the students in Dournaux’s class, is new to pilates. Having done yoga, she sees similarities between the two.

“It’s a really good work out; it works all of your muscles. It’s also really relaxing. Going to pilates after a long day of classes helps me to de-stress,” says Jackson.

Despite being new to pilates, Sarah believes it is something she will continue to do. She admits that she wasn’t sure if she was going to like it, but now that she’s started, she wants to keep doing it. Part of what makes the class so enjoyable for her is Dournaux.

“She’s really nice, and really understanding if you’re not super flexible, or you can’t do a certain position as well as everyone else. She doesn’t make you feel like you’re some kind of out of shape idiot. She has a friendly, positive kind of personality, which makes the class overall enjoyable,”Jackson says.

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