The Fitness Guru: ‘Teaching is a mix of performing ?and getting to use your body like an actor does’

The Fitness Guru: ‘Teaching is a mix of performing ?and getting to use your body like an actor does’

Leslie Hamm, 34

Owner and instructor, ?Pure Movement Yoga, Portland, ?

Leslie Hamm started out as an actress, and she continues to perform, but now as an instructor in Pilates and body sculpting at Pure Movement Portland, which for the last two years was named as the best placed for yoga and Pilates by readers of the Portland Phoenix.

Hamm, 34, who co-owns the studio with best friend Luca Richards, had no intentions of settling in Maine. She grew up in Gorham, and after graduating from the University of Southern Maine, left within a week.

“I couldn’t wait to leave,” she said.

Hamm went to New York to be an actress, and found a day job in fitness, where she learned how to instruct in Pilates and the Lotte Berke method, which is a fitness technique using a ballet bar.

“I danced through school, so fitness was kind of an easy thing to do to make money and stay fit, which was important to me,” she said.

She toured for six months in the stage production of “Ramona Quimby,” but she realized that the traveling was not all it was cracked up to be and returned to New York to continue to teach.

“As much as I like to travel, it wasn’t that exciting. You’re always at the mercy of who’s casting. Teaching is a mix of performing and getting to use your body like an actor does,” she explains. “But it’s not so scripted as a play, so I’ve really enjoyed it.”

After three years in England, where her husband was stationed with the Air Force, the couple returned to Maine with their two young children so he could go to law school. Hamm called Richards and together they opened Pure Movement Portland, which offers a mixture of Pilates, yoga and bar sculpt . Hamm also gets to satisfy her urge to travel by teaching the Lotte Berke method to other instructors around the country, which she said has been snowballing in demand. Back home, she also trains instructors at the studio, which has grown to include nine fitness instructors.

“We have a whole group of women who didn’t know each other at the beginning, but every week they go out to dinner together after class,” said Hamm. “We never thought we’d build our own community, but it’s great. I’m really proud of what it’s become.”

Leslie Hamm, fitness guru

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