Animas Staff Members

Becca Franks

Pilates | Flexibility | Stretch | Dance

Becca Franks has long been involved in the dance community. She started dancing at age seven, and as a young teenager she began apprentice teaching. While pursuing her collegiate education, Becca continued to teach jazz, ballet, and tap dance classes at various Tucson dance studios and companies. In addition, she was the Artistic Director for Southern Arizona Dance Theater from 2000-2001. Becca earned her BFA at the University of Arizona, one of the top five dance schools in the country, in 2000. Shortly after graduating from the U of A, Becca immersed ...herself in the study of Pilates. She completed her Level I Pilates training in 2001. And after three years of study, earned her Level II and Qualified Teacher Certification in 2003; enabling her to teach special needs as well as advanced athletes. In 2003 Becca moved to New York to dance professionally. Unexpectedly, Becca injured herself within a year, and ended her dance career before her first professional performance. Fortunately, this injury gave her the opportunity to focus on what had become another passion for her: Pilates. Becca opted to stay in New York studying other lineages of the Pilates Method. She has taken courses with master teachers Ron Fletcher, Kathy Grant, Diane Severino, Michelle Larson, Kathy Corey, Alan Herdman, and many others. In addition, Becca is a Yamuna Body Rolling practitioner and a Thai yoga therapist. She incorporates these techniques into her stretch classes and private sessions. Eventually, she was drawn back to the desert with its great skies and mountains. Before opening Animas Center in 2011, Becca spent ten years teaching Pilates at various locations including Reebok Sports Club LA in NYC, Miraval and Canyon Ranch. Today Becca blends the many Pilates lineages into personalized workouts for her clients. Since no two people are the same, she draws from her years of experience to ensure that each session incorporates correct body alignment, proper technique, fun and fitness for each individual. Customizing each session enables her clients to effectively achieve tremendous benefits.

Joan Franks

Pilates | Zero Balancing

Joan Franks was introduced to the Pilates method in 2000 by her daughter, Becca. She originally began as a guinea pig, but the work stuck, and she continued her practice. Joan soon found that Pilates was transformative. She felt more invigorated, noticed better posture, strength, and flexibility. She maintained her Pilates routine for 9 years before taking steps to become a Pilates teacher. Joan completed her Pilates training in 2010, and since, has completed over 500 hours of continued education. In 2011, Joan decided to retire from her private practice as a neurologist to work primarily as a Pilates teacher and ... body worker. Her expertise includes over 15 years of body work and 30 years as a physician, giving her unique approach to teaching. Joan understands where restrictions originate, enabling her to create movement programs to counter those restrictions. Joan has worked with a variety of disorders, restrictions, and ailments. She has successfully seen students safely make progress toward strengthening, flexibility, and overall well-being. Zero Balancing Joan earned her medical degree from the University of Arizona. After completing her neurology residency at various Tucson hospitals, she practiced general neurology in northwest Tucson from 1988 to 2011. Recently, she was voted one of Tucson’s “Top Docs” from Best Doctors, Inc. Although retired from her neurological practice, she continues to attend medical conferences, as well as Zero Balancing and Counterstrain workshops. Joan became certified in Zero Balancing in 2006. For the past ten years, Strain/Counterstrain and Zero Balancing have been a component of Joan’s medical practice in addition to traditional therapies. Strain/Counterstrain treats musculoskeletal problems, while Zero Balancing is a technique that works with the body’s energy system and structure. Over the years, Joan has found these methods to be both effective and popular with her patients in relieving muscle tension and pain. In treating various neurological conditions including headaches, neck and back pain, (as well as Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.) she became convinced that health is generated to a great degree through exercise, nutrition, lifestyle habits, and mind-body interactions. She found by integrating these complementary modalities into her practice, her clients were better able to heal or manage their pain. As a result, she has decided to focus on these gentle therapies here at Animas Center.

Lynn Pray-Raugh

Pilates | Yoga | Gyrotonic

Lynn was born in Kansas City, Kansas and received a degree in University of Missouri and University of Arizona in Dance and Exercise and in Sports Science programs. Lynn studied Pilates with Ron Fletcher and became a Qualified Teacher in 2001. Since then she has studied a variety of Pilates methods. She worked at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico and The Golden Door in California before coming to Canyon Ranch in Arizona. She taught a variety of classes there, including yoga, dance, Pilates based classes, and Gyrotonic. ....She started the Pilates program at Canyon Ranch in Las Vegas and also the Pilates program at Nevada Ballet Theater in Las Vegas. She is a Certified Group Fitness and Personal Trainer with ACE. She is also a Certified Gyrotonic Teacher and an apprentice in Gyrokinesis Lynne comments, “I love movement and sharing this love with people of varying abilities and challenges.”

Patty Beecroft

Pilates | Yoga

Patty has always been interested in exercise and fitness. Once she discovered the Pilates Method it became a passion. She completed extensive training at the renowned Pilates Center in Boulder, Co. ... She has been teaching in a a variety of contexts since 2004. Besides her PMA (Pilates Method Association) certification she is certified in TRX, Yoga and as a personal trainer. She finds a deep gratification in helping people remedy physical problems and increase their overall fitness.

Kay Cherones


Kay Cherones was introduced to Pilates through a friend who taught Pilates Mat Class at Kay’s Curves Studio. She fell in love with Pilates and next thing she knew she was getting certified! Kay completed her Pilates training in 2007 and immediately started teaching. ...She met Becca while she was doing her training and a few years later was thrilled to join Animas as a Pilates teacher. Kay brings encouragement and care to her classes. She understands students who might come with injuries, challenges or limitations. Her motto is: “ Don’t be distracted from cues and breath!”

Abbie Lee


Abbie Lee has been dancing for 14 years. She currently trains at Ballet Arts. She focuses mainly on ballet but is also experienced in jazz, modern, and tap. She has participated in many dance summer programs including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. ... She is planning to continue dancing with Tucson Ballet while attending ASU online, majoring in Journalism. Abbie was born in Washington DC., and moved to Tucson when she was four.She attended University High and graduated from Primavera High School in December 2021.

Matt Finish


Matt is co-founder and producer of Don’t Blink Burlesque and the Arizona Burlesque Festival. Matt holds a B.A. and a M.F.A. in dance. He’s a former member of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. In 2014 he won Best Burlesque and Master of Assels at the BurlyPicks International Finals. ... He’s been featured in Burlesque Festivals in Davenport, Albuquerque, Denver, Las Vegas, Cambridge and Hollywood. He’s also an instructor at Fanny’s Fox Den and Pima Community College.

Shalmali Pal


Shalmali Pal has been a student of Iyengar yoga for nearly two decades. In addition to a myriad of physical benefits, Shalmali firmly believes that her yoga practice prevents her from giving into road rage, consuming excessive amounts of chocolate, watching too many hours of cooking shows, and indulging in countless tubes of lip gloss. Shalmali began practicing yoga while living in San Francisco. She attended a class at a dance studio located less than five minutes from her attic apartment in an elegant Victorian home (Yes, that’s right, at one point in her life, Shalmali was the crazy lady in the attic). ...About a year into this rather casual yoga practice, a new studio opened up by Shalmali’s work place and, in the words of her esteemed father, a “yoga buff” was born! For nearly four years, Shalmali studied with many wonderful teachers nearly every day, including Leslie Howard, her most beloved teacher and friend. It was from Leslie that Shalmali learnt that humor is just as effective a teacher as hard work. Shalmali completed 200 hours of Yoga Alliance certification in 2005 under the tutelage of the inestimable Tony Briggs. With Tony, Shalmali gleaned the art and philosophy of teaching yoga: Each class is a journey, and it’s the responsiblity of the teacher to guide students on their journey and then return them safely home. Shalmali taught public and private classes at various venues in the Bay Area. The one class she did not teach was naked yoga and she is forever grateful for that.

Cara Reynolds

Yoga | Dance

Cara brings a cheery, positive, vibrant energy to her classes. Her initial study and practice of yoga began in 2003 with Annie Smith, in Tucson, Arizona. She has been teaching yoga since 2008. She received her Hatha Yoga 200 Hour Teacher Training from Yoga Oasis, under Darren Rhodes, Sam Rice, Stephani Lindsey, and Bruce Bowditch and holds the designation of E-RYT 200 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher) certification from the Yoga Alliance, a professional association for yoga instructors. Her additional experience includes certification as an instructor of Les Mills BodyFlow and completion of training in Pilates, under Becca Franks, at the Animas studio, in Tucson. ...Cara has been an educator for two decades. She received her B.A. in Elementary Education, from the University of Arizona, with a minor in dance; and her M.Ed., in Educational Leadership, from Northern Arizona University. Currently, she teaches yoga and dance at The Gregory School for grades 5-12, and she instructs classes at several yoga studios throughout Tucson. A lover of animals, Cara has three dogs, a cat, two guinea pigs, and 4 chickens. She also teaches goat yoga.

DeAnna Murray

Belly Dance

DeAnna has danced and taught this movement style for many decades. She says “I see each dancer as a special flower in this garden of life – all are unique! The purpose of this class is to enjoy yourself. Dome dance with me and let your feminine spirit fly!” ...

Barbara Schuessler


Barbara Schuessler, aka “La Flamencista”, began her flamenco dance training in Tucson, Arizona with Tere Aguirre and later continued her local training and performing with Patricia Mahan and Olivia Rojo. In 1988, she traveled to Bellingham, Washington to study with Teo Morca and began a long series of training that took her to workshops and personal study throughout the United States and Spain. Most notably, the Festival Flamenco in Albuquerque, NM where she studied with numerous masters of flamenco for over 15 years. Masters such as Antonio Canales, Alejandro Granados and Yolanda Heredia, to name just a few, were major influences in her development. Her studies took her to Sevilla, Spain where her understanding of the art form truly blossomed. ...Her heart opened with the incredible instruction of dancers that include Maria Angeles Gabaldon and, most importantly, Georgia “La Candela”. These are but a few of the people that she has received instruction from and feels fortunate to have been exposed to such artistic masters. Her love of dance and movement started as a young child and has carried her through many forms of disciplines. Her training includes specialized studies in various movement and stretching techniques and all forms of dance. She has studied yoga for over 25 years and brings that knowledge to her dance training. Calling Tucson, Arizona her home, she has performed locally with Aires Flamenco, Flamenco Y Mas and her own troupes. She continues to perform at festivals and private functions with “Las Flamencistas” and as a solo artist. Barbara’s passion is teaching and sharing the art form. She has been teaching flamenco dance since 1995 and teaches out of local studios and her home. In 2008, she started a series called Go Flamenco!

Lisa Takamiya


Lisa began her yoga journey in 1988. She was living in NYC going to school and working in the fashion industry. Her life was about fashion, modeling and acting…where most of the emphasis is on the way you look rather than how you feel. ...She was drawn to yoga to de-stress and to feel better about herself. Her first class was with Dharma Mittra—in that first class her body came to life–she felt more alive and awake than ever before. She is trained and influenced by Dharma yoga, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram and Yin. Her classes are a blending of these styles and concentrate her area of passion and interest—-inner alignment/subtle body anatomy, slow flow, intensity, heat and the peaceful contemplative postures of Yin. She has a passion and deep love for yoga, meditation and transformation. She likes to be open to change and growth and wants to empower others to do the same…to never limit ourselves but learn to trust ourselves and the guidance within.

Gail Barton

Pilates | Stretch | FreeForm Board

Gail has been involved in movement since childhood, beginning with ballet classes at age four. She took time off from ballet for horses, riding in Western Pleasure, Hunter-Jumper, Dressage and Combined Training. Dance came back at Hope College, with classes in Modern, Jazz and Ballet. She taught aerobics in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, in Washington DC and Los Angeles. After moving to Tucson and having two children, Gail started practicing Taekwondo and achieved the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt. ...During this time, she also started Pilates with Becca Franks, which soon became a passion. “Pilates has kept me healthy, strong and flexible. The variety of exercises and equipment allows us to work with all body types and personal skills.” Gail also trained with Becca in Thai Yoga massage, and enjoys working with students to increase movement and flexibility.

Gary Matteucci

Tai Ji

Gary Matteucci began studying Tai Ji in 1996 with Master Chungliang Al Huang, founder of the Living Tao Foundation in Urbana, IL and the Lan Ting Institute in China. Gary participates in a number of annual intensive workshops with Master Huang and has served as a teacher’s aid in many of his seminars across the country and the world. Gary has been teaching Tai Ji and conducting workshops throughout the the Midwest and the western United States since 2000. ...

Heidi Grossman


Heidi received her Massage Therapist License from Arizona School of Integrative Stud-ies. She says, “ I have always had a passion for the healing arts and while I do teach pri-vate and semi private yoga classes I am mostly drawn to Massage. I am experienced in multiple massage modalities and have additional certifications in cupping and medical massage.” ...Her modality specialties are Swedish, Hot Stone, Cupping, Cranial-Sacral, Chair and Mat Massage (Thai/Stretching Combination) and Lymphatic Drainage. I am also a certified Vinyasa Yoga Instructor through Session School of Yoga in Tucson. She was born in Mexico City and raised in both USA and Mexico and has lived in Tucson over 10 years raising her two daughters.

Lorraine Becker

Pilates | Stretch | FreeForm Board

“I am a second generation American, a quasi Tucson native (arrived at age 5), a product of Tucson public schools and a proud graduate of The University Of Arizona.” Lorraine began her career in social work (attached to U.S. Military in South Korea) and healthcare/childcare (Tucson and San Diego). In the 1980's, she joined her Father's business, where for the next 45 years, they owned/operated several manufacturing firms with regional, national, international distribution. They operated their own construction firm through which they completed numerous commercial and residential facilities. Along the way, we mentored others to be successful in their trade and the business community. ...Lorraine started her Pilates journey at Animas in 2012. She comments“With continued practice, exposure to different facets of Pilates and diverse instructors, I experienced the 'mind/body' connection, and continue to improve my vitality, flexibility and compo-sure in life. The adventure continues in 2020-2022 as I trained to become a certified Pilates instructor in order to teach students of all ages, goals and abilities to, hopefully, bring the Pilates advantages to their lives."

Animas Pilates and Dance