Our Faculty

Anna Merkel

Physical Therapist/Pilates – PT, DPT

Anna Merkel is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Pilates Instructor specializing in scoliosis and postural imbalances. Anna earned her DPT from UNF in 2014. She completed her Comprehensive Pilates training at the Polestar Education Studio in Miami in 2016. She has acted as a Mentor alongside Lynn Peterson for several Comprehensive trainings and is now an Educator-in-Training for Polestar Pilates. Anna is an SSOL Schroth Advanced PT and has focused on treating people with scoliosis and other spinal conditions since 2019. When she isn’t at the studio she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.

Barbara Chappell

Physical Therapist/Pilates – PT

Barbara Chappell, P.T., NCPT, has over twenty-five years of practical experience as a health care professional. Barbara attended University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on an athletic scholarship and swam competitively for the Tar Heels while earning her BA in intermediate elementary education. Barbara continued her post-graduate PT education at Winston-Salem State University. Always looking to expand her knowledge, Barbara successfully completed Pilates training with Polestar Pilates in 2005 and continues to regularly attend workshops, seminars, and conferences in multiple areas of pilates, physical therapy, and neuroscience.

Prior to joining Synergy Studio fulltime in 2014, Barbara combined her physical therapy and Pilates knowledge as a physical therapist in rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, and the out-patient clinics of several local hospitals, including St. Vincent’s Medical Center, River Garden Hebrew Home, and Baptist Medical Center. Barbara brings a wealth of knowledge to her Synergy clients. She particularly enjoys combining her physical therapy skills, manual skills (strain, counter strain, MFR, MET), and Pilates knowledge to help her clients achieve their best potential outcome. Barbara has recently graduated as a Z-Health Practitioner and is certified in R and I phases.

Sonia Deville

Polestar Pilates Instructor – MFA

Sonia DeVille has been a fitness industry professional for the past 36 years. She is a Polestar Pilates Certified Practitioner for Post Rehabilitation, Certified Health and Fitness Specialist, Total Gym GAVITY Master Trainer, TRX Instructor, Konnector Certified Instructor and OOV Certified Instructor. Originally from Louisiana, she has a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Florida State University. As a professional dancer specializing in classical ballet and modern, Sonia has been involved in Dance Medicine for more than 20 years and continues to stay involved with teachers and instructors in various professional settings.

Sonia is a member of the International Dance Medicine and Sciences and the Dance Educators and Somatics Educators organizations. Since 2007, Sonia partakes in annual neuromuscular training with renowned kinesthetic anatomist, author, and dancer Irene Dowd in New York City. She enjoys her spare time dancing, living with her two cats and cooking with her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.

Leigh Caruso

Physical Therapist – PT, DPT, NCPT

Leigh Caruso is a licensed Physical Therapist with primary focus in orthopedics, Pilates rehabilitation, manual therapy, and dance medicine. A native of Huntsville, AL, Leigh completed her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Philosophy. A classically trained dancer, Leigh has had a lifelong love of movement and deep interest in utilizing the body for maximum efficiency and performance. Early in her career, she served as the Director of Dance Education for a nonprofit performing arts venue where she developed an outreach program in conjunction with physical therapists to provide dance education to children with special needs. Leigh trained professionally in Nashville, New York City, and Italy but suffered a dance-related injury that led her to Pilates-based rehabilitation. She then returned to school to pursue a career in physical therapy knowing that she wanted Pilates to be a central part of her clinical practice.

Leigh received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, graduating with Honors and a focus in orthopedic manual therapy including extremity, spinal, and myofascial manipulation. She completed her Comprehensive Pilates for Rehabilitation training on all apparatus through Polestar® Pilates and is a Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher (NCPT). She is currently working toward her Manual Therapy Certification (MTC) through the University of St. Augustine and is completing the Mentor-In-Training program to become a Mentor for Polestar Education.

Leigh has a passion for integrating physical therapy, Pilates, and manual therapy to provide a holistic and individualized approach to treatment. She loves working with clients to encourage mind body awareness and to promote conscious and safe movement. Leigh has special interest in dancer rehabilitation, injury prevention, and hypermobility disorders, but she is experienced in treating a wide range of diagnoses and enjoys working with clients of all ages throughout varying stages of rehabilitation. 

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Additional Trainings – Oov Fundamentals & Oov Apparatus, NeuroMovement, Konnector Training, Yoga for Therapy, Meditation & Mindfulness, Health Coaching

Professional Memberships – American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS), Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists (AAOMPT), Performing Arts Special Interest Group of the APTA (PASIG)

Stephanie Bush

Physical Therapist – DPT

I am Stephanie Bush, Doctor of Physical Therapy, who specializes in women’s health physical therapy including pelvic floor disorders, pregnancy and post-partum rehabilitation, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, and the female athlete. My career span over the past 16 years has included patient care, management, leadership, clinical instructor and educator, Pilates rehabilitation specialist certification, and 200-hour yoga teacher training. I received my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2006, completed the Women’s Health PT Residency Program with Brooks Institute for Higher Learning in 2012, and received my WCS (Board Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist) in 2014.

I have always had an interest in women’s health care, and I knew long ago this is the area of physical therapy in which I want to practice and serve my patients and clients! There is so much opportunity to educate women on the benefits of pelvic floor health, wellness and physical therapy, as well as well-rounded fitness and functional training to promote prevention and wellness for women across the lifespan!

Patricia Hill

Massage Therapist – LMT

Featured in Natural Awakenings magazine and a regular guest host on Awakened Radio, Patricia’s greatest joy is helping others step into their spiritual brilliance.  She is also a Reiki practitioner, a licensed massage therapist and is certified in transformational breath work.

Alex Lauture


Alex Lauture graduated from the University of North Florida in 2018 with a degree in Public Health, concentrating in Health Promotion and Education. After working as a holistic health and nutrition educator for several years, she became a certified health and wellness coach through the National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching in 2021.

Alex recognizes the need for mindfulness and meditation to support mental and emotional wellbeing. She is currently studying with the Aura Wellness Center based in Massachusetts to become a Certified Meditation Teacher, specializing in Vipassana Meditation. Outside of the studio, Alex enjoys farmers markets, herbal teas, reading, live music, hiking, and spending time at the park.

“You continue to be the best system of anatomy and physiology wisdom and healthy practice that I have ever come into contact with. Thank you amazing ladies of Synergy!”


Amy. P