Our Faculty

Anna Merkel

Physical Therapist/Pilates – PT, DPT

A Jacksonville native, Anna Merkel received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from UNF in 2014. After passing the board exam she set off on a year long trip around the world with her husband. Upon returning she began her Comprehensive Pilates training at the Polestar Education Studio in Miami. Her specialties include the Schroth Method* for Scoliosis and Kyphosis, Orthopedic and Women’s Health Physical Therapy.  When she isn’t at the studio she enjoys reading, cooking, and exploring the outdoors with her husband, daughter and their dog.

Anna is a certified C1 Schroth Therapist. The Schroth Method is a conservative physical therapy practice for individuals with scoliosis and kyphosis. It can be used to treat patients with scoliosis and kyphosis of all ages and in all stages of treatment: before surgery, after surgery, and especially if surgery is not indicated. Through specific exercises and corrective breathing techniques, the method aims to elongate the trunk and correct the imbalances of the body. By developing the inner muscles of the rib cage, the method changes the shape of the upper trunk to correct any spinal abnormalities. The result is a decrease in pain, slowing or halting of the curvature progression, and improved cardio-pulmonary function, mobility, and postural stability.

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.

One of Barbara’s favorite aspects of her current role at Synergy is the ability to fully focus upon her clients in the moment. When she isn’t working, Barbara spends her days enjoying the company of her two teenage children and relaxing with her husband Brian.

Sonia Deville

Polestar Pilates Instructor – MFA

Sonia is thrilled to be working at Synergy Studio and excited to be living close to her son and daughter in law who is also a Jacksonville resident. Sonia DeVille has been a fitness industry professional for the past 36 years. She is a Polestar Pilates Certified Practitioner for Post Rehabilitation, American College of Sports and Medicine 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, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, and Associate of Arts in Business Administration from Keiser College.

In addition to her Pilates expertise, Sonia is also a Dance Technique and Conditioning Specialist. As a professional dancer specializing in classical ballet and modern, Sonia has been involved in Dance Medicine for the past 20+ years and has a love for working with various artists from all areas of the performing field.

As a dance scientist and educator, she presents yearly for both dance teachers and Pilates instructors in the university/academic setting, conferences/workshops and clinical affiliations. She is a member of the International Dance Medicine and Sciences and the Dance Educators and Somatics Educators organizations. Since 2007, Sonia has studied neuromuscular training with her mentor yearly 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.

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)

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.

Sarah Robison


Sarah Robison was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida and is a graduate of St. Johns Country Day School. She joined the Synergy community as a client in 2018 and fell in love with the overall atmosphere at Synergy! A year later she became the Studio Manager! In addition to working full-time at Synergy Studio, she is also enrolled in Florida State College of Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) interior design program. She enjoys spending her free time with her family and Great Pyrenees Stevie!

“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