Meet the Big Toe Studio Staff

Don Spence

Big Toe Studio Program Director and Certified Pilates Teacher

Don has been involved in athletic development since the age of 14.  He began by using exercise to lose weight, which sparked his career in athletic performance and competition. A personal quest developed into a lifelong passion of athletic and fitness excellence. This life experience allowed a passion to turn into teaching and assisting others in their quest to be leaner and healthier while providing a better understanding of lifestyle choices that affect overall health and personal fitness. This knowledge of how personal body image and the positive effects from athletic performance has allowed Don to follow through on his own personal quest of helping others to achieve their individual high level of knowledge regarding sensible fitness exercise decisions. This led to the creation of Body Quest Advantage and Big Toe Studio in 2004.

After completing a successful career as a Professional Bicycle Racer, he started a new career in rehabilitation as a Neuromuscular Therapist with Orthopedic Center of the Rockies in Fort Collins, Colorado. He went on to become the Rehabilitative Fitness Coordinator for Health South Outpatient Rehab Centers in Northern Colorado.  With his interest in rehabilitative exercise, Don then became a Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Pilates Mat work in 2001. Don opened his first Pilates studio in December of 2004, and then opened his current location in the beautiful Palmer Flowers Retail Center in 2009. In 2014 Don launched Big Toe Studio Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training School, which changed its name to Pilates Career Institute, the school compliments the Pilates studio while training student teachers to be experts in utilizing Rehab based Pilates to reach all levels of potential for clients, students and teachers.

Don is a Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation, a Pilates Method Alliance Certified Pilates Teacher, Director of Pilates Career Institute Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training School which is a Colorado Private Occupational Teaching School under the Department of Education, a Personal Trainer, and an American Massage Therapy Association Certified Massage Therapist, Don has spent more than three decades bringing people back from injuries to their fully functioning....and often better selves.Don enjoys his personal Pilates practice and the study of Pilates as a movement science as well as being an avid expert alpine skier, indoor sport climber, mountain biker, road cyclist, SSI scuba diver and always, an enthusiastic Pilate’s teacher! Don appreciates the effect that Pilates has had in his life, and attributes his continued competitive performance and athleticism to his regular practice of Pilates.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”     Joseph Pilates



Tessa Higgins

Massage Therapist

Tessa Higgens, Massage Therapist at Big Toe Pilates Studio, Fort Collins, COTessa chose to pursue a career in massage therapy after seeing close friends and family struggle with PTSD and war-related injuries. Since graduating from USCI and getting her NCBTMB certification in 2010, she has worked as a traveling massage therapist and enjoyed taking continuing education classes to better serve the people she works with. Tessa's goal is to see her clients live healthy, pain-free lives, and is excited to continue exploring the endless opportunities of natural healing methods.

Echo Strong

Big Toe Studio Certified Pilates Teacher/PMA CPT

Echo Strong, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher at Big Toe Studio Fort CO

Echo has always enjoyed the pursuit of exercise as a form of learning and being physically fit. Born and raised in Colorado allowed her to pursue volleyball and basketball as a High school athlete. The many wonderful choices of fitness as a Colorado native has guided her to be an active outdoors sports woman. Hiking, running, biking, walking, skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking and all of the many choices has shaped her healthy attitude for herself and family.

Being a good example to her two children and husband of 18 years has become a top priority of her life and becoming a certified Pilates teacher was a natural choice.

 Echo first discovered Pilates in 2011 and loved it from day one!  After doing her personal practice of Pilates for three years at Big Toe Studio focusing on overall health, flexibility and strength she discovered the natural benefits of consistent proper movement exercises. This sensible approach to health and fitness shaped her decision to participate in Big Toe Studios Pilates teacher training program and then become a staff member for the studio.

 A big part of the decision process was discovering the benefits she personally received from the physical and mental effects in her Pilates practice. Echo has always wanted to continue to learn more about Pilates and share this knowledge with her friends and family. After completing the Comprehensive Pilates Teacher Training program at Big Toe Studio and successfully taking the exam to be part of the Pilates Method Alliance, Echo is now recognized as a PMA Certified Pilates Teacher and Big Toe Studio staff member.

 Echo’s quest to study Pilates as a movement science and her gracious repertoire with all of her clients is a natural fit for Big Toe Studio, “safety first, all questions are good questions and it’s all about you!”

Echo is a Big Studio certified Pilates Teacher, PMA-CPT and holds a B.A. degree in Biology from Fort Lewis College. A wonderful Mom and happy wife that truly enjoys the teaching of Pilates to benefit so many others on their own quest for personal health and fitness.