MELT Stories: Leanne Bourassa and Susan Shelton

Leanne Bourassa and Susan Shelton represent the Detroit, Michigan-area contingency of The MELT Method nation and both have a strong background in Pilates and have found ways to incorporate MELT into their clients’ lives. Leanne and Susan are both certified Stotts Pilates and MELT instructors at Townsend Street Pilates in Birmingham, Michigan.

We had the opportunity to interview them on how they discovered The MELT Method and how it has affected the progress of the people they work with.

Question: How did you discover MELT?

Leanne Bourassa: I discovered MELT when I was reading an article about a young Pilates instructor that had been in a car accident and suffered extreme back pain and after years of PT the only things that brought her relief were MELT and Pilates. The focus of the article was her success story and why she became a Pilates instructor. It was just a brief mention of MELT but it sparked my attention. I did a Google search and did a few of the moves on the roller from old YouTube videos—I did them on the hard roller—and then found a training. I did the first training and was hooked. 

Susan Shelton: I discovered MELT through Leanne, she taught me the Method and I was impressed the first time I tried it. I love the way it centers my body and grounds me. I have degenerative disc disease in L4 and L5 so when my back starts to bother me the MELT really helps loosen up the muscles that can spasm and keeps me out of pain.

Q: How does MELT complement Pilates and vice versa?

SS: Both work the mind body and I love how MELT gets you back into alignment so easily then when I move the clients to Pilates there movements are stronger and more stable.

LB: Both have a mind-body element. Both work with breath. Both work with alignment.

It was an easy transition for me to go from cuing Pilates to cuing MELT. The best part is that now that I know MELT, I can improve the mind/body connection for my Pilates clients. The assessment techniques in MELT have made me realize that as much as we think about alignment in Pilates, we often don't improve alignment because we never really truly feel what correct alignment is.  

MELT has changed that completely for me and now when I train my Pilates clients, I often do some form of an assessment and MELT before launching into the Pilates workout. Clients have asked if I've lightened the springs after doing a short MELT sequence and then going back on the reformer, because when they are hydrated and in good alignment, their movements are so much more fluid and efficient.  

Q: What is one of your best success stories with MELT?

SS: A client of mine has severe arthritis in her hands and has to use braces on her wrist and hands every day and all day. When I first MELTed her she had immediate results. She called me the next day to tell me she was able to go several hours that afternoon without wearing a brace and her pain was gone. She purchased a kit and has been happy ever since.  

LB: My favorite success story is of my son's kindergarten teacher who suffered from severe plantar fasciitis. Throughout the school year she was often at PT and in a fair amount of pain. I did my hand and foot training in May and after the training, I sheepishly offered to try and help her. She was ready to try anything and agreed. She came to my house and we did the foot treatment. After the treatment, she was in tears! Her pain had reduced by 75 percent, she said. Then she told me that she was pregnant. She says today that MELT saved her throughout her pregnancy. She was the best first client ever.

Q: How has MELT affected your personal health?

LB: I've had neck and shoulder pain for years. Though massage and physical therapy has helped, the relief hasn't been long lasting. I still need and enjoy the occasional massage, but MELT has really helped me manage these issues so my visits to therapy are few and far between. When I feel like my shoulder or neck is starting to hurt, I can MELT, do some MELT strength and typically take care of the problem.   

SS: I am very in tune to my own body I notice everything so when I start to feel an ache or pain or weakness I immediately know I need to MELT.

Q: Tell us about how MELT has affected your personal life.

LB: I have an 8-year-old son who now asks to MELT every time he has an ache or pain and when the new small soft balls came in he claimed one for himself, so he can run faster. As I am not a young mom, it comforts me to know that now with MELT under my belt, I (and my husband - he MELTs too) have one more tool to stay strong an active for my son. 

I really feel like MELT has made me a better Pilates instructor. I understand so much more and really do feel like my clients can maximize their workouts because of better alignment, better muscle timing, and better balance.

I introduce MELT to everyone willing to listen.  I also feel like I am much kinder to my own body since learning the science of MELT, and I will never muscle through an exercise for the sake of doing it and end up in pain.  

SS: My son who is 12 gets migraines and if we catch the migraine before it gets too bad, I can MELT his hands and the migraine will go away, his quality of life gets better as he MELTs.

MELT has been a great additive to my business and my personal life, I run into people every day who have an ache or a pain and I can't go past that until they know about MELT and have at least tried it once. I am very new to MELT since October 2013 and I have so much more to learn but I will continue to learn, improve and share the wealth of knowledge that Sue [Hitzmann] has given me.  

To find out more on how to connect with Leanne and Susan, visit the Townsend Street Pilates website at

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