Origins and Creations: The Evolution of InsideOut

Origins and Creations: The Evolution of InsideOut

By Deborah Matthews

Today, between virtual classes, I am sitting on the screen porch in the blessed heat thinking about origins and creation. 

How did I get here?  How did I come to own a Pilates studio in this hip corner of the South?  What’s next for the studio?  As a teacher/artist/entrepreneur what am I called to create now? 

So many memories from InsideOut’s early days come flooding back to me: open houses when I was the solo demo on the reformers, painting our first studio space with sponges, the old hand-written class sign-up sheets on the bulletin board.  And so many feelings:  excitement, anxiety, anticipation, dread, satisfaction, surprise, joy.

Way back in the early 2000’s, my husband, Toby, and I were living in Denver.  We loved it, but it never felt like home.  We missed our families back east as well as the lush green trees and humidity we had grown up with. 

Colorado had just experienced the worst drought in a hundred years.  I remember one birthday cookout when little bits of ash were raining down on us from an orange sky because of a forest fire up in the mountains. 

The world seemed to be telling us something and we tried to listen.

My home state of Ohio was out – too gray – and Toby’s hometown of Atlanta felt way too big for me.  But we had friends in Durham (where Toby had gone to undergrad) and they encouraged us to come visit.  

Toby had done Pilates while attending Duke at the advice of one of his modern dance teachers.  His Pilates teacher had been teaching a long time and by 2001 considered selling her studio to us.  Toby and I visited and stayed with long-time friends, but the sale didn’t work out. 

We stayed in Colorado and trained and taught and began the process of mastering our respective disciplines.  I trained at The Pilates Center and then worked at Pilates Aligned and Back to Motion Physical Therapy.  Toby trained at Naropa University and The Rolf Institute™ and then opened his own practice.  We both trained in the Gyrotonic© Method. 

I worked on myself a lot too. 

I did Rolfing every week for many years with some of the most skilled and innovative practitioners in the field. (Shout out to Liz, Jon, and Ray!) I also did lots of acupuncture and explored the many alternative healing modalities that Colorado had to offer.  It was a time of great transformation and healing for me.

We still visited Durham every now and again and my brother-in-law, Bart, moved back for a relationship. (He was also a Pilates teacher.) 

Out of the blue, Toby’s original Pilates teacher put me in touch with a woman opening a new studio in North Raleigh.  She brought me in to consult on the project and then wanted me to move to North Carolina and be her main teacher.  Why not?!?!? 

The stars felt like they were aligning.  We rented an apartment off 15-501, packed up the cats, and moved to Durham.


Photo given by Deborah Mattews

But it was not meant to be . . . After six months of hard work, the owner of the studio told me that we would be closing in 10 days!!!!! 

After picking my jaw up off the floor, I flew into action. In less 45 days, I closed on a home in South Durham, found an available commercial space in nearby Sutton Station (a recently closed Catholic book shop), renovated the space (there was a yellow brick road painted on the floor leading into a scenic mural on the back wall of the Irish country-side), and opened InsideOut for business. 

My North Raleigh clients hardly had time to miss me.

Toby and I worked together to upfit, market, hire, teach, clean, and perform all the many tasks that small business owners do to survive and get established.  We knew we wanted to offer high quality movement education, bodywork, and to some day integrate physical therapy.  Over time, the word spread and we built our team. 

Bart was on board right away, but it took us a while to get Mischa.  She showed up in class one afternoon (It was just the two of us.  There was a lot of that back then.) and we got to talking about the studio.  When she said she was a PT who had been a dancer my eyes lit up.  She trained at The Pilates Center over the next year and has been an integral partner and leader at the studio ever since. ❤️ 

I remember so many faces from our team during those early days.  Some have moved on:  Amanda, Catherine, Deanndria, Taran, Heather, and Cristina come to mind.  Others are still with us:  Anna, Jessica, Ashley . . .


We grew. 

A few years later we rented the space behind the studio and opened a mat/yoga room.  We continued to grow and decided to move to our current location where we could have more Reformers and more than one Cadillac. Imagine! 

We could also have more and quieter treatment rooms which allowed for acupuncture and additional PT’s.  We became a training studio for The Pilates Center and Mischa and I have now trained over 50 pilates teachers. 

We have created community and family in Durham and across the country.


Today I sit here with Niles, my studio cat from Pilates Aligned in Denver.  He is an old man now and I imagine the next phase of my life in Durham and with InsideOut. 

We have all been thrown into uncertainty with the pandemic and economic crisis.  I, for instance, have not met face-to-face with another human being (besides Toby and my healthcare practitioners) since February and I have no idea when that will end. 

Things are going to be different for a long time. 

We are creatively changing the studio to respond to the crises.  We are radically downsizing and re-envisioning the space, implementing new design and sanitation elements, and dreaming of a new future.

Those old feelings begin stirring in my belly again:  excitement, anxiety, anticipation, dread, satisfaction, surprise, joy.  I don’t always enjoy them, but I know them well. 

And I have a community of friends, family, staff, and clients who are in all of this with me.  

I have a different kind of faith than I did in 2003, because you are my ground.

Love you all.

1 Comment

  • Lauren

    July 22, 2020 @ 12:56 pm

    what a great story! fun hearing about your move from Colorado to North Carolina, we are SO LUCKY that happened. I am seeing the themes of “never easy” along with “keeps getting better” so looking forward to what comes next. so fun seeing pics of the old studio too, I remember being there! and the pics!!! love seeing “longer-haired Jessica” 🙂

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