Kim Carruthers has taught Pilates to Tyra Banks and Patricia Arquette, but a highlight of her career was helping Jamila Ofumbi fit into her prom dress. Ofumbi, a 17-year-old from South-Central L.A., had read in a fashion magazine that Banks firmed her frame with thrice-weekly Pilates classes, and she reached out to Carruthers. "I knew if someone just helped me, I could learn," she says. Carruthers discounted some of Ofumbi's classes; Ofumbi earned the rest of the money she needed braiding hair and washing cars.
Their relationship was mutually beneficial. Ofum-bi looked great in her gown (low-cut, backless), and Carruthers found her calling. In addition to training celebs and ladies who lunch at her Hollywood studio, she teaches at the Boys & Girls Club in South-Central. Early next year she will open the first in her chain of inner-city Pilates studios, called Pilates in the ' Hood, where small groups can take classes for a fraction of her standard $80 fee. "I just want to offer this to young girls who don't have the same options as other girls," says Carruthers, a former Alvin Ailey dancer. "They want to feel good about themselves. I figure anything that helps is worth it." Ask Jamila Ofumbi. She lost 45 pounds.