It only took Chris Girard six lessons to become totally hooked on Pilates. “I’ve been active my whole life, and I realized that nothing was able to make me feel the way that Pilates did,” she says. “It really made me feel strong and stretched right from the get go, and I loved the energy I gained from it.”
Soon enough, she decided she wanted to help others achieve the benefits she was experiencing, and she enrolled in a 1,200-hour teacher certification program at Pilates Connection in Evanston. “It was, without a doubt, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” says Girard, who at one point even considered throwing in the towel due to the rigorous time and energy demands of the training. “Luckily, though, I had told too many people I was going to do it,” she says. “It was the best thing I could have done, because now I’m able to teach others about a discipline that I love so much.”
She does that today at Pilates Studio 6, which she opened in South Barrington in January 2007. Since then, she and her team of four instructors have been providing private and semi-private instruction with state-of-the-art equipment from Gratz, the original manufacturer of the iconic Pilates apparatus and the industry’s established source for professional and at-home equipment. The studio also features the services of registered dietician Laura Burk, who works with clients in achieving their weight and fitness goals from a nutrition standpoint.
While the studio offers small group mat classes, Girard is big on one-on-one instruction. “It’s important for me to be able to provide the attention that my clients need,” she explains. “With group classes, you might have someone experiencing a shoulder problem, someone with a knee problem, and someone with a back problem, and it’s difficult to address all of those injuries individually while keeping everyone safe and moving.”
As such, the majority of the studio’s clients have standing appointments—an approach built on the regularity Girard feels this practice encourages. “Ideally the practice becomes a discipline, because the goal is for it to really become a part of your lifestyle, and something that is keeping you flexible and strong,” she says.
Girard assures it won’t take long to appreciate the routine’s abundant perks. “It teaches you how to move your body efficiently, so you can tap into energy you’re reserving throughout the workout,” she says. The results, she notes, go far beyond the studio walls, as well. “It’s just amazing—you’re able to go through life with so much more ease and grace because you’re developing stretch, strength, and control with every lesson.”
It’s a strength that is as mental as it is physical, as recognized recently by one of Girard’s clients. “My client just saw Hamilton and drew a comparison between the two, saying ‘Hamilton was trying to create the Declaration of Independence and was getting so bent out of shape about getting it right—he had all of this pent-up anxiety, energy, and passion, and it’s just like Pilates because you’re channeling all of this energy on the inside of your body, but it looks calm and controlled on the outside,’” she says. “And I completely agree. It may look really easy on the outside, but you don’t realize how much focus it requires until you try it for yourself.”
Pilates Studio 6 is located at 6 Pembury Way in South Barrington, 847-602-8001, pilatesstudio6.com.