Reform your fitness routine at Grove Fitness Studio
Nestled in a relaxing pocket of nature, shielded from the traffic noise and busyness of nearby Route 53, a unique wellness destination awaits at one of Rolling Meadows Park District's best-kept secrets.
Inside The Grove Fitness Studio, 4001 Park Drive in unincorporated Palatine, the connection to nature continues as rustic branch and rock detail add a spa-like feel. Framed articles on the wall tell the remarkable history of Joseph Pilates and his creation of the Pilates Reformer Method in England during World War I.
Lined up on the floor are a series of classical Pilates reformer carriages based on Joseph Pilates' original design -- cot-like apparatuses with springs, pulleys and leather straps that, upon first glance, might seem intimidating. But each piece of equipment is made to provide a low-impact, total body workout to tone muscle and improve strength, flexibility and posture.
"As we age, a lot of the movement patterns we've developed throughout our lives become evident in the form of pain," said instructor Linda Fanning of Glen Ellyn. "We're here doing everything we do so we can sit, stand, sleep and walk properly. If we can do those four things throughout our lives, we will be happy."
A gymnast and circus performer, Joseph Pilates based his work on three principals, according to the Pilates Foundation -- breath, whole-body health and whole-body commitment.
The reformer workouts are tactile, with the equipment providing feedback through resistance for targeted exercise and an enhanced mind-body experience. The Grove Fitness Studio also offers traditional mat Pilates classes.
Footwork is an essential element to Pilates reformer fitness, Fanning said, because proper alignment begins at the feet and travels up the spine.
"Start on the balls of your feet," Fanning tells Palatine resident Janine Byrne as Byrne lays down on the carriage, placing her feet on the foot bar.
"Inhale, exhale. Let go of that tension in your feet. Good job!"
Working out on the Pilates reformer equipment has transformed Byrne's breathing, walking and posture, she said. She leaves class with a positive attitude.
"I stand tall and straight," Byrne said with a smile.
Pilates reformer classes have experienced something of a resurgence in recent years -- and it may not have come at a better time.
After more than 18 months of people working from home, where for some, kitchen tables, beds and couches double as office space, this workout could be key to reversing damage caused by poor ergonomic habits.
Class sizes are traditionally small, allowing for one-on-one attention and easy implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols.
An added benefit of attending Pilates reformer classes through Rolling Meadows Park District is affordability; packages are typically more affordable than private studios. A 12-pack of classes can be purchased for $18 a class.
"We're using a classical approach to Pilates, which when done consistently, will improve your body, mind and spirit," said Fanning, who also works as a yoga instructor and began teaching Pilates reformer programming in 2012.
"At 55, I'm in better shape, and move with so much more ease than I did when I was 35."
Michael Vorpagel, a school bus driver and professional chef, started attending reformer classes at The Grove a little more than a year ago. During that time, the Roselle resident said he has lost 30 pounds and no longer needs a brace for his left knee.
"This helps you move better and get your legs going in the right direction," Vorpagel said. I'm walking more upright. My body's correcting itself."
The park district began coordinating Pilates Reformer programming at The Grove Fitness Studio in January 2020. Previously, the program was coordinated at that location through a private company, Fitness Arts.
Want to learn more about Rolling Meadows Park District's Pilates reformer activities? An open house is planned from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 6, featuring Pilates reformer demos, a raffle for free classes and giveaways.
For information, call (847) 818-3200 or visit rmparks.org.