Park Ridge Pilates center aims to balance mind, body, spirit
Debbie Harris instructs a course at her business, TriPilates in Park Ridge. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
ADDRESS: 640 Busse Hwy.
SPECIALTY: Classes and private instruction in the Pilates exercise technique.
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:04AM
PARK RIDGE — When Debbie Harris attended her very first pilates class, even the name was unfamiliar to her.
“I thought it was ‘pi-lates.’ That how much I knew about it,” the Park Ridge resident recounted with a laugh.
Harris has come a long way — from student to certified instructor to owner of her own studio, TriPilates. Now celebrating its fifth year in Park Ridge, TriPilates offers a variety of classes that promise a “balanced body, mind and spirit.”
“It’s an exercise that involves the complete coordination of your mind, your body and your spirit,” Harris explained. “In other words, it’s exercise, but much like yoga you have elements of breathing, self-awareness, concentration and coordination within the exercise.”
At TriPilates students can choose from mat exercises, low-chair workouts designed for core strengthening, “reformer” classes using spring resistance, and a cardio circuit. Some routines require equipment and private lessons are also available.
For Harris, Pilates improves not just the look and health of the body, but the mind as well. One client, experiencing depression after a traumatic loss, now comes to class smiling, she noted.
“It’s not just physical. There’s a mental and spiritual level, too,” Harris said.
Harris was introduced to pilates “over a dozen years ago” after attending a class at her health club. She then enrolled in private lessons which required her to travel to downtown Chicago because such classes were not offered locally.
“I would leave feeling energetic and stronger,” she said.
After about six or seven years of immersing herself in pilates, an instructor suggested that Harris start teaching.
“I thought she was crazy because, after all, I had four kids,” Harris said.
It took a couple more years, but Harris was eventually convinced that her calling was to teach. She became a certified instructor and opened her Park Ridge basement to students. Today, she mentors others to become teachers.
But as her clientele grew, so did the need for space. Harris eventually rented space inside a Des Plaines dance studio before opening TriPilates at 833 W. Touhy Ave.
The location allowed her to keep many of the students she had acquired when teaching out of her home.
“I found it really, really hard to get people to go to Des Plaines for the mat class,” Harris said. “People like to stay in Park Ridge.”
This year the studio relocated to 640 Busse Highway which Harris says provides a quieter environment for her students. A party to mark TriPilates’ fifth anniversary took place in August.
“It was just so fun to see everybody who has become friends with each other,” Harris said of the gathering. “They were swapping these success stories of how pilates has changed them. It was really fun to watch.”