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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

DREAM JOB

Popularizing Pilates on Bay Street

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun


As the directors of Body Harmonics, one of Canada's most respected Pilates studios, Susan Greskevitch and Margot McKinnon have taught hundreds of people that positive physical changes will occur when you learn how muscles and bones work together.

Their approach to business is much like their approach to exercise: they've become stronger, more flexible and rejuvenated because they know how to work together.
Body Harmonics founders Margot McKinnon, left, and Susan Greskevitch.


The pair met at a Pilates instructor certification course. Greskevitch, a modern dancer plagued by injuries, had first turned to Pilates to stay in shape and for rehabilitation. McKinnon was interested in fitness and heard about the popular exercise through a friend.

"It was like a lightbulb going on," she says of the 80-year-old method of physical conditioning developed by Joseph Pilates, who overcame childhood ailments like asthma and rickets to become a competitive diver, skier, boxer and gymnast.

The Pilates method teaches people that effective exercise is about quality rather than quantity, and that to target specific muscles or to get joints moving properly, you must pay attention to efficient body mechanics.

Over the years, the method has attracted professional athletes and dancers seeking to develop and maintain peak condition. It can be adapted for just about anybody, from those looking to keep fit and healthy to those with injuries.

When Greskevitch and McKinnon founded Body Harmonics in 1996, they worked from home-based offices. Because of the benefits of Pilates for those sitting long hours at a desk, they targeted corporations interested in the physical fitness of employees. They soon earned a reputation for excellence and corporations began contacting them.
Targetting specific muscles and joints, Pilates is gaining currency among corporations.


When they began training instructors, they recognized the need for a studio. "It seemed like a natural fit," says McKinnon, who graduated from Montreal's McGill University and completed her M.Ed. at the University of Toronto. "We had already built a reputation and client base. It was a leap, but at the same time, it was an easy transition."

Body Harmonics, located at Dupont and Christie Streets, is an internationally-recognized Pilates Certification Trainer Center affiliated with the acclaimed PhysicalMind Institute based in New York City. Greskevitch and McKinnon have trained teachers from across North America, Great Britain and The Caribbean, and have even led training courses in Asia.

"We have been really happy to hear that teachers have been told when looking for work that employers want Body Harmonics-trained instructors," McKinnon says. "They know the quality and perspective that brings."

Greskevitch and McKinnon are affiliated with numerous professional institutions and continually improve their skills. They also work with medical professionals to better meet the needs of clients, including those with such conditions as arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis.

Just as their classes teach you to listen to your body, Greskevitch and McKinnon recognize the importance of listening to clients, introducing additional weekend classes and developing CDs to guide clients through the same exercise programs taught at the studio.

They chose CDs rather than a video because it best replicates their approach to Pilates -- you learn to feel how your body works, rather than try to imitate an instructor. Already, they've sold some 10,000 copies across the country.

As they consider writing a book, they remain committed to their partnership. "It has enriched our work," says Greskevitch, also a U of T graduate. "We have similar interests, but different skill sets. The partnership enriches what we can offer at the studio. We both feel much more creative having each other's influences. It's inspiring."

Call 416-537-0714 or visit www.bodyharmonics.com.

(Linda White (linda.white@rogers.com) is a freelance writer based in Brooklin, Ont.)



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