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Small Business Offers Pilates in the Junkyard

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jan 11, 2011

Mind-Body-Spirit News

In St. Paul, Minnesota, SweatShop Health Club instructors Tresa Sauer and Rose O’Rourke, described as the “Thelma and Louise of Pilates” by SweatShop founder and owner Gayle Winegar, are bringing Pilates to a new audience: auto dismantlers at Ace Auto Parts. The class is part of an outreach campaign by the SweatShop Health Club in St. Paul to bring 30-minute Pilates workouts to job sites. Winegar, a longtime fitness pioneer, said, “The recession has forced us to redefine some of what we do. We decided to take Pilates on the road.”

Ace Auto Parts owners Barb and Marcus Weyandt—SweatShop club members and Pilates enthusiasts—told the Star Tribune that they hoped the exercises would strengthen backs and shoulders and improve balance in ways that would ultimately reduce workers’ compensation bills. The company pays $95 per session. With the success of the junkyard class, the SweatShop is now offering the program to a floral design shop that works the wedding circuit and to a neighborhood community health clinic.

At ACE Auto Parts, where workers aged 24–52 are required to take the class, the men use old auto mats to exercise on. Winegar said, “From April to October [2010], the changes have been marvelous for the junkyard guys—from great form and less pain and injury to better body awareness and a major increase in self-esteem. We’re now ready to work on a DVD with them, because if these guys can convert [to Pilates], any man can! We’re doing a whole new program called ‘Stand by Your Man,’ which came from watching what it took for these guys to get it, as well as the other baby steps that we’re doing to walk tough guys and smart guys into Pilates and yoga.”

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at