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Village Pilates is dedicating the month of November to heart disease education as part of the studio’s new nonprofit fitness and education series, which offers monthly donation-based classes focused on a specific nonprofit or health issue.

The cause is close to owner Regan Hoerster’s heart, as she lost her father to heart disease. This past summer, she experienced another scare as her brother, Oak Park and River Forest High School varsity football coach John Hoerster suffered a heart attack that resulted in a triple bypass. Their afflictions were a massive wakeup call for Hoerster. 

“After my brother’s heart attack, I realized I need to be proactive and advocate for medical screening. I want to get the message out about CPR,” she said. 

For the month of November, the studio will offer a holistic lifestyle change program, including healthy eating and nutritional coaching, high-intensity Pilates classes to increase cardiovascular work, and CPR training. The Forest Park Fire Department will be leading a CPR workshop at the studio. 

“Our studio is offering a program to provide guidance so people can actually make the lifestyle changes necessary to live a heart-healthy life and maintain a healthy weight. This isn’t about diet and deprivation; it’s about lifestyle changes,” Hoerster said. 

The changes in the studio’s offerings reflect a shift in Hoerster’s personal wellness journey, which began after the birth of her second child. 

“My energy was low and I felt lethargic; I realized I needed to prioritize my health in a different way,” she said. 

And so she did. She turned up the temperature during her personal Pilates practice for a more intense cardiovascular workout and switched to clean eating. 

“My energy was higher immediately,” she said. 

Hoerster originally discovered Pilates as a way to help her connect her mind and body while in graduate school, where she was studying to be a social worker. Her passion for Pilates quickly grew to realization that the practice, rather than social work, was her life’s path. Hoerster subsequently went through teacher training and opened Village Pilates in Oak Park in 2003 before opening the Forest Park location five years ago. 

Tucked away in a nook right off Madison Street, the door of the small storefront, which used to be an old theater building, opens up to a peaceful urban escape with a loft-like, naturally lit studio. The space contains two large rooms designated for both reformer Pilates (with machines) and mat classes (sans machines). A seating area complete with a couch and tea station sends the message that the studio is for more than just fitness: it’s for community. 

Pilates activates parts of the body, known as slow twitch muscles, that don’t usually get activated. Every movement in Pilates eccentrically activates the body, meaning the muscles are both stretched and activated simultaneously. 

“It’s the type of control you need if you fall,” she said. 

 However, don’t let the subtle movements fool you. One reformer class will leave you sore for a week, even if you’re a regular weight-lifter.

Village Pilates will be adding new classes to accommodate the nonprofit fitness and education series, expanding the studio’s already abundant list of offerings. Students can expect more heated, high-intensity class offerings for heart health in November. Nonprofits to be highlighted by the studio in the coming months are Housing Forward and Sarah’s Inn.  

The studio currently has 10 teachers who teach more than 55 classes per week in both classical Pilates, which is a technical practice, along with more contemporary “project” classes, which provide a more intense workout without requiring a foundation of classical Pilates. For more information on the education series class schedules, visit the Village Pilates website, villagepilatesstudio.com, or stop by the studio, 411 Marengo Ave.