A Pilates studio with a difference appears to be on the way to the Eight Corners business district in Brookfield after village trustees on Feb. 8 indicated they would vote to approve a special use permit for the business at their next meeting on Feb. 22.
Tina Shelley, a Brookfield resident, applied for the special use permit to open Taut inside the vacant storefront at 9219 Broadway Ave. The permit is needed because studios and instructional services are considered special uses in the C-3 zoning district, which includes the entire length of Broadway Avenue and portions of Maple Avenue and Monroe Avenue.
On Jan. 28, members of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the special use permit. The village board has final say on such permits.
“I love that we’re seeing so much desire to invest in this part of town,” said planning and zoning Commissioner Jennifer Hendricks, who suggested that the village board might want to consider amending the zoning code to make such businesses permitted by right.
There are already other businesses of a similar type in the district, including Miss Clara’s Joyful Learning Center, a music school for children; Compassion Factory Art Gallery and Studio, which hosts art classes; FocusOm, a yoga studio; and Alphabet Learning Center, a daycare and preschool.
A year ago, Alphabet Learning Center had obtained a similar permit to expand their operations into that space, but the plan fell through after the COVID-19 pandemic swept through soon after.
Shelley said the lease for the studio is contingent on village approval of the special use permit, but trustees did not indicate any opposition to the request on Feb. 8.
Taut will be a small studio offering full-body workouts in 45-minute sessions using special Pilates “reformer” machines, which at first glance look a bit like a rowing machine.
The 10-foot long machines have stable platforms at either end, framing a larger center panel that moves back and forth. Springs, which can be adjusted, can make it either easier or harder for someone to stabilize the center platform. The less tension, the more difficult it is for the user to maintain stability.
“It’s a full-body, head-to-toe workout,” said Shelley. “You’re forced to use your core and legs to stabilize yourself.”
The entire workout is done on the machine, Shelley said, and is low-impact since there’s no jumping around. Shelley said she’s provided instruction to students as young as 16 and as old as their 70s.
Shelley’s got more than a decade of experience both working out and teaching Pilates using the reformer machines. She was first introduced to them when she was living in Hollywood, California, when they became something of a craze.
“They were very big in Hollywood,” she said. “L.A. is full of these studios.”
When she returned to the Chicago area about a decade ago, Shelley and a partner decided to open Body R&D, in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago in 2012.
The business was the first Pilates studio to exclusively use the reformer machines in Chicago, though other would follow. A little more than eight years ago, Shelley moved to Brookfield, and in 2020 with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on fitness studios, she decided to move on.
The Brookfield studio will have six machines, meaning every class will be small.
“As we’ve seen with COVID, you have to keep downsizing anyway,” Shelley said. “In times like these, you don’t know what’s going to be happening, so it does behoove us to keep it smaller.”
Shelley said that if trustees approve the special use permit later this month, her goal is to open Taut sometime in April. A website is in development.