On a hot summer afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club in West Asheville, about a dozen elementary school kids in bright, mismatched socks arrange their exercise mats in a small circle. At the center of that circle is Brooke Tyler, a tall, energetic Pilates teacher and owner of Clasique Acupuncture and Pilates Studio in downtown Asheville. Tyler calls out Pilates moves, and the kids follow suit, giggling and struggling to keep up with the fast-paced instructions.
In between exercises, Tyler asks her students how they’re feeling. “I feel confident,” yells out one of the two boys in the group, while balancing on one foot. “This is my jam!”
“It’s easier when you get out of your mind and into the chi,” one girl adds quietly. Tyler explains to the group that chi is akin to “the force” in Star Wars. “I got a lot of chi generating!” calls out a boy during an especially difficult move. “Yeah!” says another girl. “Feel my chi muscles!”
This is the first summer that Tyler is teaching regularly at the Boys and Girls Club, but she has been involved with the organization, as well as Girls on the Run, for many years. The summer program will continue into the school year with after-school Pilates classes for 10- to 12-year-olds as well as high school students. “The kids love it because it’s challenging, but also because it’s fun,” says Tyler. “My goal is for them to feel their bodies, feel something and then feel like they can stand up tall. To give them a sense of how they carry themselves in the world — that’s a big deal.”
After five years running her business, Tyler is looking to increase her community service, especially with younger people. “A lot of these kid don’t have anything else to do after school,” says Tyler. “And they normally don’t have an opportunity like this. I love it because it takes away some of that idea that Pilates is for people who have a ton of money and people who have a ton of free time and just want to look good. It turns it into how you feel about yourself, how you carry yourself.”
Learn more about the Boys and Girls Club at salvationarmycarolinas.org/bgcasheville. Learn more about Clasique Acupuncture and Pilates at studioclasique.com.