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Meet Tonray Ho of BeSTUDIOpilates in North Center

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonray Ho.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tonray. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I have always been drawn to the arts and enjoyed creative expression through dance and movement. But because I come from a family of scientists and immigrant parents who felt the arts would be too unstable a career choice, I first graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, and worked briefly as a research scientist. Although I enjoyed the work, I felt that something was missing. So I decided to pursue my creative interests by returning to graduate school for a Master’s degree in Performance. One day before rehearsal, a fellow dancer introduced a system called Pilates, as a way to maintain a strong and flexible body. I thought I was pretty fit and athletic, so I was surprised to find that I struggled with some of the Pilates exercises. It was such a different and innovative way of focusing on the core that it made a powerful impression on me.

After graduate school, I moved to Chicago and worked at several different jobs until a fellow dancer recruited me to become a Pilates Instructor. I studied, practiced and earned my certification which led to the opportunity to become a teacher-trainer. Motivated by a desire to better understand wellness — and in particular to prevent and manage nagging injuries — I continued to learn more about Pilates and the body. I studied different styles of Pilates, the bio-mechanics behind movement, clinical approaches to assess and improve flexibility and fitness, and techniques used to relieve pain and optimize health. My training took me to northern and southern California, as well as to Miami, Denver, and New York City.  Along the way, I worked in private studios, fitness gyms, and a physical therapy clinic. After several years of progressive training and experience, I realized that while there was still much to learn, connecting to clients and helping them feel better — motivating them to think of their bodies in a new way — was what I enjoyed most. It was time to open my own studio.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For the most part it has been a smooth road, although not a linear one. As a sole proprietor, you end up doing everything unassisted. The day-to-day tasks of running a business, including responsibility for marketing and maintaining a social media presence, can be time-consuming and difficult to manage. For example, building a website is immensely fun, but can divert you from doing what you opened up your own business to do in the first place. I have never been afraid of hard work; but finding the right balance turned out to be a skill that I needed to hone.

For Pilates in particular, I think the biggest challenge is that to the general public, it remains somewhat unfamiliar and prone to misperception. Pilates is a different way of working the body. It is a process that targets the deep abdominals and back muscles, works entire limbs, and stresses quality over quantity of exercise. The key is helping clients recognize the benefits of Pilates exercises and how they are helping them achieve their goals. If you are used to workouts based on rapid or large movements (like aerobics) or accustomed to lifting heavy weights, Pilates can look deceptively easy. But don’t be fooled: it’s an efficient and effective workout, just one that works the body in a different way.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the BeSTUDIOpilates story. Tell us more about the business.
Be Studio Pilates is a space dedicated to mind-body movement and physical well-being. The studio offers private instruction in Pilates and Yamuna (another fitness system utilizing specialized equipment) as well as group Stretch and Foam Roller classes. Being a sole proprietor, it is my mission to provide personalized instruction to each one of my clients. I take great pride that the studio has been carefully designed to provide a comfortable and inspirational setting. The range of my experience has created opportunities for me to work with any type of athlete or individual, from competitive figure skaters to post-operative clients and seniors.  I am very proud of my work creating programs to improve the comfort and physical capabilities of individuals with structural and muscular/joint imbalances, such as Scoliosis and SI Joint Dysfunction. At the core of it we are a Pilates studio; and Pilates is a system that works the body as a whole. I believe it is one of the best possible ways through which to process physical changes and build on those changes to create a stronger, healthier, more flexible, and pain-free body.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
When I think back on how my life has unfolded and where I am today, I think luck has played a part. Because I started teaching in one of the early studios in Chicago, before Pilates was widely known, I was pressed to find more training outside of the Midwest. That led to the good fortune of studying under teachers who they themselves had worked with Joseph Pilates and innovative educators who paved their own path, all of whom have influenced my work.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1802 West Berteau Ave, Suite 214
    Chicago, Illinois 60613
  • Website: www.beSTUDIOpilates.com
  • Phone: 773/791-3656
  • Email: tonray@beSTUDIOpilates.com

3 Comments

  1. Sherry Frenzel

    May 16, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Tonray is a fantastic instructor. In addition to her knowledge of Pilates, stretching and other exercise methods, she is one of the warmest and caring indiduals I’ve met.

  2. Esther Saks

    May 16, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    I am 87 years old and study with Tonray. She is a dedicated, empathetic , knowledgeable, teacher. Obviously I can’t say too many positive things about her. What a brilliant choice for a fine article.

  3. Margaret Tingley

    May 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I have never met a more astute healer than Tonray. She has the skill and deep understanding to read my body mechanics and clearly communicate the work that needs to be done so I can be my best.

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