Burb's Eye View: A Pilates studio with a mission of health

The reformer exercise machines at Janice Cronkhite's Toluca Lake Pilates studio sometimes serve a higher purpose.

In 2008, Cronkhite threw some tables on the low machines and displayed a few donated items for a homegrown silent auction. She'd only recently opened Align & Define at 44461/2 Forman Ave. and the Burbank woman's business was still new to the neighborhood.

She couldn't know how her neighbors would respond to Cronkhite's little grassroots fundraiser and silent auction.

It raised a few hundred dollars for the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Los Angeles chapter.

"I knew if I donated to them, the money would stay local," she said, adding that 75% of Susan G. Komen net proceeds stay in L.A. County for education, diagnostics and support.

The next year, she invited more businesses and residents to get involved and raise a few thousand dollars more. The next year, more people came and more money went to help the cancer foundation.

Next week, Cronkhite throws her fifth "Party with a Purpose," which has spilled out of her Pilates studio and pours into the parking lot in the back. With this silent auction and cocktail reception, she hopes to exceed last year's take of $11,000.

"It's been amazing seeing this event grow and blossom — she's just a powerhouse," said Oliver Freund, director of operations at Susan G. Komen.

On Oct. 11 from 5 to 9 p.m. Cronkhite will auction off more than 20 items ranging from spa baskets and golf lessons to a week-long Colorado getaway and a VIP Vegas trip. The party will be catered by Sweet Salt, and several other Toluca Lake businesses have pitched in to help with raffle prizes and auction items.

For Cronkhite, the cancer mission is twofold. Shortly after her business was certified for the Pink Ribbon program, she began seeing more clients who were post-op cancer survivors. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at the hospital, many survivors needed a place to recover from their treatments.

If the hospital reminded them of their illness, Cronkhite wanted her studio to be a place of wellness.

"When I started seeing women changing after the Pink Ribbon program and gain everything from the program, it made me want to do more," she said.

Cronkhite is also personally motivated to help cancer survivors. Her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, though there was no history of the disease in her family. The treatments took their toll on her body — though she was cancer-free at the time she died at age 51 from other health issues.

Cronkhite and her two surviving sisters now go for mammograms every six months. It's preventive care for themselves, and it's what drives Cronkhite to help find a cure.

Like her reformers, Cronkhite is helping bend, stretch and mold people into healthier versions of themselves — often with a higher purpose in mind.

"Movement was my language that helped me find my voice … of course, now you can't shut me up," she said.


BRYAN MAHONEY writes about Burbank neighbors and the place they call home. He can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter at @818NewGuy.


Copyright © 2019, Burbank Leader
EDITION: California | U.S. & World