Introducing the Swan Dive Center for Pilates Team

Meet the Pilates experts ready to help you achieve your fitness goals.

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Swan Dive Center for Pilates

Our team of Pilates professionals are invested in your health. We make every decision with our members’ well-being in mind. Achieve your goals with us!

The Team

Wendy Helton owner of Swan Dive Center for Pilates

Wendy Helton


Wendy Helton shares her joy of movement with her clients. She has a passion for supporting people’s ability to develop health and vitality through Pilates. Wendy’s work is influenced by over 30 years of movement training including classical and contemporary dance, Pilates, Gentry Technique, continuing education in Pilates for Osteoporosis, Lumbo-Pelvic Girdle Dysfunction, Pre/Post Natal and Pilates for Athletes. She began her Pilates training in Marblehead, MA at the Marblehead School of Ballet in 1990. Wendy then went on to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she received her B.F.A in Contemporary Dance in 1997. While at UNC School of the Arts she continued her study of Pilates and became more familiar with the intricacies of the work as well as the challenges and variety that are offered by the different pieces of Pilates equipment. After graduation she moved to the Chicago area. She was certified by Michele Larsson of Core Dynamics Pilates in 2002. She worked with and was influenced by many wonderful Pilates Instructors from the center of Chicago and the Deerfield Multiplex, where she was Director of a successful Pilates program in 2003. In 2006 she founded Swan Dive Center for Pilates with her late business partner, Susie Pines. For 16 years Susie and Wendy’s partnership created a studio known for its care, concern and highly skilled Pilates and therapeutic massage therapy services. Wendy is dedicated to carrying Susie’s love and drive for helping people into all of the work that is done at Swan Dive.

Over the 20 years Wendy has taught Pilates, she has experienced working with members of the Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Sky. She has also developed and previously taught Symmetry Pilates, a 450-hour teacher training program. Now, with the help of fellow Swan Dive instructor, Helen Hackett, Swan Dive is currently hosting and facilitating Evolve Your Teaching, a teacher training curriculum created by Jessica Spillane, with the intent of developing the best Pilates instructors of the next generation.

Helen Hackett coach at Swan Dive Center for Pilates

Helen Hackett

Instructor & master teacher trainer

Helen Hackett came to Swan Dive after teaching Pilates Reformer and doing personal training for many years at a large health club in the area. Helen’s approach is to improve her clients’ strength, flexibility and functionality through exercise modalities which are meaningful to them as individuals. After leaving a demanding career as an attorney, Helen found a true passion for fitness while staying home as a full-time parent. Beginning as a Group Exercise instructor in 2003, she taught indoor cycling and a variety of strength-based formats for nearly 10 years. During the pandemic, she led five livestream workouts each week. Helen knows from her own experience how intimidating exercise can be for many people. Her philosophy is that it’s never too late to find your inner athlete. She has experience in working with deconditioned clients and helping them to find confidence in their bodies. She has also worked with clients with a wide variety of special issues including back, shoulder, and knee problems as well as medical issues such as Parkinson’s, diabetes and cancer (post-treatment). In addition, she enjoys creating challenging workouts for her strongest clients who want high intensity. Helen loves the challenge of finding the best way to motivate and engage her clients. She spends her free time with her family and her dogs.


Debbie Wood


Debbie Wood has been a fitness professional since 1984 and has a strong background in dance. She holds national certifications in Pilates, Barre and Personal Training. Debbie was an Education Specialist for Zumba Fitness, LLC for 14 years and traveled throughout the United States training Zumba instructors. Debbie works with a whole heart and loves witnessing the dramatically positive changes clients experience as they learn to move effectively.


Charlotte Mogensen


Charlotte Mogensen was a rhythmic gymnast in Denmark. After moving to Illinois in 1998 she started teaching children’s gymnastics at the YMCA. She then received her Yoga Certification from the Himalayan Center in Palatine in 2010 and was Pilates Certified in 2012. She has been teaching at Swan Dive Center for Pilates since 2018.


Lisa Buckley


Bio coming soon.

Karen Ecanow coach at Swan Dive Center for Pilates

Karen Ecanow


Karen Ecanow was a pre-professional dancer, attending the University of Illinois on a dance scholarship. Injuries in college side-lined her dance ambitions but led her to the Pilates studio as a form of rehabilitation. After a career as an attorney and raising her two daughters, Karen dove into Pilates. Inspired by her own success in minimizing musculoskeletal pain through Pilates, she aspires to similarly help others. Karen received her Pilates certification through Evolve Your Teaching and has been teaching at Swan Dive since course completion. She enjoys teaching both long-time Pilates students and those new to the practice. Her emphasis is on technique coupled with twists on classic exercises to keep things fun and new. In her free time, Karen enjoys walking outdoors, cooking and spending time with her family.


Debbie Ehrlich


Debbie studied dance at the university of Iowa. She has taught ballet, modern, jazz and creative movement for 10 years. Debbie then became a pediatrician and practiced medicine for 20 years. Her area of expertise was caring for kids with developmental challenges. She returned to her dance roots in 2017, participating in a non for profit that provides classes to people 50 + . This led her back to teaching movement classes to adults with special challenges.

Debbie began her Pilates journey when she met Debbie Wood (one of the Swan Dive instructors). She became intrigued by how good she felt after her sessions and wanted to know more. When Wendy Helton, owner of Swan Dive, offered a course to become a Pilates Instructor through Evolve Your Teaching, Debbie was excited and jumped right in. She likes watching the strength that her clients achieve and enjoys the creativity in creating a class for each client’s specific needs.


Karli Merritt


Karli Merritt is a seasoned competitive cheerleading coach, with a passion for fostering body awareness and proper movement. Karli discovered the transformative benefits of Pilates after trying it herself. Karli was certified through Evolve Your Teaching, and has been teaching at Swan Dive since.  Karli finds joy in how Pilates complements her work with young athletes and clients of all ages, creating a well-rounded approach to physical fitness and mindfulness in her teaching.


Laura Rodrigo

Massage Therapist

Bio coming soon.


Elena Simon


Elena Simon works as a full time Physical Therapy Assistant in a busy hospital outpatient orthopedic clinic. She has been a physical therapy assistant since 2009, treating all sorts of injuries and post-surgical conditions of the spine, hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, balance, gait disorders and post-Covid general deconditioning.  During her career she also has designed and taught post total knee replacement classes  and aquatic classes for arthritis, hip and knee pain, as well as back pain. She received her Pilates Reformer certification for health professionals in 2016 from Balanced Body and has been using Pilates principles and a Reformer in her treatment sessions in the clinical setting since then. She has been teaching private sessions for Swan Dive clients since November 2022. She has a special interest in improving lower back pain, core and pelvic floor muscle imbalances, muscle strength and balance in women with osteoporosis, scoliosis and muscle imbalances or pain in the spine, arms and legs caused by scoliosis. You may find her private sessions to be a mix of corrective exercise and Pilates training.

She has twin daughters and loves spending her free time with them skiing, swimming, biking, hiking or just walking in the park. Elena’s personal healing journey with Pilates started in the summer of 2021 when she had an unfortunate accident while visiting her homeland, Bulgaria. She and her then 9 year old daughter were hit on a cross road by a speeding taxi driver. With God’s help, her fast reactions and a very strong pull of her daughter’s hand, she was able to lift them up quickly and jump high, a second before the impact with the car. Elena suffered a concussion and bad contusions all over her body, but thankfully no broken bones or serious injuries. While recovering from her injuries, she exercised on the Reformer as much as she could. This experience opened a new perspective for her. She decided to deepen her Pilates training and pursue being a Pilates Instructor, in addition to her work as a physical therapy assistant. She continued her Pilates studies with Evolve Your Teaching in collaboration with Swan Dive Center for Pilates.

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