Meet Denise DuBarry, the actress and entrepreneur behind the Pilates Power Gym

Meet Denise DuBarry, the actress and entrepreneur behind the Pilates Power Gym

Denise DuBarry has played many roles in her life including actress, yoga teacher, movie producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. A series of happy accidents is what could describe the path that led DuBarry to discover the Pilates Power Gym and many other products that help make people’s lives better all over the world.

In the late 1970s, DuBarry moved to Hollywood from Texas after taking an acting class to help her overcome shyness. “It worked and I was hooked,” she explains.

Denise spent the next decade acting as a guest star on various television series such as Black Sheep Squadron and Charlie’s Angels, and movie roles including Being There with Peter Sellers and the TV movie, Deadman’s Curve. (See clips from her acting career in the video below)

Of all her acting roles, Denise says her favorite was a guest appearance on Trapper John, M.D. where she played a bag lady with a brain tumor.

“It was completely out of character for me and really forced me to get ‘in character.’  She was a wild crazy homeless person who couldn’t speak correctly and I had fun with it,” DuBarry recalls.

On the set of the miniseries, Top of the Hill, she met her first husband, actor Gary Lockwood. It was while living in Malibu with Lockwood that she took up the practice of yoga after learning about it from a fellow actress. She opened her own studio, Malibu Yoga, in 1987 to fulfill the need of many of her friends who didn’t want to drive all the way to Beverly Hills for a Bikram yoga class.

In the late 1980s, Denise was focused on producing her own feature films to star in. She immersed herself in filmmaking classes to learn about the business on the “other side of the camera.” After developing a few film and television projects, she stumbled onto an idea for video piano lessons through a friend.

She and her friend produced “Play the Piano Overnight,” a quick and easy video instruction course. In 1988, they worked with an infomercial company to promote the video and it became a hit.

Throughout the ’90s, Denise continued working on infomercials with her second husband, Bill Hay. At their company Thane International, Denise produced infomercials for various products including The Orbitrek, The Ab Doer, BioSlim and several items from California Beauty brand.

Through Thane, she met inventor Kevin Abelbeck who created the Pilates Power Gym. Denise was so impressed with this compact fitness machine that she started promoting it through her own company, Kaswit Inc.

“I haven’t seen anything on the market like it of its size that can compare with the quality of the Pilates Power Gym,” DuBarry explains. “It’s a solid, well-engineered serious piece of fitness equipment.”

The Pilates Power Gym has been a fitness sensation. It is regularly featured on HSN and has sold over 200,000 units worldwide.

With its compact design and multiple workout options, “the Pilates Power Gym is perfect for home use,” Denise explains. “You can do so many exercises on it, working every part of your body.  The tension cords allow you to work your muscles to exhaustion at your fitness level and its easy to add tension (like adding weights) as you become stronger.”

Living in the Palm Springs area since 1992, DuBarry sold her Malibu Yoga studio and became a partner in the Bikram Yoga University Village in Palm Desert.

Her love of yoga has been a great complement to Pilates: “Yoga and Pilates are similar in that they both promote flexibility and stretching, and muscle development, however, they approach these results in different ways,” Denise explains. “Many yoga postures are isometric stretches that you hold for 20-30 seconds, where most Pilates moves are repeated over and over. They are both highly effective forms of exercise and I enjoy both.”

As for her entertainment career, Denise continues to produce films including Shoot the Hero (2009) and the upcoming comedy, Grow House, starring Snoop Dogg and Malcolm McDowell.

Splitting her time between Kauai and Southern California, this energetic businesswoman is always planning her next move. In addition to promoting other products like Don Sullivan’s Perfect Dog Training System, DuBarry is currently working with scientists to come up with natural hair coloring and hair straightening systems that won’t cause any damage to your hair. – T.Y.


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