What the Fuck is Pilates Anyway?

In a conversation with a couple of clients over brunch, I realized how little people know about what Pilates is — even those who actually practice it.

As I took the time to ponder this anomaly, I started wonder what is Pilates anyway?

IMG_4057

 

There’s the textbook answer: Joe Pilates was an actual man. A boxer, gymnast, movement enthusiast. He was an inventor, an innovator. A man’s man. A beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German. My clients all have that basic knowledge, and maybe some of the New York lineage. “Yes, Romana, she’s the Pilates guru,” but that’s really it. As I sat explaining the roots of Pilates, its foundation, family tree, and my line, I realized that it still doesn’t really explain what it actually is. SO, if Pilates isn’t the people that created it or teach it, what the fuck is Pilates anyway?

 

It might be easiest to start with what Pilates isn’t. It’s not yoga, or ballet-based. It’s not weight training, or just mat work. Pilates falls somewhere between mind/body modalities and cross fit. It’s not extreme or passive. It stretches, strengthens, energizes, relaxes, and heals all at the same time. There’s equipment involved, and while it’s most beneficial if you use it, you don’t have to if you want to do some Pilates.

 

No wonder Pilates is confuIMG_4501sing to most people — even to it’s instructors. We come from all different backgrounds — from dancers to dog trainers — and hold certifications from different schools in over 20 states and 24 international countries. It was Joe’s dream to have a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, in every country. The thing with expansion is that the more hands you have on something the more it morphs and changes, and some say, mutates. Joe used to give each person their own personal workout and then let them loose in the studio nudging and elbowing them into correct form. So whatever Pilates was for the business man that came to the studio, it may not be the same for the ballerina next to him. The definition of Pilates wasn’t the same for him as it was for her.

 

Here’s where the family tree grows branches and spreads it’s seeds across the world, making Joe’s dream come true. Many hands, many amalgamations. But isn’t that what their experience warranted? The industry gets bogged down with arguments and “discussions” on who’s actually teaching the true work of Joe, but really who the heck knows what Joe would do if he were alive today? He would probably be sitting back, sipping a cold one, and laughing at all the money in the bank.

 

 

Like what you see? Sign up for updates… It’s FREE!

Teacher Focus Feature~ Julia Starobin

If someone knows about a gut busting, head turning, infectious laugh it’s me. I have been accused of being too loud or too boisterous but have ignored it all and kept on cackling. My laugh soulmate is Pilates instructor Julia Starobin. Her joy, smile, and yes, laugh is catchy and instantly joy inducing. Having Julia in the studio is a pleasure because besides joining you in a laugh she’s one hell of a teacher. Here’s Julia’s story:

photo

Like so many of us Pilates people, Julia was a dancer. Fascinated by movement, she dove headfirst into any exercise class or training method. The dance world was buzzing about Pilates and what a great workout it was so when she stumbled across a studio in her home state of New Jersey, she gave it a whirl. After that, there was no turning back.

For Julia, the most exciting thing about the Pilates method is that it is accessible to everyone. Whomever you are- whether you haven’t worked out a day in your life or you are a professional athlete- Pilates will challenge you. Keeping Julia’s interest is not an easy feat, but Pilates seems to do the trick. She’s crazy about how it consistently challenges her clients, continuing to teach alignment and introduce them to muscles they never knew existed.

Something that I find most exciting about Julia and her teaching style is her myriad of experience. She is a certified yoga and GYROTONICS teacher in addition to Pilates. While she deeply respects the Pilates method, sessions with her are infused with these other modalities. She finds that melding techniques into her client’s lessons makes the work that much more amazing.

When she’s not teaching you can find Julia practicing what she preaches. She’s an avid yogi and continues to take lessons for her self in the GYROTONIC method. She spends lots of time with her family, just across the Hudson, and close friends. In the summer, you can find her basking in the sun at Masten Lake, one of her favorite places to be!

Here’s 5 things people might not know about Julia:

  • She loves Mexican food and Sushi (just not together:)
  • Her mom is also a Pilates instructor
  • She’s yet to meet anyone who can make her laugh like her sister does
  • She REALLY loves what she does
  • You can bribe her to do just about anything for a good cocktail

Find Julia teaching Pilates at FORM, in NYC and for mat classes and yoga classes check her out at various Equinox Fitness Clubs here in the city.

Like what you see? Sign up for updates… It’s FREE!

Guest Post: I AM a Pilates Nerd. (The one who created the brand)

If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.

In fact, I would have been really scared to try.

 

image2

 

It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:

“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”.     – Seth Godin

Pick yourself.  What?

I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world.  Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community.  But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.

I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.

Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.

It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.

While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor.  It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!

Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.

It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item.  Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).

I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.

“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!

image1Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.

In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments.  The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.

 

Learn how to build the business of your dreams! Sign up for FREE tips and tricks below…