Leaders In Fitness

Entries in Instructor/Studio Profiles (34)

Pilates Mentors: Q&A with ‘Pilates Goddess’ Lynda Lippin

Lynda LipponBy Anne Samoilov

I’m passionate about supporting my fellow Pilates instructors and passing on the nuggets of advice that I receive from my own Pilates mentors. We can all learn a lot by observing other successful businesses and applying what is relevant to our own. So, today, I am peeking under the hood of Lynda Lippin’s Pilates in Paradise practice. Lynda works on the Caribbean private resort island of Parrot Cay, where she is the Pilates and Fitness Teacher at COMO Shambhala Retreat. With 20 years of Pilates teaching under her belt, Lynda also sees clients in New York City, works as a Usui Reiki Master, has several blogs and is very active in social media.

Anne: I know you are a respected fitness professional in Pilates, reiki and personal training. After being in this service-based industry for several years, I’m wondering if you have established other income streams which are more automated?

I think it is extremely important for Pilates instructors to create multiple income streams for themselves. The internet is a great place to facilitate this. I give away a couple of Pilates ebooks for neck and back pain, and sell inexpensive Pilates audio [content] as well. Plus I have paid advertising on my blogs that brings me a small regular income. In addition, you can sell products to your clients for profit (small props, books, dvds, supplements that you believe in, clothing, etc.). But the internet is key. I created my audios two years ago and they are still selling and receiving great reviews. And I recorded them directly on my Mac using Garage Band - quick, easy and lucrative!

Kathy Grant: 'A Magnetic Life Force'

Pilates-Pro.com is happy to share another tribute to Kathy Grant from one of her closest proteges, Blossom Leilani Crawford.

By Blossom Leilani Crawford

I remember my teacher, mentor and friend as being a unique, magnetic life force. She was always a symphony of ideas and oppositions, expressing herself and her opinions at the expense of no one and nothing. She was tough as nails.

We met in 1993 when I was a freshman dance student at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Before I even met Kathy I heard that she would push the students, but that she would help me “find my center.” What I found was a woman whose incredible career as a dancer and arts administrator made her a Pilates teacher, and a person, like no other.

Kathy treated everyone with the same nurturing, iron hand and with an eagle’s eye on the details. She insisted on excellence, both from herself and from her students. She had a work ethic that never wavered - always arriving early and always wanting to do better the next time. Not better than anyone else, just better than she did before. 

I can remember just a couple of years ago - the subway outside her house was out of service, it was about 85 degrees outside and she was about 85 years old. No matter - she walked the mile to the next train station and got to her NYU class ON TIME! She always said, “I have no patience, but I won’t give up.” 

She is well loved and remembered by countless people from all walks of life. We students remember her now with a shake of our heads and a laugh - and many irreplaceable memories. She helped so many of us in a way that was completely her own. I think I speak for many of us when I say that she did help me find my center and so much more. There isn’t, and never will be, anyone else like her, and I miss her already.


Blossom Leilani Crawford had the great fortune to meet the late Kathy Grant, a Pilates Elder, in 1993 at the Dance Department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where Blossom was a new dance student. In the ensuing years, Blossom had the honor of being a student, a teaching assistant and ultimately a protege to Ms. Grant. At the suggestion of Ms. Grant, Blossom was certified by Romanna Kryzanowska in 1999 and has since been teaching Pilates throughout New York City and around the country. Blossom owns Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn, NY, and teaches mat classes at the Mark Morris Dance Center.


My Friend Kathy: A Reminiscence

Kathy Grant and Lolita San MiguelThe Pilates community was saddened by last week’s news that Kathleen Stanford Grant passed away at age 89. A dancer, choreographer and protege of Joseph Pilates, Kathy taught the Pilates Method for more than 50 years, most recently at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Here is a touching portrait of this influential teacher from her longtime friend and fellow first-generation teacher, Lolita San Miguel

By Lolita San Miguel

There are certain relationships one makes which quickly and deeply evolve to form the unbreakable bond of true friendship that neither time, nor the distancing that personal or professional commitments usually cause, can ever shatter. 

Kathleen Stanford Grant and I had that type of friendship for 52 years. We would see each other after not communicating for months and pick up as if we had just seen each other the day before. 

I first met Kathy when in 1958 I suffered an injury, and upon the advice of Dr. Henry Jordan, a renowned doctor who treated injured dancers, I went to Carola Trier for rehabilitation. Kathy and Romana Kryzanowska were Carola’s assistants at the time. Kathy was a thin, muscular, ex-modern dancer with short-cropped red hair, freckles, polite and disciplined and already had that wonderful “eye” for corrections. My sessions were in the early afternoon, which coincided with Kathy’s shift.

Kathy and I had two additional strong bonds: dance and being very proud of our heritages. The 1960s and ‘70s were passionate years of change, and we both felt a responsibility to give to our people, she to the African-American community through Dance Theater of Harlem and her husband’s Broadway projects as a producer, and I to the Hispanic community in New York through the Puerto Rican Dance Theater and other Hispanic activities. Our training and background and the talent and privileges we had received gave us a strong social conscience. So these two “kindred spirits” became friends instantly and often we socialized and went to dinner with our husbands.

It was Kathy who gave me one of the biggest surprises of my life one day while we were talking in front of Carola’s studio at 200 West 58th Street in Manhattan. After many years as Carola’s client, I had decided to train as a Pilates instructor and possibly open my own studio and was about to finish my 6-month, 520-hour apprenticeship with Carola. I expressed my concerns to Kathy, however, for I didn’t feel ready to open my own studio and told her that I would just integrate Pilates into my ballet teaching.

Kathy casually said, “Why don’t you go to Joe’s?”        

“Joe who?” I asked back.

“Joseph Pilates,” Kathy said.

Pilates Debuts on Reality Series

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By Michelle Fama

A career in Pilates can take you just about anywhere, including the set of a cutting-edge reality series. Instructor Michelle Fama, owner of Core Pilates NYC, was recently offered the opportunity to train the cast of If I Can Dream, a new reality show that streams live online 24/7. Here’s her behind-the-scenes look at working on a show that doesn’t really have a “behind-the-scenes.”

My suck into the Hoover-vac of reality TV began early. First there was my “Survivor,” Season 1 finale party where guests casted their votes next to a lit tiki torch outside my Brooklyn brownstone apartment. I shed tears for Ryan and Trista’s blooming love on “The Bachelorette” and have texted “vote” for my Idol faves more times in a row than I would like to mention. And, who doesn’t cry when they “move that bus” and reveal a new house?

So when I received a call from producers of “If I Can Dream,” a new hybrid TV/Web show from “American Idol” co-creator Simon Fuller, I was ecstatic. The show gives viewers a documentary-like look at what it takes to achieve success in Hollywood. A cast of six young people — two musicians, an actor, two actresses and a model — leave their hometowns and live together in the Hollywood Hills. Their every move is streamed live online by over 60 fixed cameras as they rehearse, write music, socialize, plan their careers…and do Pilates!

How did they find me? They had just outfitted the “Dream” house with a new bamboo Reformer from Root Manufacturing and asked Root to recommend a Pilates instructor that could train the cast and teach them how to properly use and care for the Reformer. Having just furnished my NYC studio with Root equipment, Root recommended me.

The show’s mission is to give these kids opportunities to help them on their journey toward stardom. Producers realized the undeniable benefits Pilates could bring to the cast members’ Hollywood pursuits. It would help them with the voice, acting and modeling auditions that they would be filmed doing. Along with Pilates, the cast gets weekly yoga sessions with a yoga instructor who visits the house.

While I have been scheduled to train the entire cast, I’ve only gotten half of them at any given time since their audition schedules and classes keep them busy. I created their Reformer workouts based on easy-to-retain exercises organized by areas of the body – arms, legs and butt, and core – rather than training them through a classically ordered session. With such a bustling, social household and busy schedules, I needed to deliver quick routines that they could safely do if they worked out solo or in a time pinch. When I train more than one at a time, I take them through a classical mat class as well. 

Improving posture and flexibility is aspiring model Giglianne’s goal, while actor Ben wants core strength to improve his gym workouts. Although the cast had never done Pilates before, they were excited to have the chance to see what the hype is all about. Each came with individual requests such as easing tight hamstrings and lower back while carving the core. They are not required to do the workouts, but the workouts kept them interested. They are all sold on Pilates so far!

My biggest challenge is remembering that the cameras are always on. My first day in the house I made a comment about how sloppy 21-year-olds can be after seeing one of their messy bedrooms, and proceeded to blurt out language worthy of a bleep while setting up the Reformer. A friend who was helping me, clueless of the cameras, turned beat red after her how-does-reality-TV-work questions elicited the “It’s confidential – I can’t answer” response.

While I’m pretty sure that a few slips of the tongue and my tough training tactics won’t get me voted out of the house anytime soon, I’m not so sure the cast will like my lecture on Reformer etiquette next time: I just clicked on the live feed from the Laundry Room where they keep the Reformer and noticed that the handles and straps were sloppily dumped on the floor, and someone had placed their guitar on top of the carriage.

Will someone be working out tomorrow at lunchtime? Will the straps still be in the same place? Will you catch me training them? Log on to the Laundry Room cam, and keep me updated by posting comments here. For real-time action on and off the Reformer tune in to ificandream.com or hulu.com for episodes.

Michelle Fama is the co-founder of Core Pilates NYC and is the NYC chapter head for the United Pilates Collective. Prior to establishing her Pilates brand in 2002 and growing it internationally, Michelle lived and adventured extensively through Africa, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and South America as a journalist and travel writer.

The Growth of Pilates Collectives
How to Run Your Pilates Studio Remotely
New, Eco-Friendly Pilates Equipment from Root Manufacturing
Pilates and the Voice

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Pilates Marriages: Couples Who Say 'I Do' to Running a Studio Together

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By Nicole Rogers

Owning your own business is a tough job. Most Pilates professionals know this because they’ve had some experience going into business for themselves. Freelancers, studio owners, and people who teach from their homes can all share stories about the joys and challenges of being your own boss.

So what happens when your partner in business is also your partner in life? With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to look into these Pilates-studio romances. We found three couples—the Collets, the Winters and the McCullochs—willing to open up and share the ins and outs of being in the ultimate Pilates partnership.

Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 11:00AM by Registered CommenterLauren Charlip in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

Pilates Equipment Circuit Classes

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Pilates circuit work at J.L. Body Conditioningby Lauren Charlip

We’ve noticed several Pilates group equipment circuit classes pop up lately, so we decided to rustle up the instructors who teach them for a closer look at this new trend. Some teach just one circuit hour a week and some base a large chunk of their business on group circuit work. Each has their own unique way of running things. A few themes did emerge among the instructors we spoke to: They all agree that multiple-apparatus work allows for a deeper, more well-rounded experience for the client, and that a circuit class is an affordable way to reap those benefits. They also stressed the importance of previous experience on the Pilates equipment for clients before they join a circuit class; the more machines involved, the more complicated the skill set. For more details on how different studios and instructors are adopting this format, we’ve provided five takes on Pilates equipment circuit training from around the country.

Chicago Pilates instructor Laurel Silverman teaches out of her home and rents space at One Mind Body & Being to teach group classes. She hit upon the circuit idea when only one client showed up for her Reformer class and she realized she could move her onto other apparatus. Because that client had mostly Reformer experience, the difference in the work was readily apparent. Silverman noted her client was making new connections and that it was much easier to gauge her strengths and weaknesses. “I started thinking clients who are only able to afford Reformer classes are being done a disservice without access to other equipment,” Silverman says. She began to spice up her Reformer classes with a new apparatus exercise here and there. “Clients really took to the idea. I first started incorporating one exercise that we would circuit through, then we would talk about it and compare,” Silverman says. “It was amazing to see changes when they got back on the equipment that they’re used to.”

A Pilates for Pink Collaboration

By Lauren Charlip

Not only is Pilates for Pink a way to raise money for a great cause, but it has given two Los Angeles studio owners—with studios mere blocks away from each other—a reason to come together and put a new spin on the program.      

Maria Leone and Shari Berkowitz both own studios with teacher-training programs, a rare occurence in any neighborhood. Leone owns Bodyline, a PhysicalMind Institute certification studio, and Berkowitz owns The Vertical Workshop, and directs Power Pilates’ West Coast teacher-training program. Together they’re putting on programming for Pilates teachers that will raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Pilates for Pink this Sunday, October 18.

Each will be teaching a professionals-only mat class at Bodyline (which will also sponsor its own Pilates for Pink class for clients). Leone, ruminating on how she’d make her third year as a Pilates for Pink host different, came up with the idea of having a guest teacher.

IDEA's Fitness Instructor of the Year

We’d like to congratulate June E. Kahn, a Pilates instructor in Broomfield, CO, who was named IDEA’s Fitness Instructor of the Year this week at the IDEA World Fitness Convention. Here’s more about June from IDEA’s Web site:

June E. Kahn is president of June Kahn’s Bodyworks LLC Professional Fitness Pilates Training, life studio coordinator for Life Time Fitness®, director of education for Beamfit™ LLC, and a Peak Pilates® MVe™ Trainer.

Kahn’s success in inspiring others comes from being able to bridge the gap between classical Pilates and the fitness industry, bringing together components of each in a nonintimidating environment so that all benefit. “Key to doing this is an ability to communicate across all ages and levels that inspires self-confidence and participation,” she says. “By focusing on form—explaining and demonstrating correct execution in an unintimidating fashion—I help the participants benefit.”

Before Pilates was popularized, she introduced “The New Fluid Workout,” one of the first integrations of Pilates and yoga in a standing movement class. “This innovative program set the groundwork for [other] programs I developed over the years, such as ‘Elegant Strength,’ a fusion of traditional strength training, yoga and Pilates that attracts a large number of male attendees.”

Kahn believes that the future of fitness will blend wellness with people’s preferred activities, enhancing their states of mind as well as their bodies. Bringing these elements into harmony will enable people to enrich their lifestyles and their total well-being.

Kahn created the St. Louis Workout for Hope to generate funds for the City of Hope™ hospital, raising more than $125,000 over 8 years, with an annual participation of more than 400 people. She was named to the national advisory board for the “National Workout for Hope” for over 7 years and oversaw the nationwide “Walk of Hope” in more than 50 cities.

Congrats, June!

Posted on Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 03:53PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | Comments1 Comment

Studio Profile: Pilates on the Lake

Pilates on the Lake in Pewaukee, WisconsonBy Nicole Rogers

Serendipity has played a role at every turn for Debbie Orlando and Ronda Arndorfer. Both women live in Wisconsin, but met through contacts at The Pilates Center in Boulder. Orlando is a graduate of the Masters Program there and is currently a certified teacher for the Masters Program. Arndorfer is currently enrolled in the Masters Program. While training in Boulder, people kept saying to Arndorfer, “You live in Wisconsin and you don’t know Debbie Orlando? You have to meet her!” They met shortly thereafter, and that was the beginning of Pilates on The Lake, a studio that is fast becoming a Midwestern magnet for Pilates teachers in training, as well as a serious but friendly place for locals to get fit—all in a peaceful, lakeside setting.

Posted on Monday, July 20, 2009 at 09:00AM by Registered CommenterAmy Leibrock in , | CommentsPost a Comment

Continuing Ed: Gyrotonic

The graceful Gyrotonic exercises are often compared to yoga and tai chi. Image courtesy of Kinespirit. By Nicole Rogers

For Pilates instructors looking to branch out into another movement method—or add variety to their studio offerings—the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® has become a popular choice. If you have yet to try it or are curious about learning more, read on.

Gyrotonic is a method of movement and an exercise system developed starting in the 1980s by Juliu Horvath. As with so many types of movement work, Gyrotonic was invented as a way to heal its founder’s own injuries. As a dancer, Horvath herniated three discs and suffered knee, shoulder and ankle injuries. He tried to rehab himself using Hatha yoga, which he felt injured him further. It was at this point that Horvath invented Gyrotonic intuitively by following what he refers to as “internal movement.” His pain diminished, and he lives a healthy, relatively pain-free life today.