Entries in Pilates History (24)
Pilates finess videos can jumpstart those days you don’t feel like putting yourself through a workout, but it’s rare to glean useful teaching tips from a standard exercise dvd. For true teaching inspiration, it may be a better idea to look to some of the specialty videos available, instead.
For a brush-up on efficiency:
“Transitions and Order”, from Rebecca Leone and Heidi Byrnes of Pilates Powerhouse NW
If you need to add order and efficiency to your studio or sessions, check out the tips in this DVD. Designed for studio owners and instructors, the first part of this offering details practical suggestions for equipment storage and maintenance. After implementing these ideas, never again will you scramble around during a session looking for the correct prop. The remainder of the DVD is dedicated to teaching the transitions between classical exercises on the mat and Reformer—where to put the handles after each exercise, when to tip the headrest down, and so forth. This video is especially useful for instructors who have a clear understanding of the exercises, but are looking for ways to speed up and smooth out their classes and private sessions. After learning the linking steps on this DVD, instructors can slowly teach the transitions to students, which will ultimately keep the students focused all session long.
The Pilates Method Alliance held its seventh-annual International Educational Conference Nov. 1-4 in Orlando, Fla., drawing approximately 700 Pilates instructors for a weekend of moving, learning and celebrating the “Pilates is for Every Body” theme. An impressive lineup of teachers—Elizabeth Larkam, Jillian Hessel, Brent Anderson, Wendy LeBlanc-Arbuckle, Marie-Jose Blom-Lawrence, Madeline Black, Alan Herdman, Moira Merrithew, Julian Littleford, Michelle Larsson, Mari Winsor and many more—presented on a wide range of topics. PMA members also had the chance to take the PMA Pilates Certification Exam and shop for new equipment, apparel and services on the expo hall floor.
Beyond these business-as-usual happenings, the conference featured some exciting and newsworthy highlights. Read on for more.
By Michele Larsson
Pilates instructor Michele Larsson has practiced the Pilates technique for 37 years, learning much of the work in sessions with first-generation instructor Eve Gentry. Larsson has spent much of her career preserving Gentry’s rehabilitative style of Pilates: She founded Core Dynamics Pilates and operates a teacher training program in Santa Fe and many other satellite locations. Larsson also teaches workshops internationally and at conferences. In this article she recalls her work with Gentry, as well as the first-generation instructor’s interest in working with young students.
Eve Gentry, 1909-1994, is often remembered as a Pilates instructor who taught at Joe Pilates’s New York City studio and New York University School of the Arts before retiring to Santa Fe, New Mexico. But Eve, a trained dancer, also taught dance In New York at the YM/YWHA, The High School of Performing Arts, and at The New Dance Group and performed with Hanya Holm and her own Eve Gentry Dance Company until 1968. Like many of her peers, this first-generation was strongly influenced by both dance and Pilates.
Master teachers share decades of Pilates wisdom
Three first-generation Pilates instructors presented at the 6th annual Pilates Method Alliance conference, drawing crowds to the main ballroom of the Indian Wells Grand Champions Hyatt resort. During their individual sessions, each of the master teachers shared anecdotes of their time spent with Joe—mock German accents and all—as well as suggestions for creating an enriching and lengthy teaching career.
Ron Fletcher, a former Martha Graham company member and the creator of the Fletcher Towelwork system was the first to take the stage. During his two-hour session, the 86-year-old Fletcher spoke fondly of Clara Pilates, Joe’s wife and partner, saying, “He planted the seed, and she nurtured the growth. She brought the spirit to the work.” Fletcher encouraged instructors to find joy in their work, to really feel with the hands when correcting clients and to start working with an older population. “It’s not just exercise,” he said. “Too many people think of it as a workout—that’s not what Clara and Joe were teaching.”
In Mary Bowen’s afternoon session, the comic-turned-Jungian psychologist made her trademark quips, causing the roomful of attendees to regularly burst into laughter. During her talk she highlighted the various instructors she has worked with over the years, including Kathy Grant, Bob Seed and Romana Kryzanowska. Despite her revered status as a master instructor, Bowen has taken weekly private sessions for the last 48 years, and encouraged other instructors to follow suit. “ This is a privilege,” she said. “It springs you into your teaching like nothing else.” For the most added benefit, she recommended taking lessons outside of your studio with an instructor who you think knows more than you.
Lolita San Miguel, the youngest of the first-generation teachers and one of only two instructors to receive a teaching certificate from Joe, encouraged acceptance of the various styles of Pilates. To demonstrate, San Miguel led attendees though an updated mat class that featured variations she had learned from Joe, Kryzanowska and even San Francisco-based instructor Elizabeth Larkam. “Pilates is not one-size fits all,” said San Miguel. “You can adapt it for everyone.” She also shared examples of Joe’s original work that have been improved upon over the years, such as the Roll Over, which originally called for the feet to touch the mat overhead, or the Roll Up, during which Joe used a piece of paper on the chest to encourage a true “chin-to-chest” position.