Entries in Joseph Pilates (8)
The 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.
First-generation Pilates teacher Lolita San Miguel is one of only a handful of practitioners to receive an official teaching certificate from Joseph Pilates himself. Lately, she has been hard at work running her Master Mentor Program, and is soon to return to Dusseldorf, Germany, 10 miles away from Joe Pilates’ birthplace, to teach the European leg of her program. Last year, in May 2009, she was able to celebrate Pilates Day in a festival hall in Mönchengladbach, the town where Joe was born, teaching a free mat class to more than 150 people. Pilates Day was created as a way to raise the profile of the Pilates method. As it draws near this year on May 1, we’re excited to share Lolita’s plans for celebrating again in Joseph Pilates’ hometown and helping Mönchengladbach commemorate him.
By Lolita San Miguel
Mönchengladbach was a memorable experience and it was an honor to spend Pilates Day there, but unfortunately Joe Pilates is not really known in his hometown. It truly hurt me to find this out. Joe’s dream was to reform the world with his Pilates Method, and I will never forget his “bad days,” before he died, when he felt he had not succeeded. I resolved to do something for Joe in Mönchengladbach.
By Nicole Rogers
Sometimes the best gifts are things you’d like to receive yourself. While you’ve been out shopping for family, friends and clients, have you stopped to think of what you might like to find gift-wrapped for your own Pilates practice this year? With that in mind, we asked some Pilates professionals what items are on their Pilates wish list for 2010, and they answered with great ideas and suggestions for every budget.
Practical and Portable
With a busy schedule and a practical budget, Kayla Laurene, who is currently pursuing her certificate at Power Pilates in Manhattan, has a list full of pragmatic ideas in a variety of price ranges. First on it, she writes, is this Sweetheart mat bag in papyrus green, “a great mat bag that is big enough for a nice thick Pilates mat and is really pretty too!” The regular price is $125, but it’s on sale for $85.
By Alycea Ungaro
Yes, it’s true; the Pilates technology you’ve been waiting for is about to be released. Pilates has come to the Wii, merging fitness and fun in the newest incarnation of mass-market health and wellness. Your teacher is none other than the delightful and engaging Daisy Fuentes.
Wait, what? Daisy Fuentes? Uh, ok. Why?
I knew Daisy Fuentes did Pilates but when did she become a teacher? Common sense dictates that she must have expanded her credentials and become a trained Pilates instructor. I mean the corporate bigwigs at Sega wouldn’t have dared to allow her to instruct what will be roughly, oh, I don’t know…millions of people for fear of injury. Hmmm…maybe not.
I’m thinking Daisy did not enroll in a certification course and log in hundreds of practice hours so that she could teach you the perfect form and proper execution of the Pilates method. I’m guessing she didn’t hit the books hard to learn human anatomy or the basics of exercise physiology either. [You can see snipets from the Wii Pilates program here.]
To be clear, I’m not really picking on Daisy here. I’m sure she’ll make do just fine. Maybe as good as Jane Fonda even, or the myriad other celebrities that suddenly become fitness experts overnight. Personally, I just like to believe that my teachers are really teachers and that the experts I let into my life are really experts. So far as I can tell, Daisy’s claim to fame here is…her fame.
Think for a moment about the people you learned the most from in your life. Your first grade teacher: not famous, I’m sure. A coach or dance teacher: similarly off the radar by media standards. A professor somewhere along the way? These people were educators. Trained not only in their discipline but also in the discipline of teaching. Teaching is a craft. A skill set not easily learned and one that is very difficult to master.
Legend has it that Joe Pilates was not a very good teacher. He was a remarkable inventor, an unparalleled innovator but none to impressive with his communication skills. By contrast, his wife Clara is touted as the real teacher at the original Pilates studio. Her gentle touch and soothing voice are recalled even today by her devoted students.
I’m happy that Pilates has come this far and that people worldwide will have the benefit of Pilates in their homes. It’s thrilling to see the growth of this method still soaring after all these years. And I guess that celebrities not only endorsing but now branding Pilates as their own is a hallmark of the method’s success. So what’s next?
Will Miley Cyrus launch a Teen-ilates DVD? Let’s hope not.
Happy Friday, everyone. We’ve found a few Pilates Internet goodies lately we wanted to share.
Joseph Pilates for Everyone!
Thanks to Paul of Vertex Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, a few more Joseph Pilates video clips have made their way on to YouTube. They are extremely fun to watch, especially this one of Joe teaching a beginning student Reformer exercises, which also shows his progress 6 months later. (I just wish they had audio!) You can view more Pilates videos on our new Pilates-Pro.com YouTube channel. (If you’d like us to feature your video on our channel, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Balanced Body recently launched new free podcasts, available in a variety of formats, featuring some top Pilates experts such as Brent Anderson, PhD, Dawn-Marie Ickes and Christine Romani-Ruby. They plan to release new podcasts each week in four categories: Instructor, Rehabilitation, Enthusiast and Elizabeth’s Corner (from Elizabeth Larkam).
This online freebie is a hidden gem. On Madeline Black’s blog, you’ll find a three-part intereview with the Sonoma, CA, instructor in which she talks about how she found Pilates as a young dancer and talks about Pilates and feet and her new workshop, Sole to Spine. (Also see her article Pilates for Feet for more!)
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.