By Kathi Ross Nash
I love Pilates…
But to be honest… I hated it at first. No- really hated it. If you had told me that first day, that first week or even that first year, that Pilates would be my life, I would have NEVER believed you. Here I am, almost 40 years after my introduction into the Method, so in love and inspired each day by the work and all those who share this love.
So, how did this happen? I was a dancer (something I never planned on being either- hey there is a pattern emerging) and was extremely hyper-mobile. I had just signed a contract with Ballet Hispanico of New York. The founder and director of the company, Tina Ramirez, was an avid believer in Pilates. She took one look at me and my hyper-mobile joints and off I went.
First stop was 8th Ave. The doors opened and I entered a world I had never known existed. Large torture like apparatus filled the floor. People were sweating and being pushed and pulled by other people. Everyone seemed as if they were doing their own thing. After checking in for my appointment, a small woman came from a hallway. She was backlit and actually looked scary as she approached.
I was led to the window area where there were flat mats with raised handles at one end and a strap on the other. I was told to lie down, then directed on HOW to lie down. Next came a series of exercises, which I was cued, both with my ears, eyes and her hands, on how to properly execute. Then I was shuffled off to this thing called a Reformer. Apparently I needed a lot of reforming (shocked I know). After I finished here, I went to the Table, as I was told, and executed another list of exercises, similar, yet different to what I had already done. Finally I was led to the hallway where this small woman had come out of, pressed flat against it and finished my workout. I was handed a Ditto (yes- a Ditto- complete with purple ink). I was instructed to do this list of exercises, that had been circled, the prescribed number of times, every day until my next lesson
Ok- now why did I hate it? You would think I would have loved it. We didn’t stop moving for a second! I loved that part! The sweat, I loved that too. I hated that I did everything wrong! I was a dancer and wanted to throw myself into my lower back with every back bend (silly girl- it was a CHEST OPENING!!!). I wanted to through my legs up with every lift of my leg. I wanted to throw my arms wide and push into my knees and elbows. And this teacher would not let me- not for one moment. This Teacher was Romana Kryzanowska. This Teacher saved my body and my career.
I kept going back because Tina Ramirez made me go. She sent me to Kathy Grant when Romana wasn’t around. I won’t even start on those lessons!!!! I kept going and I kept hating it… Until one day I realized something.
I was preforming at the Joyce Theater in New York City. I would take my yellow Walkman into the warm up room before ballet barre and execute my Mat work, sheets in hand. One day I was running late and didn’t do my Mat work. I was not on my leg… I was not hitting my turns. I knew then and there that it was the Pilates that made a difference. The Pilates Method had given me control of my body- and right then the love affair began.
Decades later the love for this work burns brighter than ever. My obsession with being able to keep the work alive inspired me to develop The Red Thread of Pilates®, create a training program for teachers who desire to deepen their understanding of the method and to open The Red Thread of Pilates- The Integrated Systems & Variations of Pilates- The Mat, The Baby Chair & the High Chair ©.
I will tell you from my heart of hearts, your beginning in this work does not define you in this work, but like the method itself- if you approach it with an open mind, and open heart and open eyes, you will see its truth and yours.
About: Kathryn Ross-Nash began her study of the method in 1980’s. She is blessed to have worked with five first generation teachers and strives to carry on their work by teaching and training instructors through out the world. After years of studying side by side with Romana Kryzanowska and being her “demonstrator” for all the super advanced work, Romana began to call Kathryn her “Star of Stars.” Kathryn was the only woman asked to be in Romana’s Pilates Workout DVD’s and is also featured in Romana’s Legacy Edition demonstrating the various Pilates Apparatus.
Kathryn is the developer of The Red Thread of Pilates® and the author of the following books:
- The Red Thread: The Integrated System and Variations of Pilates – The Mat,
- The Red Thread of Pilates The Integrated System and Variations of Pilates – The Arm/Baby Chair (The Red Thread of Pilates Series),
- Fix Your Feet- Using the Pilates Method
- The Red Thread of Pilates The Integrated System and Variations of Pilates – The High Chair