The Gratz Story – Interview with David Rosencrans

Joseph Pilates working on Classical Pilates Equipment. Manufactured by Gratz Pilates today

If you don’t know who David Rosencrans is, he’s the man behind Gratz apparatus. Listen here to learn more about him, what brought him to Gratz, and I need to say the customer service is amazing, I let him know that my old school high chair that had the plastic handles didn’t hold up and the handles bent, he sent me whole new poles and handles inside a week. GRATIS ;)))

He honored his commitment to the tradition of standing behind the product and I am a happy customer and friend.

Enjoy the interview and visit the amazing Visit GRATZ™ Pilates Store

Check out the latest photoshoot by GRATZ featuring the NEW Archive Reformer.

Pilates instructors in Philadelphia testing out the Archivel Pilates Reformer by Gratz

The Journey to Pilates Style – Interview with Bambi and Matthew Abernathy

Tell us about your professional background, prior to Pilates Style.

Bambi: Growing up, my parents published newspapers for a few professional football teams. My brother and sister and I would work at the office during the summer, and I always looked forward to it. I joined the family business, McMillen Communications, which had diversified and expanded to subscription fulfillment and more, right out of college. The publishing business is in my blood, and it’s a job that I have always loved—it’s never boring.

Matthew: I have always been involved in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Shortly after college, my father and I opened a wholesale food company, delivering portion steaks and fine meats to hotels, restaurants and other establishments. After a 10-year run, I decided to leave the company and pursue a culinary degree. I spent the next several years working in kitchens around Houston. With the birth of my two children, I decided to go back into my first love, sales and marketing. Continue reading “The Journey to Pilates Style – Interview with Bambi and Matthew Abernathy”

The Journey to Teaching Classical Pilates Mat Work

Hi, I’m Tracy Maurstad. I started my Pilates teaching career in 2006 when I got my BASI comprehensive teacher certification. It was one of the happiest days of my life when I started teaching. But I also continued studying. I was fascinated with Pilates and everything it had to offer. Clearly, it couldn’t all be contained in one certification or one place. This led me to the source. I read Joe’s book Return To Life which inspired me into my Classical certifications. Today I’m a multi-certified example of Going More Joe.

The first place many of us go to learn the Classical Mat work is Joseph Pilates’ book “Return to Life”. There’s some fantastic stuff in there. But it’s a small book, certainly not packed with information. And The Roll Over is the third exercise you do? Really? That doesn’t seem likely for the new client who just walked in, the 45-year old with a history of back pain who’s never worked out. No, you can’t just follow Joe’s order. So how do you start teaching that client the Classical Mat work? How do you gradually build their practice so The Roll Over is achievable? Continue reading “The Journey to Teaching Classical Pilates Mat Work”

The “Red Thread” Pilates Journey by Kathi Ross Nash

kathi ross nash
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.

kathi ross nashAbout: 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 Journey from “Gym Junkie” to the World-Known Pilates Author and Instructor by Brooke Siler

This Pilates journey has been written by the well-known and hugely loved Brooke Siler – a Pilates author, instructor and owner of the re:AB Pilates studio and teacher training program. Brooke has retired from running a studio as well as the teacher training program in 2014 but she still has plenty of inspiration and wisdom to share with the Pilates teachers at any point of their teaching career.

Hello to you Sunni and all your many readers. Thank you so much for the opportunity to reach out and share my Pilates journey with those who may be interested.

I’m often asked how I found Pilates but in truth, Pilates found me. In 1994 I was working in a boutique gym in the west village of New York City while working on getting my foot in the ‘writing for magazines’ door. As a self-proclaimed ‘gym junkie’, I had seen and tried all the many exercise fads that came and went in the world of body-sculpting and aerobics, and was quite happy with the weights and cardio equipment I had grown up knowing so well. (Oh, but I did love my 80’s Jane Fonda too!) ;D
One unassuming day, large pieces of foreign gym equipment began coming through the front door and being set-up in front of me. I had never seen anything like them. The gym owner explained that these were apparatus for this “new”“Pilates method” that he thought might interest the members – I was intrigued.

Fast forward to me trying my first mat class; I was shocked and horrified by how challenging it was for me. Lol. I totally thought I was already super-fit and I could not understand how this, seemingly simple, class could best me. As a tear of frustration rolled down my cheek, during that Open Leg Rocker I could barely manage, I knew I needed to know everything about this Pilates and to understand it from the inside out. Soon after, I was referred uptown to Joseph Pilates’ protégée, Romana Kryzanowska, where I began a decade-long apprenticeship that would change my life in the best possible way.

At the time, 1994, not many people had heard of Pilates. I spent almost as much time pronouncing and explaining it to people as I did practicing the actual work. It certainly wasn’t about obtaining a certificate or even teaching as much as learning back then; and I can’t think of anything else in my life that I took to quite as quickly as Pilates. My first two years of apprenticeship I spent 5-6 hours a day with Romana; and I still couldn’t get enough.

When you find something that ignites a passion in you, changes your body, your mind, your life…you share it with as many people as you can! And that’s what began the teaching side of my Pilates journey. As I’m sure many of you do too, I talked about Pilates…a LOT! Friends got sick of hearing about it and wanted to try it for themselves. I slung a mat over my shoulder and went to their apartments to teach them what I was learning and loving so much. It didn’t take much; after one lesson they loved it too. Everyone I taught wanted more and more Pilates and I wanted to give it to them. But how?

Coincidentally, at the same time as my Pilates path was beginning, a long-term relationship with my live-in boyfriend was ending. I’m not sure the real relevance of what I’m about to tell you but I love this part so I’m going to tell you anyway. A short time after he moved out of our 600sf apartment and the finality of us grew, I strode my long, lithe Pilates body down the street to the hardware store wearing my stretch, pleather pants and stack-heeled boots (that I later taught in :0) and bought myself an electric Sawzall. If you don’t already know I’m sure you can guess by the name what this is, but if not, a quick Google search will give you a better idea. Now picture me, a six-foot tall redhead in pleather pants and heels returning home with a major power tool, plugging that puppy in and sawing off my ex-boyfriend’s side of the sofa! And that’s how I made room for my Pilates equipment.

Eventually my 300sf living room became too small for me and in 1997, with interest from friends who became partners, I was able to transition my business into a new studio we named re:AB Pilates – because sometimes your abs need rehab too. 😉 With one of my partners being a big model at the time, and the other another talented Pilates teacher, between us we helped create and ride the wave of Pilates that hit around the late nineties.

I was still up in the studio with Romana every week and now helping with the new wave of apprentices seeking to learn from Romana and her daughter Sari. I had always felt Romana’s teaching was very intuitive and easy to understand however I watched with interest as these new apprentices struggled to get the essence of the work. I had begun jotting down notes at home that I had hoped to compile into a manual or guide to help the apprentices better understand where Romana was coming from. As fate would have it, I received a phone call from a literary agent soon after, asking if I had ever considered writing a book. And so began my journey to writing The Pilates Body, which was published in 2000 and has been a blessing of epic proportion.

I followed The Pilates Body up with The Pilates Body Kit, an audio CD kit that had flash cards and beginner and intermediate mat workouts on audio CDs that WAY too many people had this to say about: “Why can’t I see the picture when I put the discs in my DVD player?” Oh dear. There are some things even Pilates can’t fix.

After that I wrote Your Ultimate Pilates Body Challenge; both a prequel and sequel to the original. Maybe it was with the new-found wisdom of having had my first baby, but I wanted to get across that Pilates was more than just something to be done in a gym or a studio with spandex and ballet barres on the walls, it was a methodology of movement that extended to every area of your life. Besides creating targeted Pilates mat routines, I included ways to incorporate Pilates into your regular gym workouts as well as working office furniture, garden tools and even your baby into a Pilates-inspired workout. Hey, why not?!

I think the most-asked question of me around 2006 was “when are you going to do a DVD?” (I guess this should’ve been expected seeing as how the CDs weren’t working in all those DVD players.) I had just had my second child and was much more interested in getting through a 5lb bag of peanut M&M’s than a workout at the time. Still, I signed on to do the DVD because it scared the bjeezus out of me to commit myself to the permanence of the video/dvd medium and I’m a big believer in facing fears. They asked if I could do a “weight loss for beginners” title, which, while fitting for my M&M lifestyle, challenged me to figure out how a ‘weighty’ beginner in mat Pilates might be able to safely, and without supervision, accomplish enough moves, with enough dynamic to actually lose weight. The answer to that was – they couldn’t! So I adapted. I created a standing workout to start the DVD and get heartrates up, and then transitioned them into a basic intermediate mat. I had also chosen some really great upbeat Latin music to be played along with the workout to inspire the pace. Unfortunately, when I received my copy, they had replaced my motivational musica with some sort of ambient spa sound that you might use to relax and unwind in a bath. The most common response in the reviews: “This DVD is too hard for a beginner.” #IAgree. Oh, and “The music sucks!” (I’m paraphrasing.)(And projecting.) Well, at least it’s safe.

And that was how the Element: Pilates Weight Loss For Beginners came to be.

Okay, we’re into the home stretch now – Sunni did you have any idea the can of worms you would open up when you asked me to “please find a tiny bit of time to write a blog post about you, and your Pilates journey”?? Yikes!

In 2012 I was asked to write a book for Women’s Health for their “BIG Book” series. Mine was appropriately entitled, The Women’s Health BIG Book of Pilates. Being that I had already written two books, a kit and a DVD about ways to learn and do the 34-plus mat exercises Joe Pilates prescribed, I wasn’t sure which direction to take this one. After looking back at my original book contract and seeing that any future books I might write needed to contain a certain high percentage of alternate content than the first book I knew I needed to get pretty creative. I decided to try and recreate a bit of the Pilates studio through the use of home equipment like balls and bands. I think I may have bought every therapeutic band and door clip on the market to try and create something similar to the support and resistance we experience on the apparatus. I got a great workout at home while developing the routines for this book and threw as much diversity into it as possible. In the end, I think it makes a phenomenal resource for teachers who teach mainly mat classes or teach one-on-one without the Pilates apparatus. It’s also great when traveling to places that don’t have access to Pilates. (Do those places even exist anymore?)

Throughout all the product production over the years, I was still running my studio re:AB. Or was it running me? I knew that I wanted – nay, needed – out many years earlier. But between wanting and getting, a huge a chasm had developed. I felt horrible guilt over the idea of letting down the, now, hundreds of clients and twenty employees that worked for me. To say nothing of the decade-old teacher training program I had established and the apprentices that were still finishing their hours. But my body and soul was saying ‘enough’. So in 2014 I closed re:AB and started the unfamiliar process of turning my care inward. We moved our family to the southern English coast (my husband is British) where we are all thriving by the seaside and I am learning how to balance my love of Pilates and teaching with the love of myself and my family.

And that book is still being written.

What is the Pilates Method?

By Amy Taylor Alpers of The Pilates Center

Most of us in the field of Pilates have tried to answer this question many times but have often fallen short. As one who has committed to a deep exploration of Joseph Pilates’ work for over 30 years, I’m still struggling with this question. Is it simply a philosophical idea? Is it a collection of interesting, unusual exercises? A group of unique pieces of equipment? Or more? To me, it is definitely more. Much, much more! But how do you describe it? Continue reading “What is the Pilates Method?”

How to Use Balanced Body Apparatus in a Classical Pilates Studio

classical pilates apparatus

Don’t Throw Out The Baby With The Bathwater

This is the 1st blog post for the GMJ website!

I’m writing an intro to a letter from one of the most instrumental people in the contemporary Pilates world, the apparatus builder. Ken Endelman.

He is responsible for Balanced Body  apparatus. He graciously answered my email request for how to make adjustments on his apparatus in order to have it work more classically. He is also open to answering your questions on accomplishing those very goals. He’s a super nice guy, I’ve met him several times, and he wasn’t offended by my question at all, as a matter fact he was very forthcoming and willing to help. He also has a classical line, inspired by Rachel Taylor Segel, and Amy Taylor Alpers of the infamous TPC, in Boulder, Co. Centerline. So read on, and contact him or his company with your questions.  Continue reading “How to Use Balanced Body Apparatus in a Classical Pilates Studio”