My Pilates Journey by Jennifer Ruggiero

My name is Jennifer Ruggiero and own The Pilates Movement in NYC. My journey with Pilates began as a dance major at SUNY Purchase in 1994. It was built into an Anatomy class we were required to take. My first impression at 18 years old was not a good one. It pointed out all of my muscular imbalances that my body had from years of ballet and my ego didn’t like that very much. In truth, I hated it.

In 1995 I had developed a stress fracture in my second metatarsal of my left foot which meant I could not take my dance courses for about 6 months. The dance department at Purchase during those years had a Pilates studio downstairs. I was allowed to take Pilates private sessions in place of my dance technique classes. I was 19 years old and not dancing while all of my friends were upstairs dancing, was torture, not to mention I was in a lot of pain. 6 months later I was allowed back into my dance classes and to my amazement my body was stronger than it was before. When I think back to those sessions, they were very interesting as I was not able to put any weight on my foot. My teachers did not follow any specific order with me and it was a very different experience from what I was used to.

When I moved to NYC after graduation I begged Sean Gallagher for a job in his studio so that I could afford to take Pilates. At this point I knew I couldn’t have a dance career without Pilates in my life and had started to actually enjoy the sessions.

Sean hired me to be the assistant to the associate director who organized the Teacher Training Program. I was so thankful for that job as it got me out of waiting tables and into an office job and even better in a Pilates studio. Hungry for more information and being around teacher training all of the time, I decided it was something I wanted to do.

In 1999 I entered the Pilates, Inc teacher training. At the time it was the best of both worlds. We had Romana Kryzanowska, Sari Santo and Bob Liekens. Morning apprenticeship hours were done at Dragos with Romana and Sari and afternoons meant apprentice meetings and observing Bob as well as other great teachers such as Ton Voogt, Michael Fritze, Sandra Zeuner and Cynthia Khoury.

After graduating the program I was hired by Brooke Siler at re:AB Pilates where I taught for the next 5 years and was the Program Director. I loved that job. It was an amazing place to be back in the early 2000’s and the staff there was seriously amazing. Having seasoned teachers that I could ask questions to and receive feedback from was the best way to learn as a new teacher in the industry. There also were many in house continuing education opportunities and they were years where my teaching really grew and lifelong friendships were made. We were all so supportive of each other. I am so thankful for that job.

I continued to expand my knowledge by taking as many private sessions as I could and continuing education courses and conferences from many different teachers.

Working for Pilates, Inc and re:AB Pilates gave me the knowledge and confidence in opening my own studio. In 2006 I l opened The Pilates Movement on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I have hired teachers from many different trainings and am open to them all, although I do not hire teachers that are teaching very differently from how I teach. Students love the variety and we all respect each others work.

My journey with The Pilates Method in my own body has been all over the map. My teenage years doing Pilates I was very injured, depressed and in pain. All of my sessions were exercises that did not involve putting pressure on my foot. I danced all through my 20’s and I had multiple injuries that would bring my Pilates practice back to the basics. It was a humbling experience that taught me a lot about my body, injuries and the human spirit. Since I stopped dancing at age 32, my body has gone through so many changes including weight gain, which causes the exercises to shift and to feel differently. In 2015 I had a serious allergic reaction to the drug Cipro and developed serious Vertigo and Migraines and couldn’t practice Pilates for 5 months. When I did return to gently working out I was scared to have a teacher. I slowly rehabbed myself but only doing exercises sitting, kneeling and standing. It took a full year from beginning Pilates again to be able to use the reformer without getting dizzy and to trust a teacher with my practice. That experience has taught me more about what people go through than any other I had experienced to date.

Over the last 13 years in business I have employed over 50 teachers and I am extremely proud of the studio and community I have built. I love teaching Pilates and love mentoring my staff. I love that moment when a student connects to their body in a way they never have, or when someone comes in with so much pain hoping Pilates will help them is finally pain free. Those special private moments I share with someone is what really keeps me fulfilled and thankful for the life that I have. I can only hope that my students feel how invested I am in their well being and in teaching them how to invest in their own well being. I was given those tools by my teachers and I hope that I am passing that onto my students. In 2018 I spoke on a discussion panel at Pilates at The Pillow Conference about the state of Pilates today.
Message me sometime…let’s talk Pilates!

Jennifer Ruggiero is a Pilates teacher who completed her Pilates teacher training in the year 2000 through Pilates, Inc under the watchful eye of Romana Kryzanowska, Sari Santo and Bob Liekens.  She currently resides in Manhattan and owns The Pilates Movement, a Pilates Studio on the Upper East Side since the year 2006. In 2014 she got her 200 hour yoga teacher training certificate through Ishta Yoga and is a member of the Yoga Alliance.


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