The Journey to a Pilates Video Pioneer – by Ana Cabán

A shy dancer…
As a young child I used to twirl to the sound of music. (Well, that’s what my mother has told me, anyway.) Due to a shy nature, and a fascination with twirling, my mother put me in dance class at the age of 3 ½. What started as a fun distraction and way to overcome my shyness, (yes, I was shy as a child), turned out to be a love affair with movement, one that would eventually lead me to teach Pilates.

Like many young dancers, I had visions of performing professionally. So, immediately after graduating from college I headed to the Big Apple, and Steps Studios on W 74th St. (Little did I know that a few years later I would be toggling between that very same building and W 57th St to train with Bob Liekens at The Pilates Studio of NY and Romana Kryzanowska, at Drago’s Gym, respectively.)

How it all began…
I was rehearsing for an off-Broadway show when suddenly a simple move had me lying flat on my back. My low back was in spasm! The pain was excruciating and I had no idea how I was going to ever get up off of the floor. With help I was able to get up and onto a subway train, back to my apartment. There I lay in bed for 3 or 4 days, waiting for the pain to subside. Once I could stand up straight, again, I was on a mission to find relief. In an effort to heal, I moved back into my parents’ house in Western Massachusetts and tried sports medicine, massage, shiatsu, acupuncture and finally chiropractic. Thank God for my chiropractor! Not only did he relieve me of my pain, he suggested that I begin taking Pilates lessons, so that I could maintain what he was doing for me. I took one session a week at “Your Own Gym”, a Pilates studio housed in the top floor of a shopping marketplace. I found the gym rather odd, with barn-like wood floors and strange looking “exercise” equipment. Nonetheless, I gave it a go, and it turned out that my Pilates session became the highlight of my week. My homework was matwork. Only back then, there were no books, or videos to follow. (How funny for me to realize, years later, that I had been training at Mary Bowen’s Pilates studio and that I would actually become a Pilates video/DVD pioneer!)

Although my back did get a lot better, my dance career was short-lived. I decided to go back to UMass, where I did my undergrad degree, to complete my teaching credential and become a Spanish teacher. I taught Spanish for a few years, in both NYC and Miami, but was never passionate about it. However one day, while lying on South Beach, I had an epiphany about my true calling. It occurred to me that if I had been trained as a dancer to move my body, as well as licensed to teach, why not teach people how to better their care for their bodies? … Enter Pilates.

I began researching where to learn to teach Pilates and all signs led me to The Pilates Studio of NY, to train directly with Romana, (Sari Mejia-Pace and Bob Liekens). My daily routine was to arrive at Drago’s Gym at 7:00AM and stay until 1:00PM, (Romana’s hours), then head over to The Pilates Studio of NY to observe Bob, (as well as amazing instructors like Michael Fritze and Ton Voogt), in the afternoons. For 10 months I slept on a twin mattress, on the floor of my brother’s bachelor pad, and I juggled a couple of jobs for spending money. It was a busy time, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. (I lived on a cocktail of adrenaline and caffeine.)

Photo with Romana, 1998 (She would remember your injury, but not your name. In my case I was “Miss South Beach”.)

After completing my Pilates certification I headed back down to sunny Miami, to open up my first Pilates studio. There were only 3 other people teaching Pilates, in the entire city, so it was a great time to be launching my new career. Shortly after I opened my studio I was invited by a company called Living Arts, (now Gaiam), to help them segue from offering only yoga video programming into including Pilates. Before I knew it I had I moved to Los Angeles, started producing Pilates videos and helping spread the word about Pilates around the world. It was an exciting time.

I opened my second Pilates studio, in the heart of LA’s Miracle Mile district, and partnered with Peak Pilates® to offer Pilates teacher education programs, as a Master Instructor on their team. For nearly 15 years I taught and traveled for the Peak Pilates education department, helping to certify instructors around the world.

Today my time is spent as Brand Ambassador for Balanced Body, creating online Pilates programs and teaching my weekly mat class at Equinox in Glendale, CA.

I feel so fortunate to have stumbled upon Pilates, so many years ago. I am honored to have had the opportunity to train closely with Romana and carry on the Pilates Method as she shared it with me.

Bio
International presenter on fitness, wellness and inspiration, Ana Cabán is best known for her award-winning bilingual Pilates DVDs, produced by Gaiam, (which to date have sold nearly 5 Million copies). She is certified by the PMA, The Pilates Studio of New York ®, Peak Pilates®, (for whom she was a Master Instructor for 15 years), and ACE® (the American Council on Exercise). Additionally, she is a Certified Speaker Trainer and Coach on the John Maxell Team.
After two decades of inspiring health and wellness, Ana was recently brought on to champion the new Contrology classical equipment line for Balanced Body. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, with her son Vincent and their rescue pup, Casper. She is honored to share her Pilates journey on Going More Joe. Follow Ana at www.anacaban.com, on facebook and instagram.

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