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?

Kathryn Ross-Nash (read her Pilates story at GoingMoreJoe), one of the great teachers and practitioners of the Classical work, wrote a comprehensive book that answers those questions, “The Red Thread: The Integrated System and Variations of Pilates – The Mat”®. In many ways, Kathi’s book is like a comprehensive Mat workshop. But better. The problem with a workshop is that there’s never enough time. You may learn a variation you love for your body or one that you think might be right for a particular client. But in a workshop setting, you’re lucky if you have a few moments to scribble some legible notes. More often than not, by the next day, it’s a blur. But now you have all the time you want and the notes are fantastic!

So, you invest in Kathi’s book. Good for you! And when it arrives you’re so excited! You start to flip through the pages and begin to get a sense of just how much information is in there. Add Next numbers and Threads and pages and pages of variations. Oh boy, it’s a lot to take in. You keep turning the pages and see there’s still more information. That’s great, it’s why you bought it, and you got your money’s worth because it’s such a comprehensive resource, but it can feel overwhelming. How do you go about assimilating that wealth of information?

Well, like any journey, you take one step at a time and it’s better with a roadmap. And even better with a guide who knows the territory. That sounded like a great idea for a Facebook group, which I started, the KRN Red Thread Reader’s Group. And for two years, I’ve helped over 250 people study Kathi’s book.

Posting the exercises for the group, going through my own study, answering questions from group members, and attending Kathi’s workshops, led me to create some helpful tools for getting the most from Kathi’s huge book. I wanted to make these tools available to everyone, so I wrote a Study Guide – “The Red Thread of Pilates: The Mat – Study Guide. Tools to facilitate a deeper understanding and logical progression of study through the Pilates Mat repertoire as presented in ‘The Red Thread of Pilates’”.

The Study Guide is the organized written format of more than two years of my experience helping people study. It is full of charts, clarifications and explanations along with a logical progression through all the material. It is an easy to follow roadmap with me as your guide. You can now journey through The Mat, from beginning to end, at your own pace.

Take your time. The point of the Study Guide is to give you all the tools to move at your own pace. You don’t have to be on the same page as everyone else in a group. And you don’t have to be rushed through at a scheduled workshop pace.

These tools offer you the very pinnacle of Classical Mat training. I can tell you from experience, no manual contains all the information in this book. The Red Thread of Pilates – The Mat, along with the Study Guide, is a way to learn from one of the most knowledgeable teachers in the industry, at your own pace, in your own studio, and for a fraction of the cost of a full apprenticeship.

The Study Guide is available in print or ebook format on and, in English, on other Amazon sites worldwide.

Tracy Maurstad, PMA-CPT, is an integrated health practitioner drawing from a wide range of study, certifications, and experience. She completed the BASI Comprehensive Teacher Training in 2006 and soon after became interested in learning the Classical Pilates Method. She completed a 450-hour private certification with Elena Bartley at the Pilates Center of Las Vegas, and a rigorous 600-hour apprenticeship at the Pilates Firm of Las Vegas under the direction of Mari Winsor and Juliet Clingan. Tracy is a lifelong student of healthy and natural living. Her wide range of study and more than 30 years of experience give her a uniquely informed point of view on living life with “spontaneous zest and pleasure”. Tracy maintains a small private practice. She also organizes teacher trainings and publishes in the hope of helping many others achieve a healthy, happy and well-balanced life. Find her online at

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