I discovered Pilates in 1998 in California in a gym. My instructor studied with Romana Kryzanowska. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but she said it with reverence. She took me through a session, and it was love at first short spine. This reformer was not ‘classical’ and there was no ‘system’ that day for me. Just a reformer inside a gym
Back in New York, I found myself at Drago’s Gym which was home to Romana’s teacher training program unbeknownst to me. It was just the closest place to my office. I saw a full studio and got on the other apparatus, all classical. I didn’t notice the difference in the equipment because I had only been on one other reformer at this point. The equipment at Dragos was well-loved, kind of beat up, but no one cared. Dragos was magical, a gymnasium for adults. I didn’t grasp then, the importance of the moment in time I was lucky enough to witness.
No longer in the city, I joined my first contemporary studio, Powerhouse Pilates with Allegro reformers on the floor. I knew it was different from what I had been doing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on how. It was fun and moving my body still felt good, so I continued and didn’t really know yet that I preferred classical Pilates. You don’t know what you don’t know.
I did know that I had a desire to create a studio with a vibe like the one I went to in California, so I asked about certification programs and went first with Polestar which is more contemporary and has a bit of a PT slant to it. Shortly after that, I bridged to Power Pilates which is classical and teaches a system. Countless continuing education programs followed including Old School at the Red Thread Ranch with Kathi Ross Nash and Weekends with Jay Grimes at Vintage Pilates. I came full circle with my 3rd full comprehensive training with Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates in order to experience firsthand the program we would one day be hosting.
When I opened my studio Evolution Pilates, I outfitted it with a mix of apparatus from ‘big’ suppliers, not really knowing then, what I know now about equipment. I had a particular aesthetic in mind and thought splitting an order made sense for exposure in the industry. Note to self, publishing, and Pilates do not work the same way. But it was still a cool time back then. Peak Pilates allowed me to use incredible images that were the cornerstone of our early marketing efforts. I don’t think that kind of thing happens today.
I love that I am trained to teach both classical and contemporary programs and have worked on all the apparatus. I traveled to so many wonderful contemporary studios along the way, Pilates Reforming NY owned by my friend Ann Toran which hosted my first certification. Ann is a master trainer for Balanced Body the biggest manufacturer of Pilates apparatus.
NY Pilates in Montauk got a shout-out from me after a recent visit, and now Victoria Batha of the Pilates Snob and Real Pilates has an outpost in Montauk so there is a Classical option as well! SLT and Club Pilates brought so many people to try Pilates who may not otherwise visit a studio. I am not a contemporary basher.
I have inhaled content on both Pilates Anytime and Pilatesology but found myself sticking with Pilatesology because of the focus on the classical. I am a minimalist in all aspects of my life and too much of anything overwhelms me. I am sure there is a thread there that ties me to the classical work, but that will be another post!
We see so many people in the studio and on zoom who have practiced Pilates for years but not at a classical studio or on different apparatus. I would never negate the work they have done. I explain a little of the history and take them through a session and the system and they can form their own opinions and preferences. I feel like I am multi-lingual, even if my preferred language is classical. I see myself as a translator or tour guide if you will!
Pilates has always been my passion and hobby as well as my second career. My studio is now 100% classical. My why is simple. I knew I loved classical Pilates and wanted to teach it on classical equipment even archival if I could. I also knew I wanted to teach this brilliant method to other teachers and to be a host studio for the incomparable Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates Teacher Training Program. In order to do that, I had to update my studio, so it was fully classical. It was a no-brainer, but a big undertaking.
We made the leap 2 years ago and sold all our non-classical equipment to very happy recipients! Out went the Balanced Body studio reformers, Peak chairs, Stott-Merrithew ladder barrel, and in came classical and archival equipment made by Gratz and Pilates Designs. Unpacking day was like every holiday rolled into one! Forget diamonds, give me apparatus.
Every change made to the specs of the equipment Mr. Pilates designed will result in changes in the execution of the exercises he wanted to be performed on them. Now that doesn’t matter if you are creating new exercises or modifying his work, but if you are doing classical Pilates or “Contrology”, then the equipment should be classical for the most authentic experience. In my humble opinion.
All are welcome to try out the studio, the apparatus, and the mindset at Evolution Pilates, and Feel the Difference.