Elevating the Spirit

My first introduction to the Pilates Mat was as a moody but disciplined teenager at the High School for Performing Arts.   It was a required course in our dance curriculum alongside classical ballet and Martha Graham technique.  I don’t think I loved it, but I’m not sure I hated it either.  Something about it must have felt right though because, fast forward, 10 years later while crammed behind a desk in the offices of PEOPLE Magazine, I went searching for that feeling of stretch, strength and vitality.

A few blocks away from the office, I had the great pleasure of training two times per week at Drago’s gym, the home of the Grande Dame of Pilates, Romana Kryzanowska.  She was trained by Joseph Hubertus Pilates himself and so the Pilates Mat she taught was as close to the source as you could get.  The Mat was something to be done with precision, breath, flow, concentration, control, and centering of the body.  There was a brisk tempo to it and a great elevation of spirit always followed it.  I left my workouts with a Pilates glow every single time.

Today Pilates comes in a variety of forms which makes it especially vital to get back to Mr.Pilates original work as codified in “Return to Life Through Contrology”, his seminal work of writing that he gifted to all of us.  It encapsulates his theories about fitness, mind/body connections and overall well-being through movement.  There are 31 days in March and 31 exercises to go along with them.  My tribute to Mr. Pilates this year was to photograph all of his exercises from above as if he was looking down, hopefully proud, of the work I do each day and have done for the last 20 years of my life.

I am so grateful to Mr. Pilates, Ms. Kryzanowska and to my peers and students who share this great love and dedication to the work.  Special thanks goes out Benjamin Degenhardt for inspiring this month of collective Pilates MAT celebration and to Becca Rubinfeld for straddling the cadillac bars to take these beautiful photographs from their heavenly view.

“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”  J.H. Pilates, RTL, 1945

With my greatest wishes for the continued health of my students, peers, friends and family,