Today is a very exciting day for me. Here at Pilates Anytime, we’ve spent the last year and half working on a way to make it easier to learn everything there is to know about Pilates, including its history. Some may be thinking "Pilates history? What Pilates history? Didn’t Pilates just start a few years ago?" Nope! The history of Pilates dates back almost 100 years and is full of important people, major turning points, sacrifice, discipline, joy, and connection. The history of Pilates has always been handed down via oral tradition. It will continue to be an oral tradition, but we thought in order to truly preserve our rich heritage we ought to document and share as much of it as we could. So today, it is a great honor and privilege for me to announce the launch of the
Pilates Legacy Project right here on PA. The Pilates Legacy Project aims to be the most extensive online Pilates resource library, accessible to anyone, anywhere, anytime. And, because we really want everyone to look into the history of Pilates we are including it your existing subscription for no additional cost. We are so excited about this!
Understanding our heritage and sharing the legacy of Joseph Pilates happens to be a passion of ours. This project, though a much bigger undertaking than we expected, has definitely been a labor of love. We hope in watching the biographies of Eve Gentry
, Kathy Grant
, Romana Kryzanowska
, Carola Trier
, and Ron Fletcher
you will become passionate about Pilates history too and understand why we won’t stop sharing the historical information there.
The launch begins by looking at the five main lineages in Pilates (see above). You will find biographies of the five teachers, an overview of their primary contributions to Pilates, a section demonstrating and explaining how one of those methods influenced Pilates, and an experiential opportunity where you can take class or learn an exercise either directly from the elder (via archival footage) or from one of their students. We intend to add new content every week! This will include special features that explore topics like The Trademark Lawsuit,
in depth. We will feature other first generation teachers and introduce you to the next generation. Explore the library as we lay it out for you or go off on your own, either way let the information and your interest guide you and you’ll be surprised at what you end up learning!
This project has been and will continue to be a collaborative one. The following curators helped me gather archival material and organize some of the over 100 people we interviewed for this project:
Cara Reeser for Kathy Grant,
Kyria Sabin for Ron Fletcher,
Michele Larsson for Eve Gentry,
Deborah Lessen for Carola Trier and
Brett Howard for Romana Kryzanowska. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to each of them for the incredible amount of energy they have put into this project, voluntarily. A special thank you also goes to
Monica Wilson for assisting us with the collection of information about her great aunt Romana so soon after her passing. As the project moves forward, we will continue to accept contributions and conduct interviews adding them to the growing archive.
Whether you are an enthusiast or a teacher of Pilates, I personally believe we should all become intimately aware of Pilates history. For the enthusiast, it is a quicker route to understanding why exercises were created and offers many examples of how a consistent practice not only transforms your body, but also your life. As a teacher, I think it is our responsibility to preserve and share our heritage. We stand on the shoulders of the teachers that came before us and I believe if we understand what they went through to get us here, we can better serve the generations that follow. If that sounds too grandiose, I’ll say it another way. Without an understanding of our history, without an appreciation of the lineage we come from, we devalue the discipline of Pilates. I believe that by ignoring the past, we threaten our future. If you’ve never heard Eve Gentry’s voice speaking about how we “teach concepts” or seen Romana Kryzanowska performing candlestick in her 80’s, how can you share the depth of the work you teach. We owe it to ourselves to know where we fit on the ancestral tree of Pilates. It is a young history. It is our history. We are the future. Welcome to the Pilates Legacy Project!
Click here to view the
trailer about all that is to come in the Pilates Legacy project.
Eve Gentry ~ Photo ©1989 by Joanne Rijmes
Romana Kryzanowska ~ Photo courtesy of Sean Gallaghers Pilates Archives™