Discussion #1738

Sean Gallagher on Romana

50 min - Discussion


Sean Gallagher gives an in depth discussion about what it was like to work with Romana Kryzanowska. He tells us his first impression of Romana and the Pilates method, the contributions that she made to the Pilates method, how she inspired him and other students. Sean also shares his thoughts on the Trademark Lawsuit and how he believes the industry would be different today if the Trademark had not been overturned.
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Jul 14, 2014
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Chapter 1


I'm Sean Gallagher. I'm the owner of performing arts physical therapy in the New York colatti studio. I've been a physical therapist for almost 30 years. I work on Broadway. I do a lot of performing arts companies. I teach up at Jacob's pillow. I teach at different universities. In 1984 I read an article in GQ magazine about an exercise system that dancers use to stay in shape and prevent injuries. And I was in PT school at the time, double major and I got a degree in dance and PT at the same time. And you know, took me more than four years. It took me six years to get that, you know, the two degrees and the athletic training under my belt.

A girlfriend of mine had transferred to SUNY purchase and she was told me that they had a poly student, SUNY purchase. So I went, when I went to visit her, she introduced me to Steve [inaudible] Dano who was running the studio at SUNY purchase. I believe it was 1985 when, uh, it was in 1984. 1985 when Steven reduced me to Ramada, my first impression was that she was, you know, an elderly woman who was teaching exercise. And I wasn't sure what to expect, you know, it was, I didn't have any impression. Steve had told me a lot of things about her, so I had isn't his impressions, but when I met her it wasn't the same. I mean, I, you know, she was nice. She was very helpful. She was, you know, a very giving in the sense of the exercises and, and, and pushing me in the way I wanted to. But she also would let me, you know, I would want to try something and she'd be, okay, go ahead, let me do what I wanted to do, you know, more springs or changed things. The reality is that, you know, I was learning about Cybex and Nautilus and free weights and all these other things in physical therapy school and in athletic training. And I, you know, took one session, the first session I took [inaudible] off the machine and I said, why isn't this everywhere? You know?

And I went back to my teachers and my instructors and, and asked them about it. And they didn't, that wasn't what they taught. They knew nothing about it. They'd never heard about it. They didn't really care. I mean, the same with, with Felton Christ and Alexander and all the other modalities that were, you know, out and about it, those times that dancers were using, but we're not in mainstream yet, you know, learning physical therapy, learning, athletic training, seeing what was the current and what was available. And also coming from a dance background, I'm able to see and understand what's needed. And that wasn't really being provided in a, in a way that [inaudible] does.

And I still believe it's the best exercise for the normal population. And you know, there's nothing better out there still unless it's, you know, and if it is, it's probably based on politics. Well,

Chapter 2

The Pilates Legacy

Romana is very inspiring in a number of ways. I mean, I think that the main thing that she is, that is in the inspiring part is for the, the work. I mean, because I'm very few people are as committed as she was and as loyal as she was. I mean, Romana was, you know, she taught Polonius and she taught [inaudible] as best she could is just especially, you know, and, and kept it the way it's supposed to be. Most people didn't want to do that. I mean, you know, um, just read Javier his book and he's talking about how polite, he's always to complain about Corolla can say, oh, you're doing the Corolla thing again because she trained with [inaudible] and she went out and did her own thing and she changed it and added her own variations in her own ideas and ways of working, which, you know, everybody can do. But Romana didn't do that. Romana kept it what it was, I think more than anybody else. I mean, I think there's a few dance things she threw in there a few places, but most of it is, you know, again, you know, I always say [inaudible] was 95% right. And Romana was 95%. [inaudible] so you're still pretty close to the real thing.

When you would work out with Ramada, she would inspire you. Uh, you know, she would push you the right way. She would let you do what you want to do. I think I said it before, she let you Kinda make it work, you know, and you let you experiment and wasn't, you know, she was strict but she wasn't strict, you know, because she would allow you to sort of experiment and then she'd, she'd push you a nudge you and eventually you'd get be you, you know, when you got done, you were doing what she wanted you to do, but you found she helped you find that way. They are and understand that way. And, and so she was, she didn't give class. She taught class and very few people teach class. And she was always giving, you know, she would, if you committed to her, she would commit to 100% the biggest contribution she's made to body's Methodist. And she kept it in the plot, his method. And she did not waiver from that. And she followed the trademark.

She tried to do that. What she thought was, you know what? She was taught by Joe and Claire and continue their legacy and their work the way it was taught to her by them. And to me that's because again, a lot of people you know have their own egos and they want to go do other things or you know, she didn't let her ego get in the way so much. I don't think. I mean on that level she had egos with other things, but on that level, no. One of the things that reminded me of when she taught is she taught the plot.

He's meth. And the plot, he's method is, if it hurts you don't do it. You leave it out, but you leave it out on that apparatus and then she'll take care of her to this apparatus and let's try it a different configuration. Let's try it in a different way. Let's experiment and see if you can do it this way and let's see if you can do it that way. And then eventually she comes back to the traditional, and that's how [inaudible] should be taught, is that there is the basic workout that everybody should do for the normal, healthy adult. And as Claire used to say, everybody comes in with a handicap. So you have to, you have to understand the handicap.

You have to use the system to, to use and change that handicap. And then when they're done and they're in good shape, they are basically doing the normal healthy adult workout. And when they do that, that's the, that's the party's method. That's how it's done. But, and that's not 500 exercises, that's 30 or 40, but you have 500 exercises to help people get to that place and all the different configurations. And also, you know, people get bored. So, you know, you got to spice it up and you can change things around. So you can do it in different ways and in different configurations in a way that allows them to learn and grow as, as an individual.

And understand, you know, the philosophy of the Joe tried to give people, which is, um, it's a philosophy of life. And it's a philosophy of moving and it's an understanding that is inherent in the way that we are designed to move. And that's what most people don't get. That was Pete on and Romana got that. She understands that because that's how she taught because she tell the way Joe taught and you know, and this is my interpretation of what Joe Taught, is that Joe really understood the, the function of how we move. And he, he used the equipment to do what he would do for you and allow you to find the balance between stability and mobility. And that's always the issue.

Cause every function requires a stable component and a mobile component. And the system is inherently designed to allow that to happen and find the balance within that. And this is about balance. And when you change the equipment and you change the springs and you do all that other stuff, what, you know, Joe spent 50 years doing that and now everybody has their ego and they're trying to do it again and they don't understand it. You know, you just gotta do what he did. And it works because he spent the time doing that and when, and that's what Ramana teaches. And that's what she taught. And that's what she, you know, and I, and again, I'm not sure she understands it the way I'm explaining it and you don't, you know, I'm trying to explain it more of on a, you know, uh, kinesiological you know, and an anatomical and a and a scientific level in some ways. And Remodel was not that, you know, she didn't, you know, she didn't know her anatomy that well, you know, but you don't need to know your anatomy to be a good buddies teacher, you know, will you be a better plots teacher? Most likely, yes.

If you know you're not gonna be a bit, can you be an amazing pis teacher? No, no anatomy. Sure. Because it's, it's, anatomy is about breaking it down into its component parts. And pilates is not about single muscles. It's not about muscle groups. It's about, you know, uh, um, it's the, the true multitasking. That's why it says physical and mental conditioning on the door, because you have to be able to think and move and integrate all of those things. At the same time. You know, his original reformer, I have the plans for it.

It had seven springs right now you have four. And he ended up with four. You know, in traditionally an exercise, the only way you get stronger is to increase the resistance. Well he decreased it. So in [inaudible] he's less is more and science doesn't explain that. And you know, there are ways to explain it because it's really, you're working the core more, you know, then the periphery and you know, most exercises designed and work the periphery.

It's designed to work muscle groups and only muscle groups, you know, so when you'd left to weight, you know, the arms work in that set in [inaudible], the cores working all the time and the arms are working and each configuration on the apparatus, each exercise is a developmental, uh, position, you know, and developmental is, you know, when we first learned to move, go through a sequence, it's called a developmental sequence. And almost everybody does it. There's so few of, some people miss a few of the sequences, but most of us go through a sequence and you start on your back, you go on your stomach, on your side, you, you're kneeling, you're sitting, you're piking your, and you're walking. Well, [inaudible] does that. And if, and we're hardwired to learn that and if we don't do that, we start to lose our function and our balance. And so being able to use the system that way and take people through that cause that's how Joe developed it, you know, and seeing where those imbalances are and where those restrictions or those, you know, those hyper mobilities where is one of the key things that Romana was able to do. And that's what, and it's because that's what Joe taught her did. And Clara taught. And I'm not sure that they, they, they, they're not, they didn't use the vocabulary that I'm using because, uh, you know, science is catching up with pilots. You know, he, you know, I, I think one of his articles in earlier articles, he said he was 25 years ahead of his time. And like the last article, he was 50 years ahead of his time. So, and he's right, cause we're about, you know, a little bit past 50 years now and the science is catching up and things are happening. So there's big changes because uh, and there's still more to find out. I keep reading articles all the time and it's like, oh yeah, okay, what do you know, plot these, we're doing that a hundred years ago.

I think it's more like Joe that way. He didn't say a lot and Ramada didn't talk about all the, the, the body, mind, spirit. I mean she would mention it, you know, it was on the wall. She talk about the quotes that you know, that you know everything else. And she would talk this to tell you the stories about Joe and everything and the things he said. But a lot of times that wasn't while you're working out, that was after and all. And at other times, you know, when you're working out, you were there, you were there to work out, she was over you, she was looking at you, she had her hands on you. And she was helping you figure out things and if she thought that she needed to give you a cue, she'd give you a cue. And then you know, if you're having an issue and sometimes you know when you, when you exercise and you start to move in ways you're not used to moving because you're holding due to emotional issues, guess what?

You start to get emotional. And she would address that and deal with that and be comforting and supportive. And you can say that she is old school but Palladia is old school. And you know, sometimes the old school's good cause some of the new stuff, you know, everybody's trying to come up with something different and new to, to make it so that they're the new plays and that that's, that, that, you know, there's only a few geniuses. Every generation. And most of the ones I've seen are not geniuses. You know, pilates was part of her family. You know, she may, you know, called John, you know our children called Joe, uncle Joe. So she was, you know, very big part of, you know, their world I think to a certain degree, or maybe he was a big player, a big part of her world. Maybe she wasn't as big as in there's this, he was into hers.

But you know, that process and that, that relationship made a big difference, you know, because, and, and I think that some of the commitments she has, because it was that process of, of being part of the family and, and, and, and she's remodel was usually very loyal more than most. And so when you look at the history, she was able to, she followed the trademark, you know, whoever owned it, she would do the teaching and the training. And you know, part of that was, cause it also was a job. But you know, when I bought the trademark, she was already working at Drago. She didn't need to, to, to come with me, you know, but she chose to do it because it was the trademark. And she also understood that she, like I said before, she had a fairly good business sense. And so she understood what I was trying to do and she saw what I was trying to do and what I was trying to do was to make this a professional program and a professional training and do it the way it was. It should have been done, you know, that, that the Joe wanted the way Joe wanted it to be. You know, he wanted it to be out there and he didn't want it to be all over the place and, and bastardize and all, you know, so I was loyal to them and I was loyal to her because of that as well.

Chapter 3

Training Program

When I bought the trademark firm, we tie in 91.

Um, part of that what I wanted to do was develop a professional training program and Romana was the best choice for that. I mean, there are other teachers, Kathy Grant, there was some other, you know, Lola, uh, Lolita, uh, you know, I met Corolla, matter of fact, even Cro Corolla donated, um, at one point donated some pictures to purchase and, you know, to me into the studio. And I met with her and, and we talked a lot about plots, you know, and when I first started running the studio at SUNY purchase, uh, you know, I never really talked to her about Corolla that much. I mean, you know, we didn't really discuss her, you know, history that as far as Corolla, I only usually would talk to her about pilates. I mean, I heard her say that she had taught girls and she would say that what girl taught wasn't blondies. She, you know, she, she talked about Cathy and Lolita being the ones that got the certificate certificate, you know, through the New York state and whatever. I'm not sure exactly what it was called, but it was, I think through the New York state. Um, and you know, she knew all the other teachers she knew of, you know, everybody that was out. You know, I mean, it was not a big world. Bodies was a very small community and especially after, you know, they passed away was getting got smaller and smaller, you know, over time.

And there were other people doing other things that, you know, there that were a takeoff home. Platas you know, so she knew what was out there. Um, and you know, when she owned the trademark and she owned a studio, she also sent letters with their lawyers to tell people who were trying to use the name and then to stop, you know, because they weren't teaching what Joe Taught, you know, with other teachers. You know, Romana she was the one, she care in the work and she was the one that carried on and she didn't, the other teachers necessarily, she wanted people that, that she knew that train with her and that were doing what she felt was the [inaudible] method and what she was carrying in the way she wanted to carry it on. And I think that she felt that most of the other teachers had added too much of their own, their own exercises and ways of thinking. And things and such to make it something different. And so she wasn't really interested in, in working with mls.

They were willing to come and none of them were really willing. My understanding would willing to come and and do what she taught. They wanted to continue to teach what they were teaching, which I understand, but so the, I think that was where, you know, some, you know, that was where some of her ego came in and, but it's also because she was, you know, again, this was, it was supposed to be taught to my Jo taught and not how your interpretation of what though Joe taught it and you're adding your information to it as well. First Time I took a session with Romano was at purchase and then I was also, then she would come over to our studio and teach with Steve and Steve and I had a, we started before we hired him to trademark I, we had the synergy exercise systems, which is a business. And we did, you know, plot these based training. So we tried to, you know, I didn't have the trademark, couldn't use the name. So we made up, you know, I was still doing training and Romano would come and help out and help us teach. I still have a lot of those films of her when she first started teaching and she still had to go look at her notes when she first started, you know, because before then, you know, we tie, it had a, a training program, but it was a basic training program. So a lot of the like Moyers, Stott and somebody, other people, they only got basic training, you know, that's the only certificate they got. They didn't get the intermediate, they didn't get the advanced, they didn't get the special populations all that day.

They all just got to basic training and that's their certificate is what they were provided with. And so, and it was mostly, you know, when you looked at we, Ty's training manual was copies of a gal eyes in and Robert Friedman's book that's now, you know, so it was the mat, there was no reform or there was no equipment pictures or anything like that in the, in the training manual that we tie had done. The reason why I stuck with Romanos Cause Romana stuck with velocity is basically, I mean she was the person who, um, if you look at some of the older archives, you know, plot is used her as a model. So she knew the method she had, she had in her body better than most people I've ever met. You know, she, when you look at what she was able to do so she understood it can aesthetically and then she was the person who was left to carry on the work. I mean, you know, Clara, you know, chose Romana to carry on the studio and trained her to do that, trained her to carry on their method basically. And since she used to, and she'd always stayed with the trademark and she wanted to continue and I wanted to, and that made sense to me. I mean, um, and, and she had the most knowledge as far as I was concerned because other people had, you know, study with Joe or trained, but they weren't trained to carry on the work. And that's, that's the big difference. I think that between Vermont and anybody that's out else there is that people were trained as teachers. But even when you, we do a training now, they don't get everything. You know, you start with basic, you do intermediate, you do advanced, and then you do all the other things. And, and that didn't happen with everybody. They got basic training and they did certain things and after a while they got to train because they were in the studio long enough.

That doesn't mean they learned all that Joe had to offer. And Clara and Clara, you know, when you're passing something on, you try to make sure that they get all of it. And that's the difference I think having done other trainings as far as felled in Christ, uh, you know, uh, and doing acupuncture and doing physical therapy, knowing, you know, I started, you know, the first thing I did was develop a code of ethics and the standards of practice and realize that if, you know, between New York and La, I first office I opened was in la. So, because, you know, part of that is the PR and the press. And you know, if you can get the, the, the stars to do the workout, then they tell their friends and think it's, you get publicity and that grows. And so my goal was to start training centers all over the country and, and start to, you know, to spread it that way and get it going that way. Um, so la was the first one and then there was Seattle, they were Chicago, there was Atlanta, there was Philadelphia, you know, so as they grew the training centers, you know, each, each business in each area has different requirements and needs as far as the business goes and how it runs. And it's never the same. I mean, you, you know, franchises, you know, even franchises are different, you know, that you can't never exactly, like, you know, even the church is different, you know what I mean? In churches, the first franchise. So I mean, you know, you have those things, but that's what we tried to do. And so we would all meet the, the, the directors, the, and everybody was a partner with me. You know, I own 51% of every business. And that was how I set up the business where it would be a partnership and they would, you know, they would run it with me and it was all connected.

And so I would invite them in to, uh, you know, meet and we would then discuss how we were doing everything that were doing and how to grow the program and what were, where their, where their problems were, where the, you know, what was somebody doing that worked so that other people could learn from that. And so we were all working together to make it, make it a better program in, uh, and you know, and a better business. Shari started working with a training program probably around 94 I think. I, I'm, I, you can get, when it comes to dates, I don't, you know, exactly. It's been a long time. So it's 20 some years.

So I'm not exactly a hundred percent sure, but I believe is probably around 94 95 before that she was just teaching the Dragos with Romana and then Romana started to try to bring her in, you know, as part of that, cause you know, as we were growing and we had trainings to do, it was, I was pretty much trying to keep it to Romana and then it was Vermont and Shari and then some of the people that Ramana chose that were, had been teaching for a long time, like um, Juanita, you know, and dark day, dark day in Seattle. So the people in other cities that had been studied had been students of Vermonters for a long time. And we're following, you know, the authentic way is the people that we worked with and started to grow. But in the beginning it was mostly remodeled and it got to be too much, you know, to travel all those places. So then we started using sharia as well. Carol Dodge was the, she ran the studio at purchase. She, Carol is the person who helped put the first training manual together. She worked with Romana and I and you know, we, and then we did the photo shoot and everything else, but she wrote out a lot of the exercises based on what you know Romana and you know, had told her to, to say, and she wrote it out for her because motto was not a, a big writer that way.

So it was, Carol would write it out then Romana would look at it. We would look at it. We did edited and you know, try to get it pretty close to what she thought was good. And we did it in a, within a couple months of me buying a trademark that was, you know, that was very important thing for me to just to get a training program and have a manual and, and, and get it out there, you know, and I spent probably 20 or $30,000, you know, developing that manual, you know, because the photos are a lot more difficult. Back in those days, it was, nothing was digital, so it was very expensive. And I also, when I did it, I purchased it as so that I own all the copyrights as well. So it was a little bit more expensive that way. So cow around the studio purchase and then we work together to develop the manuals from the first manual, the first edition of the manual. And that was in 92 93.

Chapter 4

Working with Romana

What Romana does to inspire people is that she gives you everything if you give her everything. And uh, and very few teachers do that, but she also, um, she expects you to be loyal. And when that expectation is there and you're loyal, then that's part of the, that's part of the, the um, agreement, right? And when you have an agreement with somebody and that's part of the agreement that allows you to open up and she can work with you in many different ways. And, you know, she gave you a way of, of moving, but a way of, of understanding yourself as well through the movement, you know. So I think that that's the power on because you know, most exercise doesn't do that and that, and again, that's, you know, her powers [inaudible] power, you know, it really is because that's what Paul, you know, same thing with bodies. Why did we're so many people, you know, committed to Joe. I mean there are plenty of other gyms in New York that, that, you know, there's always been gyms in New York, you know, and there's still plenty of gyms in New York and everybody does their own thing. But you know, he invented his own way and his own equipment.

But it wasn't just the equipment, it was the philosophy and the way he taught and the way he did things and what he gave you and how he gave it to you. If you were committed, he was committed and if you weren't, he didn't have much time for you. I think Romana was a little nicer. Mulatto is probably a little bit more like Clara then she was like Joe, but Stanford's a little bit of Joe and Claire and in her, in her teaching as well. Cause they both trained her. And, and you know, and he trained her when she was younger and she learned the system from him and did it very well. And at the end Claire had trained her to carry on the work. So, and that's the process. To me that makes the difference cause very few teachers provide you that and give you a a hundred percent and then more and then [inaudible] and are concerned about who you are. You know, she was concerned about who you are and, and was interested in seeing you change and get better and, and improve.

She was always interested, you know, one of the hardest things is applies instructor is that most of them get bored because it's the same thing. You know, if you, you know, in the beginning you've got to do a lot of work to get them. But then when you get to them in the normal, healthy adult workout, what are you doing? Same workout. And a good teacher even within that finds the little things and she found, always found the little things and always helps you get better. And the little tweaks and little pushes and the little s speak and the little touch and all those little things that she would give you make a big difference. And that you can't do that unless you have the experience. You know, that it's intuition has experience.

And she had that experience and she had an experience with Joe and Clara that nobody, no other, you know, I've had people say all the teachers that are just as good as the others that said, I don't believe that at all because they didn't have the experience that she had and they didn't have the training that she had. And you know, to go and work in the studio for now a year or two or three and then go out and say, I studied with Joe or some of them even, you know, I worked out of Joe Studio, so now I know Joe's princesses, you know, and method that's, I was like, if you come to me and I give you therapy and you know, my therapy sessions, you know, you know, you know one, you know 20th if, if that, or maybe 1000th of what I know and provide to all my different, you know, patients because of what their needs are. That doesn't mean you can go out and do what my, what I teach and what I do because you came and worked out with me or you've got a session with me. You have to, you know, and even when you spend 10 or 20 years, you know, when you have a Sensei or you know, a real teacher, you know that that doesn't happen overnight. You can't be a ballet teacher in a weekend. You can't be a martial arts teacher in a weekend. You can't do that in six months. It takes years. You know, like a dancer, you can't be a dancer, you can't go to school for two or three years and say I'm a dancer.

It takes five or 10 at the minute, most, you know, minimum. She understood how to use the method and understood who people were and what their needs were, both psychologically and physically. And you know, people come in and when you look at a handicap, you know, there's some interesting people who walk through the door and they are not all necessarily healthy and just, you know, are unhealthy and body. They're also unhealthy in mind. And you know, if you change who you are through movement, you have to change who you are in the, you know, and that's the body mind, spirit. Because if you change the body, you change the mind. And if you change the mind, you change the spirit. And that's what Ramana, you know, and that's what Joe gave to Romana and that's what Romana continued. And that's what Ramana gave us. And you know, to me that's what she was teaching. And, and that I think is what gives her power. Because again, there's very few people who understand that it can, can work the system and understand people and say, okay, yeah, you can do that.

You can do that and then still bring you back around and then make you realize that you don't need that because that's not really how it's supposed to work. And then you're feeling, cause you're used to what you're feeling, right? So we're stuck in our habits and Romana help you find and change your habits. And that's very difficult because, you know, I spend my whole day trying to help people change their habits because if they're easy to change, we'd all have the perfect spouse. We'd all have the perfect body, we'd all have to perfect everything and we don't because we have a lot of issues and we all have our handicaps. And she helped you, you know, massage those and understand those and integrate those in a way that, that the system is designed to do. And working with the mothers two ways.

I worked with her mother as the working out with Romana and then there was working as a business with Romana and working out with Romana was always exceptional. And you know, uh, I learned not to say go ahead and kick my butt cause she would, and I'd be pretty much on the floor dying after the workout and she could make you work harder than, you know, I thought I was strong, I was dancing, I was very strong, but she could always show you how Wiki, where you know, many different ways. And that was really challenging. And I think that's, you know, for me that was a great part of what, you know, she didn't, you know, I would go and be her first client. So, you know, that made her, you respect me because you know, if you got up at 6:00 AM and got there and did her first session, that was, you know, to her that was Maine's, you were committed and I was committed to the work and it was committed to working with her. So I learned from her, you know, I'd go for weekly sessions and we'd work out. And then working with her was also a, you know, it was trying to ties, but you know, Romano was the easy one to work with. You know, uh, there was a others that weren't, but remodel was easy because she had run the studio, she understood the business. She wasn't necessarily the best at business, but she understood the, the, the, what it took to run the business and the problems that you can have. So she was very understanding that way. And you know, we would meet every week or two and I go to our apartment and we'd sit down and we would discuss, you know, both the business and the training and what we needed to do and how to, to grow it and make things happen. And we did that, you know, for almost 10 years. Romana and I got along pretty well. I mean, I understood what, you know, she, where she was coming from and what her needs were. And I think she understood mine on a personal and on a business level. We, we, I think we liked each other and we enjoyed our, the time together. We did a lot of, you know, we spent a lot of time together, you know, and I always enjoy going up to her house, you know, she'd make you a little dinner. We'd have, you know, have a good time.

She drank a little, you know, have a glass of wine. I drink my water and we'd have nice discussions and talks. And so I think we got along fairly well when I met Romana I was, let's see, that was so, you know, that was right when I got married, pretty much, you know, when I started working with her, 91 is when I got married and, you know, um, we, you know, we'd talk about all sorts of things, you know, family life, and then we would travel. We, you know, we would do, uh, with the training program, we would have a yearly retreat with all the, the centers and the teachers and, and discuss how to, to enhance and make that the program better. And part of that, you know, was time with Romana and everybody else, but Romana I would, you know, spend a time together talking about all those things as well. And then when we went to the meetings, then we would discuss what, what we were going to do and how we were going to do with it, and then we'd get the input from the others and then every year would change. You know what I mean? It got harder and harder to do our training program, we added more and more. We didn't take away.

We added more every year as far as requirements and what needed to be done because we'd found that, you know, when you just let somebody walk in, it doesn't work. So you need to have prior training, you need to have understanding, you need to know what you're doing.

Chapter 5

Trademark Lawsuit

When I bought the trademark, it was a valid trademark and then when you have a valid trademark, you have to protect it. Or at least I thought it was valid and I assumed it was because I bought it. I paid a fair amount of money for it. And it had been around since the 80s. 86, I think is when it was. There was some from 80, and there was some from 86, so when it was trademarked, um, and there was the plots [inaudible] the Palati studio, there was a magic circle.

There's a couple of different trademarks I purchased from wheat tie. When you have a trademark, if you don't protect it, you lose it. Basically that's the law. So, um, I started to send letters to people for cease and desist basically. And I became the bad guy because I was telling people they couldn't, you know, do this and you know, you couldn't use the name [inaudible] I said, you can use [inaudible] base, but if you're going to teach Pilati use, it has to be applauded. He said, you know, I, there was one woman I sent a letter to that, you know, I know for a fact that, you know, somebody lost their front teeth in her studio because she didn't have their safety chain on the bar. So there were safety issues there, you know, and we, you know, Ramana always taught safety first, you know, and you, and it was always about safety. If you weren't, you know, usually when you failed our test is cause you weren't safe more than anything. And the, most of the time, most people when they fail is because they weren't doing things they forgot to safety issues. Um, so the, you know, the trademark was really, um, you know, fighting for, to, you know, if you're going call it plots, it should be what Joe Body's taught. That's what Romana was teaching.

And that's what I, you know, committed to doing. So I was committed to keeping it authentic and, and keeping it the way Joe taught it. And you know, the training manual was based to do that. You know, the, the whole code of ethics to standards of practice, you know, all the things that the, uh, the pmas doing. I did 10 years before they did it, well, maybe not 10. Yeah, probably 10 years before they did it. And I had, it was already set up that way. You know, you had to do continuing education, you had to be certified, you had to get reused, you know, you gotta, you know, every year you had to do certification to be able to stay certified and to say that you were using the potties name. Um, and uh, but at the time, you know, people didn't want me being the guy that tell them what to do. You'd be surprised at how many people when you own a trademark will tell you that people are using your trademark. I would see an ad, somebody say there's a plot, you know, plot class.

And if you've seen that it says a lot in class and you would find out. And people would tell me. And you know, when I opened a studio and a training program in La and they were then certified and then they would see somebody saying they're doing plays, they would let me know and we would send them a letter and invite them to join and do the grandfather or s or stop, they had a choice were called plot. He's based, you know, it wasn't like you can't do it. And you had said, you know, I wasn't, you know, but it was still a letter from a, you know, nobody likes getting a letter from a lawyer. No, it's never fun because that's usually, you know, an issue. Right. And that means you have to get a lawyer and then everybody spent a lot of money cause they're the ones who have only ever make any money. The grandfather program was that if you had, uh, been trained by anybody else in place and you wanted to be able to use the trademark and participate, you would have to come and do and be evaluated and see how you were taught.

And if you, if Romana or one of the other teachers or teachers felt that you were teaching what we taught, you could get grandfathered in. And if you could do that, then you would have to take the workshops and train and, and so that you understood. Because again, you know, if I tell you a story and you tell that person a story and buy it, that you know, you go round about five or 10 people, when the story comes back to me, it's a totally different story. And so I never said that what people were doing was bad. I just said it wasn't necessary. Platas and you know, it might've been very good. Matter of fact, I mean, I do a lot of other things that are, that are not bodies that I think are pretty good, you know, for, you know, my patients think the same thing, but that still not bloodies. It's not what Joe did, you know, and, and, you know, he took them into the back room to work on them. Why keep them out here and work on them. And I have my back room as well and you know, I do all sorts of things, the patients like that, but that, you know, it's the same time.

It's not necessarily platas. And so people would, once they were certified and they did all the work, you know, because um, you know, it's a, it's a big commitment, you know, and I would have pts called y bent to PT school. Why do I need to do the training? I said, because what you were taught in PT school is not plots and you weren't taught to be a teacher. You were taught to be a therapist. And there are two different things. Well they're similar but they're not the same. And the exercises and the methodology is not taught PT school cause I went to PT school and I know, so you don't know this information and it's, you know, and it, and you can't get it in a weekend. Even if you're a PT, you need to practice, you need to experience, you need to see how other people teach the way that Ramana taught that, you know, and tries to carry that on, you know, and, and put that out there so that people see. And that, you know, and again, you're never going to be Joe, you're never going to be Clara, but you can be pretty close. Uh, I took, um, the Pisces, oh, what was it, institute in Santa Fe to court and you know, uh, they ended up, I got jurisdiction in New York. So when I did that, they, they folded in and agreed to, to, to not do it. Kenny Handelman, who was the current concepts owner, you know, he and I had talked about it. He, you know, and I tried to work a deal out with him to, you know, where he would do the equipment and I would do the education and we would have the trademark and we could use it that way. And he decided not to do that. And, you know, I was at the time buying equipment and you know, he kept, I kept saying, take Kenny, you know, he's doing certain things with the trademark so he can't do that. And you know, finally one day he laughed about it and I said, okay, that's it. You know, because it gets to the point where if, you know, he's laughing about it, it's not getting done, you know, you need to do something.

So I took him to court. Well that was my understanding. It's probably wasn't his, and you know, I, I think the only reason why he kept going is because he had insurance. And so the insurance paid for his legal fees. So if he had an insurance, he probably would've folded as well. But he had insurance and he got lucky. You know, I mean, when I bought the trademark, it was not, I knew it wasn't a hundred percent super strong trade. You know, trademarks have varying degrees of strength and, you know, I mean, you can lose a trademark fairly easily if it becomes descriptive. Um, you know, um, I just didn't necessarily agree with the judge, but I wasn't gonna appeal. I mean, you know, she said it was like yoga or aerobics and I said, yeah, but there was no mr aerobics and there was no Mr Yoga.

And that's a big difference to me. But you know, I wasn't going to argue with the judge. I lost, you know, I tried to do, I spend $1 million, I spent a lot of money and I tried to do it the right way and try to keep it what Joe wanted it to be. And that's what I was trying to do. And you know, and I was the fourth owner of the studio. I tried to carry on it the way it was, you know, the best way possible. And you know, I lost. And as soon as I lost, you know, there's a a hundred thousand trainings out there and a lot of, it's not what Joel Bodys taught. It wasn't just the trial that trademark was. Even before that I was sending letters and you know, Romana would bring me stuff and say somebody, you know, students brought this in and you know, so we work together all the time on that side. You know, it wasn't just me, it was Ramana as well and you know, somebody wins and somebody loses and whoever loses, you know, they're, they're on the short end of the stick. So I was on the short end of the stick guys, you know, I gave my, you know, probably you know from when I bought the trademark to I lost was almost 10 years, I think it was 2001 and I bought it in 91 so 10 years of my life trying to do the right thing and do everything to do with the right way and really put it out there and make it what it should be. And you know, I was re I was poised to franchise, I had a franchise, I had done all the work to do a franchise. If I a one, we had a franchise and we would have been, you know, all the [inaudible] studios out there would have been plots and they would've been what Joe [inaudible] taught. And the way we taught it, I lost it. Now it's, you know, you know, and, and the system is designed, you know, you either protect the, the, um, the inventor or you, you, you provide it for the consumer and the consumer is your buyer beware. And that's what it is today. It's buyer beware because, you know, there's no consistency in what the PMA says they're trying to do. I, it was already been done, you know, but then, you know, that's what a trademark does. It gives you that ability for quality control. So I had the quality control. We had all that, and now you know, everybody's trying to fix that because you know, you have somebody that does it in a weekend and you have somebody that spend 600 hours and you know, when you go to work at a gym, as long as you've got a certificate, says, I'm certified ballets, they'll hire you. Whether you have a weekend or [inaudible].

And it may not be anything that Joe body's ever taught. I've seen lots of, I mean, I always know if you're, you know how well you're taught because I can see it just, you know what you do teach an exercise because it's supposed to be taught a certain way. If you're not teaching any way, it's not [inaudible]. So it's, you know, it's, it's, that's the issue. And so the trademark is really that process. And so that the trademark was to provide the quality control and make sure that when you walked in the door and somebody said plots, you knew what you were getting and now you don't. So let's buy everywhere.

Chapter 6

Break Up

You know, when we lost, it was devastating to all of us. I mean, not just to me and remodel, but all the people who were part of this, because now all of a sudden, you know, we all work so hard and everybody put the time and energy in to do this. And it basically, it was out the window and you know, and there was no more control. Uh, you know, Romana kept asking me to ensure, to ensure to her that, you know, when she was done that I would make Shari the, the next person.

So a little nepotism. And I told her I would not do that. And so I think that's the main reason between losing the trademark. Uh, you know, uh, I had some money issues. It was right after nine 11. I mean, you know, I almost went out of business because of, you know, everything here and everywhere else. So it was a very tough time of all the problems that we had in our training programs. Shari was the, the biggest issue she was that, you know, shy would have people upset all the time. They would, you know, she would change things. She would say one thing, do this, get them upset. You know, she just, people were always upset with Shari and shy. I didn't really understand business that well and she didn't understand what we were trying to do. I don't think. And, you know, um, you know, I, it's hard to be underneath the wing of somebody like Vermonter because Romana had the business and was trained by [inaudible] and was carried on. And yes, you know, Shari says, you know, she worked with Joe and you know, when all that's in her brother, and I'm sure they did, but working out is not the same as being trained to be the teacher.

But Romana was very loyal to her family and she wanted me to ensure that, you know, I would do everything for sure now, but business wise it was, you know, that didn't work for me. And I said, no, that's not saying she was a bad teacher. She just wasn't remodel. And so between that and then losing the trademark and having money troubles and you know, she, you know, that's when they, you know, all got together and basically, you know, took the program and started to teach it their own, you know, do it their own way because I lost the trademark. They went and did Romanos ponies, you know. But before that happened, I mean, you know, I did a lot. I mean, you know, we wrote books together and I mean, Ramada didn't really write the book. So I, you know, I made sure all that happened. Even the man, you know, the manuals site, the second manual, she, her and Shari Bob worked together. But the main reason that the second manual came is because they, you know, Romana kept saying it was wrong or Shari kept saying it was wrong is because, you know, people would take the manual and take it as the Bible and it's, you know, if it's in the book, that's the only way to do it. And that's not how polite he's method is.

So that's part of the problem with making it a book. But at the same time our society requires, it wasn't, you know, we weren't in Joe's time where you could just come and, you know, spend a couple of years in Prentice and that's how it was done. We do it differently. And so I tried to mold those two together in the training program by doing both, you know, a didactic aspect and an apprenticeship aspects. So you mix the two and the didactic required a manual to me. That's, to me, that made the most sense. Well, when Romano left, you know what I did is I picked the most senior teachers I had and I asked them if they'd want to do and they said yes. You know, I'm also loyal that way as well. I mean it's, you know, if you're here and you've put the time in, I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna go to you first because you know, you've done it, you've done the time and the energy and the effort to do it.

And so that's what I, you know, that to me that's, you know, loyalty's important, you know, and if, you know, there's not a lot of that in the potties room plots has always been a faction fraction group. I could say that because, you know, I was the one, I had the trademark and the ones who didn't, you know, there was that bad on then. I think a lot of them probably realize now that, you know, maybe after they seen what happened and I'm not so sure they would have been so upset. I don't know. I'd have to tap, you can ask them and see. I mean, you know, after the trademark, you know, I was a little depressed, you know, you get a little depressed after you put your life into something for that much time. Um, you know, and I had also, uh, you know, I bought Paulie's old summer property. I have his old studio and all his old original equipment and I at the same time, besides doing a franchise, I had bought a, a woodshop and I was making, you know, authentical equipment based on, you know, the exact, you know, replications of what he made. So, you know, all the wood equipment I have in my studio is, you know, most of like most of it, there's one Cadillac's a little wider, but the thin one was the same as the ax sack. Same as his. I mean, you know, not exactly, I mean the pipe's a little different sizes and you know, some of them hardware is not exactly same, but all the measurements were the same. Um, and it was all the stuff that he'd built, you know, so I have all that original stuff. I have his original beds, The v beds, all, you know, all those different things. Um, so there was, you know, I had, I had a number of, I had a lot of money invested in, in this process and you know, when Romana left and what did her own then, you know, she used to promote my equipment and then when she left she promoted crisis. And so, you know, I didn't make as much, you know, I had trouble selling equipment and Kenny was importing from around the world and he was doing a lot cheaper and you know, it was very expensive to make, you know, custom made equipment that, you know, to the specifications and the way that Joe did and I did in hardwoods and fancy woods and tried to make it special, but the business wasn't there. So, you know, that tank, this one tank. So, you know, that was a tough time for awhile. Um, and you know, I kinda got disillusioned and that's when, you know, when Brett and David and Catherine came to me and wanted to license the trademark a couple of years later, I was more than willing to do that. You know, so they, you know, licensed the training program in the u s to, you know, for the teacher training program. My personal opinion is that everybody thought that it was a big benefit and I

Chapter 7

The Pilates Industry

think it was a big loss. If you look at business, you know, when something becomes popular and it hits me, cause not everything hits and when something hits it, it mushrooms. And when you don't have control of that, it goes way out of whack.

And that's happened. And now if you see what's happening, studios are closing all over the place and they're starting to, you know, the country. I mean, part of it's the economy as well, but you know, and, and there's, when there's no consistency and there's no one place, people don't know what plot is, is. And people are saying, it's this, it's that. It's this, you know, and some people get hurt this, you know, so a lot of problems happen, you know, with the trademark, that wouldn't happen as much. I mean, you know, there might've been a, you know, I mean there's a McDonald's and there's a burger king and they basically sell what the same product is, fries, soda and a Burger, right? One's called Burger King, one's called McDonald's. And they both have their own quality control, the owner of their own market and all that. So maybe that would've happened. But now what you have is you got 50 million different little restaurants that are calling themselves. You know, McDonald's when you have 15 million little McDonald's is buyer beware. When you have McDonald's, you know what you're getting. And that's really the, that's the main difference that I, you know, that when they, when you say, what do I see? And that's the difference. And yes, you know, I'm the guy that would own the trademark and I, and what I've gotten wealthy from it. Yes. But you know, somebody else, you know, Kenny got wealthy too. So, I mean, you know, it's all, you know, and that's the business part of it, you know. So I lost the business part and you know, for me it's, it's, it's Kinda sad that it, you know, it was more about that than about the, you know, the methodology and people didn't see that. But, you know, that was my, and I guess really my end Romanos you know, you know, a way of looking at it that we wanted to keep it what it was.

And I still believe in that. I'm not necessarily saying what they're teaching is bad, it's just not [inaudible] I'm pretty close to, you know, I can look at his writings, I can look at his drawings, I can look in his pictures, I can look at the videos, I can look her mind. I can say, you know, you're not going to get much closer than this. And you know, what happens is, is you see these, you know, people come up with all this other stuff and they say it's great, you know, and I say, it may be great, but it's not what he taught. It's not the system. It's not the methodology and you don't understand it.

And I can see by what you're saying that you don't understand them. But you know, I have all the, the different photo-shoots of all the different, you know, apparatus and the different levels. You know, there's, I think there's three for the chair and there's three for the reformer and you know, different times. And you know, and people say, oh, he would've changed it. Well, guess what, he didn't very little change three different time periods and it's almost exactly the same stuff. So when people say, Oh, you would, if, you know, now he didn't change it. He had, you know, 30 or 40 years change and he didn't because why?

Because it works the way the way it is. You don't need to change it. You know, Ralph Hollander, who was the president of the foundation, the second foundation, he was tr, you know, and I have, uh, audio tape of their founding meeting in ISF of audio tape of Joe Teaching. Uh, and he was, they were trying, you know, at the end they were trying to develop a, you know, put a program together. And that was one of the ways that they were, they saw doing that before he died. That was what they were trying to do. And then when he died, it just went out the window and voted and two and three really high German accent. I mean, you know, I always, I was unwell and fun in two and three, very high pitched the Ma, you know, the pineys is not exercise, it's a methodology and the methodologies, the whole system. And if you only learn one piece, you don't understand the system.

You don't understand plots. You only understand one piece. And without the whole system, you don't have the benefit of the body's method. So when people say it's no good, but you know, Romana always used to always say, you know, or maybe she said, Joe said, I can't remember which one, but even bad is a good place because even when you do it half ass or different or add all this other stuff, if you're sorta similar, you're still going and you're using the equipment, there's still benefit because you're going to get those things and they may still bear be very beneficial. You know what I always say is that, you know, if, if you're really smart and you, somebody gives you a piece of equipment and you don't know how to use it, what are you going to do? You can make things up. You're gonna invent stuff because you're smart and it's limited and you say, well, you know, and somebody walks in and it's like, well that doesn't work for this patient, so let me make something up. And that's what's happened. And again, it may be really great.

It's just not what Joe [inaudible] and you know, if you, if you do what Joe Pawnees taught, you don't need to do all that because it was already done. He did it for you and he was smart and he did it in a way that, in a, in a way of thinking that nobody else did. You know, that's the genius is, you know, his way of thinking about how to move and how to exercise and use that equipment. It was not done before him. And, and, and, and since there's, there's, you know, it's not been done after or if it is, it's based on what he did. And, and most people don't understand that concept of stability, mobility and how that balance happens through that equipment, through the developmental sequence. They don't get that. They don't cause it wasn't taught. But when you, if you analyze what he did, he looked at people and he looked at animals and said, how do they move? Right? He patented everything all over the world. He went and he patented it in Europe. He patented here. So, you know, people say if Joe wasn't protective, he was extremely protective of his work and what he did.

Otherwise he want to spend all the money in the time back to those days to patent everything. And you know, any copyrighted his books. So I mean, you know, oh, he would've done that. That's, you know, it's a bunch of crap that he didn't want. Like, oh, here everybody take it, it's free. Uh, you know, it wasn't like that. And he was very protective of what of his work and he, you know, and then sometimes through his own detriment, you know, because he wouldn't trust anybody to, you know, he didn't want to go out there, you know, and didn't want it bastardized. He wanted it his way and he was very much about his way, but he understood it in a way that nobody else. And that's usually what geniuses, that's the thing is that they understand it in a way that most people can't even conceptualize. And then he develops it and then he tries to teach it. And you know, you can teach the exercise, but the whole concepts, and that's again, the power of Vermont. I think that, I mean, I think she got that. I mean, and maybe not exactly he, the way he did it, but she understood the power of that, of the methodology and the system.

There's, you know, with all those 50 million, you know, plotty studios, you know, the routes happening, you know, and you know, everything only ha, you know, nothing lasts forever. You know, everything has its, you know, the, and the P, we've already hit the peak. We're going down and we're going out on the other end, you know, and it's not going to die out because you've got too many people making a living at it, but it's not going to be what you know. But with the, you know, I think with the trademark, it would've been a lot stronger and, you know, you know, uh, salaries and everything else would have been, you know, a lot, you know, things would have been different, but, you know, they're not.


5 people like this.
Thank you Ms Kristi Cooper for sharing this interview with Mr Gallagher. Many of us would never have gained the knowledge and history shared here without this interview.
Thank you Mr Gallagher for articulating the situation so clearly.
Have to agree with pretty much everything he says. Thanks Kristi for making this happen. And thanks Sean for sharing so openly.
Thank you Sean for so opened interview. And thank you Pilates Anytime for doing this project. It is so important to know Pilates method correctly and the history as well as a Pilates teacher. Through this interview, I hope Pilates industry goes the right direction with true, honest and loyalty.
Thank you Sean and PA for posting this interview. Very interesting. I was part of that first group that were trained in LA when the west coast was opened up, and this has shed some expansive perspective on a time that was full of emotion and intensity . This was really great to watch and get - it makes a lot more sense to me now. and Yes, the method in its pure form was and is fabulous.
Thank you for the interview. I work and teach in the industry and
I love what I do. I love the difference that Pilates makes in my clients lives and I do my best to educate everyone on the history and methodology about creating that 'balance of stability and mobility. In life, I love change and differences of opinion and I remain open to new ideas, but I also do respect the history and the need to be true to the method. I enjoyed the interview and hearing what Sean had to say.
2 people like this.
Thank you to Sean for sharing this interview and thanks to Kristi for paving the way and taking time to interview and include some of the key players in the history of pilates on this website. It is so important for all to know the history if pilates before one can truly understand pilates in it's entirety. The evolution of pilates is inevitable especially as more people are engaging in the practice. But giving credit to the original work and stating that and then evolving the work and stating that, to me, is so important in carrying on the method and giving respect to the work. I really enjoyed the interview and appreciate the history.
7 people like this.
Interesting, and I really like all of the interviews in the Legacy Project. Sean was a good interviewee, direct and informative. I disagree with him that the trademark would have protected Pilates, it was already a community and grew far beyond Pilates the man. Had the trademark been upheld, Pilates would not be as widespread or popular today (both the good and bad Pilates). Nothing is ever perfect, and my preference is the growth of Pilates over the purity of the community. And I realize that's one of the key conflicts in the Pilates community, maintaining the pure method and it's benefits vs. making it more accessible.
3 people like this.
Thank you,very informative. I feel it negates Pilates Anytime, which is all made up! Get some costumes and put on a show! With that said some presentations are very good. John Gossett
3 people like this.
Kristi! Wonderful interview. Thank you Sean for talking about everything. The furture is upon us. And Pilates Anytime you are a great part of this. Thank you.
13 people like this.
Thank you, Pilates Anytime for working so hard to preserve and make available our rich history and for ensuring that all of the voices of that history, despite some their conflicts and disagreements, are heard and valued. And if I may say so, my experience with PA has been that they have provided an invaluable service to the Pilates community by making diverse, excellent teachers and classes available to anyone anywhere and providing an open forum for discussion and exchange of ideas in a supportive environment, or in other words, being the antithesis of “putting on a show.”
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