Discussion #1743

Julian Littleford

20 min - Discussion


In this touching discussion, Melissa Connolly and Jessie Chatigny remember their mentor, the late Julian Littleford. They tell us how warm and charming he was, and how he treated all of his students, teachers, and clients like family. Melissa and Jessie also share how Julian's motto, "moment by moment, day by day," taught them to stay present and to remember that every moment matters. Julian was a wonderful person and teacher, and he is missed by the many people who were fortunate enough to know him.
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Aug 31, 2014
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I'm Melissa Connie lame. And the first time I met Julian was a brief meeting. I had gone to the POTUS method alliance conference. Um, it was about 2005 or four. I introduced myself to Julian. Um, I had heard of him. I didn't really know that much about him at that time.

I knew that he was a presenter at [inaudible] conferences, but I had never actually taken a course from him. So when I noticed that he was looking for an instructor, I just introduced myself without knowing much about this man. I didn't know, you know, his take on PyLadies or his style, but as soon as I met him I was, I was instantly drawn to his energy, his charm and um, his work ethic too. My name is Jesse Chutney and I met Julianne in 2005 when I was looking around for places to train. I was looking for a teacher program, a teacher trainer program, and my mom, she teaches PyLadies up in half Moon Bay at a Fletcher Studio Studio for employees and their owner, Catherine had recommended both of the owners. Anyhow, Amy Hoffman and Catherine both recommended Julian, no holds barred.

Like the, he's the best person in San Diego. You must train with him. He was my first teacher. And uh, it's funny cause I've since taken, you know, continuing education and been at conferences, but he is that, that for me, that singular mentor, he's so warm and he shared himself from the moment I met him and he said, I hope the studio feels right. And so I observed a little bit. And then, um, I think the next month I started doing that. I did the teacher training actually with Melissa, but you know, she was already an instructor, so she was, you know, fabulous. But that apprenticeship, that deep apprenticeship with him, I think was based on him being someone who shared himself without holding anything back. And I think that that's why people love him and why he was so effective as a teacher and why he was such an excellent husband and, uh, a fabulous family man. And then an incredible friend.

He had that innate ability to teach, but it was layered over who he was as a person, which is just awesome. Working with Julian Littleford started early. If you worked at Julian Studio, you started at five 45, so it would be dark a lot of times cold because the first studio was underground basement level. You drive in and the dark, get there at five 45 listen to the messages, turn the heat if you needed to. And we'd open up the doors. Six o'clock, three clients would come in. So you'd get the first three started, they'd go onto the three reformers. When Jesse and I were still, when we first started working there, the reformers were handmade, I think. Just one by him. And you know, he had hired somebody else to help him design the others, which one of them is in my home now. And um, so they would go on to these big huge wooden reformers and we'd start them right away, you know, s footwork, go through the routine, 20 minutes on the reformer. The routine was set for about three to four months or so and it accommodated all levels. So we had our utmost, most challenging workout, which surprisingly most of the clients got to that level because the exercises were challenging. They strengthened your body, they challenge you and no other way. And um, you know, whoever had injuries or um, you know, older or needed modifications, every exercise had a modification so everybody was doing the same routine but at their level. So we would have three people on the reformers, but it was never taught as a group class.

He wanted it to be private lessons. He wanted everybody to get that catered attention as if it was private lessons. So it was very hands on. We did a lot of hands on stretching and helping and um, became really friendly. And the clients that we had, they weren't just clients. They were part of like our family, our Palladio's family. You know, everybody that worked together, we were all really great friends and Julianne referred to us as his angels always. And forever ever since we started working there. And no matter what, who was working there, we were his angels and he was Charlie. Okay. And it was just a great environment.

We made lasting friendships and um, you know, that'll never go away. Even a lot of the clients I feel, you know, a special place in my heart for, you know, the studio is just an experience that will always be so close to me and it'll never ever go away. Julian's approached to teacher training is unique as far as, I mean, as far as I have experienced, it was very much like ye old apprenticeship training. So there was a formal curriculum that we did and, and so that's kind of the baseline. But then he really felt strongly about making sure that each person came in and did their teaching hours in the studio for long stretches of time. So it wasn't just show up and take a class or show up and observe a class, you know, sit quietly. He had a lot of really active teaching hours.

He put an emphasis on accommodating someone's body and accommodating their, their needs and their desires with the workout. So that was a way in which I think you really grew all of us as instructors, but teaching alongside of him was always an education. You know, though it wasn't like a formal, you would see him just diagnose someone mentally and then change the exercise from what you knew it would have been to something Julian as a person, I would say not as a teacher, but it's all um, intertwined. So Julian was a kind man. He was an understanding man. He was somebody that you could relate to. He accommodated anyone that came into the studio, no matter what.

No matter what time you'd walk into the studio, he'd shake your hand, he'd say, hello, I'm Julianne, nice to meet you. Um, so just always had that like you felt comfortable with him. Like he just accommodated everybody, made you feel welcome in his studio. Um, so that was kind openhearted. Julian and he, that was him always. It was never a pretentious kind of persona that he put on besides that. He was a huge family man. You would hear him. He beat, you know, giving people workouts, challenging them mentally, physically, emotionally. Really with this work. At the same time, making them laugh. He had so much humor, so much wit.

He had this British charm that drew anybody in. I mean, people just, they wanted to be in the studio when he was there. It changed the energy. Like he just would walk into the studio. He would say something funny. He'd have the whole room roaring and laughter. He loved his family. He really cared about his instructors. He would, um, yeah, invite us out for coffee or you'd have a party at his house. He took us out for dinner. Um, I went over to his house just to have a cup of tea. He invited me, you know, when I had to stay somewhere to his house and stay there for I think three nights. He just encompassed us into his life, so to say, you know, Julian, not teaching clots. It was all encompassed and like he said, like this is what made him feel good. He, he loved, it was his livelihood to be in the studio, to be teaching Julian is, and as a person was, like we said, just so warm.

And he never, um, I think that he wanted what was unique about him. He was successful in what he did very good at what he did, but he also wanted that success for everybody else. He was competitive with himself. He always drove himself to the next level. But he wasn't in competition with you, you know, it wasn't like, well, I'm in first place. Sorry about that. You know, he wanted everyone to be able to succeed in whatever arena they were trying to, he would joke about how he felt like he was our dad. But you know, there, there's obviously not enough years in between us for that to be real logistically possible. But he was paternal. The way he approached us was with deep love and deep desire for us to do well.

And I remember when I first, when I first met him and he was, you know, beautifully quaffed and styled and super handsome. I was, it was, it was a pleasant surprise that he had a wife and treated her so well and he wanted to make sure that our husbands treated us well too. When you're running a business, something like [inaudible], you know, it's like hurting cats sometimes where this instructor wants to travel the world and that one wants to, you know, he was never sad when any of us had life changes when Melissa had decided to move back to Massachusetts or you know, having babies or anything like that. That was just pure joy for him. He was excited when we took time off for honeymoons. He was excited when we took off time for children and he would never, um, hold it against you even though it was a pain for him to have to like find a new instructor to schedule in that time. So he was, he was just pro teacher and he was pro family and it was a really good dad and really, really, he's a wonderful man. So the slogan moment by moment, day by day could be considered Julianne slogan hours and printed on red brace.

That's which red is his favorite color, I guess, you know, really makes you stop and think like every moment really does matter. And he lived that. I mean, even before anything happened with his illness, it was, he was in the moment, wherever he was, he was in the studio, he was with his family. All moments where encompass together. Every day was a new beginning. He started his days out, right with his daily [inaudible] and meditation practice. Um, it wasn't anything ever sad or came across with him. And I'm sure it, it didn't because that's what he represented. You know, every day he came into the studio, it was a breath of fresh air and every moment that he was alive, he was a positive person. And you know, it really makes you think, if you're not already thinking that way, to just think about the moment that you're in, be present with your life and see what you have as a true blessing and you know, we have today and that's great. So live it to the fullest, take this moment and make it the best moment that you can. If it's not the best, that's okay. Let it just be the moment. And, um, yeah. So let Julian be, you know, somewhat evidence Spiration as far as that goes, as just being present with yourself, being in your moment and whether it's good, whether it's bad, it is what it is today is today. And that's, that's what we can count on when Julian would say moment by moment, day by day.

I know that it was because he was learning that lesson too, cause he is, he was an incredibly strategic thinker. Always thinking big plans. Uh, you know, where he wants the studio to go in the next 10 years or what, what, um, what conferences he'd like to address, where he'd like to teach, what studios around the world would he like to cultivate those kinds of international exchanges with. And so for him, when he got sick, he, he really did have to dial it back too. And he was all, like Melissa said, he was always, when you were with him, you never felt like he was like, I need to get somewhere. You're not important to me. Or, and so wherever he was, he was there. And so he was always strong with that. But I think to kind of slow down and be grateful for each moment and not to be too caught up in being visionary, which was his total gift set.

And so I think that that was a shift in thinking for him, whereas before it was all strategic, all future, all. And which was it? Which is why the, the studio is where it is today. And I mean, he would never, he would never stop dreaming up new iterations for things too. So I think that ties into moment by moment, day by day as well, where you would come into the studio at 6:45 AM super dark, you know, and you'd bump into something because he'd rearranged, he'd call it rearranging the furniture, which Amie kind of furniture I guess, but you'd run into it and there would be the, oh, there's the one, the chair right there. Okay. Or, um, you know, and he would to create new energy or to create a new, a new way of looking at the reformer, a new funkshway. Like he was never, never, still never satisfied with the status quo. He was always kind of tinkering, you know, so that was really fun to work for him.

I think that Julian changed the way a lot of people approach Palase because it isn't, while he was highly trained classically and very respectful of that, he wasn't, things have been set in stone, these are the 10 commandments of the reformer and thou shalt not violate them. He was innovative and he was accommodating. It wasn't come into the studio and if this works for you, fine and if it doesn't be gone, he wanted to make that person a more healthy, a more vibrant person by tailoring an incredible set of exercises to them individually. He thought everyone was worthy of attention and everyone was worthy of receiving an incredible workout. So I think that that is unique in the industry and I think that it's shaped a lot of up and coming teachers and up and coming studios so that they are more inclusive and more vibrant and x. And you know, for as long as I worked for him, at least 40% of his clients were male, which is unique in a Palati studio.

And it's because he knew how to kick their butts. Like he wasn't taking any prisoners. He was very good at challenging people finding that kernel of interest and really blossoming it into something he had that way of right away getting into that client, like figuring out what's gonna make, what's going to draw their attention. Hm. You know, wasn't necessarily, okay, stop. Let's make sure your tailbone is down, your shoulders are down, your chin is lifted, your stomach is tight. Okay. Not, don't, don't push out on the foot bar yet. It was like, let's go. You know, you just got it started right away and then after you've gotten a little bit of the glow going, you're working, then it was like more finer details. So He um, yes, he was detailed oriented when he had to be and he was very good at, you know, being formed focus. But that wasn't, he wasn't as nitpicky.

Um, you know, he wasn't nitpicky in the beginning anyway. He found the, what the client needed, what they wanted, got their attention. He would say that, where did I get your attention? And he did and they were sweating. And I think that approach was you need to pull out is that he right away was challenging you with exercises from the beginning and that could be at any level. And he was just innovative. Like he would take it. He was very cla, he was classically trained, she knew the classical repertoire so well and he performed it so beautiful. I mean he was a professional Martha Graham Dancer, so he got choreography.

He performed everything so strong and so elegant. But then, um, what I found is unique to Julienne style in particular is, and I've presented this with some of the work that I'm doing with the videos is his, um, high repetition movements. I mean classical Plati is, it's maybe you do four reps, I mean, whatever the exercise is up to 10, we went up to 50. We went up to a hundred going up to 400. I mean, there are no other plotting shoes or, I mean, I can't really say that, but I mean how many other plotty studios will have you doing 50 teasers by the end of your session? I mean five most, right? So he just really challenged you with variations and little tweaks and you know, we're gonna go up to 10 with this exercise and then you're dying after 10, you think you can't do any more. He says, okay, nine, eight, seven.

And he's standing right there and you're swearing at him, the clients, and then you know, after he's finished he's like tells you another joke or something, you know, you're like, okay. So just like that, like intense training obviously always kept everybody safe and if there were any injuries or any discomfort, he took a right down right away. Cause he just knew he was in there with you. So, you know, it was just, um, very unique to any other kind of bloody suit I've ever seen or worked at good Julian Isms. Well, he would always, any time anyone would curse or say, you know, use the Lord's name in vain, he would say yes right here. You know? And what else would he say? Oh, he would, you'd always tell people it's not pain, it's sensation. If he was talking to the men, he would say, you know, whatever it is like squeezy ass mate. Like he often referred to the guys in the studio, his mate, which I thought was was cute and he um, he would, he had a men's boot camp class that um, several people went to and it was totally so, so crazy.

Like you'd be on an unstrapped reformer, so it's floating and he'd want you to grab onto the, the, the, the sides of the reformer and do a pushup down in between, you know, so you're all the way through and then extent 50 of them of course. Oh. And he used to call the line underneath your bottom in between the hamstring and the glutes. He'd say that's your smile lines. You don't want brown lines or no line at all. Heaven Forbid, you know, he was all, he was very concerned with the women of America and their asses, you know, he wanted them to be smile, squeeze and he put his face, you know, he was very hands on and never inappropriate. You never felt like it was like a come on or anything like that. Cause he jabbed his two little fingers right in there and be like, that's the smile line. Feel it there. And you're like, Huh, I do Julian in one word would be, I think vigorous or just full of life.

He definitely had that Joie de vivre and he would, he was contagious in that way where you felt like you wanted to be at that party with him and he was full of just life. And so that's one of the reasons it was so painful to watch him suffer for a long time. This because it was, you can't imagine someone who was more vicious.


2 people like this.
One of my favorites "brutally interesting".
Thank you ladies for sharing. God bless.
2 people like this.
Not a jiggly bit in sight when he was with us. Oh is that too much spring? Well I suppose we can have compassion today though that really over rated. Words still in my ears. Thank you ladies for keeping Julian alive in our hearts and minds.
Thanks for sharing your memories of Julian!
Thank you ladies!
Jennifer W
Beautiful! Full of life and contagious! I feel blessed to have studied with this special man! Thank you for sharing!

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