Discussion #1745

David Freeman on Romana

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David Freeman was a lawyer when he met Romana Kryzanowska, and he decided to become a Pilates instructor because he was inspired by her spirit. He talks about how he gained confidence from Pilates and how it had the power to be transformational when it was taught correctly. David also tells us how Romana was the torch bearer and it is up to her students to maintain that torch.
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Sep 15, 2014
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Chapter 1

Introduction

Um, David Freeman, um, been involved in Palatka since about 1996 97, um, current live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I have a Pilati studio down there, um, called the [inaudible] Institute of Fort Lauderdale. I'm also with respect to Palabra is a principle in the United States piles association, which is a, um, teacher certification program and educational organization designed to carry on the traditional, uh, method of [inaudible]. I'm an attorney, uh, retired somewhat. And, um, I have a wife, son, stepdaughter, two grandchildren.

Chapter 2

Finding the Spirit in Pilates

I originally got into [inaudible] because I was scheduled for some back surgery and a friend of mine who had heard about Pele's, um, told me to try it before I had the surgery.

So I did some research and, um, found out that up at SUNY there was a Pilati studio and I was in Westchester. That's where I lived. So, and I met Carol Baker, who was a Ramana's first teacher trainer. And, uh, I liked the equipment, like the way the equipment looked and, um, I started and, um, within three months my back, uh, issues were resolved and, um, that was it. And it was a, I got hooked and I continued to training with Carol for a number of years. And, uh, subsequently she introduced me to Ramana and that's when pilots really became a part of my life. I felt a whole lot different about myself. A lot of more self confidence that I gained, felt better about the way I looked, felt, um, had a lot more confidence it seemed. And I knew I needed this the rest of my life. And, uh, the only way to do it was to become a teacher and learn everything that there was to learn from her. And, uh, I learned early on that when you have a source, you go to that source and you exhaust it until there's no more to learn.

And that's, that was my, that was the way I did it. And I only took lessons from Romana. Um, I watched her for probably close to a thousand hours, um, and studied her like I was studying for the bar exam because I felt that it was necessary to be able to live like her, uh, at the end of my life. And, um, extend that and it worked. You know, I'm able to go to jungle Jim's with my grandchildren and do everything that other grandfather's just sitting on the side doing. So, um, it was worth it for me. Plus, you know, I feel pretty good. It wasn't only that, you know, she could do some of the exercises. It was just the, the spirit, you know, I, that's what I've felt the most, that the spirit, you know, that this was not just an exercise program. You know, I had done, I had worked out my whole life. I had done everything. Um, this was something different. This was transformational if taught. Right. Um, your mind, body and spirit really were connected. And, uh, once I saw that that was, um, that was it, you know, that that's what we needed. Um, it changed your body. It changed your mind. And you know, when I first met Romana, I said, I've questioned, I asked her, I said, where is the fountain of youth that you have drunk from? And, um, she laughed and she said, it's right here. And, um, I said, well, I'm going to, you know, I'm going to get it.

I'm going to drink it all up. And we toasted with a glass of champagne as we did a number of times during our relationship. She used to like men, um, especially older men who, um, there weren't too many attorneys in the program at that time. I went through the program with Brett and number of other Kathy Ross Nash and those people may, Joe and I didn't quite look like them, but, um, it was a, that was the beauty of Palladio's. That's when I knew you could really work for everybody if it worked for me. You know, an attorney who, um, wasn't, didn't have a dancer's background, knew nothing about anatomy, um, then it could work for everybody. She inspired her clients.

She didn't just count repetitions or go from one exercise to another. She gave purpose to each exercise and do it this way. And this is what will happen. Um, you will feel this, you will feel that and, um, Spirit that she incorporated into teaching, um, how to teach, where to stand, how to get the most out of a client, how to get them to concentrate. Um, these are all the things that she knew and she had, you know, when I taught at Dragos as an apprentice, I always taught next to her waiting for her to correct me, whereas other apprentices might go as far away as they could. I was waiting for it, you know, and that's, I guess that's more maturity and A's than anything else. But, uh, I knew that, um, this was, you know, and I'd seen other plies instructors teach and this was, this was something totally different from just being an exercise instructor. Ramana took a look at me and she says, why do you want to be into this program?

And I said, Oh, you know, I want to be like you. As simple as that. And a, she's, we'll see. You know, because I was a lawyer full time attorney at the time, so I couldn't come in every day. But I did in, um, to watch her. And it took me longer than most apprentices because I was an attorney at the same time, but I never missed a week. Um, I'd always come down since I worked for myself, I'd come down in the morning, why don't you start at seven, seven 30, stay with her till 12. Um, when she left and then I stayed, didn't work out, and then I went over to 2121 Broadway for the nighttime to watch Bob Lukens teach, um, who eyes. I took many, many lessons with along with Brett and some of the other people. And, um, Bob was a also in my mind, I needed that man feel also, you know, how does he teach it? You know, because I think he could, although Romana had a lot of Joe in her. Bob had a little different aspect, but he was true to plots. I mean, he was very, very similar to remodel and what he taught.

Just a little different in how he taught it. But, um, he was awesome. He was awesome. So those are the only two people I learned from in my PyLadies, um, experience. Um, and, um, you know, working out next to people like bread and Peter Fiasco and Kathy and me, Jo, they were inspirational also because they were so good and it, and he always tried to get to that level. You know, many times I did a lot of things bred, couldn't do, but, uh, no, I'm only kidding and you might call her. I guess she was my mentor, um, for lack of a better word, you know, as in professionally, um, we did have a chance to socially engage on a number of times also, I went up to her apartment and looked at all her paintings and um, as I said, she used to like being around men. Um, she had so many of these women apprentices that when she had a male apprentice who was, you know, I think I was 50 when I first met her about 18 years ago. So, you know, I was, again, I was a different type of person that taken PyLadies and she saw that I took it seriously and I think she liked that. Um, she liked when I wasn't at the studio that people used to ask Ramana, where's David? I want to be taught by David. She liked that. Um, she liked people sweating when they left the studio. She liked, you know, she just liked the way I taught. Um, I guess because I just taught like she thought when I opened my studio, when we were on TV together, she said to the public, you know, PyLadies is a workout and it's not being taught as a workout anymore. It's being watered down, I believe was the word she said. It's um, people weren't sweating. They weren't moving. They weren't, bodies weren't changing because instructors were teaching too much. They were just trying to make money.

She always had a limit as to how many hours you should teach so that you can give the best to each client. Again, it's not just do seven of these, go on to the next exercise. It work. It's work. She never let you get down on your knees to teach. She wanted to energy always flowing up. So it was, um, it was a whole, you had to study her, not just the book. See if you just studied the book and learn the exercises, that's not, that's one third of holidays. So, um, and when I used to work out with her, I mean it was amazing. I mean, it was amazing. It was a full workout. I mean, and you felt energized afterwards. Not Tired, but energized and, um, that's where people need to feel. Um, and um, her workouts were, were just very educational. Again, I didn't just learn, you know, put your hands here or do this or hold your stomach in. Okay. That's, we knew, we knew we had to do that, you know, but why, how do you do that? You know, how do you coordinate this and this? Um, look at what's going to happen 10 years from now.

You're working now for what you're going to be like 10 years from now. Not Today. You'll feel good today. Um, but five or 10 years from now, you'll thank me. And again, when I walked to her apartment with her on Columbus Avenue and she walked up five flights of stairs and she was in her late seventies carrying bundles and you know, and that's if you want to be something that's the way you want to be, we're living longer, right? I mean, medicine's keeping us alive longer. You know, you're going to be into your eighties and nineties, but you want those years to be fruitful. And I saw that back then and I want to be like her, the emphasis she put on certain words when she taught. I mean, without being a catchphrase, you know, we shouldn't end. She would say, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale until you had nothing left in your lungs. And the same with the inhale. Inhale, keep inhaling, keep inhaling. Now exhale, slowly.

Keep exhaling. She wouldn't let you just stop. She wanted those lungs to fully expand and to fully contract. That was the exercise. And, and that was it. At the end of every exercise she made you finish the exercise. Um, she made you bring that carriage in the last inch or two when the springs weren't there anymore. Um, you're working on an apparatus, you work the apparatus. It's not a piece of equipment. Um, you work this springs never let the springs work you, that type of thing. It's just the intonations and the way she finished off every exercise and made you do your maximum.

[inaudible] is based upon very few repetitions. We don't do a hundred sit ups. We don't do, we do three, five, 10 is the most we'll do of anything. And the first one that you do needs to be the hardest you can do. Then you go from there. That's what changes your body. That's what she taught us. Finish the exercise. When somebody, you know, raises their leg, make them raise it a little higher, then go from there.

So it was the intonation and um, it works. I mean, it's just, it's, um, her catch phrases were, you know, and there were a few that I'm forgetting, but for me it was how she was the intonation and that's how I used to take notes. I used to put little marks where she said, lift the spine or you know, lead with the heels or you know, something like that. And that's how I taught Bob. Lukens was very good like that as well. Um, and he got that from Ramada. So, and clients like that, you know, they liked that bit of any, you have to supply the energy, you know, many instructors don't know how to do that. They have to just go through. I'll see instructors, if you cross your arms while you were teaching, she came over to you and let you have it. And she was 100% right. If you didn't move around the carriage while you were teaching, what are you looking at? One position only. You can't see everything.

So it was that type of thing that you learned from her. You know, again, it's the energy, the spirit. How do you impart that into your client? And that's what I remember most about her. Um, you know, I wish she was here right now. I mean, I always went to all of her seminars even afterwards because it just was like an injection. I walked away and I was just invigorated again and now, you know, regrettably, actually Lalita gives me some of that as well. We'll eat the San Manuel has that energy and Jay does as well. Jay Grimes. Um, those are the two I think now can carry on the spirit as an elder probably better than anyone that I know. Anyway, I haven't really worked with Kathy Gran. I haven't, I worked with a Boeing, I worked with Mary Bowen a couple of times.

Um, but Lolita has that spirit and um, she saw that in me too when I was taking lessons from her. I had her at my studio just to, you know, on archival seminar just to give the spirit to my apprentices, just to show them, you know, those eyes open up when she talks about him and that's, you know, that's it. That's what's missing. The energy that, um,

Chapter 3

Maintaining the Torch

you did from Drago studio when she was there was while she was there and when she wasn't there, it totally changed. Um, people were just watching and moving and the whole studio was like walking into a discotheque at like three in the morning. It might might've done that once or twice and everybody moving. That's the way it was. When you walk into Druggos, there were, um, acrobats rolling on the floor.

There were people on the parallel bars. Um, there were eight or nine reformers moving, um, just moving. People were moving and because when Ramana was in the room, all the instructors were moving, there might've been 10, 12 apprentices doing a math class. Um, I always to get my studio to compare to that. Um, so it was very important that I made sure all my instructors made their lessons with the other instructors so that we're all teaching at the same time rather than have them try and make their own times when they come to the studio by themselves. Because I knew the client wasn't getting the experience that they needed. That's part of plays now. Sometimes it's not possible, but if you can do it, if you can make it happen, it's a thing we like to do to make it happen. Um, because it energized you, um, it just, and there was no music and there were really no mirrors, um, where you can watch yourself because pilates is really basically learning how to feel. And you know, you're walking down the street, you're not looking into a mirror to see whether you're holding your stomach in your shoulders or back. You have to feel it.

And so Broncos was that type of place. It was, everything was here at a different level when I came to them, when she came to my studio in 19 [inaudible] night in 2002 to open my studio with the, the news people there, I had about 50 of my clients there and every single one of them, I mean, she had them at the end doing her jumping exercises and her standing exercises. They walked away, astonished, astonished, not only by what she knew, but that she was 79 and that she was so energetic and she did the, she, she just jumped up and she did the candle stick, which is a reverse on the Cadillac. Uh, you just get on this hold onto the bars and you stand up that way. She did the split. She came off, she did the swan. I mean, you know, 79 years old, not bad. And the people I'm telling you to energize my studio. I mean people came, they increased their lessons. I mean that's what she does. That's what she does, you know, and she needed, um, regrettably, and I say this regrettably, that after the split came up, it didn't quite, it wasn't quite that way after that.

I think when the trademark trial came down, I was with her monitored during that trial and saw the agony she was going through trying to prepare for that trial, um, trying to learn the lines that were being taught to her. Um, and I knew very well that there was no way that she was going to be able to withstand such a trial. Um, being cross examined on, on something she knew so well and them telling her it was not special. It was generic. So I think after the trademark, they lost the trademark suits. She lost a little bit of focus. Um, because she knew PyLadies then was going to go every way that she didn't want it to go. And I think it was right after that, you know, that the split the occurred and I think that contributed, uh, to it as well. Um, but um, yeah, so the trademark was not good. Um, it was a bad decision in the first place. You know, being a lawyer, I read, I read the decisions and things like that and it was just a, it was a lose lose. It was a not a good, and again, it was a commercially based decision to incur that lawsuit. And um, I think it adversely affected Ramana and Paula obviously app I see PyLadies as well.

Um, but um, not that I think that Pilati should only be one person and being the source of plays, I mean, again, there are brilliant people who can study the technique and get the best out of it and create new techniques incorporating what is in this technique. But you know, this is, this is its own body of work, you know, to add onto a body of work is fine. I mean, we're smarter now than we were in the a hundred years ago. So I find nothing wrong with things being added to it. I always just found wrong, was calling, is going yoga, Lada you know, calling all these other things. Polonius you know, you could say it's based on Pele's principles, core work. Um, but where's the spirit? You know, where's the transformational character? Where is that embodied in, in these new methodologies that are calling themselves?

[inaudible] I don't see it, but they're good. Again, the exercises are good for you. I mean, I've done them. I've been trained by people and other, you know, and they're good exercises, you know, again, call it something else. She decided, um, along with her daughter and her granddaughter to start their own [inaudible] program and break away from what was then called the New York studio program. So she decided to split away for whatever reasons. I was at the conference where that actually happened in New Jersey. I actually had Romana in my room along with the other side trying to patch things up. But it just, um, it wasn't meant to be too many outside influences that, um, that just took her away. And, um, that was, that in my mind constituted a, the demise of a very strong program, very strong methodology. I mean everybody with what, five, 600 teachers in the world, they all knew one way of teaching it basically. Um, and then, you know, it went in a different direction.

It went commercial and it was never a commercial. And I think that's, that's, that's what the split did. And, um, again, I'm not saying she didn't have good reason to, she had her own reasons to do it. Um, and, um, I just think they were the wrong reasons. That's all in retro, you know, not in retrospect from me right then and there. I knew it was the wrong reason, but I'm sure she looks back in retrospect and says, well, maybe I could've didn't done it a little differently. I tried to make it work. It didn't. Um, and I think [inaudible] took a hit, you know, [inaudible] the methodology. Joe turned over in his grave a few times. Um, and, um, then hope for the best because it was just coming on the scene. Then it was just really getting very strong, uh, in the, in the early 2000 period. And, um, Ramana was still at the top of her game.

I still got a lot to offer and, um, but you know, this is what happens in our world. You know, people do different things and it's fine. I'll thank God I got, I got Ramana and I, I got it and I'm trying to give it. So I think, uh, it was important to me that that happened regrettably on, it didn't help as many people as you could have, but PyLadies again, as it's thought over the, it's, it's still beneficial. I mean, there are some teachers there that'll hurt you, but that's very in the minority. I think people still, they do sue them some training. Some of the trainings are very good. Um, I've seen great teachers come out of other programs. We have a bridge program at our, uh, for the USPA, which other programs can come into and bridge over to the classical method. And we see very good teachers come over. So we learned from them as well.

She's the torchbearer, she was a torchbearer. He handed it to her. And, um, regrettably, I mean, we can never be a herb because we didn't have that initial experience, but we can certainly, um, carry on. If we believe in her, um, we can carry on what she stood for and that's what we're trying to do. That's what I'm trying to do. Um, in my studio, that's what we're trying to do with the United States. PyLadies association is trying to maintain that, that torch, again, I don't think there's anybody that's gonna carry it again. Um, but if we can break it up into little pieces and everybody do their share, we can move forward. But if, um, if we start spreading out too much as we have, um, it's more difficult. But you know, people like me who still believe in that torch are gonna still carry it.

And, um, Brett and people that we know, a lot of second generation teachers have to have that feeling and um, hopefully they maintain. Um, I don't know whether that'll be the case or not. Um, pilates has not increased in popularity. Regrettably. It's, it's decreasing in popularity and it's as a result of what Ramana said is that people's bodies are not changing. Uh, so when PyLadies is not taught correctly and people's bodies don't change, while it's not the fountain of youth anymore, there's no more one anymore. Nobody has that connection with Joe. And I don't think the others had that same connection as she did the other elders. I don't think they had that same connection. They didn't teach with him.

And I think Clara had, Clara polities had a great deal to do with Romana as well. Um, giving her that. In fact, I think she used to say that Clara was a better teacher than Joe. Um, in some respects of good gang. And Joe had this, you know, Joe was Joe. I would've given anything to be taught by him. Um, maybe I will, who knows? You know, we don't know those things, but that's why I'm saying, you know, that sounded my, uh, bucket list, um, after, afterwards, that's my mind. What's that called? Whatever it is, my afterlife bucket list, that's one of them having a, a lesson from him, finding his studio somewhere up there, and um, that would be fun. That would be really good.

I knew him and I would have a good time because we liked some of the same things.

Comments

I heard a good story well.Thank you.David.
So good! Thank you David!
Thank you, David. You are keeping her spirit alive.

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