Discussion #4623

Jonathan Grubb

55 min - Discussion


In this fascinating discussion, Kristi Cooper talks to Jonathan Grubb, who is the creator of the "Joseph's Legacy - Pilates 100+" Facebook group, about his research on Joseph Pilates. Jonathan lives on the Isla of Man, where Joseph was interned over 100 years ago and he shares how he started Pilates and what led him to research Joe. He also tells us about the connection he might have through his great grandfather and also how his research has expanded beyond the Isle of Man.
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Aug 05, 2021
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Hey everyone, welcome to another episode in the Pilates Legacy Project. Our guest today is Jonathan Grubb. Jonathan is the creator of the Facebook group, Joseph's Legacy, Pilates 100-plus. Most Pilates enthusiasts know that Joseph Pilates, along with many other German nationals was interned on the Isle of Man during World War One. But that's about where we start to lose some of our information, who Joseph was, what was the time like?

And certainly how did his time at Camp Knockaloe influence his method called Contrology. Over the last seven or so years, Jonathan Grubb has been single-handedly researching Joseph Pilates as it relates to his time on the Isle of Man. That's partly because Jonathan himself has lived there since he was two years old. Jonathan is an absolute wealth of information for all of us. His curiosity, his generosity, has expanded his research far beyond the Isle of Man.

And it is certainly expanding all of our knowledge about who Joseph Pilates is or may have been. and how he developed his work. I hope you will listen in if you're interested at all, you will not be disappointed with this interview. Well, I was born in England in 1962, and my parents moved to the Isle of Man when I was two years old, so I've been here all my life, and I work on the island for the government. And I also now teach Pilates.

I started Pilates in 2013. It was my wife who encouraged me to go to Pilates. She wanted to go, we both had serious knee injuries, and I went along just to see what it was like. I had a vague idea of what Pilates was, and I kind of knew he'd been interned on the Isle of Man, but apart from that, my life had been football or soccer as you'd call it in the US, so from like seven years old, I played soccer, represented the Isle of Man at an international level. Played against many of the greats of English football.

It was fantastic time. Knee injury kind of put pay to that. So when I went to Pilates, after a week or two, I really found out I was really enjoying it. And we loved it and kind of got hooked. The teacher we had at the time, halfway through the adult recreation course we were doing, she asked us to go along to her house, to her studio, where we did reformer chair work, and that just added a whole new dimension to it.

So we were totally hooked. And from then on, we've been doing Pilates ever since. We have a teacher in the town we live in on the Isle of Man who's amazing. He worked in London for 25 years. Very fortunate to have him here.

We just continue to go to classes ourselves, and teach classes too, just to share our love of the method, and to let other people experience it, and really appreciate it as well. I want to know what made the two of you, or you, start Pilates. What made you do it? Was it pain? Was it because you heard about it?

Yeah, it was, it was through pain. My wife had heard about, or seen the classes advertised, and had read more about it than I had. I only had very superficial knowledge, but we both had pain, both really serious pain. My wife could virtually hardly walk any distance at all with her knee pain, and myself, the old football injury caught up with me, so I had knee pain. I've been to the specialist at the hospital, as my wife had.

He'd recommended surgery for my wife, but fortunately she declined that. And it was her that through kind of reading about it that really got us on the path. Up until then, as I say, I'd played team sports when I was younger, done martial arts, started going to the gym when I stopped playing football to keep fit. So it never really entered my head. And I didn't really know kind of what it was like, you know, if it was like yoga or different to yoga, I knew it was exercise, but that was it.

So, one of my questions was, is, what was your notion of it? And why would you choose Pilates over yoga or any other modality? It just was something different that we felt would help us, 'cause we'd heard and read that you know, it was good for the body, the whole body. Yoga never appealed from that kind of spiritual aspect. We weren't interested in yoga, and I'd done Tai Chi Chuan, the Chinese martial art, and taught that for 10 years, which as a martial art is really great, but for physical fitness, it's not great in terms of strengthening the body, your whole body, and for cardiovascular work, unless you really developed sort of sparring and that side of it.

So, it was just some to try and see. I've been active all my life. So yeah, I'll try anything. If it's exercise, I'll give it a go. It just seemed the right thing to do, from what my wife had read about it.

And, you know, we just tried it. What was your occupation prior to learning Pilates? I'm a civil servant for the Isle of Man government. And I still am. I haven't given up my day job so to speak, and I have that benefit of, I don't have to rely on being a Pilates teacher to make my income so I can do it for the pure love of it.

And in that way, there's no pressure, especially with the last year and a half with COVID and lockdowns and classes starting and stopping. You know, I've just really had that sort of backup of having a job, which I still do, still enjoy doing, but I just love teaching the Pilates. I teach five classes a week, so I've just reduced my hours at work, so I can facilitate that, and hoping to start more classes in due course. If I understand correctly, you and your wife, Carol, started actual sessions together, is that right? And then, and then out of that, there was a training, and I'm a little curious about what's it like on the Isle of Man in terms of Pilates and training?

I'm always curious. Yeah, we started the classes together, our adult recreation evening classes. That was in 2013. Our teacher asked us to go along to the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute Conference, which was in November, 2014. And that's where we had the great pleasure of meeting Michael King for the first time, who we love.

We love his teaching, and it was then 2015 in May, we also went to the International Heritage Congress in Mönchengladbach, which was a wonderful time. We've experienced so many amazing teachers in such a short time. But at that conference, we were sat in a bar with Michael King after the day's workshops, and our teacher had asked if we'd like to become teachers. And we sat down with Michael King, chatted to him. We really wanted to train with Michael.

And so we started doing some initial training with our teacher on the island who had trained with Michael, and then subsequently we went away for a course with Michael, an intensive course. So we did our mat work one course with Michael, and then I was really keen to kind of progress through all the mat work levels, so I could be fully qualified at mat work. So we did a course, intensive six month course, with the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute, as well. And I passed Michael's mat work class in 2018, and then 2019, I passed the APPI comprehensive mat work. And my wife's been to all the conferences with me, done all the training with me as well.

So we just loved doing it together and when we teach classes, I lead the classes cause I've fully done the exams now, but it does add a kind of wonderful dimension that we've got a male female teacher, and that one can demonstrate, and one can correct. So it just does give that extra element to the classes that we do. And as I said, people were asking us before we even considered being teachers, if we'd start teaching, so it was just that real demand there. People could see our passion for it and our love for it. And I think they just kind of were keen to find out what it was that we were so passionate about, and what we found so good about Pilates, and it's just grown from there.

I find this really intriguing because you haven't said anything about you thinking it was for women only, or you just wanted to be better, it sounds like. I want it to be stronger and healthier, and to look after my body. It didn't occur to me that only women did Pilates, or it was for dancers. And to be honest, that it's never been a problem for me. Yeah, I've been to conferences where I'm the only man in the room.

I have no problem with that, I'm there to learn. I am very competitive 'cause I played team sports, soccer, cricket, bit of tennis. So, you know, I want to win, I want to be the best. And in that respect, when I started learning Pilates, I really wanted to learn it to the best of my ability. So going to all these conferences, learning from so many people, I've just soaked up all that information, absorbed it and I want to do it as good as I can, and I want to share that with people that I teach.

I want to kind of make them get the best out of the exercises. It's a really mindful exercise. You do have to focus on it, so it's good in that respect as well from that kind of meditative purpose, from the mental health purpose. It's just an all around amazing exercise. And I've just been so lucky to have gone on this journey, and learn all this, so yeah, being the only guy in the room was never a problem to me.

I just was there to learn. We've spoken once before, my experience with you was purely on Facebook and this group. And I keep thinking this guy's generous. Why he keeps dropping information, none of us know, and why is he doing this? Why is he doing this?

And why is he doing it so freely and generously? Because some people might say that the Pilates community is, this is what is, and this is what isn't. That's the best way I can say it, and the the most I will say, but here comes one of the few people that has provided, one of the few people who lives on the Isle of Man, who is a Pilates teacher, who is taking on research, and he's just giving it to us. And that to me is the way the world's gonna keep turning. So you might recall, I was like, hey, I'd like to know you.

But part of that was, I want to know really why. So you and your wife start taking a Pilates course. You're into it for physical reasons. What point, at what point, did you decide I'm gonna research the fact that Joseph Pilates was here on the island I live on, and have lived on for, since you were two years old I think. When did that happen?

When and what made you decide I'm gonna find out more? Can you tell us anything more about why you started this research? Yeah, well, not long after we'd started Pilates, I told my dad that we were doing Pilates, and Joseph Pilates was interned on the Isle of Man. And it's then that he said, "your great-grandfather was interned on the Isle of Man as well." Now, at the time my dad thought he was interned in another camp they had on the island, which was a smaller camp. And it got me thinking, was he there or not?

So, I started researching that and that's when I found out that actually my great-grandfather was interned at Knockaloe camp. So that really got me interested in the history side of it, and wanting to research more. And it was several months after that, that I kind of researched, and I'd found a little article in one of the camp newspapers about my grandfather who had won a couple of prizes in a horticultural competition. And then there's an article in a newspaper at the camp about Joseph Pilates refereeing a boxing match. And it was only sometime after finding those two articles that actually it dawned on me, they were the same camp newspaper.

So each camp, the four sub camps within Knockaloe, had their own newspaper. So that suddenly made me realize my great-grandfather was actually in the same sub camp as Joseph Pilates, which kind of really got me excited about the possibilities of my great-grandfather kind of maybe knowing Joseph Pilates. The sub camps were divided into smaller compounds of a thousand men. Within the day, people were allowed to move around within those compounds within each sub camp, but there was no movement between the separate sub camps. So yeah, there was that possibility.

My great-grandfather kind of knew Joseph Pilates possibly. Well, I've also kind of more recently found out I haven't even shared really on Facebook yet, was that the likely date of Joseph Pilates being arrested in Blackpool is I think about the 10th of September. I've looked through old newspapers at that time, and there's a number of references to individuals being arrested for not reporting to police stations or having firearms, that was in August, 1914. And then there's an article just after the 10th of September in the newspaper saying, large number of arrests in Blackpool. So that's kind of the first indication that there had been a group arrest of a large number of Germans, and Joseph Pilates himself said he was interned for about a year before he was sent to the Isle of Man, so it kind of fits in with that.

And my great-grandfather, when he came to England, he was a musician himself, and four of his brothers were in a band together. They lived, or my great-grandfather lived in Southport, which is not too many miles away from Blackpool. And there's a newspaper article about German musicians being arrested in Southport, which was about a week to 10 days before Joseph Pilates was possibly arrested. So there's every chance that kind of he was arrested very much the same time. Sent to probably Lancaster internment camp in the northwest of England for about a year before they were all sent over to Knockaloe to be interned there.

So it was kind of really exciting to think of that connection with my great grandfather and Joseph Pilates, and the possibilities of them being sort of in the same sub camp and knowing each other. And even maybe my great-grandfather practicing some exercises with him. I would love to know if my great-grandfather did that, but now I need to clarify this. You sound English, and your great-grandfather, why would he be, you've been, help me understand the lineage of yourself that would have put your great-grandfather there, please. So my great-grandfather, he was born in Germany and went to England to work, I think as a musician in a band.

He married an English lady, and he had four sons, all born in England, who incidentally, one of those was fighting for the British Army in the trenches, in the first world war, whilst his dad was arrested and interned in the camp for being German. There was no excuses, no letup. They, if they were German born, they were arrested and interned. So he was German. He went back to England after interment was over.

He had to apply to stay in England. Many of them who were married to English wives were not allowed to stay, so he was very fortunate. There is one lady on the island whose great-grandfather was sent back to Germany. He never saw his wife or family again. So it was hard.

So I'm very fortunate my great-grandfather was allowed to go back to his family. One of his sons was married to an English lady, and they had a son, my dad, and so we're kind of very English in terms of being born and bred, but it was my great-grandfather who was in fact German. So my surname is spelled G-R-U-B-B, which was a more anglicized version of my great-grandfather's spelling, which was G-R-U with an umlaut, that two dots above it, and one are, so probably slightly different sound to it. I think it was pronounced more Group, than Grubb. So after the war, a lot of people who were interned, who were of German nationality, they never spoke about it.

They didn't say they were German. My dad and his cousin, who I've spoke to, said my great-grandfather never spoke about being interned. Never spoke about the war. And that seems to be the case for many of the German internees. They kind of wanted to forget about it, and not have anybody know they were German, especially, you know, between being released and then the buildup to the second world war.

It was not really the thing to be a German in England at that time. I understand why you would have dug a little deeper for yourself. What I've been mostly impressed by over the last five, seven years of watching your Facebook page, where you deliver more information, more information about the camp itself. And I guess I'm just still curious why, what made you want to share it rather than just know it about your family? What made you want to share it?

I have kind of a limited background in research, it's kind of investigative research through my job for the Isle of Man government. And I just seem to have a natural aptitude for it somehow that I just kind of, I'm able to make connections. I can sort of research old newspapers, just find those little scraps of information that link me to somebody else that then I can contact them and find more information. So sometimes you've just got to think outside the box and kind of think laterally and just, I just look at everything from all angles just to dig deeper and just find that information. I'm quite amazed at some of the information I have found.

I never expected to find this information at all, and it's kind of just encouraged me. It's been a journey like our Pilates training. It's just grown and grown and grown and it's information I feel that just should be out there. It's not something I should be hanging onto and keeping to myself. So I just share it out of just generosity, and just that willingness to want to get that information out there, because it's important for everybody who has an interest in the history, who wants to know about the man, the methods, where it's come from, that that information is out there.

I have no hidden agenda. I'm not out to make money. And I think probably because of that, people have seen my group that I've contacted. They understand that I'm just doing this for the love of it. So I've had some amazing conversations with people that I would never have expected to ever have a conversation with in my life, former opera singers, former prima ballerinas, the niece and grandniece of Clara Zuna, the grand niece of Joseph Pilates' sister, who had a Pilates studio that I found out about.

She had a studio in Denver, so it's just given me that opportunity to speak to people about Pilates, and about Joseph Pilates that I would never have dreamt of ever sort of meeting or chatting to. And they've just been so lovely to share that information. And that's just rubbed off on me. I just want to share that information with everybody or anybody who's interested. I think everybody really appreciates the history or wants to know about the history and that's fine.

They just want to do Pilates, teach Pilates and that's it but you know, my group has grown to seven and a half thousand people now, so there's a real interest in the history. So while there's information out there that I can find, I'm gonna carry on digging and carry on the sharing with people. And massive thank you. I can speak for at least two of us on my Pilates Legacy Project team that it has been really amazing. And hopefully the work we've done we can share with you too.

So when I look at your page, you write in the about section, promoting a greater awareness of Joseph Pilates time interned on the Isle of Man, a hundred plus years after he was interned at Knockaloe. Sorry, it's going to take me a while to get that right. But I hope everyone else hears it, and let him say it. Say it please, if you would? Knockaloe?

Knockaloe. Knockaloe, okay. I'm getting it. My first question is why were you interested in promoting the awareness of his time on the camp? My second question is, how much have you expanded your research beyond the camp?

Initially, it was to promote the fact that Joseph Pilates had been interned on the Isle of Man for three and a half years, And to sort of correct a few misconceptions, i.e., that there were metal beds at Knockaloe, and that they did have springs, and just from going to the conferences, I heard many people say when they taught Pilates, people had no idea Pilates was named after a man, and even less that he'd been interned on the Isle of Man, so it was important to get that message out there that, yeah, he was interned here. He did work on his method here from what he said. And that information wasn't readily available. So I created the group to get that information out there. It kind of has grown organically really.

It has spread out much further now than just that, because there's limited information about his time on the Isle of Man, so it came to a point where I didn't have anything more to share, not at this stage anyway. Who knows what further research the Knockaloe visitor center researchers might uncover about Joseph Pilates that, it's a work in progress, but January 20 when the COVID epidemic hit and there was those comparisons to the Spanish flu, I was looking at Manks newspapers, and the interment camp newspapers, just to get a feel of what life was like during the Spanish flu epidemic at the camp, what happened there. And then, I found bits of information that kind of made me think, oh, here's more here than I first thought. Instead of looking about Joseph Pilates and trying to find out about Joseph Pilates and making it all about Joseph Pilates, I started looking at the camp in general. What was at the camp?

What were they doing at the camp? What activities were at the camp? And that's when I just saw two references to something called Muller System. And that got me intrigued. What's the Muller System?

And I researched that on the internet. And it was the system, Muller developed by Jorgen Muller, who was a physical culturist who predated Joseph Pilates by some years. He was well-known throughout Europe. He lectured at universities, he wrote books, and I found an old Sydney footage on the internet with him doing some of his exercises and saw his book, some of his exercises in, and I thought, whoa, wait a minute. Some of these exercises are very similar to Joseph Pilates exercises.

Also there's much reference to gymnastic free exercises, which at first, I just thought that was like a free form gymnastic routine, or something like that, but, when I looked further into that, they were the gymnastic free exercises of Paraling, who again predated Jorgen Muller by many years, and they were general exercises done without apparatus or equipment, just using the body weight. And again, very similar kind of exercises, some of them to what Joseph Pilates did. So all this was going on at the camp, and it made me realize, yeah, Joseph Pilates was there for three and a half years. He would have seen the gymnastic free exercises. There were gymnastic clubs at the camp.

The Muller System was being practiced quite freely. So there was a lot of influences there that the two people that never made that connection with the camp. People have said, Jorgen Muller existed, and he had his own exercise system, and that possibly could have influenced Joseph Pilates. People have had that connection, but to have that very connection with the Muller System, and the gymnastic free exercises of Paraling, with the camp was quite a significant find. So you're discovering this information, and it's new information.

That is what intrigues me, your generosity and the new information intrigues me. Did you have any pushback from the people that have been keeping Pilates alive? Did you, you know, how was this new information received, whatever it might be? Like, for example, the metal beds and the springs. How, have you had any, I know everyone's gotten interested in your site, but have you had any pushback?

There's been no pushback. People have been really enthusiastic about what I've been sharing. They've been grateful that this information is getting out there, correcting some misconceptions about Joseph Pilates or his method, and people have been really, really supportive. Perhaps those that would have previously said there were no metal beds or no metal beds with springs, have recanted a little bit and now say, well, there's no evidence that he ever took Springs off beds and made equipment. So, you know, that's fair comment, but there were metal beds and there were springs there, so we've proved that point.

So kind of, I know in an interview with Doris Herring in Dance Magazine, it said that he devised equipment and made the equipment to help interns, inmates who were suffering, bedridden. So kind of, we can't be sure, but at least we've gone one step further to proving that kind of what he said was correct. And why would he lie? That's kind of one of the questions I've always said is why would he make it up that he did that? He could have just said, well I left, went back to Germany and sat in my kitchen, took springs off prams and made equipment there.

He could have said he did it anywhere, but he said he did it out in Knockaloe, so why would he say that? Why would he deliberately mislead people? What was he to gain from lying about it? That's my question. And I kind of think that way about, I called you, right?

I was like, talk to me because you're doing such good work for us. And I felt very similar. It was like this man is researching things that very few people could do given you're actually a resident of Isle of Man and obviously have connections and so-and-so, but it's very similar to how I felt. I just want to listen to everything you have found. And I think I'm glad to hear that that is what's happening for you, because it hasn't always been that way in the Pilates world.

So if I haven't said it already, thank you for the research you're doing. My pleasure. Okay, it seems like it. And I just think that's fantastic for the rest of us. Do you have help doing your research, or are you just curious?

I do have a little bit of help. I often kind of ask Alison Jones, who is one of the trustees of the charity that run the Knockaloe Visitor Center for kind of help or information that might help me with my research. She's an amazing researcher there, they've done so much work, and their work focuses on like all the 23,000 plus internees. So they're not focused on Joseph Pilates. So that's just a small fraction of the whole story that they're trying to piece together, piece by piece.

It's like a jigsaw, they're just getting bits and pieces and joining them up, and the whole picture is gradually being formed there. And my wife also kind of helps. She works for the government as well on the island, researching policy and drafting legislation, so she's good at looking at things, and kind of given me a perspective from kind of an outsider, how they would read my articles and she helps redraft them so they read better. Sometimes I'm writing things and things are in my head, and I write them down on the assumption that people are gonna know what I've already said about this, and she says, well, you've not mentioned this, and you need to mention that first, otherwise they won't understand what you said there. So she just kind of makes it read good.

And that just really helps me sort of piece it all together in a nice, nice flowing fashion so it makes sense. Well, it's been an amazing gift. I didn't know, I think you started in 2015, I did not know that it was going on that long. I kind of clued in a couple of years ago, and that might be in part because I think researching the legacy of Pleiades is a little tough. What you share without someone saying that's not right, or, but you haven't seemed to run into that, and that is what really caught my attention, and it's been so impressive.

So again, I'll thank you for that. Who, I'm gonna get kind of pedantic here now. Who is on your page, who are your members? Who is interested? There are seven and a half thousand people now who are interested.

There's just, you know, a great variety of people. I looked at this sort of demographic, it's 87% females, the rest males. They're spread around the world, predominantly America, UK, but throughout the world, South America, far east, South Africa, Eastern Europe, just everywhere. Now people are joining cause Pilates is everywhere. So it's all relevant history to everybody.

And it's been really nice that some of my articles have actually been translated, so I've had Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, and more recently Russian translations of my articles done so that, that can reach more people as well. For those that don't speak English, or the Google translator is not working too well. I'm on Facebook. So it's just amazing that people have asked me from around the world to be able to translate it. And I've just been happy to let that happen, to assist them to do that, to get the word out there even more.

So there's teachers, just enthusiasts, just a mixed bag. You started trying to represent and promote the awareness of Joseph's time on the Isle of Man. What I noticed when I look at your Facebook group, and I do, it is that you've expanded it. You're showing us more than what is on the Isle of Man. Can you talk about how that happened or why it happened, or what is the significance of keep going?

Anything to help us understand this legacy that you are creating? Yeah, initially my intention was just kind of to promote the fact that Joseph Pilates was interned on the Isle of Man, and spent time here developing his method. But as time has gone on, that has kind of progressed. I've done information about other people who taught exercise methods at the camp. I was kind of struggling to find any more information at the time about Joseph Pilates and the camp specifically, and just researching through newspapers in America, I stumbled across two little newspaper adverts that were advertising Pilates studios in Saint Louis, New York, Denver, and Atlanta.

And that kind of made me think, well, what's all that about? This was dated 1940, I think, or 1941, the newspaper. And I kind of started researching into that, and just kind of the information I had was just too good to hold onto, so I just started sharing this information about sort of what I call pre-Pilates elders, Pilates teachers first-generation teachers that have never been heard of before. And, you know, to me, when I started Pilates and the information I had, I pretty much just assumed, Joseph Pilates had his studio in New York, he taught it there. Subsequently in the kind of 60's, Pilates elders came along, Mary Bowen, (indistinct) and all started teaching and opening studios in the 60's.

So this was kind of quite mind blowing to me to find out there were two Pilates studios in other parts of the USA that nobody had heard of. The one in Saint Louis obviously was Fred Pilates, Joe's brother, so that was kind of still within the family, but these other two intrigued me. And the more I dug, the more information I kind of started to find about other people that were teaching Pilates and trained with Joseph Pilates. Yeah, I just thought, got to get this information out there, nobody knows about this. They need to know because it's just such a rich part of the history and that legacy that Joseph Pilates has left behind.

So maybe I need to just tweak my about page on the Facebook group now, because it's just covering everything, everything I can find and share with everybody. Honestly, it's a shock for some of us, who have been doing our best to like track it in a certain linear way. And then you come in, and start with this nugget of the Isle of Man, you know, where we all have been kind of like, did he do it for this? Did he do it for that? Or was it part of the physical culturalist movement?

But you come in and you just kept giving and you kept giving and I, the very last part that you said was really important, in ways that like, how much does lineage matter when it's everywhere? And for someone like me, I'm trying to just be the mirror on what is so for Pilates, and you've come in and said, here's more, here's more, it didn't just stop here. It didn't stop with these five or seven or 10, whatever. You have opened up the eyes in my opinion, to just keep questioning, keep looking, and keep remembering the point. And I am gonna ask you this, I'm putting you on the spot.

What do you think the point is of the Pilates method or contrology? And, and maybe I should ask how you would say it, given your research. The point of the method is, it's just exercise, but whole body exercise, develop the whole body, strengthen the whole body, bring balance to the body. And just, I think that that kind of mental aspect as well is perhaps overlooked. Joseph Pilates defined his method as complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.

So, it's not spiritual, but it does help one's mental aspect, mental health. It just gives you that kind of mindfulness. So it's just an amazing method that kind of encompasses everything anybody would want from exercise, really. There's been such an emphasis on, and I've tried to outline, so-and-so came from here. We stand on the shoulders of whomever that came before us.

Giants, absolutely. For me, it was like, right. It made perfect sense. I don't know who these people are still fully. I don't know, but it's, it aligns with, I think the methodology, which is rest, work, play, find the balance, get out there, be the best you can be to the highest accomplishment.

And, there's all these other people that are doing it that don't need to be heard from in their own mind. I'm not sure. I just, I find it fascinating. There's a lot more people out there that are preserving the work, but not necessarily in the community, so to speak. And so I'm just curious, like what, what you thought about that when you found these people, and what was the reaction to that when you shared it?

It's been an amazing reaction from people who, again, had no idea that these people existed. And yeah, for one example is Dorothy Alexander, who was the founder of Atlanta Ballet trained with Joseph Pilates, taught Pilates or contrology, she would have called it in her day. She was the mentor of a dancer called Molly Brumby, who went on to form Montgomery Ballet, and who also trained with Joseph Pilates. So there's that link from Dorothy Alexander. We can find somebody else who trained with Joseph Pilates, who had trained with Dorothy Alexander.

Not only that, there is another Pilates elder that I'm gonna post about soon, who was in New York at 16, training to be a dancer. She had been a student for many years of Dorothy Alexander. She was told she had a weak back. She rang Dorothy, or Miss Dorothy as she was called, what should I do? Dorothy said, go to Joseph Pilates.

So, yeah, Dorothy Alexander, wasn't just teaching Pilates, she was teaching people who then taught Pilates, went to Joseph Pilates. So yeah, that's our legacy of other people around the country that had been teaching Pilates long before the known Pilates elders in the 60's that have inspired others to do Pilates and teach Pilates as well. So, it's just an amazing find. And so many people have commented just how grateful they are for this information. And I'm just so happy to share it, and to have found it because it could have got lost at some point and never been found.

And until somebody has that interest and gets it out there, then nobody knows about it. The research you've done has been completely eyeopening, it has been obviously a labor of love to whatever extent, because I know how hard it is to find this information then to share it, which may be easy, but sometimes in my world, it got kind of pushed back from it's not quite right, but you're giving us truly the facts starting from the Isle of Man, all the way up until now these new people we never even knew about. And so first and foremost, thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you for the interview too.

I'm not done with you yet. It's a pleasure. And one thing, nobody can dispute the facts because I've got it in black and white from newspaper adverts, there were studios, such and such was teaching in Vancouver in 1947 or such and such was teaching in Arizona in 1945 or whatever. So it can't be disputed, they are the facts. Yeah, there is so much more I want to ask you about like the physical culturalist movement.

You, how do you say Eugene (indistinct) anyway. Lots of people were doing things around this time that I think is worth investigating, but what you've done in my opinion, Jonathan, is you've opened up this forum for people to really see that this work can be for anybody. It has been for everybody. Not everyone needs to talk about where they came from, and where they are now. It's just like, do this for this reason, and live better.

That's kind of you've shown a different light on it. So I appreciate that very much. I wanna know this, still, I would consider you newer to the Pilates, in terms of teacher, teaching and teacher and the training itself, which is an interesting word in this context. Do you see a difference between say the mentality of the newer generation, which might be you, could be me, versus say the Kathy Grants, the Corollas, and the people that kept that legacy going, do you see any difference in interest of history or anything notable that you can share with us? Yeah, there are differences for sure.

I mean, I've experienced sort of second generation teachers who have learned from Romana or from Corolla. So there are differences. They are kind of coming from the dance background. So there is that kind of very rigid and strict dance background that they've kind of learned from so. The newer teachers, the more contemporary teachers, if you like, if I can use that word, sort of Michael King, it's more about the movement, it's enjoying it, it's having fun, but still thinking about the Pilates principles and the technique and that whole body engagement whilst doing the exercises and having that experience.

I haven't sort of benefited from learning from people who've learned from all the so-called elders. So I can't speak for all of them, but yeah, I do know, I've had discussions with one teacher who trained with Romana, trained with somebody else who is a Pilates elder that's very little known about. She preferred this other teacher's method rather than Romana's, So yeah, even from that kind of era, there were differences. And everybody who learns from them then brings in their own sort of interpretation as well. So, I think there's still, in terms of the history, a lot of younger people still interested in the history and where it's come from.

I don't think age is any bar on having an interest in the history. It's just different people like it, others don't like it, the history. In terms of the exercises, there is that rigidity from probably some of the, the elders from the 60's as to how the exercises should be done and must be done, which for some, I think it is too rigid. It takes the fun out of doing the exercise. If you can't enjoy it, then people won't come and do it, so it's important to kind of keep the enjoyment there as well, and have that variety in the exercises as well.

Do you have a philosophy on what the Pilates method can do for others? Yeah, I mean, my philosophy is that it will bring benefit to them, health wise, mentally, physically, the breathing, you know, I encompass all that in my teaching, the people I trained with, Michael King, and Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute. Yeah, it's very much the sort of modern contemporary style of teaching, broken down, made more accessible to people, because not everybody can do the exercises as prescribed and Joseph Pilates books. Certainly my classes sort of the age range are kind of 60-plus many of them, so they're not physically capable of doing those and they really don't want to try and do those sort of exercises. They want to come and move and enjoy it, and have fun.

So yeah, I teach them correctly, but we have fun. We have a variety of exercises, we'll change it. And I think that's important. And kind of one of the jobs I'm sort of tasked with at the moment is researching British Pilates history from when it first came back to the British Isles in 1970, over 50 years after Joseph Pilates left the British Isles for good. It came back with Alan Herdman.

I was gonna say, are you talking about Alan right now? Yeah, I am talking about Alan right now, and who he taught, and just how it kind of evolved into kind of the Pilates we have in Great Britain today. Jonathan, can anyone join Joseph's Legacy Pilates 100-plus, how does it work? Absolutely, anybody can join the group. And I would just recommend anybody who's a Pilates enthusiast, or teacher, who loves the history, that they join and share that information with others to get them to join.

I always vet who joins, so no sort of bogus people can join, but that's the only sort of exception. Anybody can ask to join, and if they're already a member of other groups and have friends in the group, then yeah, it's just approved straight away. So I'd welcome as many people joining us as possible, to just get that information out there. And again, I've mentioned there's been translations into other languages. If anybody else wants to translate into any other language that hasn't been translated, then yeah, by all means ask me, and I'll send them Word documents for them to work on.

The more people that find out about it, the better. That is the exact impression I have of you, and I am so grateful for the work you've done. And also for being here with us, and Jonathan, thank you. And whatever we can do over here to help support your endeavor, to share what you're learning, please let all of us know. And I think I can speak for the entire Pilates community, on that front, but certainly Pilates Anytime.

And, I just want to thank you for the effort. I want to thank you for the time. I hope we can meet in person one day soon, and let's just keep it going. Thank you so much.


1 person likes this.
Thanks to Johnathan for his research and sharing and thanks to you Kristi for spotlighting Johnathan and his work.  
Shireen K
Really fascinating! Glad you presented this information and cleared up the “bed spring” issue. I agree, if Pilates himself said he used bed springs to help rehab people and they were prototypes of his equipment, then why would he make that up? Also, really interesting about the other Pilates elders. Would like to know more about Joe’s brother, too.

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