Discussion #5211

The Pilates Center: 32 Years


Join Amy Taylor Alpers, Rachel Taylor Segel, and Kristi Cooper as they celebrate 32 years of The Pilates Center. They will discuss the evolution of the studio and the training program. In addition, they will share stories about working with Romana Kryzanowska.

Links and Resources

- The Pilates Center Website

- Amy and Rachel on Romana

- Pilates Center 30++ Birthday Bash Schedule

- Teacher Training Program

What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

(Pace N/A)
Oct 28, 2022
(Log In to track)


Read Full Transcript

(inspiring music) Welcome everybody. What a special day, What a special situation we are in. When you get to realize two people, Amy Taylor Alpers and Rachel Taylor Segel, two of the premiere teachers in the Pilates industry, have and are celebrating their 32 year anniversary in business. Now, when I saw that on Facebook or Instagram or wherever it was, I just thought, really? See, that's not easy to do.

And so I have to talk to them. I have to know how did they get here, how did they do it? I know some of the answers. I want people to know some of those answers. And most of all, I want you to be able to talk to them through the forums.

I want you to be able to hear their story. It's amazing, in my opinion. When I think about the Pilates Legacy Project. These two are the ones I go to. There are more, but these are two of them that I go to, and they have such rich information.

I really hope you enjoy and listen to this conversation and ask questions in the forum. So I give you straight from the Pilates Center in Boulder, 32 years later, Amy and Rachel. Welcome Amy and Rachel. Thank you. Thanks for having us. Thank you, Kristi.

We're honored. Yep. It means a lot that you're here and I, let's start with the fun stuff. 32 years? Congratulations and what are you gonna do to celebrate?

Well, we're having, starting next week, we're having a big, we're calling it our big Birthday Bash. It was supposed to happen two years ago for our 30th, but we all know what happened there. So we're going, we're calling it our 30th plus plus Birthday Bash, and it's really a conference. Like we've got a 25 presenters and we're gonna have classes and workshops and panel discussions on some history, that kind of thing. And the workshops, mostly Pilates, but also some other things health related, all taught by graduates of the Pilates Center.

And then on the fourth, the Friday, we're gonna have a big party. Champagne. Champagne all around. Cheers, and appropriately so if I understand the history of Romana. Friday champagne.

Yeah, we picked up on that particular habit, yeah. Yeah, so we'll do a toast. The final thing for the conference will be a big toast to Romana. I didn't realize it's a conference. Is anyone invited and how do they find out?

Yes, anyone is invited. You can go to our website or you can go to Facebook or Instagram and find out about it, but you also could contact Pace or Kelly directly. And that would be pace@thepilatescenter.com, or Kelli, who's the director of education, kelli@thepilatescenter.com. And so it starts Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and there's gonna be a lot going on. So for those of you watching live, this is, what's the date?

What are the actual dates that it starts? November 3, 4, 5, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and the five, November 5th is our actual anniversary. The day we opened our doors. November 5th, 1990. It's definitely been a journey of commitment to something, you know, commitment to world peace through helping people move healthfully in their bodies.

Okay, let's dive right into that because 32 years ago, I mean there's a landscape today, maybe we should start there. The landscape today is very different. There are a lot of people doing Pilates, a lot of different, say styles of Pilates. Most people know the word Pilates. But can you start with what was the landscape like in 1990, 32 years ago?

And I suppose real way you could answer that is like, why did you open a studio? And I know that's a huge question, but break it up however you want. There was no landscape. No. There was New York City, there was San Francisco and a couple small things, you know, scattered around.

Nothing that we know of today as the Pilates industry existed at all. It was pre all that. There was just, you know, a handful of people doing quiet little work in different places. And when we opened, we kind of opened partly because there was this huge vacuum, you know, there was an obvious possibility to open. When we were at the studio in New York, we didn't ever intend to teach.

And it wasn't until, you know, that fateful day when the studio disappeared overnight, which made you think it was even a little more fly by night than we knew, you know, that we realized like, well, we want to at least know more. And then, you know, having been movement and dance teachers our whole lives, it seemed like, yeah, why don't we open a little studio? I mean, it really was like a movie. You know, "Hey, let's put on a show." I know Amy and I, so Amy taught ballet at the university, I was teaching Montessori grade school, assisting, and we had both come out of our ballet careers, whatever they had been, and we were literally sitting on Amy's front porch swing and doing that time honored thing where we said, "What do you want to do?" "I don't know, what do you want to do?" And it wasn't about this afternoon necessarily, it was about the next whatever, five, 10, 20, we had no idea. Yeah, it was like before kids, it was before, you know, we had this opportunity that was just an open book because we had just moved to Boulder, Rachel had just moved back to Boulder, and we were kind of restarting new lives at that point, you know, really settling down, deciding to have kids.

What are we gonna do with our future? And I was by that time pretty sure I wanted to open a small studio. And so then I was like, "I'm probably gonna do it. Do you want to do it?" "Okay, let's do it." "I'll help you." You know, and I mean we had no idea what it meant, we had zero expectation. And even what you could imagine a business would look like in 1990 is completely different now.

I mean the entire town of Boulder was just a much smaller town then. And now it has much more of a cosmopolitan feel and it's just a lot going on here. It's still a small town, relatively speaking, but it's not the same town at all. I think there's something really interesting in times we've talked in the past, which is when you left New York, I'm not really sure why you left New York, but you talk about in a past interview that you showed up and the studio was closed, overnight gone. You said it here today, it's gone.

And something in that, I wonder if that made you, Amy, want to actually open the studio. I wonder if that was part of it. But something in that made you want to carry it on. And I'm asking this because I think there are parallels for, well certainly for me, like it cannot go away, I need this and I need it to stay like the little bit that I know at the time that I started my business. So I'm curious, like if you could offer more nuggets to, or any insight?

Well I remember so clearly that day, arriving at the studio, in my mind, it's a Monday, but I'm not positive. I think it was April Fool's Day, 1989 and the door just wouldn't open. And I asked the doorman like, "Where are they?" He says, "Oh, they moved out over the weekend." And I was like, well what? That can't be. And I immediately went down to the street to the payphone, 'cause that's what you had back then.

And I was like, "Rachel, it's disappeared." "What do we do?" And we were both working at the dance collection at Lincoln Center at the time. And so next day we went and looked up, how do you spell Romana's name? And then looked her up in the phone book because guess what? You had a phone book and people were in it and she was, and we called her and she was like, "Okay honey, don't worry, we'll reopen." And so I'm like, okay, thank God. But on the other hand, for how long, you know?

So we just kind of were like, is there something more? We knew we were leaving New York at the end of July and that was because we were working on a grant on a project for the dance collection. It was gonna be up and it just seemed like the time. Rachel was getting married in Central Park and then they were gonna go off on a honeymoon, et cetera. And our father had recently died a year before.

And so we, you know, had enough money to like change our lives. So we decided on Boulder, although Rachel wasn't, her husband wasn't totally sure yet. But you know, it ended up that we were here and the reason we wanted Boulder is just because it's so fabulous and I would always come and visit, my husband and I would come and visit Rachel and when she lived here for all those years and I'm like, okay, this is where we're moving when we leave New York, when it's time to start families and whatever, you know? So early 30's, I think, I was probably 31 and she was maybe not quite that old. Here's the thing you didn't say, you were not teachers, you were a students. Of Pilates.

Of Pilates, sorry, sorry, thank you. You were teachers of movement, dance and otherwise and Montessori. That was an odd moment. But you went and opened a studio without being a teacher and I think that's interesting, for one, there's a why in there. And also, I am not sure about this.

Like did you go with the intent to start a training program? I don't have the information on when you started the training program. On that fateful day, the next time I saw Wei Tai, who was the one who owned the studio at that time, I went up to him and I said, "Okay, is there something more we can do?" Because we wanted to have a little more ownership of the material. We only knew what we knew, which was what they gave you if you were a client. We came three times a week for like two and a half years.

Yeah and we were religious about it and when we got what we got, but we didn't know what we didn't know at all. And so at the time, you know, Wei Tai said, "Yeah, sure, there's a thing you can do." You know, it had zero structure, I don't know if anybody else had done it, but it was like 500 hours, $500 to spend like two weeks with Romana. So, you know, we didn't- through Wei Tai. Through Wei Tai. We didn't know what that meant, we didn't know what we didn't know, you know?

So we did that. We had our little notebooks and she would say, "Go teach that person sidekicks or something." And I'd be like, "Oh my God, I'm supposed to go teach this person." Yeah, you know? And even though we weren't teachers, we weren't, oops, sorry, we weren't, you know we hadn't done Pilates and it was a whole different thing, you know? And we hadn't really intended to teach it and it was a sort of last minute thing because of the seemingly fly by night quality of the studio. And we couldn't live without it by that point.

And the second piece was to get a reformer, you know, like we're moving, we need to bring stuff with us, you know? And so I had paid Wei Tai money for a reformer and you know, we left New York assuming, you know, we could continue Pilates when we got to Boulder. Again, you just have to picture, there was nothing in our future. We weren't planning anything yet. You just encapsulated like my purpose in life.

There was nothing in the future if we don't keep it going forward 'cause that's all I ever knew myself. Granted, I didn't know how much I didn't know until I picked the two of you up and a few others off a plane one time. But no, it's like to keep, you didn't know where the future was gonna go with Pilates, with the technology changing, with lots of things, but back in 1990, that's just so impressive to me. And I wonder what people really understand about that. Like you said, nothing was on the horizon, nothing was in Colorado, barely anything was in California, and there you two were like, "Okay, thanks Wei Tai", I mean not in a sarcastic way, but you go back to Colorado and you open this small studio to be able to do it for yourselves I think, but also obviously teach other people.

Well, so one lesson was, I went to New York, like it was June of '90. So we'd been here, we'd kind of gotten settled- Six months. And so I went back to just to go back to the city, but also to take some more lessons with Romana. And when I walked into the studio after they had left that East Side studio, which was where the everything shut down, then they moved to Dragos and there was a little space on the Upper East Side called Body Arts, yeah. And I walked in there, that's where I saw Wei Tai again for the first time and said, "Hey, we want to teacher train" and, "Hey, I want to get a reformer." And then when we came, when I came back in June, that's where I went to see Romana a little bit, Dragos back then too but, Steve Giordano walked in.

I had never met him before, we didn't know who he was. And he was wearing a barrel. But who is Steve Giordano for people who don't know? Yeah, who is he? We didn't know who he was.

We thought maybe he just built equipment 'cause he was carrying a spine corrector and Romana said, "Oh you haven't met Steve, he builds equipment." And so I was like, "Oh, really?" Perfect. Because you couldn't get the information about equipment, it was not a thing. And we didn't know anything about Current Concepts or anything outside of New York. You know so, and Gratz was not a thing yet. It was behind the scenes.

If Wei Tai needed a reformer, then he would get one. And that's I'm sure what he was trying to do for me but he was never able to get one. So when I met Steve, I was like, oh we could get equipment. And Steve had been a student of Romana'a, he'd been up at the SUNY Purchase Program where Romana was and I think he was a go-getter and he was a good teacher and he was planning, he was helping Romana to move forward into the future. And so, but we didn't know any of that stuff.

She just introduced us to this guy and we said, I said, "Well, I'm thinking maybe opening a studio." "Sure I'll come out to Boulder, I'll build all your equipment for you." I was like, oh, okay. Treasure. Gonna happen now, yes. So literally like a month later he came out to talk to us, we started looking for a space, started figuring out what amount of equipment we could have in that space. In the meantime, Wei Tai had gotten me about half of what he owed me because he hadn't been able to get me that reformer.

He did get us two from a local guy, but even still, they were half price compared to the Gratz. They weren't right. They weren't right but we didn't know. We really didn't know much. What's interesting is that you didn't know they weren't right.

Like who does at that point? Like what made you even know it was different? It might be a different interview, but that's interesting to me. Yeah. You know I'm sure we probably got on them.

It had been a year. Well, you hurt your shoulder. Yeah, I hurt my shoulder on them. Pull straps, give or take. The box was too big.

And we were always like what is wrong? But yeah, we didn't have enough history, enough practice. I mean, I'm sure when we got on them we were like, this is sort of right but wouldn't have been able to- And you're so excited to get it. Yeah. You know, so it was meeting Steve, realizing we could get equipment, and then starting, we looked for a space and we got Steve to build it out and it was great.

And in the meantime, Steve was also teaching us. He was teaching us what he was working on with Romana in terms of the organization and stratification of Pilates from a teacher training standpoint because there was no "teacher training", at least of Pilates itself yet. And so she was doing this with Steve and eventually with Sean and we were simultaneous with that. And in fact, we ended up teaching lectures with Romana and Steve here in Boulder before they did it in New York. So it was pretty much, you know, New York and Boulder were happening simultaneously And we had no idea that meant anything.

No. It was like, oh, that's cool. Really? No 'cause there wasn't anything to look to the future about. Really?

Yeah. Like Romana came out and she was like, "Ooh, Boulder's nice, maybe I should move out here." Like she was open to stuff, too. It was not an industry in any form. It wasn't even a profession. Are you telling me, I'm sorry, are you telling me you did not have a business plan that was gonna say in 32 years I'm gonna be- This was our business plan.

Like, you know what, it would be really cool to not just be you and me. Like what if someday there were few other teachers in our studio with us? 'Cause that would be cool. So let's do some teacher training. Yeah so then Steve was like, "Do you want to start a teacher training program?

You know, do you want to open a studio?" "Sure." "Do you want to start a teacher training program?" "Sure, we need teachers." Oh, that's interesting. I want to come back to that but I think the importance of that starts with Romana. You know, you're both dancers. Amy's in New York, Rachel goes to New York to be with Amy and dance I think, correct me if I'm wrong, and then you both end up at Romana's. And want to know what influence Romana had independent of the training you just started to talk about.

But I want to know what influence do you think Romana had on your lives? And I could go so far, it might be a different question, as to say the success of your business today? Well I think we felt to whatever degree we even knew what it meant that you know, we were very close to the source of something. And I think we both felt she, Romana was exactly the same age as our mother, she just, born in June '23, and she also had that lovely ballet teacher thing that we grew up with that we just resonated with right away. We actually still to this day don't really remember how it is we ended up with Romana instead of let's say Corolla.

Well, yeah. I remember only because Corolla wrote the first series of articles in Dance magazine. I can't remember how old I was. Corolla Shares. Yeah and then Romana did another series when I was maybe 19 or something, or maybe it was even later than that, I can't remember what it was, but anyway, it was the second series so in my head I knew.

Okay, see I didn't even know that. Yeah, it was that. But she, you know she was, she was a force of nature and you, you just were drawn to her. If you could, you know, if who she was attracted you, it was like a magnet. She loved life.

She would say things like, "If you're not having fun, why are you doing this?" You know, she just was so inspiring in so many ways and generous. She was so generous with all her information and herself, I mean, she invited us to her apartment. So she was- She was different than from what we would hear later. You know 'cause there wasn't any pressure yet beyond, you know, whatever the pressure was she'd always had. We didn't know anything at all about that in terms of, you know, her having taken over that studio and continued it on.

We just arrived one day, it was, and we started taking, we weren't taking classes at all, we just came in and worked out and there were teachers on the floor. And then when we met Romana, there was I think a pretty natural rapport, but there was no organized anything beyond you came in and did your workout, that was it. All the teachers moved around the studio simultaneously. And so, you know, you could say, you'd be there going, "Do I have the headrest down in short spine?" And somebody would yell across the studio, "Yes." or they'd rush over and fix your springs or something. And Romana was one of them.

And then she would also, you know, give you hints of how to do things better as she just moved around the studio and took care of everybody, watched everybody. And we did that for two and a half years until we knew we were living. And then we followed her around, hours and hours of writing notes, everything she said and pearls of wisdom that she dropped. Just like when you did your own first training as a Pilates teacher, you had just no idea what any of it meant. And you were like, I'm writing it down, I'm writing it down, whatever, I'm writing everything down.

But the quality was, you just, you didn't have any perspective to put it into. So, you know, it was just, it was small. It was very small, intimate family. And if there were other people who were craving doing something similar to us, we had no idea. We were just out here in Boulder.

And it worked out because I met Steve, Steve knew Romana really well. Steve was like, "We'll get Romana to come on out here." I mean I don't think, if we hadn't met Steve with us, She would've gone. It's hard to know, you know? 'Cause he was very close with her and very much trying to generate a future for the industry and we just happened to be there then and be willing and have the ability to launch. Let me ask you this.

One of you, I think it was, let me look at my notes, I think it was you, Amy, you'd said this in one of the videos in the Legacy Project, that Romana taught as if it was like her life's job, that what she did with her life and with her life's job it was, she was committed. And I know that Romana influenced you, obviously. Just for the membership here, they also had access to Kathy Grant and Corolla, or at least Kathy, and ended up with Romana for whatever reasons. And so I'm curious like if you feel the same way? Either one or both of you can respond to this.

Like do you feel like what you did when you moved to Boulder, I have to go back to 32 years later, like it's unheard of. There's a couple near you but it's unheard of and then you're teaching teachers along the way, which hopefully we'll get to, but I want to know, I think a lot of people would want to know, do you feel that same thing? Do you feel like it's your mission to spread the word of Pilates or that it's just a business? Like I don't know, what do you feel? I think pretty quickly it was our life's commitment too.

We had been teachers for a dozen years, each of us a dozen years, give or take, of ballet. And so that part came easily. Owning a business, that part was the worst. It's still the worst. It still is not a thing.

But it was so wonderful to be able to teach a helpful physical movement system that made life better for us and other people and then the world like Mr. Pilate's article, the Pilate Center Paces showing us our mission. He's sending us our mission. Oh, let's see. "The Pilates Center's mission is to heal the world by empowering people to transform their health and "Return to Life"." Yes. Like when you all come to Pilates Anytime, isn't that what we ask you to do?

Can you speak to "Return to Life"? Because so few people had such deep exposure with Romana in particular who had so much with Joe. But also, like you take what I think those writings are, the "Return to Life", and you have actually, I don't know if you were cued, like are you cued the way that you all teach? But the minute you hear what you say, it's like I get it. And I'm saying that just from pure experience and I would be surprised if anyone else would say differently.

But you actually, you don't just cue the moves, you don't cue shapes, you cue the point. Yeah in retrospect, I mean we didn't know "Return to Life" until Steve came and he was like, "Oh, you know, you should read this book." We're like, "Oh, what a great idea. I had no idea." We had no idea. And we read the book and of course, you know, we were still pretty new to all of it, so I'm not sure how much it meant right away other than like some details and some facts, like, you know, nuances on how to do the exercises that were written in there. It gave us footing.

It gave us like upon which why we were doing this thing, why it did feel so right and good. And it felt that way once we had read "Return to Life" and started to make use of it in our thinking and teaching. I feel that way. Yeah and I kind of remember a moment in time when, you know we lost access to Romana after '93. And so we really felt on our own and afloat.

We had learned what she taught us, but we hadn't, we didn't have much else to turn to at that point. And so I think that for me for sure, that's when I really returned to life because I needed to personally know why am I doing this? Like what are these exercises for and how do I make them create that sort of response, you know, and get that reaction? And so I think it definitely, I think the longer we've taught, the more we teach like Romana. Simplifying. Because she did

teach that way. But we didn't know that. So we had to go on our own journey, not of different exercises or anything, but just our own journey of trying to understand the material and how to teach it to people and what you should even care about when you're looking at a human trying this. And I'd like to say too, Kristi, before we move on, that in addition to what Amy just said, around that same time, we became acquainted with Eve Gentry in Santa Fe and we went down there a few times and we had a teacher from the first year we opened our studio, Deborah Robinson Colway, who was her accolade, and then also Cathy, when we would come to New York, and eventually she sent Kara Riser and then Kim Hirosh to us from her saying, "You know, you should go to us in Boulder" 'cause they were coming out here to live and go study Pilates with them, you know, all the details of the exercises, blah blah blah, to fill in all the stuff that you girls learned with me. So we started opening up our minds and knowledge, vision, to not how different these other teachers, other elders were, but more like how they filled in and enriched what we had learned.

So it was a different way of doing that exercise. How come? What was it for? What did it give you? Who should I use it with?

Things like that. As opposed to oh but that's not right, this is right. We were never really like that. We started out like that for about two months and we gave it up. 'Cause we sort of brought that with us from New York, you know, and then we were like, you know what this is- Classical work.

This is not how we want to do it. I think in the very beginning, we were very clear, we're not gonna teach it like they did in New York. I think we may be one of the first studios who really organized the structure of our teaching around privates and classes and not that open gym 'cause we just, we wanted to teach people, and not just give them the exercises and cross your fingers, you know, which was a little bit how it was in New York. We wanted to be able to understand and then certainly once we were teacher training and you have to, like we're the type, if you ask us a question, we're gonna actually answer it straight out to the degree that we understand it. And if we didn't understand it, we would say, "I don't know, I'm gonna find that out." You know?

Because that kind of information wasn't readily handed out. And of course, if it had anything to do with anatomy or something like that, that took us a while to get comfortable with using because, you know, it was a little bit un, not allowed, let's say. Okay, I have so much to say to jump in. Okay, so first of all, everything you said makes so much sense in the fact that like my experience with even knowing who the two of you were. I'm just gonna give you a personal story here 'cause I think it kind of resonates with probably what people of my generation who didn't have a really solid, we had good teachers, but we didn't necessarily have a lineage so to speak, that originally their reputation was you're very classical, you were staunch, you know, Romana or staunch authentic or whatever the word was at the time so that was one thing.

And then it became like what I now know from you being with both of you is that you have a reason for everything. And I didn't realize Romana didn't specifically tell you that. So you did that on your own, which I think is amazing, because it is amazing to experience a session from either one of you. And then you go onto the training and then just all of it makes so much sense. And I think there's some thread in here I'm looking for for everyone else.

I'm going back to all of us who have had studios or who want studios or who don't feel worthy. Like how do you keep going? Like, so and now I'm gonna, I'm changing subjects a little bit 'cause I could talk to you guys all day, but I want to know like, it seems to me the thread is that you guys just knew what you needed to do. And I wish I could say it better than that. We weren't daunted by what we didn't know.

No, we were innocently naively willing to try, you know? And we didn't know that it could, actually there could be trouble or other people. Okay, well let's go to just like, now I'm talking to anybody who's gone through the last three years here. And there's lots of reasons the two of you are inspiring. You've taught a lot of great teachers in the world, many are on our site.

Debra Cowley, Gary Cal Brown, Jonathan Oldman, they're all, there's so many that, Wendy, they all come, you guys were together, it was this like rich time. Okay so that happened. I the Legacy Project for anyone watching, there's so much more. But I want for this conversation to know 32 years in business, I know of very few people who've made it 20 years. I'm thinking of my friend Amy Higgins.

And is there any advice you could give them? 'Cause I'm assuming there were hard times independent of politics of Pilates. Financially hard times, politically hard times for sure. Yeah so something in the commitment made you go. So I'm just wondering what nugget we can leave people with?

Because it's quite a feat, and I really hope that you know it too, I'm trying to put it back at you so that when you have that celebration next week, you really go for it. Well I would say for me, no matter what's going on even in the studio or even in the Pilates world or the world or my own family life, when I walk in the doors of my studio, I am happy. And I'm happy to be, I'm happy to mo come into the environment, I'm happy to be engaged in collaborating on people's health. I'm happy to be teaching even clients the way I might teach trainees, you know educating them, what I know I'm giving away as richly as I can all the time. That is phenomenally fostering for me.

So I think that has been a big thing that's kept, we have created. And we went through a process to determine what kind of "space" would you want to come into every day? Your values, aside from mission, business mission, like what are your values? That was a very, since there's two of us, but even I think if you're just one person, I've said this in various, like when I've been on a panel or something, you need to have, you need to know what it is you require yourself to continue, you know? And so I mean we came up with a number of things, but wherever we came to together, that one was obviously really essential.

And we knew that the space that we teach in and that our clients come into and that our teachers come into, it has to be kind, it has to be supportive, it has to be generous, it has to be peaceful. There can't be angst, there can't be competition. So even the competition piece, like from the very beginning, we decided we're not even looking into like having independent teachers. We wanted everybody staff 'cause we wanted everybody on the same page. And sharing.

And sharing. We never paid people per head of attendance to their classes because we didn't want teachers competing against each other to get clients. So we knew from the start there were certain couple things that were key for us to have a studio that could maintain the type of integrity that we required ourselves. And a big hard thing was to put your blinders on and keep staying on the path because boy, did the world come in and try to buffet you around. It was like, (gasps), well you need to have this and how come you don't have one of these?

And then you need to do gyro and now you need to do this. And you know, we're like, no, no, no, that's not what we want to do, we're going like this. I can relate, I have to say I can relate. Yeah and it was hard because you get- People come in with articles. "Well what about this?" Well this one said doctors.

Products, products. How come you don't sell toe socks and how come you? Like ah, that's not what we do. Sorry, it's just we can't, we can't do it all. It's really important.

It's really important. It's funny but it's very important. I think that's a really important point for all business owners 'cause you will be pulled. Ah, yes, you'll be pulled just out of Pilates into the business. And we have been very clear from the start, as soon as we could, we got help, and we were, it was always gonna be at our expense.

We would rather teach for nothing and make sure that everything is handled well than try to also be the person who does all the other stuff. And that has been a very financially hard thing because it costs a lot to have other people do all that work and it's very typical in a small business that the owners do more. But Rachel and I just, we just knew we couldn't, we'd burn out really fast, and we did burn out a few times when we didn't really have the right people. You know, so- Yeah 'cause when we started, Amy did the books. I did do the books.

And it was all by hand, there was no computers. Pencil and paper. I had to figure out paychecks with a paper thing, you know, where you- After the training program, after eight hours of clients. Yeah no, business can suck the life out of a Pilates practice in a minute. We didn't know, we didn't know how to run a business and so we didn't know how to not run a business either.

You know what I mean like? Was that a blessing or a curse? Both. Both. Yeah, yeah.

But to this day, I mean we were even talking about it yesterday, it's like we would keep teaching Pilates forever, but running a business is just something we're never gonna do because we're not good at it. And somehow or other that has been what has gotten us through 32 years. I can't even (audio jumbled), it's weird, but it's the fact that we acknowledge very clearly that we are not business people and we are teachers. And we've had some really terrible mistakes because we're not business people. You know, it's not been, we're laughing now.

Yeah, no, we had some interesting chapters along the way. Very. But you know, you have to know what your strengths are and then commit to the people, you know, to doing the things you do the best. And so we have amazing teachers from whom we learn constantly, which was one of the points. We have amazing studio manager, the woman who does our training program now, she's, I mean- It was very organic.

People grew into and were picked uniquely because we saw a personality, we saw a gift, a skill, something, and those people showed up. And luck. Yeah, so there's a little luck of the draw and then there's knowing note that is, that person doesn't work. Let me jump in here because like I said, you've had a staff or friends of mine that have worked with you for a very long time, or if they don't work with you now, they refer back to you very fondly. And again, in this, we didn't really dive into the how treacherous the climate has been in Pilates, in terms of people branching out on their own.

But many did and they still refer back to their experience with you. And I literally, there's a photo that we'll show that has Debra Colwey, Gary Cal Brown, both of you, Michelle Larson, I mean you all got together to propel this thing forward. So I guess I just want to know like, I haven't had a studio where I've had to maintain employees. I've had a different, when we were filming for Pilates Anytime, the only time I sort of had a studio. So it was like part-time and they were independent.

But these people were not only committed to the work and still are, but they were committed to their experience with you or they still work with you. And so I wonder what, 'cause nobody else can say that, nobody. So Amy, Rachel, why did that happen? How did that happen? 'Cause that's a tough thing for a lot of people.

People come and go and then they start their own. How did you manage that? I think it's because there's so much respect and love actually. I mean I don't want it to sound corny or something, but it's true. And the people, you know, Amy and I try, if we aren't naturally, we try to be super openhearted to people.

Like even Steve, even Steve was like that. Way back when he said to us, "Give it away. You have a mission to heal the world. You can't be picky and hold onto things." And we were like, oh my God, huh because we hadn't been trained that way but we knew we wanted to teach very differently. And that's just how it has to be for us.

And we have learned every year, once again, if we ever went off, we're like, nope, it doesn't work, it doesn't work. So, you know, people have said to us, "Well why don't you charge more? Like your names aren't big, you could charge $200 an hour."? It's like, well that's not our mission. How are we gonna reach more people if we cost so much?

Same thing for our teachers. They agree with the mission. So that's maybe been why it works really. 'Cause we never ran it like a business. If it wasn't profitable, so what?

We downsized or something. A year ago, two years ago, whenever it was, we got together as a group, we have like in our training program across the world, we have licensed teacher trainers, about 25 of them who can do our leg, who do the program for us elsewhere. And a couple years ago, we had one of our women from Beirut and one of our women from Tel Aviv, who were sitting, you tell it. Okay, I'll try to be better. It's so beautiful because they were just like Rachel and they were looking at each other, they literally live almost in driving distance, from Beirut to Tel Aviv, it's not very far but they cannot cross that border and they can't really know each other.

But here, they did know each other. And here, they adored each other and they really spoke to that fact that, you know, it's the mission in reality, you know, that it is about peace. And our one woman in Beirut, I mean okay COVID, but in Beirut, they have been to hell and not really back in terms of what the government has done there and then the giant explosion, which affected her studio, exploded her studio and they keep going. She's so committed to, in the end, this will actually help. And every single day, like I always say the story 'cause I was in Israel for 9/11, and it was, you know, challenging to figure out, and I was teaching, what to do the next morning, you know, and then I got very clear.

I was like, you know what? Let's go do Pilates. It's still gonna heal the word, gonna help. And so it just keeps us always on our mission. Amy, you said that in one of your videos on Pilates Anytime, or maybe just when you walked in the room, maybe it's not on the video, but you walked in and you said, it's about world peace.

And I was like, well that's a, you know my first reaction was like- People laugh but it is what it is for me. No, my point is that it was you're spot on. It's like, you know, we're back to "Return to Life", right? Yeah, yeah. He was clear, we have this letter.

We have this letter that I found at the dance collection, and this is way back in '98 maybe, something like that. That was something he wrote to all of his people, his clients, on September 1st, 1939, and how it was now more than ever essential that we keep our health, you know? And it's so clear he was a pacifist, he totally believed in his work as something that should heal the world. And if we all just keep doing it, you know, and there was some kind of quote like, "Not even, no one at the UN can even do my first five exercises. How can we have world peace?" You know and I was like, that just, that just clenched it for me, absolutely.

Yeah. You definitely make a good case in all of the work that you've shared, that we get to share, thank you. And I think 100% on so much of what you said, you're right, it's like, to my mind I think of it as the world keeps turning in the right direction or we get to be in alignment with things more, if we share. And this is my, I'm not saying you're saying this, but I'm saying this, but I do believe that when you get people together who know more than you and they share and, that it just gets magnified. And so I'm really trying to say I'm so grateful and I don't know how the two of you could get so clear so early and then continue because it's not easy running a business, it's not easy owning a studio, it's not easy spreading a certain version, not a certain version, just not even easy to spread Pilates without someone telling you it's a different version.

So it's the integrity and consciousness that you've shared along the way is so impressive that I am now on this end hoping that if anything sparks a thought for other people who are struggling with their businesses or who are not struggling or who just, who are intrigued by this work or any work to be, you know, it doesn't have Pilates, that what you all have done so precisely was like, "Hey", if I may, forgive me if I, I'm gonna broad splash this that you, you've both had careers, you find this thing, this woman's magnetic, you decide, okay, we're not gonna stay here, or it's closing overnight, what if it goes away? I'm gonna go and make sure I know enough to contact people to make sure you get to keep teaching it or knowing it, knowing it I should say. You then go on to teach it, and I'm not done, you then go on to teach it and share it in a way that hopefully fuels you. Like I'm an advocate for people making money, by the way, like I don't think anyone should suffer for the art, I'm not a dancer though so there's that. You go on share it in a way that allows other people to invite you in, which is how I met you.

And I was very intimidated because I didn't feel like I had the pedigree. But you two, I remember, I'll never forget it, I'll just tell this quick story and we're almost done so I just want you to know this about, I just want you to know it. But when you both arrived, I cannot tell you how nervous I was. It was very early days of Pilates Anytime, you said yes. And I had already, you know I had my preconceived notions and I give you your water bottles and you proceed to at lunch, tell me like everything I never knew and you continue to do that.

And for someone like me where if Romana inspired you, you both inspired me and continue to 'cause it just made me go, oh my God, there are these people that know how the world should work, they're sharing, they were there and they have all the information. So I just want you to before this conversation ends to know that I am not alone and I thank you and I really do hope that people drop comments into the chat and that you guys have the time to answer them, if not now, later. But it's been such an impact on the preservation of Pilates and for so many of us who do have businesses related to it, we could not, it just wouldn't happen if so like the handful of people like you two took a step, whether you meant to do it for the preservation of Pilates is not a big thing, it's that you did it and that you did it in the way that you do and you did it with integrity. And so it allows the rest of us to go, I want to be like them and I appreciate that. I just had to get that off my chest.

It has to be, you know, we couldn't have done it any other way. I mean that's, yeah, we just couldn't have, you know, because we're not those people. And so yes, it was hard when the politics were terrible, yes, it was hard. The recession. Totally and it was hard, you know, when the PMA blew up a couple years ago.

It's all hard and it's frustrating and disappointing and very sad and it's just a little microcosm of the rest of the world and we just keep on keeping on, yeah, you know because, and it changes its configuration, we have moved a few times, we got bigger and bigger and bigger and then we got smaller just because we needed control back, you know, and times change and the world changes, the market changes, everything changes all the time. So you have to be willing to adapt. And it might not always look like you're going up. Yes, forward up, it's true. Yeah.

If you don't adapt, if you're not adaptable, then you will end up- Then you will die. Yeah, you'll end up having to close or having to shift or something, you know? For us, the mission held us together and made us make better and better choices over the years, including like three and a half years ago, downsizing, thank God, the year before COVID. And putting everything online for the training program before that. Things that you wouldn't think one year that you'd be willing to do or you thought it was a good idea, all of a sudden you go, wow that, like teaching on Zoom, I thought for sure that was horrible.

And then as soon as I started doing it, I realized, what was I thinking? This is fabulous. Most of the time, we got pulled a little kicking and screaming into that stuff, you know? Like Kelly (indistinct), the director of education, she was like, "Come on, you got to, you have to." And I was like a little more willing than Rachel and she'd be like, "Well if you can't, then I will." So it wasn't because we were thinking about the future and coming up with innovative ideas. It was like things were presenting themselves as options, and Kelly in particular was very clear, like, "You guys, we got to do this, we have to do this." So we started, we filmed the lectures, which was torture on our part, but thank God we did it, and then we were zooming privates and classes and stuff all over, which is what definitely kept us alive through COVID.

Yeah, just the openness, the willingness to move. And I'm thinking of the last video where you both were doing things, talking about the point and the showering, internal massage. Like you have to like pay attention to what is actually so is what I'm getting out of all of this. That it's not like you had a grand plan, that you adapted to the situation, you adapted to what you, and here's what's important too, is that you adapted to what you wanted out of your life. You were gonna leave New York, et cetera, you were near each other.

I'm making up a story there. But I think in times like today, these, times like these where we're barely out of the pandemic and maybe not even at all, where you just don't ever know, it's tricky to be a Pilates teacher or studio owner when you're so used to ordering control and things like that. So the message that the you two veterans are giving me and everyone else is like, yeah, yeah, yeah, we know what we want to share, but in the midst of it, you have to actually still be fluid and adjust. And I think that's really valuable so. Just Pilates, Kristi, but that's our goal.

We're trying to make people healthy enough to be flexible, to be resilient, strong, to be able to roll with the punches, you know, and have it not kill you, have it not crash you, have it not break you. Like that's so much a part of our mission that it's what keeps us going because it's true and it does work. It does work. And what Pilates teachers traditionally tend to do is that their business gets bigger or busier, they sacrifice their own workouts, their own Pilates practice- Always, every time. And then it can go for, every time.

And it can be okay for a while 'cause you're teaching it and you're in the milieu, but after a while, your body starts to harden up, tighten up, you know, and you get maybe jealous that your clients are getting all this great stuff, whatever, but you're not. And so it's written- I don't know at all what you're talking about. I don't know what you mean. And so it's really critical that we do Pilates ourselves so that we stay adaptable to what is next on the agenda. Plus, that's what keeps your teaching alive for one thing.

You know, like if you are not a student, you're dead in the water. You're gonna start repeating, repeating, repeating. Then eventually you can just put on a video tape. You know, because are you saying anything new? Are you here, are you present?

And another one thing that I have said to people opening studios too 'cause they'll say stuff like, "I can't do that because my clients want." And I have to say like we started at the beginning and we had the luxury of doing it, but we, for instance, are not early morning teachers. Right, so from the very beginning we said, "My schedule's gonna look like this. It has to be like this." And I can't be like, well you have 50 clients who want 7:00 AM. I'm not gonna be happy doing that. You know, so if we could find somebody who wanted 7:00 AM, great, which was not often, but I'm not gonna do it.

I know myself and I know that I will get frustrated, I'll start feeling like this thing owns me and I own it, and I have to make sure we do what we need to do so that neither one of us starts feeling too much like, 'cause there was a time, Rachel and I had the same image of ourselves of like hanging off the back of a speeding train. And we were like, okay, this is not what we had in mind. You know, so all the way along the way, we have to adapt again, we have to do something that shifts this back to being something that we- Feeds us too. It's very difficult to summarize the importance that the two of you have had in the Pilates industry. I mean it's almost impossible.

And still, you are updating your training program, you are sequencing to, or segueing to perhaps a Mat training, and I know that's a very different program for you, but any information about your training program will be found in the description below this video. But it speaks to the fluidity that you both have, the adaptability that you obviously live and you share. And so it's like, you know, I have a yoga business too and they always say, you know, to do yoga is to be more of the yogi. And I don't know, we always say, what's the Pilates version of like embodying Pilates? And I go, "Amy and Rachel".

So I think all of your information is incredible. There's so many nuggets in here I would be a fool to try to summarize them. I just can only thank you for your time and hope that we get to spend more time together. Yay, let's do it again. Yeah, let's do it again.

Yeah, in person. Thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah, even better. (inspiring music)


WOW what an amazing interview. Thank you! I feel so inspired after watching this. I am just about to open my first commercial studio space and I just value the wise advice from Amy and Rachel. HUGE thank you!
Amy Goeldner I'm so glad you took the time to listen. The advice, wisdom, and historical references in this interview exceeded my own expectations! I should have known! It's Amy and Rachel! 
Thanks so much Kristi, for this authentic interview! Honesty and integrity throughout! Good to know it still exists and grateful that you have shared it and many thanks to Rachel and Amy! The links are not alive, is it my device or is it possible to activate them? ✌️💕
1 person likes this.
Thank you to all three of you... the true essence of Pilates and Return to Life...
Debora Kolwey
nodding and smiling xoxo
Rosemary ~ I'm sorry you are having trouble with the links. You may need to try a different device. They are working on a browser so you can try the full or mobile version of the site. I hope this helps!
2 people like this.
This was a wonderful interview to listen to. Thank you all. I am so fortunate to have gone through this program with these amazing women. Integrity and love of the work shines through. Thank you, Kristi.
2 people like this.
Wonderful interview, thank you! 

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Pilates Anytime Logo

Move With Us

Experience Pilates. Experience life.

Let's Begin