I had the good fortune to train at Dragos Gym in New York City in the late 1990's. My teacher was Romana Kryzanowska, who was a student of Joseph Pilates himself. I loved listening to Romana's wonderful stories about Joseph. He was a boxer, a circus-performer, an Egyptologist and an inventor. He was always open to change and exploration. Within the framework of classical Pilates, I strive to bring that quality of openness and exploration to my Pilates classes. My goal is always to work with my clients to craft the most supportive workout for their particular body. There are so many aspects to Pilates: breath, precision, control, and flow. Each of these can be emphasized or adapted to help a client strengthen, lengthen, and develop a sense of well being.
The Pilates Method has changed since Joseph Pilates passed away at 83 years old in 1967. He predicted when he was alive that in 50 years there would be a Pilates Studio on every corner. His prediction was right: there are many studios but, unfortunately, the quality of teaching is uneven.
Many people who teach the technique do not know the original exercises. This is because Joseph Pilates taught his students what they needed for their individual development. He worked with a wide variety of people: some were athletes, many were dancers, circus performers and some were ordinary people curious about him and his method. With each of these types of students, Joseph emphasized a different part of his system suited to their particular needs. Many of these students eventually began teaching his method the way that they had learned it. Hence, a variety of view points and teaching methodologies were born. Romana was a longtime student of Joseph Pilates. She was asked by Joe to continue teaching his method after he died. She preserved every exercise exactly as he meant it to be and she devoted her life to maintaining the integrity of the work in its original form along with her personal additions and/or modifications.
In my experience, people who gravitate to the style of Pilates passed down through Romana appreciate the opportunity to learn the depth and tradition of Joseph Pilates work. This traditional approach emphasizes the athleticism and artistry of the method. I have worked hard to carry on teaching with the love and devotion that Romana instilled in me and I continuously strive to convey the method in its purest form.
If you would like to read about the life of Joseph Pilates, I recommend this article