Jay said it would…

Jay said it would...

This goes out to all my Pittsburgh peeps, especially to Brett Howard and Jessica Gowen. For the record, I consider Jessica to be an honorary Pittsburgher by marriage. I can always spot a fellow Pittsburgher by their warmth and sometimes by their unique regional accent. Coming from the theatre I reformed my own Pittsburgh dialect in 1990. I remember Jessica being puzzled by my lack of Pittsburghese.  I had her stumped for quite some time until I slipped up one day and omitted an infinitive. A dead giveaway…

“The towels need washed.” a-HA! Guilty as charged…

In 1969 Pittsburgh's WTAE Channel 4 acquired rival Channel 2's uber-reliable weatherman, Joe DeNardo. DeNardo would later become famous for his 1994 campaign slogan “Joe said it would.” Growing up in Pittsburgh one pays significant attention to the weather report with great anticipation of a favorite by-product of the cold winter weather: school closings 🙂

I met Jay Grimes in 2005. Recently I read over some notes from lessons with him circa 2005-2009. Often Jay would say something I could not really understand so I would just write it down. It might be a long time before I would suddenly happen upon one of his notes from long ago in the midst of my workout. I would smile and think “Jay said it would [happen].” Which reminded me of “Joe said it would” regarding a weather pattern DeNardo had accurately predicted.

A couple of my Jay said it would… moments:

Regarding the Short Box:

Jay would always focus on what my back was doing (or mostly not doing) and he did not say much about “keep your shoulders down” which I generally heard all the time from anyone else including myself. Jay explained that when the back/stomach/lift gets stronger then all that shoulder stuff will fix itself. I simply could not imagine how this could happen.

Until one day it did. Jay said it would.

Regarding “Move, move move!”

I always understood intellectually that it is the movement that changes the body. However as a new teacher I had a good portion of clients age 65-80. These particular clients had a natural rhythm that was quite slow and they often moved with a tentative, cautious energy. As I continued to work with them over the years I started to notice that when I could get them to move more vigorously a lot of things fell into place: they used their stomach more, they sat up straighter, they breathed more naturally without concern of when or how to breathe, the body simply rose to the occasion. It even felt good to move with vigor – who would not want to feel vigorous at 75? Watching this happen I remembered Jay saying “Trust the work.” and  “Just do Pilates. It's all in there.” And here was the evidence happening right in front of my eyes!

Yup. Jay said it would.

I bet Jay has some “Joe said it would” moments of his own that have naught to do with DeNardo. He does often speak of “Clara said it would” moments…




Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

The Arm Chair is perhaps the most underrated and overlooked piece of Pilates apparatus.

Nicknamed the Baby Chair, or the “little old lady chair” for its brilliance with small and frail clients, the Arm Chair is an oft-glossed-over piece of equipment in teacher training programs.

Few studios feature an Arm Chair and generally if a studio does have one at all it may be gathering dust in the corner.

O for a Gratz Arm Chair!

Currently the Arm Chair is garnering ‘new attention’ in the Pilates universe.

A staple in Joe Pilates’ studio, it turns out this versatile piece of equipment is good for everyone. Just try the Rowing exercises from the Reformer on it and you are in for a revelation.

All that time spent talking about getting the shoulders down is superfluous when you have this perfect piece of equipment.

The back of the chair gives you immediate feedback about what goes on behind you in the no man's land of your back muscles.

My arm starts where?

You can now feel if you are connecting into your back or just cranking your shoulders. And ladies rejoice to do Swakate on the Arm chair, originally a man's exercise on the Reformer, where we can have a fighting chance to preserve a modicum of form.

Perhaps ‘rejoice' is too strong a word…

Hang on. Tangent time:

This apparatus can help to illustrate one aspect of Jay Grimes’ magical teaching: One’s ability to choose the most direct route to address any given situation or issue in the body elevates the teaching of Pilates to an art form.

Jay knows how to make the choice of exercises and therefore the Method itself do the work for him.

Jay trusts the exercise to convey the information to the student without a lot of long-winded and therefore meaningless chatter from the teacher. The student can then ‘discover' what the exercise is doing for them ‘all by themselves' and feel like a smarty that knows a secret no one else knows about.

I love it when that happens.

The Arm chair is a wonderful apparatus for the teacher because it gives you such easy access to the person’s body making it also ideal for those tiny Pilates instructors with a clientele of large inflexible men.

Take note – Joe Pilates’ original design of the Arm Chair has a moveable chair back that one must stabilize or control depending on the needs of the person and the demands of the exercise. This means greater versatility allowing weaker clients to work safely and the aforementioned large men to have a challenge.

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I am merely an enthusiastic fan.

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