My Pilates Education Fantasy is at Hand!

My Pilates Education Fantasy is at Hand!

My first Pilates Teacher training program was a gateway drug to explore all that Pilates Continuing Education has to offer. Thanks Excel Pilates.

I felt I'd just begun to scratch the surface on these fascinating Pilates exercises and I couldn't wait to learn more, more, MORE.

Dear Joe Pilates,

It's been 15 years since my first Pilates Education Fantasy…

In the early '00s I was constantly on the lookout for workshops to satisfy the requirements of my training program and keep my training certificate current.

Alas, there were few choices.

I tried to envision the wide world of my Pilates future…

(insert hazy dream music and movie announcer VO)

Imagine a world where I can attend amazing and diverse Pilates workshops and conferences, perhaps even in exotic locations…


Maybe some of the education would even be focused specifically on the classical Pilates system…

Wow. SO cool…

Let's Fast Forward.

Today my mind spins out of control, awash in the choices and locations for classical Pilates conferences.

Pisa, Istanbul, Fort Worth, Chicago, Windsor, Mexico City, Sydney, Costa Rica, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, Valencia, Greenwich, Atlanta, Berlin and Santiago, Chile.

Wowza. And that's this year alone.

Even my beloved San Diego got in on the action.

Sponsors wanted

I love Pilates education events of all kinds.

I'm dearly in need of a special sponsor to enable me to attend every single one of the amazing conferences that my Pilates heart desires…

Pilates Education Option #1

Destination Pilates events around the globe.

My Pilates Education Fantasy is at Hand!


Often with multiple presenters and spanning 2 to 4 days, Pilates conferences are busy and filled with masses of information coming at you.

You'll have the opportunity to experience presenters that are new to you.

You'll be in the company of like-minded passionate Pilates people such as yourselves. It's a great way to connect in person with online colleagues and companies.

Workshops can cover a wide range of topics, concepts, populations and apparatus.

We use the word ‘event' for a reason. They're awesome.

But education conferences are only one item on the Continuing Education menu.

Pilates Education Option #2

Enhance your education every week – nay every day – if you work private lessons into your education plan as well.

The Value of the Private Lesson


Private lessons. Yum.

This is where you'll work on your body and then bring your A-game to Pilates conventions worldwide.

I love private lessons.

Back in the day, my first Pilates small group class of 3 was an amazing next step after my initial Mat class series. One fateful day both of my group partners were absent.

Resulting in my very first private Pilates lesson.


I learned so much about my body. Clearly this was the way to go.

Education of Body and Mind

So that's 2 amazing education experiences working in tandem to educate the body and mind.

Conferences and workshops…

  • enhance your eye
  • allow you to see different bodies in the same exercises
  • contribute to your overall Pilates Intelligence (intelligence: just one part of your Pilates mind)
  • encourage us to learn predominately by observation and problem solving
  • may include some hands on corrections
  • may include working out and feeling the work in your own body
  • connect you with colleagues and companies

Private lessons…

  • train the body directly and create long term change
  • give you information about you and your specific body's needs
  • enable you to feel hands-on corrections in your body
  • enhance the experience of the exercise in your body – an amazing teaching tool
  • increase your repertoire of exercises
  • foster concepts and connections that aren't currently on your radar

“No excuses,” says the Internet

Technology makes private lessons all the more easier to obtain. Skype lessons can be extremely beneficial for Pilates teachers, nerd enthusiasts and clients.

Whether you live in a remote location or you fancy lessons with a teacher who's not in your area, Skype lessons (or FaceTime lessons) are a great option.

Cohesiveness in your Pilates education

Let's be honest. It's a wide, wide Pilates world out there.

One teacher's ‘rules for living' may be in conflict with your previous training.

Another Pilates Teacher of Teachers may tell you NEVER to do x, y or z, while still other trainings encourage you to do exactly what you've previously heard is verboten.

In your vast experience as a student of Pilates, look to your body for the answers.

Feel the work in your body.

What feels like the truth?

What resonates with you on a visceral level?

Don't over think it. Simplicity is your friend on this one.

And once you've found your particular Pilates path – a training or mentorship plus your own workouts – dive in deeply…

Patience and Persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment or any worthwhile endeavor.

Thanks, Joe.

Join us for the best of both worlds of Pilates Continuing Education this October 1-4, 2015

Andrea Maida and Karen Frischmann in the house!

 My Pilates Education Fantasy is at hand.I'll be presenting these epic posts LIVE as a workshop!

Share your thoughts in a comment below.

I'd love to hear from you!

The Pilates System: It’s in there.

The Pilates System: It's in there.

When I began my lessons at Excel Pilates, one of the studio offerings was “Solo Pilates sessions.”

This option was inexpensive. My budget was slim.

One had to be approved to go solo, of course. There was a teacher in the room, but you were essentially on your own.

With this newfound independence came responsibility, for yourself and for the apparatus. You needed to know the exercises, how many to do, springs, straps, safety concerns, etc… Quite a lofty aspiration having had only a few sessions on the Reformer at that point.

Eventually I had enough experience to gain approval and I scheduled my first solo session.

I received a sheet of paper containing the rules  – sorry, guidelines – I was to follow.

Top of the list?

Do not eliminate exercises you do not like.


They're on to me…

“The magic's in the system.” (Thanks Paleolates!)

Years ago, Jay Grimes would quote an iconic Prego spaghetti sauce commercial to tout the extensiveness of the Pilates Method.

“It's in there.”

Whatever you are seeking in an exercise system, whatever your body issue, whatever the plane of movement that challenges you, the Pilates System has an exercise – perhaps even an entire apparatus – for just that.

From the rank beginner to the elite teacher-of-teachers Pilates Informationista, the Pilates System has something for everyone.

Before High Bridge you've got the Arm Circles over the Small Barrel.

Before Snake/Twist you've got the Elephant – which will keep you busy for a good long while.

What happens on the Mat must be duly noted!

What's to be done with Mr. Xtreme-Cyclist who cannot sit up straight for Spine Stretch on the Mat without his hips grabbing and his legs bent?

Or the 60-something former ballerina with the tight-ass back? How will she reap the benefits of the Roll Over if she cannot lift her hips off the Mat?

“We have ways…” says the Pilates System.

The Big Picture

Investing care and thought into our examination of the major pieces of apparatus can be a blueprint to mining the most out of the Pilates System. The Order of the Pilates Reformer Exercises and the Order of the Pilates Mat Exercises provide us with the scope of movement opportunities possible and necessary to our well-being.

Now how best to deliver all these goodies to the masses?

“Via the Pilates System!” I hear you roar.

Let's ask “What is possible?” 

Tight-ass-back Ballerina is lifting her hips off the Mat currently in Rolling Like a Ball and in assisted exercises on the apparatus: Short Spine Massage, Tower, Rolling Stomach Massage.

These exercises must infiltrate first. They are the gatekeepers of the Roll Over on the Mat.

As for Mr. X, he needs lift and length to find success in Spine Stretch on the Mat.

Aaargh, don't we all?

Lucky for us, we've got oodles of places to do just that.

Thanks Joe. All roads lead to lift!

Let's have Mr. X leave the Mat for refining exercises on the Cadillac, Wunda Chair and Barrels. In time, he'll return to the Mat better than ever!

Patience, my darlings. Don't think you have to solve the world's problems in an hour. Just pick one thing to focus on today.

ONE thing.

Time + Repetition + Consistency = a better Spine Stretch Forward for Mr. X.

Don't sweat it. Whose workout is this anyway?

What you don't like you do twice

So what's the harm – really – in leaving out a detested exercise?

  1. It will never get better.
  2. You miss the gift of information you would have received had you done said detested exercise.

The Pilates System: It's in there.

Oh yeah, there's that.

3. When you remove parts of the system, the system as a whole suffers.

Pilates is the original “muscle confusion” exercise. Remember we've got a strong center and a 2-way stretch in every exercise. Now do all that upside-down, on one leg, with a backbend or a twist…etc…etc…

Can you do it?

Long Live the Pilates System.

Inside the Pilates Studio: Michael Fritzke and Ton Voogt

Inside the Pilates Studio: Michael Fritzke and Ton Voogt

Michael Fritzke (right) and Ton Voogt (left) are longtime veterans of the Pilates Method. Originally trained by none other than Romana Kryzanowska, who referred to them simply as ‘the boys', Michael and Ton have been educating and training Pilates teachers around the globe since the 1990s.

I was first charmed by this pair way back in 2000. Dianne Garrett, one of my first Pilates teachers, told me a story about Ton. Dianne had weekly lessons with Ton during her apprenticeship at The Pilates Studio (Romana's program at the time).

When Dianne would get to the T-straps exercise on the Long Box, Ton would often question her:

“‘T' for…?”

Dianne admitted to being puzzled every time. Was he asking for the purpose of the exercise? No… What about the song, ‘T (tea) for two?' Was that it? What is he asking??

His response made me giggle: “‘T' for Ton, ‘T' for Ton.”

I think I love this guy already.

Dianne would also give me a specific spot/correction in the Shave exercise (Rowing Series on the Reformer). It was not until just this January that I got to feel the same spot from Michael. Ah! There it is again. I love when my Pilates world comes full circle. I had been experiencing moments of Michael and Ton's brilliance since my first Pilates lessons. How lovely.

Remember when Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy that by just using the ruby slippers and her intent she could have gone home to Kansas at any time? It kinda felt like that.

Shortly after my first training program at Excel Pilates, I got to meet Michael and Ton at an Education Seminar. Amazingly I would not see them again until nearly a decade later. But I remembered their fun banter and the warm learning environment they create.

It was a pleasure and a luxury to learn from them for 2 full days this past January at a fantastic event created by Michael, Ton and Elin Benson at Premier Pilates in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Now that their home base is in Arizona, I plan to see much more of them in the next decade.

For more information about Michael and Ton or to find out where they will be teaching next visit

Inside the Pilates Studio: Michael Fritzke and Ton Voogt

1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Michael Fritzke: I don’t have a favorite exercise. It varies from day to day, depending on how my body feels and what it needs to realign and balance. So I guess you could say I have an exercise “du jour.” Today it was extension exercises. It was tax time and I spent too many hours rounded over my desk.

Ton Voogt: Ok to clarify I don’t believe in favorite exercises. Each exercise feels different each day you perform it so sometimes this exercise feels the best and sometimes another exercise feels the best. Having said that, today the Roll Up is one of my favorites. It engages and stretches your entire body. It centers you, you get a great stretch in the front and the back of the body, you feel your abs contracting, and you get a great articulation through the spine.

2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one

MF: I don’t have a least favorite exercise either. I learned early on in my teaching career, not to judge. I believe all exercises, variations and evolutions of the method have merit. The art of teaching is finding the right exercise or variation of the exercise for your client.

TV: Least favorite is a strong word, but the exercise that every time “sneaks” up on me and my mind goes “really….again?” would be Swimming.

3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?

MF: The fact that the method and our bodies are constantly changing and evolving and we have to adapt and grow with these constant variables. My biggest insight is that the essence of the method is quite simple, but it is this simplicity that challenges you creatively, mentally and physically.

TV: The fact that there is always room for improvement and growth. You are never “done” with any exercise, you are never “perfect”, and the method will never stop evolving and growing. It is a fluent and ever moving and growing field. Can it get any more exciting?

4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?

MF: Love, I found it with Ton.

TV: With a good book, on a beautiful beach, together with Michael of course.

5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?

MF: Not to have love in your life.

TV: Not to be able to follow your dreams.

6. What is your favorite Pilates word?

MF: Contrology. The art and science of body mind and spirit, development through disciplined movement. Joe’s one word describes the whole method.

TV: Contrology. It explains and defines the entire method.

7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?

MF: I don’t use many of the “Pilates” words with clients. It is my experience that many clients have no idea what you are talking about and therefore it does not really give them the experience of the movement. I don’t think the use of the “Pilates” words is wrong, it is like using anatomical terms, it is about when and how you use them and with whom.

TV: Any word that does not help the client. I see so many instructors rattling off their cues, the set up of exercises etc., but they pay no attention to what the client is actually doing. Their words and the action of the client/group do not match. Such a waste. Your words matter….use your words!

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

MF: I can honestly say, I have pretty much done what I wanted to do. Teaching Pilates is my third career, but if I had to pick a fourth, I would be a philanthropist…. I just need the billions to spread around! To quote a line from Hello Dolly, “money is like manure, it needs to be spread around.”

TV: Philanthropist….is that a profession?

9. If Heaven exists, and by some chance when you arrive at the pearly gates Joseph Pilates is also there, what would you like to hear him say to you? 

MF: Interesting question. I guess he would say, “Hello!” I believe everything ever created has an energetic field and we all have the ability to tap into Joe’s energetic field of creativity, and most of us probably have. So I guess you could say we have already met….energetically that is.

TV: Based on the stories we heard from Romana Kryzanowska and other protégées about Joseph Pilates I would not be surprised if he said: “WE ARE FULL” (of course in his German accent). What I would like him to say is: Willkommen und viel Spaß! (Welcome and enjoy!)

10. What did you learn today? 

MF: When we were in St. Petersburg for a Pilates convention we took some extra days and went to the Hermitage museum. There we saw a painting called Portrait of a Man by Dominico Capriolo. I did not know this painter so I finally googled him to learn more about him. And what I learned today is that there is not a lot of information about him. So the search continues, because now I really want to know about him.

TV: I really should stop procrastinating. Yeah I should. I will start immediately….tomorrow.

Remember to visit and see where M+T will be teaching near you!

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