The Beginner's Guide to Pilates
by Sian Williams & Dominique Jansen
Foreword by Jillian Hessel
There is not just one
way to work with a
student, or to teach a
The Pilates Method has come a very long way since 1981, when I took my first class with Kathy Grant, a student of Joseph Pilates himself. At this time, Pilates was popular with professional dancers and a handful of other people "in the know," but was mostly unknown to the outside world. I was a professional dancer with an injured back. Word of mouth led me to Kathy's Studio, located in Henri Bendel's department store in Manhattan. Fortunately, fate had led me to one of the best teachers ever trained by Joseph Pilates, or "Papa Joe" as he was known to his students. Through Kathy's constant encouragement and careful coaching, my back got better and I was able to continue my dance career — a small miracle!
However, Kathy also encouraged me to learn to teach Pilates' work. As there were no formal training programs at the time, she sent me to train to teach with her colleague, Carola Trier. Carola was a German expatriate, like Papa Joe himself, and she ran a large, busy studio not far from Kathy's place. Thus began an interesting apprenticeship: I would train to teach with Carola in the morning, and walk across town to Kathy's in the afternoon. I had to learn to be flexible, because though the root and essence of Pilates' work remained the same, Carola and Kathy had completely different teaching styles and personalities.
The gift that I carry with me today from the unique training I received from these two remarkable women is that there is not just one way to work with a student, or to teach a Pilates exercise. In the past 20 years, I have gone on to study with as many of the Pilates Master Teachers as I could, all of whom were taught by Joseph Pilates himself: I have taken workshops with Eve Gentry and Romana Kryzanowa, and Ron Fletcher, in particular, has had an indelible influence on my teaching style. No matter who the teacher, though, the message is always the same: though the specifics of a particular exercise (the "choreography") may differ, the fundamental principles of Pilates — which you will learn in this book — remain unchanged.
I am delighted to write the foreword for the Beginner's Guide to Pilates, because the authors have taken the time to educate the reader about the Pilates Method and its six fundamental principles. Then, they explain the pre-Pilates exercises, or "warm-ups," as Kathy Grant used to call them, before demonstrating Classic Pilates work, along with sensible modifications, which occur throughout the exercise program. This book provides an excellent introduction to the Pilates Method, and presents the material in a logical sequence that makes it accessible, practical, and fun. So as Carola Trier used to say: "It's time to get going!"