A little update

Hello all!

Yes, I haven’t been updating the site much lately… but there is a reason for it: No time!

And I am serious: teaching, building, traveling, interviewing, researching, taking sessions, writing -yes, book is on the works!- testing, making videos and pictures of the whole catalog of Contrology… and some ‘normal’ life next to it.

I included some pictures to keep you barely updated.

1st is the Head Pole above -I decided to give it a name- of which there is two different designs. I am using the 1st design in the pic.

Then there is the bench mat. I made one and I am super-happy with it. It is narrower so you get a nice sense of direction and, like the high mat in the studio, it is great to teach on. I can’t tell you how much nicer the strap is this way. Clients really like it too. Especially since they feel that using an exact replica of the one that Joseph used in the studio is kind of cool.


Then is the Metal V-bed and the Rehab Table. Both joined into one. The middle bar is the Metal Bed (thanks to Sean Gallagher for access to the original) and the top bar is the Rehab Bed, precursor of the Table (Cadillac) and different. It has different setting to also accommodate the earlier Table which was lower (the one you can see him using with Romana) so 3 beds in one.

I am building a new table for them, since it should be quite a bit narrower, but I decided to add it quickly to the High Mat since we have a client who due to her condition has to stay in the table for literally her whole session allowing her to perform more exercises.

The different settings of everything allows you to perform many exercises that are otherwise too dangerous in the Trapeze Table or make no sense. After all the original order of the Table comes from the Rehab Table before the trapeze and canopy were added. We had it for almost a year and it has become an essential since a lot of exercises are made for it.


Well, we continue to photograph and video everything -I mean everything-, clean the catalog and write about the method.

Sean Gallagher is also writing another part and in the near future you can expect some results. Very concrete, serious and well done.

I hope you liked the pics.


The Table and The Tower: Cadillac and Guillotine

Hello all!
I received an email a few days ago about the next workshop: The Table – Wall Unit – Guillotine and to my surprise the person who wrote it didn’t know that the Table is actually the Cadillac. We are talking about a trainer… Of course I am not blaming anyone for not knowing something, I just find it rather weird that the person was never told by their teacher trainers, so I decided to explain a little more about it since maybe others out there do not know and would like to know.

Joseph referred to the Cadillac always as the Table and some people -like Romana- would also do so though she also called it ‘the Trap-Table’ and ‘the Cadillac’ too. The Table (Cadillac) as we know it today, was one of Joseph’s last additions to the equipment, quite a bit after the rest of the equipment. Yes, not a bed from the camps… not by a mile. In fact it is not even his invention, nor he ever said it was or claimed/patented it. Yes, it was inspired -another word for ‘copy’- in the hospital beds that have a canopy and that is where he probably got the idea from, and yes, he did already have a few beds of his own: The Massage-Rehabilitation Table, the ‘V’ bed and other earlier inventions. But none of them actually had a canopy, a trapeze or a Push Through Bar, a bar which is in many ways the last of his best inventions. The original ‘Cadillac’ had actually many more elements but as we know Joseph always gravitated towards economy and many didn’t make it through time. So it was a new ‘extension’ of his Massage-Rehabilitation bed which already included the ‘Roll Back’ side, so to speak, with an increase in height and the addition of many things, from which the Trapeze, the ‘fuzzies’ and the Push Through Bar made it through -no pun intended :-)- after he didn’t find other ‘attachments’ either necessary or interesting. So, resuming, the Table was an ever changing piece of equipment but the Cadillac in its current incarnation is a much later piece of equipment and not really Joe’s creation entirely though based in his earlier versions.

So were did the word ‘Cadillac’ come from? Well, as we all know, when we start learning Pilates the ‘nicest’ exercises are on the Table. In the 50′s the best car you could have in the US was a Cadillac so at one point someone stated that the Table was the “Cadillac” of the equipment. And the name stuck.

The Tower (Guillotine) is actually much older than the Table (again, the Table as we know it today) and, as some of you have guessed, some of the exercises that we do on the Table actually come from the Tower. Teaser, Monkey and of course The Tower were originally Tower exercises (You did the Tower in the Tower…) The exercises transferred nicely to the Push Through Bar -unless you are tall, then the Guillotine is way better- though some of their characteristics and feeling are different since the bar moves just vertically -you go UP, more of a Jackknife/Balance Control feeling- and with the bar you describe an arch -more of a Short Spine feeling- with the Teaser you have to work harder in the Table to feel it -unless you set it like the Guillotine- while in the Guillotine it finds you before you need to look for it. Everyone should at one point try the exercises in the Tower since those versions are the ones that define them, especially for men.

Again, some myths -like the one about beds/springs/internment camps- grow through time and are assimilated as knowledge. Suffice to say that the beds in the camps had no springs -straw was used and you had to watch that they didn’t steal it- and even middle class people in the free world didn’t have springs in their beds.

Most studios lack a Guillotine and their beds are too wide – Joe actually reduced the width through time since it adapted better to the general public not challenging the shoulders too much in things like the Arm Springs- so the feel is different. That is not a criticism is just a logical end when you eliminate some things and put emphasis on others: nowadays we tend to try to account with people with wider shoulders in things like the Push Through, creating wider bars. On Joe’s day you needed to straddle the Table for quite a few exercises so the wider tables don’t allow many to do so well. Also there were many more Arm Spring exercises than the ones practiced today and the separation of the poles it too wide for them. But since those exercises are not done -even known to most- it makes sense that they change the equipment since they don’t need it for the original exercises, they are actually not missing any features in the Cadillac and maybe is better that those exercises are not done in the new versions of the equipment.

Often Romana will point out how much safer the Tower was than the Push Through Bar for things like the Teaser, Monkey and Tower. Also the extra width of the Tower challenged men better in the Arm Spring Series -which has more exercises than the Mat…- and the ladies should practice them outside the Table since the poles are closer together.

The only draw back introduced by the Cadillac was the fact that because of the increase in height many of the exercises became very hard and fell into disuse. Needless to say that we will be bringing them back… 🙂

Also names like the Electric Chair and the Baby Chair are ‘familiar’ denominations for the High Chair and the Small Chair. Again, there is nothing wrong with calling them that way but it is always nice to know the original names.

Well, that is just about it…

Romana Kryzanowska 1923 – 2013

Romana passed away on the early morning of the 30th of August.
They say that from all the people we meet during our lifetime about 5 of them are essential for who we are and we make decisions and become who we are through meeting them. I am sure Romana was one of those 5 people for many individuals.
Is she in heaven now? It doesn’t matter. We live for ever if those left behind keep us alive on their memories. She has therefore entered the pantheon of the immortals.

Adios Romanita.

(There will be a memorial service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NY on September 13th at 4:00)

The Biography Website

The Biography site.

We are building a website for the authors of the biography of Hubertus Joseph Pilates using the material that they want to add to their existing work to complement the one already on the book and also to show some of the graphical content already on the book. The gallery is quite extensive and we will be adding more material. Almost everyday  a few pictures are added.


Also, apart from the lists of places and people consulted, Javier Perez Pont has agreed to publish the eulogy he wrote for the 2012 Conference in Nice. A different approach to writing and thinking about Pilates (the man) and his ideas.

We added an errata page and a forum. The gallery is now over 110 pictures!! And some more to come.

In the mean time feel free to add here any thoughts, suggestions or comments.


Javier Velazquez

Pilates is NOT, thankfully, a core workout!

Every couple of years we seem to get a whole new set of rather fashionable words which everyone in the know “must” use. Otherwise you risk not being “in”. So sometimes when a possible client calls in and says: “well, I would like to strengthen my core” my eyes roll back, high pressure steam comes out of my ears and I sort of turn a shade of purple… what a STUPID word to use… and what a way to totally miss what Pilates is. Well, at least in my view… which is, of course, 20/20.

First of all the word is some what misused; like when talking about the Sun or the Earth, core refers to their very physical center, not unlike that of an apple, which shares with human beings the fact that their core is also rather inedible: guts, left over food and shit (sorry I couldn’t help myself: my humor genes are obviously defective) Your stomach muscles are way closer to your surface.

Secondly, and way more important (and less obnoxious from my part), to say that “Pilates is a core workout” is not only a pathetic marketing line, but it is highly inaccurate, denotes no knowledge of the method and best of all, THANKFULLY,  is not true. But hey, it is fashionable!! can’t help but use the word, can’t you? Like the ones who use the “in 30 sessions you will have a new body” and, ehem, ehem, did they deliver?

Is like saying that cooking is just about chopping ingredients, music is playing scales, getting married is only for making children… we do use our stomachs, back and all hip area muscles but to equal that use with stating that using the core is the idea behind the method is simply atrocious. Is like throwing away 98% of the method. Yes at least 98% -if you push me 99%- of the method is annihilated: you are supposed to start by using your Powerhouse but to perform something else, the majority of the exercises are there for something else than the damn stomach muscles. If you are only going to concentrate on that moment of initiating with the Powerhouse, well, you are turning the ignition on and going NOWHERE. Like the exercise in the picture: you are going to need strong arms and legs, no amount of “core” alone is going to get you there, in fact, to strong a “core” will only get in the way…

Core workouts, especially when done without other kinds of exercises/movements to counter their abuse, are BAD for you. They throw you totally out of balance ( a part of the body is way more developed than the rest) with all the problems that that creates. And if you succeed in creating a mighty “core” your back probably wont be very happy about it. They don’t actually promote movement and length, like the stability ball, they work the person by holding rather than by moving them. (Hence Pilates on the Ball is akin to Skating On Buckets) Yes Pilates strengthens the torso muscles but for their UTILITY not as an end on itself, and yes at the beginning most people usually need to make up for years of disuse and concentrate a little extra on them, but why service a car if you don’t intend to use it?

Sure you can do just the Pilates exercises that relate to a particular part of the body and even perform them on a Ball, with a Stick, hell, as you walk your dog too! (Walking the Dog Pilates, watch out for that one…) but Pilates is above all “movement” and it does its magic through movement and it tries to move absolutely the whole body. Including the so called “core” moves. And that is not to say at all that working on the ball is bad, boring, not useful or that is doesn’t produce results… IT does. But we are all drifting away from the CORE of Pilates: MOVEMENT. After almost 30 years doing it and more than 10000 teaching it I can attest to this: the best that Pilates has to offer happens when the client moves for the sake of movement itself. Even when performed wrong.

Some people equate it to the Powerhouse but In Pilates/Contrology the Powerhouse actually expands further than the stomach muscles so again not really applicable or the word “core” means a lot of different things to different people. I personally prefer “center” since it is rather undefined and it makes the individual focus on what he is trying to achieve rather than with what he is achieving it. We are building bodies which work as a unity, any dismemberment that goes beyond a simple momentary realization of how the body works is not only maybe a waste of time it doesn’t produce what we are looking for. Fabulous use of the body.

But we got to sell and the word is short, sexy and SO nice to pronounce: COOOOORE… but while it seems a good idea to actually use it to “sell” Pilates it is inaccurate, unhealthy and will eventually only bring harm to the method because core work outs are not that good for you and when people will realize that then you will have to pay the price of having used the term.

Together with a whole bunch of definitions such as integration, dynamic alignment, core stability, propioception, pelvic floor, closed/open chains, etc… core is one of those many “labels” that create a pseudo intellectual picture -though distorted- of Pilates, which in short is more based on “get with it” and then talk about it -if you must- than on trying to place every in pigeon boxes. All this terms, which mediocre trainers can’t help but overuse (and often not even really understand) in their quest for professional appreciation, and all the name dropping in the world won’t really make your client move better or even move at all. You may impress quite a few of them, but maybe the time is better spent doing something else and is it really our job? Is Pilates Trainer such a lowly profession that we need to pump our status in front of the clients so much? Well, on the other side of the spectrum, I like pimping my clients bodies… and won’t call myself a “Body Tuner”… after all my clients come to get stronger, longer and leaner, mean little machines, not to get smarter… maybe I have really weird clients…

Know-how is the new gold, if I know something you do not know you may be ready to part with your ca$h in order to acquire it. So everyone will try to come up with “new” stuff so they have something to sell that others don’t have and MUST acquire, lest they want to burn in the fires of “Not In The Know” hell. People will go to all lengths to “create” new stuff and if one doesn’t take care one can end up paying good money to learn how to walk again!! Though it most probably won’t be called that way, it would just be a tad boring, don’t you think? Human Horizontal Translation Techniques, otherwise know as HHTT, sounds so much better.

This people will turn a simple spoon into a Soup Transfer Device and proceed to sell you a course on their use: how to Safely Perform Liquid Transfer and Ingestion of Hot/Cold Liquids.

Stop using the core of your torso (the stuff you usually get rid of) and start using the core of your skull.

The idea behind the workshops… if you can call them that!

Ok, so here is the idea:

There is a zillion ways to get “certified” in Pilates (or so called Pilates Methods) and we are NOT going to start a discussion on their particular value. Nowadays they are almost more trainers than practitioners!!! The performing leaves -in out view- a lot to be desired. Yes there are many good performers out there but considering, first the amount of trainers and second, the breath and possibilities of the method, most trainers do or can do very little. Again, let’s not discuss why they don’t practice enough. Moving on, we would like to offer some “help”.

That “help” is not so much knowledge but inspiration: on our “workshops” -for lack of a more appropriate word- we don’t “teach”, we perform all together. Quite a few of the participants are of a rather high level so it also becomes an opportunity to see the work and how it looks on others.

We keep the level high to encourage people to reach up to it and we try our best to help them get there.

Rather than watch the advanced work on a “parallel” universe, on the web or on a dvd, you get to be part of the experience. You get to learn the exercises that you always wanted to practice and see the ones you wanted help with.

After 30 year doing Pilates I can only say one thing: the ones who have been practicing it for longer are the best teachers. I don’t mean teaching/training others. I mean sweating. And not just enough -like for example during a certification- to allow you to perform the exercise once but consistently enough to create some track record for yourself.

The best you can offer is your own experience and not repeat what others say it should feel like.

We make the workshops quite affordable and you are always in charge of how much you do during them.

If you would like to be informed about when they are happening let us know at info@pilatesart.nl. They are on average once every two months.