Hallmarks of the True Pilates Method

"The Pilates method of body conditioning reawakens and stimulates brain cells, stimulating further the functioning of the mind" Joseph Pilates
  • At the heart of the True Pilates method is the Powerhouse, the web of abdominal, back, hip and thigh muscles that supports the spine and the organs. Every movement in Pilates originates in and is sustained by the Powerhouse.
  • The Powerhouse keeps the frame of the torso which centers the body in all actions.
  • A focused, mindful concentration is key to the performance of all exercises.
  • The movements challenge and improve coordination.
  • The exercises are carried out with precise control.
  • Each exercise aims for a precise goal and benefit, rhythmic dynamic and form.
  • Many exercises incorporate specific breathing on inhale and exhale.
  • The full workout flows with vigorous dynamics and a minimum of movement in the transitions.
Photo by Rommel Ruiz

Photo by Rommel Ruiz

"With the True Pilates method, one is always progressing.  The addition of more challenging exercises, with the proper amount of repetitions makes for a comprehensive workout that is ever invigorating." Grete Gryzwana

About Joseph Pilates and Romana Kryzanowska

Joseph Hubertus Pilates, the inventor of Contrology, was born in Mönchengladbach, Germany, in 1883. After suffering as a child from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever, he dedicated his life to becoming physically and mentally stronger. He studied bodybuilding and gymnastics, and was posing for anatomical charts by the age of 14.

In 1912, Pilates moved to England to earn a living as a professional boxer, a self-defense trainer and a circus performer. Interned during World War I with other German nationals, he organized physical training and healthy lifestyle lessons for his fellow inmates, became a nurse and worked with internees who suffered from wartime diseases and injuries. Ever creative, he helped them with their physical rehabilitation by devising special equipment: He rigged the bed-springs to invent exercise apparatus for the infirm.

After the war, Pilates initially returned to Germany where he began physical and self-defense training in the Hamburg Military, but in 1926 he immigrated to the United States. On the ship to America, he met his future wife, Clara, and together the couple opened a studio in New York City.

While the Pilates conditioning program quickly found its devotees in the circus, the performing arts and the dance communities — both George Balanchine and Martha Graham were convinced of its efficiency — Pilates kept improving it. A tireless perfectionist, he documented his work with before and after photos of clients, with pictures that show the sequence of exercises on each apparatus, and with short films. In 1945, his book, Return to Life through Contrology, was published.

After Pilates death in 1967, Clara ran the studio for another ten years, along with Joseph and Clara’s protégé, Romana Kryzanowska. After Clara's death, Romana continued their groundbreaking work.

Romana Kryzanowska was introduced to Joseph Pilates and his conditioning method in 1940 through her ballet teacher, George Balanchine. She soon became a working student at the studio, and starting in 1958 she trained clients side by side with Joseph and Clara Pilates.

One of the closest direct links to Pilates’ work, Romana promised Joe that she would train other instructors in his method. After Joseph and Clara’s death, she structured the program and founded Romana’s Pilates School. The school was later renamed True Pilates New York and is now run by Romana’s daughter, Sari Mejia Santo. Romana passed away in 2013. Although she retired from teaching in 2004, she continued to mentor other teachers, prepared master instructors, and completed a comprehensive video series, The Legacy Edition.

Romana’s training program always remained faithful to the original and authentic legacy of Joseph Pilates: long hours of apprenticeship, observation, and supervised exams, both written and oral, given by qualified teachers. The rigor of the schooling guarantees that students emerge as highly qualified, professional instructors. The certificate of achievement is a world-renowned reference.

"True Pilates is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, play and work. You will develop muscular power with corresponding endurance, ability to perform arduous duties, to play strenuous games, to walk, run or travel for long distances without undue body fatigue or mental strain"
Joseph H. Pilates