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Pilates - The Smoke and Mirrors of Pilates Marketing


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I normally smile when someone brings up the word "Classical Pilates." The last time I mentioned this, I said I have the greatest respect for our classical teachers, but unfortunately, I do not have classical clients. And that's when the storm hit – vicious attacks on social media and a barrage of emails. So, today, I hold my breath once again as I dare to talk about it once more.


Puffing Away with Joe: The Original Bad Boy of Pilates

Joseph Pilates, the man who started it all, was not your typical image of a guru. He wasn't sipping green smoothies or doing serene meditation sessions. No, Joe was more of a cigar-smoking, whiskey-drinking, no-nonsense kind of guy. And if you dared enter his studio without knowing your "Hundred" from your "Elephant," you might find yourself unceremoniously tossed out on your Spandex-clad behind!

So, when we hear about "Classical Pilates," it's essential to remember that the original Pilates guru wasn't exactly what you'd call a picture of Zen. He was more of a "get-your-act-together" kind of guy, which brings us to our first question:


Whose Pilates Is It Anyway?

When we talk about "Classical Pilates," whose teachings are we referring to, anyway? Is it the strict and unyielding Romana Kryzanowska, who studied directly under Joe and contributed to the development of the Pilates method? Or perhaps it's the legendary Cathy Grant, who added her unique twists to the mix, making her style stand out in the Pilates crowd.

And let's not forget Ron Fletcher, who infused some dance-like grace into his version of authentic Pilates. So, who's the real Pilates maestro here? It's like choosing between Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and the lesser-known yet equally influential Lolita San Miguel and Kathy Grant – each with their unique style, but all Pilates in their own right.


CTM (Classically Trained Modified) - The Rebels of Pilates

Ah, but we can't forget the rebels of the Pilates world, the CTM (Classically Trained Modified) instructors! These folks have taken the Pilates teachings and added their own playful twist. They're like the rock 'n' roll stars of Pilates, breaking a few rules, and having a blast while doing it.

The CTM crowd prefers a neutral pelvis in supine exercises, keeps the buttocks/glutes/sit bones "un-squeezed" to maintain a balanced lower back, and focuses on open collarbones and drawing the shoulder blades on the back. They teach with the legs parallel and together or parallel and apart, except for specific instances requiring external hip rotation. And they emphasize flowing movement, more like exercise than dance.


The Smoke and Mirrors of "Pilates" Marketing

Now, here's the kicker. In today's Pilates landscape, everyone and their uncle's cat seems to be a "Pilates" expert. Studios use it to market their classes, and instructors flaunt it to prove their worthiness. But how "Pilates" are they, really?

If Joe were here today, he might raise an eyebrow (between puffs of his cigar, of course). The term "Pilates" has become a bit of a buzzword, thrown around to make things sound fancier than they are. It's like putting a monocle on a cat and calling it a "Pilates Feline Connoisseur."


The Rich Tapestry of "Classical" Pilates

In the end, the term "Classical Pilates" can encompass a rich tapestry of interpretations. It may include not only Joseph Pilates' original work but also the contributions and insights of his dedicated students and the evolution of the method over time. This recognition adds depth to the understanding of Pilates and highlights the richness of its history.


So, next time you come across a "Pilates" studio, instructor, or even a rebellious CTM practitioner, remember that behind the marketing smoke and mirrors, there's a diverse world of Pilates interpretations, including the unique styles of Lolita San Miguel and Kathy Grant, and the rich tapestry of contributions from dedicated students. And just like Joe with his cigars and no-nonsense attitude, perhaps a little diversity isn't such a bad thing in the world of Pilates.


Until next time, keep moving, keep smiling, and keep that Pilates spirit alive, no matter how classical, modified, or rebellious it may be! Cheers to the quirky world of Pilates and the characters who keep it spinning.

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