I began studying Pilates with Roxanne “Rocky” Murata in a small studio on the upper east side of Manhattan in 1992. My girlfriend at that time was already studying with her, so we took dual Reformer training sessions together. Yes, it came as a surprise to learn the “Rocky” she’d been running off to meet early several mornings a week was a woman, and one with infectious enthusiasm for Pilates as well – enthusiasm that I was quickly caught up in. I believe my Kundalini Yoga training helped me “take to Pilates” quickly – it almost seemed second nature. I loved the way I felt after the sessions, and was amazed that another client who trained with us lost 35 lbs in a month and a half. But it was expensive. I loved working on the apparatus, but never was terribly fond of the mat work, as it seemed less “fun” than Kundalini Yoga, and was less diverse as well.
Eventually I signed up for the Pilates Teacher Training, which Rocky helped facilitate. Training sessions were held on upper Broadway – the upper west side, downstairs from “Steps” dance studio. I was extremely fortunate to have Romana Kryzanowska as instructor, and began to work through my apprenticeship hours at Dragos Gym with her and her daughter Sari.
Some of my classmates there, like Brooke Siler, have gone on to become world-class trainers, and it was both a joy and inspiration to be learning the system with them and sharing my notes (and Joe Pilates’ then out-of-print Contrology manual xeroxes) with them. But my apartment rent skyrocketed, and I decided it was time to head west to grad school.
As I moved west, I visited the “other” Pilates people in the US, at their studio in Santa Fe, NM. I took a group mat class there, but found myself bored; unlike the Classical Pilates training, there was no aerobic benefit to the class, and lots of relaxation, like a very mild yoga class. However, they certainly surpassed the NY studio in their published material.
At grad school, I found that CalArts wouldn’t let me use their Pilates studio because Dance School insurance didn’t cover people from other departments. The nearest certified studio was in Pasadena, so I had to put Pilates on hold until after graduation.
In 1999, after I graduated, the Pilates people in NYC told me I’d need to take the teacher training again to continue certification – and they’d doubled the price of it. The primary nearby training studio in West Hollywood had seceded from the NY alliance, so the brush up classes were simply impractical. I’d found my way to the hotbed of Kundalini Yoga training in Los Angeles, so although I used my folding home reformer frequently, I turned my back on Pilates training certification for a while, and became a Kundalini Yoga teacher.
A couple of chance encounters – with Siri Galliano at the Sikh Temple in West Hollywood and with Kara Wiley – led to my involvement with Siri’s Pilates Intensive in 2011.
Siri has the most extensive experience with Pilates apparatuses of anyone I’ve met. (They’re not “equipment” insisted Romana; they’re “apparatus.”) Siri frequently consults with studio owners about available options, and helps facilitate studio sales. I have been fortunate to learn from and work for her.
Since working at her intensive, I have been helping deliver and maintain Pilates apparatuses for Siri and a variety of studios throughout Southern California. My background as a cross-country bicyclist and cabinetmaker have contributed to my skills in this field; experience has shown me that if you can rebuild your bicycle, you can safely service your Reformer.
I love working with and for Pilates Trainers. They are the unsung miracle workers in the rehabilitation world today. It breaks my heart every time I run into a scoliosis sufferer with metal rods in their back who don’t understand they could have prevented that with Pilates. I’ve seen people who’ve been told by doctors that they would never dance, walk, or even move again – and continued with great success as dancers and athletes; people with degenerative nerve diseases that were active into their nineties; and many once thought “terminally disabled” people who became Pilates evangelists and trainers. Others have degenerative disk problems in their spine and can’t afford a Pilates cure because their health insurance doesn’t cover it, although it will pay for less effective but far more costly surgery!
Unfortunately I’ve also met people who’ve been injured by their Pilates trainers (probably not “classically trained” ones). I wish I could offer a solution to this issue, which, though uncommon, is truly troubling to the other well-trained instructors.
It’s somewhat frustrating too see men shy away from Pilates because they don’t know what it is or can do for them. It’s mainstream popularity has resulted from marketing aimed at the fit housewife, who squeezes her Pilates class in on the way to the society lunch she signs checks for. We all love these clients; don’t get me wrong! But the aura of exclusivity does a disservice to the others who can benefit from the system. After all, Joe developed the reformer and much of his apparati to maintain the health of other prisoners on the Isle of Wight. It’s a health system which works both on the body and MIND, for everybody. To learn it right you need a good trainer, and apparatus in good working order. I can help you service and maintain your apparatuses, and suggest good trainers if you’re in the NYC or LA area.
Arthur Kegerreis (323) 512-2175
librlart [at] gmail.com