"Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong posture, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit." - Joseph Pilates
Pilates has gained much popularity in the last two decades, but its origins date all the way back to early twentieth century Europe. Born in Germany, Joseph Pilates endured a childhood plagued by illness. His experience coping with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever molded his future dedication to fitness and to the exercises we use today.
Even as a young man, Pilates was determined to overcome his ailments and live a healthy lifestyle. Accordingly, he studied anatomy, Eastern and Western exercises, and engineering, which would later come in handy when he began designing fitness equipment.
While in London at the outbreak of the World War One, Pilates was placed in a German national internment camp, where he developed a series of floor routines that focused on alignment, balance, flexibility, core strength and mental focus. He taught his fellow prisoners his concepts and exercises, which became what we know today as Pilates Matwork.
Pilates was later transferred to another camp where he acted as a nurse and caretaker for those with wartime disease and injuries. He put his engineering skills to work when he began experimenting with rigging springs and pulleys onto hospital beds in order to better rehabilitate his patients. This equipment and the accompanying exercises were the precursor to the modern day Pilates workouts on the Cadillac and Reformer.
After World War I, Pilates moved to New York City and married wife Clara. Together, they opened a fitness studio that gained a strong following among the city's professional dance community including George Balanchine. During their time in New York, Joe and Clara trained many of the "Pilates Masters" who would further his work and bring Pilates to future generations. This group of students included Kathy Grant and Romana Kryzanowska who would later go on to train Bridge Pilates owner Blossom Crawford among other Bridge Pilates instructors.
For a fun animated history of Pilates, watch this video!
To learn more about this Joe Pilates and the origins of the Pilates method, visit:
Kathleen Stanford Grant
"One size does not fit all" - Kathleen Stanford Grant
Kathy Grant was a first generation, Master Pilates Teacher. She is often referred to as a Pilates Elder (someone that studied directly under Joseph Pilates). One of two people to receive their certification from Mr. Pilates, Kathy was a pioneer and known for being a great innovator in the Pilates community. She lived a full life as a professional dancer, arts administrator and Pilates Teacher.
The following timeline highlights her personal achievements and the contributions she made to the fields of Pilates and dance. It also notes the longstanding relationship she had with Bridge Pilates founder Blossom Leilani Crawford.
Click here to read more about Kathy Grant's life and her affect on Blossom's.
Biographical Timeline: Kathleen Stanford Grant
1921: Born Kathleen Brown in Boston, Massachusetts on August 21.
1938 - 1946: Attended Boston Conservatory of Music on full scholarship.
1946 - 1960:
- Began as a dancer in New York City night clubs Zanzibar and Club Ebony.
- Performed with Louis Armstrong, Bill Robinson, Pearl Bailey, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, the Nicholas Brothers, Coles and Atkins.
- Dancer in the Broadway production of Finian's Rainbow and Kiss Me Kate.
- Performed with and for Donald McKayle, Walter Nicks, Paul Taylor, Geoffry Holder, Carmen Dellavalade, Arthur Mitchell, Pearl Lang, Mary Anthony, Louis Johnson.
1950 - 1954:
- First Dancer (and Co-Director) with Claude Marchant (former member of the Katherine Dunham Company) Company for four years. Toured Europe, South America, Middle East, and North Africa.
- Performed two seasons at the Festival of Two Worlds, Spoleto, Italy.
1958 - 1960: Pace School of Business Administration.
1957 - 1965: Assistant to Carola Trier at her Pilates Studio at 200 West 58th Street.
1964 - 1965: Completed 2,200 hours under the New York State Rehabilitation Program at Joseph Pilates gym of Physical Rehabilitation/Contrology.
1967 - 1968: Assistant Director of the YWCA.
1967 - 1969: Director of Clark Center for the Performing Arts where she created and designed dance, theater, music and visual arts programs. Resident companies included Alvin Ailey Company, Anna Sokolow Rodgers Company, Eleo Pomare Company and Fred Benjamin.
1968 - 1970: Director of the YWCA.
1970 - 1972: First Administrative Director and Company Manager of Dance Theater of Harlem as well as Resident teacher.
1971: Served on the Dance Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts.
1973 - 1988:
Continued teaching experience:
- Director /Instructor of the Pilates Gym at Henri Bendel (upon the invitation of Romana Kryzanowska).
- Taught Pilates workshops for Connecticut College, Bates College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens.
- Taught private sessions for actors and singers including Burgess Meredith, Michal Tulan, Cicely Tyson, Alfre Woodard, Terence Stamp and Matthew Broderick
1988 - 2010: Adjunct Faculty at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts teaching physical conditioning and rehabilitating Dance students in the Pilates Method.
1993: Introduced to Blossom Leilani Crawford, a freshman dance student at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, who would become her protege and close assistant for 17 years.
1996: Requests Blossom serve as her assistant and Pilates demonstrator for her morning Matwork class at NYU.
1999: Advises Blossom Crawford to get a teaching certificate through a private study with Romana Kryzanowska.
2010: Passes away in Brooklyn, New York on May 27.