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Posted by on Mar 5, 2017 in Business & Education, Featured, Interviews, Social | 0 comments

Ken Endelman – The man behind Balanced Body

Ken Endelman – The man behind Balanced Body

Working with Pilates as I do, I get to interview some of the most inspirational people involved with Pilates over the years. It makes my job so much more rewarding and helps to inspire and inform our ever increasing audience of Pilates enthusiasts.
During Pilates on Tour 2016 in London, I got to interview Ken Endelman, the man behind the innovative creation of Pilates equipment. It was a golden opportunity to find out more about the man, how he started out, his inspiration and plans for the future.
Before we start, a little background about the man himself for those who are new to Pilates. Ken started out as a designer of custom made furniture back in the 70s along the famous Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. A future customer would change Ken’s path when she came in asking for modifications on an existing piece of equipment, known as the “Reformer.” With no background in or knowledge of Pilates, he studied the original designs from Joseph Pilates, consulted with other knowledgeable instructors and original students of Pilates, and came up with something special. From there would begin a whole new adventure for Ken and Pilates enthusiasts. Today Ken is the CEO of Balanced Body, providing equipment, exercise, instruction and much, much more worldwide.
My first question to Ken was about his early days and that first special client: Looking back now he can remember stalling and putting her off, thinking it was something he shouldn’t really get involved in, that it would be a phase, a passing fancy that wouldn’t really result in anything. However, the lady was persistent, and following some random dates in the diary as to when he would start, the lady in question eventually cornered and confronted him about when he was going to start. So from there, he worked on modifying and refining the Reformer.  Ken continued his work on Pilates equipment and creating pieces that helped make Pilates a pleasurable, safer and more unique experience for the user.  Input from others helped him to formulate his ideas including an antiques dealer from Majorca, Pilates instructors from all over the States, the use of unusual bits and pieces such as motorcycle parts and various shaped lamps, everything was explored and everything was changed, modified and fine-tuned, until it was right, until it was perfect.


Lawsuits and trademarks made Ken’s early career difficult. Pilates really started taking off in the 1990s, with the enthusiastic endorsement of celebrities and movie stars. However, back in those early days, it was impossible to use the word ”Pilates”, or even call yourself a ”Pilates” instructor without the risk of being sued.  The ‘P’ word was a dirty word that everyone was afraid to mention, and it made it difficult for Ken to use it for his new found business in Pilates equipment.  Ken took the lead in the Pilates trademark dispute, and thankfully, in 2000 the federal court in Manhattan, along with the US Patent & Trademark Office, decided that the word Pilates was not trademarked and could be used to describe exercise, equipment or studios without risk of legal action, and that had a tremendous impact on Ken Endelman’s career.  The result was that the name Pilates was freely available to everyone.

Although Pilates became popular in the 90s, it started much earlier, Ken was happy to fill me in on its earlier history.  Joseph Pilates was born back in the 1920s and become popular for a brief period in the 60s before fading away in late ’67.  In the 1990s, it gained more momentum with Pilates schools coming up in the mid-90s, and of course, with the help of movie stars and celebrities, it gained worldwide popularity.


For Ken his work is about the process of perfecting, improving, and brainstorming with other people. Collaboration is the key and he’s worked hard with many people over the years to fine tune his existing equipment and to come up with new ideas.  At this same time, other aspects of Balanced Body business are developing, like for example, education.  Numbers for the Pilates on Tour Conferences, and workshops are increasing and it takes tremendous dedication and focus he to keep all these balls in the air. You take an empty room, he points out, a room with nothing but carpets and walls, and turn it into this dynamic conference centre with equipment, people, and all the dynamics that goes with that, and then at the end of it you have an empty room again.
Looking to the future, Ken mentions that in the US, 85% of Pilates users are female, and this is something he wants to change (considering the founder was a man).  It’s good to have more men on-board, and he’s looking to see what he can do to make this happen.  Men like to work hard, get sweaty and beat it up slightly, although he’s quick to point out that perhaps he’s generalising a little.  As most of the exercises men do, usually, involve standing positions, and Pilates involves lying down and sitting, he’s looking to create something where there’s more focus on practicing in a standing position. What kind of situations can we present people with? What will make it more appetising for them? And how can we market Pilates in a way that’s appealing to people who aren’t doing it now?
In his 40th year in business, Ken is as enthusiastic about Pilates now as he ever was. The beauty of Pilates with its “cool set of principles” that make a lot of sense, but, his mind is still working on improvements and attracting a wider audience.  He’s frustrated by the fact that Pilates is only a small part of the fitness world and that people still don’t really understand it and would like to find a way to reach that part of the population and steer them towards Pilates through varied approaches.  For example, the Bodhi SuSpension System,  a practical and challenging piece of equipment for the Pilates studio owner, it needs somewhere to hang, preferably a strong wall, a wall that’s safe. The Bodhi provides exercises that involve working against gravity. Yes, there are other kinds of suspension like TRX but he feels that Pilates can feature its own unique form of suspension, and he’s keen for people to try it out.


Does Ken know more about Pilates now and does he practice it himself?  Yes, for a man who started out as a self-described ‘closet engineer,’ he does enjoy Pilates, even though he started out not having a clue as to what it was. He understood the basics enough to create the machines he came up with, and what their end goal should be, but little more. However, for more than a decade he’s been consistently practicing Pilates back home in Sacramento. He also practices it whenever he can when travelling.
Balanced Body is very much a family affair with everyone involved including his wife and his sons. His daughter-in-law has become a Pilates Instructor and is also involved in the business, Pilates is clearly had its influence on the entire family.
Apart from Pilates, how does Ken relax when he’s not working? He enjoys bike riding and goes for ‘epic’ rides.  In 2015 he prepared for a fantastic ride at Lake Tahoe in aid of Leukaemia. His preparations involved daily 100-mile bike rides!
I ask him if he has anything to tell us he’s not told anyone else before, a secret he’d like to share with us today, he thinks for a moment and then suggests philanthropy. He’d like to be a philanthropist, to be able to give stuff away to those most in need. He buys the $5 lottery ticket and thinks about what he’d do with the money should he win a considerable sum. We talk about small kindnesses and the importance of giving. He mentions the book “Who Stole My Cheese?” and we talk about simply being nice, of making someone’s day, just because you can.
His favourite Pilates moves are standing ones mostly, (no surprises there) and also standing moves using the Corealign. He also loves the Elephant.
I ask finally, what’s his birth sign? Pisces. And that’s interesting I tell him because that’s the typical ”giver” – the philanthropist who’s tries and does everything until they have a large body of knowledge. Then they think about what and how can they give to others.
It’s a perfect way to end the interview.

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Posted by on Nov 14, 2016 in Becoming a Teacher, Business & Education, Featured, Pilates | 0 comments

The Pilates Apprentice Story – passion and business

The Pilates Apprentice Story – passion and business

Whether 17 years old or 62 years old; initially trained with a classical orientation or contemporary, the experience as an apprentice in the Pilates method is an exhilarating and challenging, yet life-changing experience.

My colleague and I spent a few hours getting to know five teacher-trainees a little better, asking what made them decide to become  Pilates instructors.  What drew them in? What were their goals when finished?  Who inspired them?  Whether West Coast or East Coast trainees, their stories are relatable to all of us.  While their varying answers might seem predictable, “helping others love pilates and wanting to make a difference,” there is another theme that can be found in all their stories.  The desire and ability to have the flexibility of creating their own business doing something that they love, ie., teaching Pilates.

Follow along.  We dug deep to extract a few pithy, take-away points from the commitments each of them gave to the rigor of the training program and challenge of building a business with Pilates.

On the East Coast, Gina Jackson, teacher/studio owner, Pilates4Fitness, spoke briefly with three teachers-in-training about their personal observations. On the West Coast, Lesley Logan, teacher/teacher-trainer, Profitable Pilates, spoke with with two stay-at-home moms that made the transition to Pilates teachers.  Not surprisingly, from the eldest to the youngest, a classical training program was the intended goal of each; ultimately operating a business as an independent and continuing to learn from the industry and their respective mentors and support teachers.

Initially certified by Polestar Pilates, with a Mat and Reformer group class certification only, Angela Paul-Gaito, 38 yr old mother two, says she felt she was

“Missing the comprehensiveness of the teaching system, and ultimately sought out a Balanced Body full apparatus certification.  However, she knew in her heart of hearts, she wasn’t feeling as confident and felt she was missing a link.

Angela  trained in dance with Master Teacher, Matt Mattox, and as a certified student with the Alvin Ailey school, she performed around the world in the french musical “Notre Dame de Paris”.  I was part of the creation team of “A New Day”, Celine Dion’s show in Belgium and Las Vegas and worked as a free-lance dancer for various companies, theater and TV projects.  She was introduced to Pilates thru dance with the Alvin Ailey company as a 19-year old,  she says, however,  the benefit of the work didn’t connect until 10 years later when she needed to  “reform” her body after her first child was borne.  “I became very aware of all the great benefits as a dancer, a teacher but most importantly as a woman.  Time of maturity was the right time.”

angela

 

Angela states, the biggest challenge to her as a Classical teacher-trainee was “forgetting or letting go” of all the previous contemporary training references.  She owns/operates her own studio in Newburgh, NY since 2012, and counts as her mentor influencers Ann Toran, Fabrice Lamego and Jennifer Kries.

In fact, it was Jennifer Kries that convinced her of the importance of the classical system, and in 2015 she started a bridging program with Juliet Harvey, Beacon Pilates, to improve my practice and knowledge on the classical form of the Pilates method.

Consistently, students are greatly influenced to find or follow the path to teaching by their exposures and mentors.  Whether drawn to the Pilates teaching path by either health or physical injury, or following the lead of friend, colleague or relative, the recognition of the depth of the method and specifically, the classical approach to teaching is a profound awakening.

“The Pilates apprentice experience is an incredible learning journey, no matter what programme is selected.  Everyone starts off in a group at the same time.  Then life happens.  It’s windy trails intersect with the apprentice journey and don’t stope even when you become an instructor.” Lesley Logan, Profitable Pilates

Jen Hilton of Encino, CA, a “stay-at-home”  mom, who was seeking a part-time Pilates teaching career.  She chose the Equinox Pilates teacher training program after much research.

Key to her success in the experience, she says was having amazing support from her family, as she balanced being a wife and a mother of three, while traveling all over Los Angeles to complete her required apprenticeship hours. During her time as an apprentice she found the instructors she calls her mentors, Carrie Samper, Susannah Todd and Ashley Hoffman.

Her best day as an apprentice, she states “when I finally got it and felt like teaching was starting to glow.” Always a positive spirit she cannot think of one “worst day,” however, as all instructors can relate, there were a “few days of exhaustion and feeling completely overwhelmed.”

Jen’s selection of the Equinox Training program, coupled with her personal goals for completion, helped her prepare for the business side of teaching. Before she completed the program, she had a targeted dream studio in mind and an interview set up.  She utilized her time observing in the training studio with the specific intention of noting great examples of what works and doesn’t work when developing a Pilates teaching business.   Her 10-year goal, “I’m hoping to still be teaching part-time but as a fabulous experienced teacher.”

Another Equinox Pilates Teacher Trainee, Jenny Latham of West Hollywood, CA, is a 40-year old mother, interior designer and fit model.  She chose the program based on her experience as a member of the studio/gym.   She states that the teacher/client relationship drew her in and and mentor/teacher trainer relationship with Carrie Samper, helped pull her through the program.

When asked to describe a dream client, she said, “one who is open and willing to change their body.”  Further, “in 10 years I’ll be 50, so I don’t want to think about that, but, I would love to be more confident in my body and my teaching, so I can work with women/men like myself who are adapting to their changing bodies.”

“When I finished my program I was elated and a little tired. Six hundred  hours in nine months while working 50-hours a week across running back and forth across town. I left with a certificate and immediately signed up for the upcoming PMA conference. I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” states Logan, who teaches workshops on How to Sell Pilates.   While the start or initial driver that brings one into becoming a Pilates instructor differed for everyone, the end takeaway is the same.  There is so much more learning in the process. To be a Pilates instructor is to be a student of the method for life.

daniel-profileDaniel Alvarado, 19 years old, was the youngest apprentice in Alycea Ungaro’s New York Real Pilates Teacher Training program, and the only male in the group we interviewed.  Danny, is the nephew of Real Pilates NYC, Senior Teacher Trainer, Juan Estrada and as a result, has a high bar to surpass with all the mentors he has in his corner; Alycea Ungaro, Bob Leikens, Carrie Campbell Clark, Stephanie West, Anna Clark, and Bethannie Redinger.

He describes his best day as one filled with teaching moments, where he mistakenly thought he had a “rest day” and suddenly found out he was scheduled to teach

“Four classes in a row and take a private session for myself afterwards. On this same day I taught my first duet and then a trio session following it.  The closest thing to the worst day was having to deal with 3 fully- energized teenager girls.”

Daniel is already teaching at Real Pilates in both the Tribeca and SOHO studio locations as well as two gym studios in Manhattan and Long Island City and has the freedom and time to hone and refine his skills with an active teaching and personal practice schedule.  However, building a client base, he recognizes will come over time.

“I am not ashamed to say, I recognise the ‘student-apprentice’ in myself at every session I have with a senior or master teacher” Gina Jackson, Pilates4fitness.

While experience is the best teacher, being a good teacher, or having access to the highest quality training programs, may not create the requisite experience, exposure or training for building a successful business as an instructor or a business owner.  It’s really the next layer of the apprentice programming that we see is noticeably absent and true of the entrepreneurial experience as a business owner.

Jennifer Cayenne, was first introduced to Pilates following an injury of her spine. She states she fell in love with the system after three sessions at a Montclair, NJ studio.

As a 62-year old IT Project Manager, she researched and found the United States Pilates Association teacher training program and specifically began a trainee-mentee relationship with Brett Howard and Pamela Dejohn.

jennifer-cayenneWith a long-term goal of operating a boutique Pilates Studio in her native home of Trinidad & Tobago,  Jennifer’s  short term plans are to seek teaching positions at various local studios to explore different teaching techniques and styles and build client/business experience and relationships.

Mentoring relationships and small-business training and programming would greatly serve teacher-trainees.  Small business planning, marketing, promotion and new business development are acknowledged as key elements crucial to running a successful studio or independent instructor business.   However these are generally well beyond the scope of most highly regarded teacher-training programs.

When asked what you wish you knew about the Pilates business side of teaching, Jennifer stated,

“I wish I knew how to find my own niche in the Pilates business since I’ve never run a business before.  My expectations upon completion are to teach one-on-one at multiple locations to expand my clientele, and to further progress to teaching group classes.”

Angela, who runs a successful studio already in Newburg, NY, observed that she had to learn the hard way,
“Being too nice, too timid with goal of  “wooing” clients and building relationships may actually make it harder for yourself in the long run.  I realized that I needed to keep focus on my own limits in the relationship and transaction.  I need to stop trying to be a friend and work toward being their teacher.”

Like Jennifer, Jackson states she transitioned from a corporate life very foreign to the typical dancer-apprentice.   “As a former general manager and corporate business leader, I made the transition from selling or managing  “widgets” in corporate America to teaching and selling the goodness and benefits of life with Pilates.”

Further, Jackson states, “I was lucky, that my former experiences gave me a foundation and the confidence to step out to operate an independent, small business that in some ways to most new teachers, may feel as daunting as the apprentice test-out itself. “

Learning never ends.  To be a Pilates instructor is to be a student of the method for life. Contemporary systems training leads one to classical refinements. Intermediate work leads to advanced transitions.  Bowen did it different than Grimes; and we all seek to deliver the best quality instruction with each client/student relationship.
The business of teaching Pilates, however, requires another set of ABCs, tools, workshops and learning experiences.  The importance and value of establishing business policies, building business relationships, acquiring clients, retaining them, communicating with them via a website, newsletter and social media and being the floor and mat cleaner  – all at the same time  – have equal weight with being the principal teacher, independent contractor or Pilates studio owner.

Stay tuned for Part II of the apprentice story – The business side of teaching Pilates.

Co-Authors & Collaborators Gina and Lesley found each other via social media and their common love of connection, Pilates and blogging.

lesleylogan
Lesley Logan, a PMA Certified Master Pilates Instructor and has been
studying and teaching Joseph Pilates Classical Method since 2005 and 2008 respectively.  She has also been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and recently was admitted into “The Work,” a masters program taught by one of Joseph Pilates elders, Jay Grimes. Maintaining that Pilates is a unique practice that is good for every body, Lesley tailors the method for each individual client.  Connect with Lesley via http://www.profitablepilates.com.

ginajacksonGina Jackson, Director/Owner, Pilates4Fitness Movement Space, West New York, NJ, has been teaching, coaching and training for more than fifteen years and loves the challenge of helping others find their center with Pilates. Certified by Power Pilates, New York, NY,  connect with Gina via http://www.pilates4fitness.com.

 

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Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Business & Education, Featured, Pilates | 0 comments

Compliance – Alliance

Compliance – Alliance

Adhering to your home program

Being a practitioner of the healing arts is a great job. It is immensely satisfying to precipitate a client’s recovery or improvement and then nurture them along the way to full function. But…it is probably safe to say that one of the most frustrating aspects of being in the field of injury and pain rehab is client compliance with home programs and prescribed exercises.

Before I launch headlong into a mini-rant, I must preface it with a little story about someone I know quite well.

A few years ago I was suffering from a chronic eye infection that I nursed myself with home remedies until it became clear that it was not going to shift without professional help.

I went along to a highly respected ophthalmologist, paid vast amounts of money for his expertise and 2 separate prescriptions (one bottle of eye drops and a scrip for a very specific antibiotic) and then proceeded to do it my way. Which is to say I used only the drops.

Initially my eyes improved using only the drops. Wonderful. The tablets were known to cause photosensitivity and it was summer so no time for sun-avoidance! But within a few weeks, my eyes started to go red, sore and swollen again. I took my gritty, bloodshot eyes back to the ophthalmologist who admitted that he was surprised that his prescribed remedy didn’t work.

Doc: “Did you use the drops I gave you and finish them?” he said rubbing his chin with puzzled medical gravitas.

Me: “Yes!”

Doc: “Strange. This type of infection usually responds well to the tandem protocol of the drops and the tablets.”

Me: “Oh. I didn’t bother with the tablets. I wanted to go to the beach.”

The doctor peered at me intently. Scary.

And then he asked me to leave.

Yes. Leave.

I was horrified to be thrown out of a doctor’s surgery. After apologising and promising to be a good girl, I convinced him to keep me on and he issued another prescription for the drops and told me to take both medications as directed.

I did. My eyes cleared up and the painful infection never came back.

Blink, blink.

Now I never have (nor will I ever) throw anyone out of my studio, but that anecdote illustrates the frustration of pulling everything possible out of the professional toolbox to help your patients or clients only to have them fail to help themselves.

I am as guilty of being lazy (and human) as anyone and it usually takes blinding pain or the price of a Lamborghini to induce me to assiduously follow health care advice – in other words, desperation – but I am getting better as the cavalier luxury of youth slithers ever farther away.

Oh, for the magic bullet or elixir that you could take once and be done with it.

Unfortunately, the time required to correct a postural issue or an injury is generally commensurate with its chronicity – that is to say how many months or years the faulty pattern or injury has had time to embed itself into your body

And the moral of this story?

If you’re the patient, comply with your healthcare provider or therapists advice. After all, you’ve likely paid handsomely for it and they have trained and studied long and hard to bring it to you. Make the most of the time and money you’ve spent. If, after complying with your prescribed program, you do not see the desired or expected progress, discuss it with your practitioner but please, DO YOUR HOMEWORK, so that if nothing else your practitioner will be able to adjust your program or refer you to someone who may be better able to help. If you don’t do your home program, you’ll never know if it works.

If you’re the practitioner, ask your patients/clients questions they must answer, e.g. “Will you do your home program at least three times a week?” instead of, “Don’t forget to do your homework.”

Studies show that asking people to state their intention out loud helps encourage compliance. Enter into a written agreement or ‘contract’ with your client. Make it clear that you are in their recovery TOGETHER. “Fix me” is not part of the therapist/client lexicon.

If all else fails, try scare tactics – cue sinister laugh – for example, “What colour would you like your mobility scooter?” For some, fear of the negative is more incentivising. It worked on my father. He now religiously walks 1.5 miles everyday, rain or shine.

The threat of an incontinent future also works a treat. Try it on your women clients. Incontinence pads are NOT sexy.

All kidding aside, set aside the time in your busy schedule of juggling plates to invest in you. You’ll be a better mother, father, provider, employer, employee, and lover, –whatever – if you and your body are happy companions.

Please get in touch if you have any tips or helpful hints on this blog topic!

Until the next time…

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Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Anatomy & Physiology, Featured, Pilates, Workshops | 0 comments

Scoliosis – How can Pilates help?

Scoliosis – How can Pilates help?

 

by Mary Thornton BSc Hons MCSP HCPC

When you get a new enquiry from a client with scoliosis, does it fill you with dread or excitement? Personally, I love the thought of assessing a new client with a scoliosis. As with many other conditions, you never know how the individual will present and what challenges lie ahead.

A scoliosis is a side ways curve of the spine with rotation of the vertebral bodies. It can occur anywhere along the spine and even present as two specific curves. There are many reasons why someone might present with a curvature of the spine: a difference in leg length, a hemi-pelvis to spinal degeneration or even a neuromuscular condition, but the most common curve you will probably see in the studio is a idiopathic scoliosis. This means the cause of the curve is unknown. It generally first appears during puberty and can progress rapidly during this period then generally slows down as the body reaches skeletal maturity.

The medical profession determines the severity of a curve using what is referred to as a Cobb angle. The Cobb angle is measured by looking at the end points of the curve and the angle formed from the intersection of these two lines and a curve greater then 10 degrees is deemed a scoliosis.

On physical examination the client may present with:

  • Rib hump
  • Elevated / winging scapula
  • Pelvic or torso shift
  • Decreased lung expansion
  • Leg length discrepancy

The management of a scoliosis varies depending on the severity of curve, pain and probably location in which they live. Generally surgeons do not intervene unless the curve is greater then 45 – 50 degrees and in the first instance they are generally referred for Physiotherapy, or fitted with a back brace. Traditional fixed braces like the Boston are rigid restrictive devices that are difficult for the client to use but there is a new wave of dynamic braces that are proving very effective and more user friendly.theclinicalpilatesstudio

As a movement therapist, there are many things we can do to help manage the scoliotic spine. While we must not be under the illusion that we can make a curved spine straight, we can certainly help manage the muscular imbalances that occur.

We must also be very aware of the psychological effect of the scoliosis on the client. Though outwardly they may seem ok with their diagnosis, their self esteem and body image can be effected. Avoid the use of negative words and limit the use of mirrors during sessions. Although mirrors give feedback about where the client is in space and can aid the develop of new motor patterns, be sensitive to their reaction. With a little sensitivity, we cannot only help the individual develop a better understanding of balance within their bodies, but also enhance self esteem.

As a teacher, it is easy to get to bogged down by terminology, but with a few basic assessment rules, it can be easy to devise a safe and beneficial exercise regime. However, like all pathologies, to really benefit from Pilates the client initially needs to be seen on an individual basis to determine their specific needs and teach them how to adapt in a group situation.

So the next time someone mentions they have a scoliosis, start to be inspired by the challenges that lay ahead. With a little research and insight, you can make big changes to their life.

To learn more about how to plan a Pilates programme for scoliosis come along to one of Mary’s workshops, advertised on Facebook or contact directly at info@theclinicalpilatesstudio.co.uk

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