We @ Pilatesglossy are so proud to have Susannah Cotrone from Cotrone Pilates on Pilatesglossy!
Susannah Cotrone is the co-owner of Cotrone Pilates in West Hollywood with her husband and fellow Classical Pilates instructor Sam Cotrone. Susannah is 42, has three kids, and holds a Bachelor of Arts, in the Performing Arts, from Saint Mary’s College of California. And she is actually part Dutch! Her mother’s maiden name is Van der Boom. 🙂 Susannah loves to dance, read, and sometimes plays the piano.
What is your Pilates history?
I am a “Second Generation” instructor which means I received my Pilates training from an instructor that received their Pilates training directly from Joseph and Clara Pilates. I was certified by Authentic Pilates™ in 2001, which was later changed to Romana’s Pilates™. I received my Classical Pilates instruction directly from Romana Kryzanowska and Dorothee Vandewalle. I started teaching Pilates at Winsor Pilates in 1998 and was chosen for the lead talent in numerous of the successful Winsor Pilates videos sold worldwide. I have created, starred and produced two DVDs for Pilatesstick, and was featured in Pilatesstyle magazine and on TV Guide’s Hollywood Bodies and Hollywood’s Hard Bodies for my work with Pilates and Pilatesstick. I have worked with Gaiam on Mari Winsor’s Slimming Pilates writing fitness blogs and creating and performing in Pilates vlogs for a members only club. I currently am a blogger for Pilatesstyle Magazine on-line and co-created the #Pilateschallenge15 on Instagram with LauraBPilates. Teaching Pilates is my passion, and I relish each lesson I have with my students as a rewarding and worthy challenge.
Do you own a studio?
We own one studio, and it is located in West Hollywood, CA USA. We have all Gratz equipment, and also have an 800 square foot Pilates Mat Studio. Our studio is a haven of creative, talented, and dedicated teachers without whom I would be lost. I am grateful everyday for their energy and commitment to Cotrone Pilates. We welcome all readers to please come visit us if you ever find yourself in town.
Why did you start practicing Pilates?
I spent most of my young life studying classical ballet, and was first introduced to the Pilates method of exercise in Houston, TX at the Houston Ballet School at age fourteen. Pilates was a mandatory part of our program, and I was very resistant about having to go. I didn’t think an exercise program would do anything for me except sap my energy. After the first class I was hooked. I even begged them to let me take more then the allotted mat classes. I returned home with print outs of the exercises and committed them to memory. Through the mat exercises only, I learned what how to become stronger, more flexible, and to balance my body. I continued to practice on my own as a Pilates studio was hard to find then, and even harder to convince my parents of its importance vs. the expense.
What about your teachers?
I wish I could remember the name of my Pilates instructor at The Houston Ballet School, as that was my first exposure to the method, so thank you to you, and quite possibly 2 of you if I remember correctly… But after that I took lessons at Ron Fletchers studio, and at another local classical Pilates studio in West Hollywood, but I found my Pilates home through my friend and dancing partner at The Francisco Martinez Dance Theater, Roger Hibner-Gonzalez. He encouraged me to meet Mari Winsor, and when I did I explained my passion and desire to teach but lack of knowledge of the apparatus. She said to me, “you have a nice smile, I’ll hire you.” I was thrilled and started instruction with her head studio trainers and began teaching sessions rather quickly. Soon after, a group of Winsor Pilates instructors became part of a unique Authentic Pilates™ certification arrangement where Romana would fly out to Los Angeles from New York and teach us workshops, and when she couldn’t Dorothee Vandewalle would. I became a certified Authentic Pilates™ instructor in 2001, and then my certification was grandfathered into Romana’s Pilates™ when the name was changed. Over the years I have had many teachers, and try never to miss an opportunity to train with the instructors available to me.
What made you decide to make Pilates your profession?
I think Pilates became my profession more than I chose it. I was still dancing, but working as a dancer in Los Angeles is not an easy feat. Taking Pilates was becoming more and more important to me in order to balance and train my body for the rigors of dancing. I knew that becoming a Pilates instructor was one sure way I would have access to the apparatus, and to deepen my knowledge of the method. At the same time my fellow instructor, Sam Cotrone and I had become engaged and we were planning on starting a family. Teaching Pilates full time was offering us more financial security, and we were ready for that. The second half to this story is the day we decided to open our own studio. Having worked at Winsor Pilates for most of our careers we felt it was time for us to move on and experience the ups and downs of owning our own Pilates studio. It was a difficult transition and I learned a lot about life, people, and business during this transition. However I wouldn’t change our decision to branch out on our own, as we have grown as instructors, managers, and business owners and are learning new skills everyday. It is our goal to be lifelong students, of the method and life, and taking risks is a sure way to learn more.
How long did you study Pilates?
I have been studying Pilates for 26 years on and off, and I love to attend workshops as frequently as I can. The most recent workshop I attended was a Romana’s Pilates continuing education event in Los Angeles and I had the privilege of working Sari Mejia Santo, Trish Garland, and Anthony Rabara to name a few. Just before that I had a thrilling workshop with the dynamic Kathryn Ross-Nash and the insightful Brooke Siler. But my constant inspiration and mentor is Jay Grimes. I have the privilege of being one of his regular students. He has transformed my teaching and my body, and I am forever grateful.
What is your opinion about Traditional, Classical and Contemporary Pilates?
I teach Pilates. My goal is to transform bodies using the Pilates method of Contrology. If the body is moving with control and a focus on connecting the body and mind you are on the right path. Anyone teaching Pilates that isn’t interested in learning about how it was taught by the original source, Joseph and Clara Pilates, might want to deepen their knowledge. When I watch someone perform an exercise and the feet are wrong, or the movement is coming from somewhere other then the Powerhouse I mostly just want to talk to them, and see if they would like to try it another way. It doesn’t make me angry or upset. Even with the years I have spent studying the method there are still things I have to work on, and many things I can be taught.
Nowadays people call themselves a Pilates trainer after one -weekend-course or a Pilates workshop. What is your opinion about that?
I believe that it is important to know where the Pilates training you are receiving is coming from, and then what your desired goal from learning Pilates is, as a student and as an aspiring instructor. A lot of people ask, “What is Pilates? Is Pilates a series of exercises?” Well, yes and no. I believe Pilates begins with learning the exercises as Joseph Pilates taught them, and then spending years trying to understand how to use them to help balance peoples bodies, and how to apply the exercises to your own body to gain a deeper knowledge of what they are for. Can you learn that in a weekend? No! but perhaps it could be the beginning of a wonderful journey- hopefully!
What Pilates apparatus and exercise is your favorite and why?
I prefer Gratz equipment as it gives us and our clients the most authentic and challenging work out. I have worked on Balanced Body and find their equipment to be reliable and sturdy, but I prefer the feel of the springs on the Reformer with Gratz, and the authentic vintage look.
It would have to be the Roll Up. The simplest exercises are the most challenging. My least favorite? The Tendon Stretch with single leg variations on the Reformer. Grrr.
Did you start your own educational program?
I have written a few manuals for various Pilates training programs that never made it off the page, but I definitely have one in me! We are currently hosting Frank Zito’s Pilates Certification LA training program in our studio, and it is such a thrill to watch the apprentices put through their paces, and to see them mature in body and mind.
Did you solve any of your own body issues or do you keep them under control with Pilates?
I have Scoliosis and a hyper mobile neck. My left side predictably defers to my right, and even at forty-two I insist on taking ballet, performing gymnastics stunts, and dancing on pointe. Pilates is the only thing that keeps me from hobbling. Hypermobile people sink into their joints and it pretty much always leads to injury. That is why I emphasize the importance of lifting in your Pilates practice. This is a blog I wrote about the importance and function of lifting in Pilates.
How did Pilates change your life?
Pilates is my life! My livelihood, my husband, and passion are all present in my life because of Pilates. I know I am able to stay as physically active as I am because of the way Pilates aligns my body, and keeps the imbalances in check.
Who is your Pilates example?
Mari Winsor has and will always been my Pilates example in so many ways. From providing me with my first Pilates instructing opportunity, to including me in her internationally acclaimed videos. She is a dynamic woman and a leader in our Pilates community, and she inspires me to do more everyday.
Do you think that the perception of Pilates has changed to the people in the last 10 years?
I think Pilates is more accepted by older and younger men alike, and by most athletes. I think more children are becoming aware and exposed to the method, and that is a wonderful thing. Where Pilates may have been an elite form of exercise before, I think over the past 10 years it has become more widespread and accessible to the masses. Sometimes this does result in a watering down of the magic and precision of the method, but I believe if given time and with the exposure of the classical method through Social Media and the wonderful online resources such as Pilatesology.com and Pilatesanytime.com, the original work will be discovered and celebrated.
What would be your top 5 tips for Pilates students and/or newbies?
- Be clear about your goals
- Make sure you respect your instructor.
- Remember Pilates is a gift and you must be available to receive it.
- Enjoy yourself during your workout, but remember why you are there.
- Give and expect to receive meaningful feedback about your body. That is why you have an instructor- they are there to see how you and your body work.
What is your main advise to the future trainers who want to be Pilates instructors?
Do your research and find out what your options are. Not everyone has endless resources or lives right next door to the “best” training facility. Engage other instructors, look online and narrow your choices down to what is reasonable for you. I would say that getting excellent classical instruction is of course the best way to go. Classical Pilates is taught by many solid instructors around the world, and if you can find someone who has a first, second or third generation next to their certification I would encourage you to pursue that opportunity. Don’t be afraid of your own perceived limitations when choosing a program, even just sending an inquiring email can be the beginning of an exciting and informative journey.
What do you tell people if they ask you what Pilates is?
As Jay Grimes says, “Pilates is sweaty exercise.” Pilates transforms bodies (and minds).
Can you explain how that works for you and your clients?
Pilates is a journey of learning a discipline, or control over the body- and a discovery of it. Gaining the ability to do the seemingly impossible is a great way to describe it as well.
What makes a Pilates teacher a better Pilates teacher?
There are three important elements for becoming a better Pilates teacher: Community, constant practice, and continuing education. Making mistakes is part of the learning process, but you’ve got to be present, and take stock of your performance as a teacher to really improve. Look at your weaknesses and strive to improve them. Just as you would with your muscles in Pilates.
I often hear that in gyms “Pilates” is taught without, for example, The Hundred or other original exercises. What do you think about that?
Once I took a class in Hawaii that was comprised of I swear ONLY the 100! What a torture. Pilates is now a name used like Yoga, and most people at gyms are going to move their bodies, not look for Authentic Pilates. Do I think it is right that they say it is Pilates? No. But I am hopeful that taking that class or teaching that class may lead them to a journey of discovering what Classical Pilates is.
How many lessons do you teach each week?
I teach an average of about 30 private Pilates sessions a week. This is my preferred medium, but I do teach duets if requested.
What do you like the most about teaching Pilates? What do you dislike?
I like watching peoples bodies and minds progress, grow and change. Their discoveries as they go along, the exchanges we have about what they feel differently, and celebrating their strength and flexibility gains. I dislike exchanging money for what I do. But I am forever grateful for my livelihood.
Have you teached (or still teach) a famous person?
As we are located in Los Angeles, CA we have had our share of famous clientele. I have to say the client with the most notoriety would have to be Monica Lewinsky. And yes it was immediately following the scandal. And no, I have nothing else to say about it. 😉
What is your opinion about the future of Pilates and what is the biggest insight Pilates gave you?
I think the future for Pilates is bright! As it has shown itself to a flexible method that can be applied to all ages and abilities, I do not see its demand slowing in the slightest. I think the biggest insight Pilates has given me is into my own body. And through that learning process I am able to connect and lead others through their own insightful Pilates process.
How many times do you workout yourself?
I am in constant motion with teaching all the time, as I am lifting, stretching. and supporting as hands on teaching requires. And since we clean the studio ourselves I have to say that definitely burns some calories! I do a full Pilates reformer twice a week, and am always finding a few minutes here and there to do what my body needs, when it needs it. I also take ballet class, Gyrotonics, and am an avid walker. One of the greatest sentiments I hold from Joseph Pilates “Return to Life” is that we should practice Contrology not to become just fantastic Pilates practitioners but so that we can get out and be active participants in life! Pilates allows me to be healthy and strong, flexible and durable. Thank you Joe.
Is there still an exercise (or more than one) you didn’t “nailed” yet?
The Flying Squirrel, and some of the upper body strength moves I am not so swift at. Strength is a constant battle and it is best won through practice. I better get to work!
Will you keep on practicing and teaching Pilates?
I want to explore all the options my Pilates career can offer me, but I also understand that it takes a lot of hard work to get where you want to go, as in any field. Most recently I wanted to expand Cotrone Pilates social media exposure, and have felt quite successful with the Pilates community’s embracing of #Pilateschallenge15. Visualizing a specific goal is the first step to achieving it. But I believe you have to be prepared and ready to grasp your opportunity when it comes along, so be ready!
What is your favorite Pilates quote?
“You are only as old as your spine is young,” I think there maybe some paraphrasing here but it pretty much nails it.
Susannah will be teaching privates, mat classes and presenting in Las Vegas October 30- November 1st at VIP-Pilates Las Vegas inside the BodySport Fitness Center, 2651 Crimson Canyon Drive, Ste 190, Las Vegas, NV 89128I will be teaching privates, mat classes and presenting in Las Vegas October 30- November 1st at VIP-Pilates Las Vegas inside the BodySport Fitness Cente2651 Crimson Canyon Drive, Ste 190, Las Vegas, NV 89128
848 N La Cienega Blvd West Hollywood,
CA USA 90069 213-445-8114