Ton Voogt (48) and Michael Fritzke (57) are very well known Pilates trainers. Pilatesglossy is proud to “have” them!
When did you start practicing Pilates? How did you get introduced?
We were both introduced to Pilates in the 1980’s. Michael in NYC in the early 80’s after a broken ankle (dance injury). Ton was introduced in the late 80’s in Europe (as a performer).
Who was your teacher?
Our main teacher/mentor was Romana Kryzanowska. We were first certified as Teachers and later certified as Teacher Trainers for her original Pilates Certification program in NYC. Both apprenticeships were true apprenticeships, meaning without manuals or workshops. We were lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Kathy Grant, Ron Fletcher, Lolita San Miguel and with protégées from Carola Trier and Eve Gentry as well. We feel we are accumulation of all the Pilates Elders and combine their work in to our interpretation of the Pilates method.
What made you decide to make Pilates your profession?
Changing our profession to Pilates instructors was a gradual evolution over many years. After several productions of the musical CATS (Michael in the USA, Ton in Amsterdam and together in Vienna, Zurich, Basel and a European tour) Ton as a performer and Michael as a Performer, Dance Captain and Productions Leitung, we had already taken Pilates as clients for several years, and truly enjoyed it. A friend of ours (who was a performer and in the process of becoming a Pilates instructor) told us if we wanted to become teachers we should check out Romana in NYC. So we went to NYC and decided that becoming a Pilates instructor could be fun and a great way to make money in between performing. The rest is history, we became certified and never left the Pilates community nor went back to theatre.
The Pilates apparatus or exercise that is our favorite is the one we need at that time. We don’t have a specific favorite. Of course there are exercises that always feel good like the short spine massage, the push through, the semi circle, the cat stretches (on every piece). But the one that your body needs right now….that is the favorite of the moment. We don’t have a favorite brand. They all have their own “character’ and benefits. It really depends on the needs of our clients in regards to what brand gives the best options for them. We have worked on all the major brands and some of the lesser known brands. In the end it is just a piece of apparatus with springs, loops, straps, pedals, bars, etcetera.
Do you experience difficulties keeping your clients because of the current crisis?
We have seen very little decline in the studios we work in due to the economic crisis. Since Pilates is not a cheap activity, the people who were paying for the private sessions are still able to pay for it and make their health a a priority. If you have been giving the people the results they want and need, they will make the sessions with you a priority and most of them will find a way to pay for it.
Did you start your own educational program?
We do not have our own certification program. Since resigning as Teacher Trainers for Romana’s original certification program in 2003 we have helped set up, consult and continue to teach parts of several Pilates independently owned and operated Certification programs in, Austria, The Netherlands, Norway, England, Portugal and Costa Rica. We like to teach workshops to help further educate Pilates instructors. We think it is extremely important to continue to learn and grow as a teacher. This way we all help with moving the Pilates Method forward and we will be able to help and reach more people. And we also continue to take workshops. We don’t only take Pilates workshops we take many different workshops from various modalities. Lately have been focused on Spiraldynamiek, based in Switzerland.
Did you solve body issues or keep any under control with Pilates?
We both have had our personal body issues. Michael had a herniated disk and was paralyzed on his left side from his knee down. This happened while performing in CATS in Zurich. Thanks to great medical insurance, doctor and physical therapist in Zurich they got him back to walking and even back to dancing. However, he was often in pain and was not able to completely do what he used to do. It was not until he got to Romana and intensely involved with the Pilates method that his full range and pain free movement came back. Right now he can do anything he wants without pain, including skiing.
Do you have a target audience?
We have many audiences and we adapt the workshops or sessions to the group, convention, studio, etc. Sometimes a convention has a theme or the studio wants to focus on a body part, movement pattern or an apparatus. We always customize our workshops to the needs of the organizers.
How many lessons do you give each week? Is your focus on private, duets or triosessions or do you prefer to give matclasses?
We used to teach a lot more sessions. We each taught more then 40 hours a week for over a decade. Most of them privates, with some groups classes as well. Now that we travel a lot and teach all over the world, it is harder to maintain a full clientele, because we are out of town so much. But when we are in town we each teach between 10 and 15 hours a week. This is both privates, duets, group classes and at a Physical Therapy practice. Our favorite person to teach is anybody who is motivated and open to learn. Someone who is actively looking to improve and discover their body.
What is your opinion about the future of Pilates?
Pilates will continue to grow. We believe that Pilates will be integrated more and more into different modalities like Pilates and Physical Therapy, or Pilates and sports, etc. We do believe that Pilates as a stand alone activity will be around as well. But we think that the benefits and the adaptations of the Pilates method will continue to grow and be more specific. It will be like any other form of training, where you have a general form and then specific applications.
What is your own vision of Pilates?
We believe that Pilates is much more then just exercises, it is a concept and a philosophy. Our main mentor/teacher Romana Kryzanowska used to say that Pilates is an Art and a Science. We interpreted this saying as Pilates is an Art because it requires ability in execution and it is a Science because it is based on a systematic theory. When learning the Pilates exercise we don’t just learn exercises; we learn and experience the proper movement patterns and alignment of our body. We experience our body moving. The key component is: experience. We learn through experience. Not by the instructor cueing the exercises, but by doing the exercises. For us it is very important that our clients experience how their bodies move. Our vision of Pilates is that Pilates is a totally accepted and respected form of exercise. That it is integrated in all kinds of ways and that we get away from who is right and who is wrong. Or what version is right and what version is wrong. That we finally can look at things and say; “there is no right or wrong exercise. There is only the right exercise for the right person.” We do believe that all the evolvement needs to come from strong roots to the classical way, but evolvement is necessary. Like everything else you either evolve or you dissolve. Look at Yoga, it has been around for thousand’s of years, and even though it has its roots with the classical poses and intentions, there is room for variations, interpretations and things evolve.
Which Pilatesword you rather not use? (e.g. powerhouse, pilatesstance)
With our clients we don’t use many of the “Pilates words”. They have no idea what you are talking about and most of them don’t care. During workshops we sometimes refer to them as many instructors do understand and the words make sense to them. It is like using anatomical terms. To most of your clients it is just gibberish. But if you teach a doctor, physical therapist or anybody who really knows what you are talking about it can be helpful. So the Pilates words are not the problem. It is about when do you use them.
Did you change things about your teaching or would you like to?
We continually keep on changing. How can you not? Every time you learn something new you will change. As you get more experience teaching you will see more things, other things or things in a different way. As we change as people we also change as teachers.
What is the biggest insight Pilates gave you?
Our biggest insight is that Pilates is really quite simple. But it is the simplicity that can make it hard to teach and do.
What is your opinion about the classical, authentic Pilates and the contemporary approach?
Our opinion in regards to what is called Classical, authentic, contemporary or evolved Pilates is that it does not matter what you call it. We believe that not any of these is better or worse then the other. We were very classically trained by Romana. However we have evolved a lot. We created the TRIADBALL for example, and that is not a “traditional” piece of equipment. So we are all in favor of evolving as long as it is evolving from the classical work. Some people call what they do “evolved Pilates”. But what they do has nothing to do with the principles or philosophy of the Pilates method. Our question is how can it be Evolved Pilates if the roots of it have nothing to do with Pilates? Just because you do some kind of a movement on the Reformer does not make it Pilates. So we are in favor of evolving the method but the roots, the principles, the philosophy and the integrity of the Pilates method need to be honored. Or you should not call it Pilates.
Who would you love to meet (again) in the Pilates field?
If we can choose dead or alive we think it would be really interesting to do a round table discussion with Joe, Clara and all their protégées. We know that all of his protégées changed and added things to his method. It would be really interesting to hear what Joe had to say about that.
Are you familiar with Pilates over the world e.g. Europe, Asia, Australia? If so, do you see familiarities ?
We have taught all over the USA and in Europe, South America, Australia and Asia. Pilates around the world has developed differently. There are changes and similarities. Originally most of the development for each part of the world came from the USA. But now you start to see many more influential presenters and companies from different parts of the world. This is very exciting as each part of the world has a slightly different focus as the needs and experiences are different everywhere. This allows all of us to share more and to learn from each other.
What is the funniest thing you have ever experienced with Pilates?
We have had many amazing memories teaching Pilates. One of the most amazing moments (not specifically funny) was when Roberta Flack, who was a client of Michael in NYC, was on the Reformer. She though that the exercise was to hard and said that he was killing her. Then she started singing to Michael “Killing me softly” while on the Reformer.
Do you have a favorite story about Joe or Clara or somebody else?
Joe was an interesting man. But the stories of Joe not being the best communicator and not having a lot of patience are always funny. That clients would run out of the studio, because he was to hard on them and then Clara had to run after them and smooth things out to get them back in. Because they did need the money. Also, if someone called for an appointment, but he did not like the sound of the voice he would say “we are full”. Even when the studio was empty.
Do you expect to keep on practicing Pilates and keep on giving classes and was is your Pilatesdream?
We believe that Pilates will always be a part of our lives in one way or another. Our Pilates dream would be that our Pilates vision comes true.
Can you tell us something about the Pilatesbook(s) you have written?
We have written the Pilates TRIADBALL manual. It is available at our website, OPTP, or some of our European distributors. For a list of distributors you can visit our website or contact us and we will get you in contact with someone in your area. We are working on another Pilates manual, but we are not sure when that will be done. Most likely it will not be translated into Dutch….but you never know.
Michael and Ton
Photo’s in courtisy of Pilates Anytime ©Photo’s PilatesAnytime