This is part two of the 2 articles with Jennifer M. Stacey, MS., 51 years of age and owner of Peak Performance Pilates in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, California, USA since 1989. In this part Jennifer tells us about her new device, her favorite anecdotes and that she changed after she learned the Classic work with Romana!
Did you change things about your teaching or would you like to?
Pilates is a kinesthetically intelligent system that enhances function, well being and energizes you. It is fun and makes you feel like you had a great workout and also the most incredible massage at the same time. It teaches you how to move in a biomechanically efficient way, so that everything in your life improves, whether it be carrying groceries, playing golf or climbing a mountain. It is phenomenal to observe the positive transformation that clients make in their lives from having practiced Pilates. Joe wanted everyone to have a balanced life: sleeping, playing, learning, etc. Every time I scrub my skin I think of Joe. I do recommend that everyone read Mr. Pilates’ books Return to Life and Your Health every year. To learn, and for the entertainment value!
I am constantly learning (especially from my clients). My background in exercise physiology/biomechanics/muscle mechanics and dance informs me about the why and the how. The Pilates Elders and the Moshe Feldenkrais and Physio-synthesis™ inspired work transformed me through neuro-muscular re-education and using images of bones and organs (Eric Franklin). The Principles from the Cranial-Sacral work, Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, Applied Kinesiology, and Visceral work constantly expand my knowledge about the body and health, and ability to work with various people. What a treasure to have a career that is so scintillating!
I am on a new exciting journey, having created a patent pending device that allows me to perform the Classic Pilates outside the studio in the water – a unique and challenging environment. It brings me utter joy to perform the advanced work in a supportive environment. Due to some old injuries I have not been able to perform several advanced skills on a consistent basis, but now I can! With this device I intensively work my center.
What is the biggest insight Pilates gave you?
So many things! The Elders in their 80s (and 90) were so inspiring. Age is definitely relevant to how you treat “the temple of your body” and health. Movement is health, health is movement. Ron Fletcher used to say: “Movement is like life, for life is movement and you get out of it what you put into it.”
I started with the Pilates – based work. I still use some of the skills today. However, my body only changed after I learned the Classic work with Romana. All forms have value – so we can have a big bag of tools to deal with anyone that walks through the studio doors. I do think that if one is called a Pilates teacher, then one should know and understand the entire system that Joseph and Clara Pilates developed. They spent over 65 years developing Contrology, so there is an inherent, kinesthetic intelligence to it.
Joe and the Elders evolved and changed things over time. Joe would have continued to invent new apparatus and skills, and evolved the way he did things. Kathy Grant was always so clear about that concept. She used to say: Back then, we did “that”, then a couple decades later (after we gained new knowledge) we do “this” and in another decade we will be doing something else. Look at the research in the area of fascia. It has changed dramatically in a decade!
Did you meet Pilates Elders?
I have studied with the most amazing and inspiring people in Pilates that I cannot mention them all: Kathy Grant, Ron Fletcher, Romana Kryzanowska, Eve Gentry, Bruce King – they live on in all of us who were fortunate to study from them – and in their teachings…I tried studying with and taking workshops with Carola Trier, but unfortunately she would be sick and unable to make it. So I try to study from those who studied under her (Jillian Hessel, Deborah Lessen and Roberta Kirschenbaum). Of course I would have liked to have studied with Joe and Clara (despite him pulling and pushing clients around). Especially Clara.
What is your opinion about the classical, authentic Pilates and the contemporary approach?
The system that Joseph and Clara designed is an intelligent system that was created over a lifetime of intense study and experimentation. It is a sophisticated method that enhances the neuro-muscular system through progressive flow, levels, and sequencing that keep you moving. All movement, done correctly is valuable. Just as long as we stay open to learning and improving, while honoring and maintaining Joe and Clara’s system. It is remarkable to see the expansion of Pilates around the world. When I started teaching in San Francisco and then in Paris – no one knew what “Pie-laytes” was.
Do you have a favorite story about Joe or Clara or somebody else?
My favorite Stories:
- Ron Fletcher asked Joe why he had people perform the skills 5 times. Joe’s reply: “Because you have 5 fingers!” Later Clara came around and explained it.
- Ron quoted Clara as saying “The apparatus is your partner, you do not work on it, you work with it.” Ron also quoted Joe as saying: “You have to out d’air in order to in d’air.”
- Ron mentioned that Joe would be teaching him, and then a woman would walk into the room, and Joe would suddenly leave Ron to teach the ladies.
- John Steele told a story when he was in the shower at the studio (gym) and he suddenly found Joe next to him showing him how to scrub his skin.
- Then there are Joe’s shorts.
- The video of Joe working outside in the forest with leaves on his shorts.
- The video of Joe head wrestling, and pictures of him and his brother playing in gladiator outfits.
- Mary Bowen had some funny stories about Joe and his private studio that was in his apartment.
- Ron believed we are Teachers – he used to say: “You train dogs, you Teach people.” Ron had some hilarious stories, especially the day he did a knee slide right onto the symbols because he was late (on Broadway), and his experience in a caboose of a train. He had a humorous story of the day one of his famous client’s ripped her leotard.
- Eve Gentry used to say; “You are not a treadmill for exercises.
What is your (Pilates) dream?
I have been living the Pilates dream for 26 years. Learning from insightful people, teaching my clients, traveling the world, meeting wonderful people and running an incredibly fun Pilates + Vacation™ retreat in beautiful places, and playing!
Did you write a (Pilates) book?
I have written the following well received, comprehensive manuals:
Movement Perspectives™ (English and French -176 pages);Teaching the Universal Reformer Repertoire (256 pages); and Roller-Play™ Roller Repertoire.
I am working on a Teaching the Pilates Mat Repertoire book and am supposed to also get to the Chair, Cadillac, Barrels, Auxillary Apparatus Repertoire and Special Conditions books. I do have over 10,000 photos of Pilates that I shot, waiting to be placed in their respective books!
And if that is not enough on my to do list: I have just invented a device (patent pending) to perform Classic Pilates the water. It follows Joes’ paradigms “Never fail to get all the sunshine and fresh air you can”. There will be manuals, videos and a school for educating teachers. I am looking for teachers to teach the work and to teach teachers. It is so much fun being able to perform the entire advanced Pilates work, and gymnastics’ skills while challenging my center and supporting my body (it is appropriate for beginners and people with injuries as well) while outside in the sun!
I just need to hire a full time staff or clone myself in order to share it with the world…. stay tuned!
Do you have some favorite Pilates quotes?
Below are some of my favorite quotes from Joseph Pilates. They are so clear:
- “The mind when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.”
- “Contrology is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound min, fully capable of naturally performing our many daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”
- “Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”
- “A few well designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortions.”
- “Contrology is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” ©Joseph Pilates