A few years ago I took an afternoon workshop with Jay Grimes at Vintage Pilates. What I found most fascinating about the mat weekend a year ago, was hearing Jay’s philosophy of the method. One of my favorite quotes from the weekend, which I subsequently made my mantra was “Trust the work”, but of course you have to know and understand the method first. Over the years, I learned so much taking lessons and workshops at Vintage Pilates but one of my key take-aways was a deeper understanding of the Pilates method as a whole and how to use it as Mr. Pilates intended. If one truly understands the method there is no need to try and change it because it works so effectively when done properly. As an instructor you have less inclination to add in your own little variations, although I do still find those have their place.
Looking back at an old copy of Pilates style from May/June of 2008, I came across an article by Siri Galliano in which she interviews Jay Grimes. I felt that his response when asked “What do you think of the business of Pilates today?”, excellently articulated this issue of people not truly understanding the Pilates method and trying to make it something that it is not. I wanted to share his words.
“When the name Pilates was declared generic, it opened a floodgate for people who want to get certified overnight and think they understand the work. Too many people are in it for the quick buck, looking for a gimmick to set themselves apart from the crowd. There are a lot of people out there teaching very good Pilates, but there are also a lot of people who, for whatever reason, have not taken the time and put in the effort to learn it correctly. It takes a minimum of three to five years for the best to get Pilates in their body. How can you teach something you haven’t fully experienced yourself? Why not just be a good teacher and set yourself apart? If something is Pilates-based or Pilates-influenced, call it that. But don’t call it Pilates. Don’t get me wrong. I have seen some Pilates-based work that is very good. If you are getting results and not hurrying people, go for it. I’m behind you 100 percent. But please call it what it is. The worst, however, are the people who are “improving” Pilates. I hear the argument that, because of advances in science, we now know things that Joe didn’t. How do they know what was in Joe’s mind? He often said, ‘I am 50 years ahead of my time.’ He was at least that. People who have not fully learned and experienced the method correctly don’t actually know what it is that they are ‘improving.’ ”
Moral of the story: trust the work.