Joseph Pilates, Romana, and the Classical Pilates Method

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. His father was a successful athlete of Greek descent and his mother who was of German descent, worked in natural medicine. Joseph had a small body structure and suffered from several chronic diseases. His poor health prompted him to devote himself to the study of anatomy and gymnastics. Young Joseph had a strong will and was able to grow stronger and embark on a life long journey of a deep understanding of the human body and how to bring it to an ultimate state of health. "As a kid, I used to lie for hours in the wild, hiding in the trees, watching animals," he said. "I researched their movements and how the mother teaches her cubs to survive in the wild." Pilates continued to deepen his knowledge and understanding of the human body and devoted his life to formulate a unique exercise regimen originally called "Contrology".

In his early thirties, Pilates traveled to England where he worked as a boxer, circus artist and self-defense instructor. When World War I broke out, Pilates was arrested and imprisoned in a British detention camp as a German national. While in detention, he devoted most of his time to improving the exercises he invented and began training prisoners and injured English soldiers in the method he developed. By connecting springs to hospital beds, patients who were confined to their beds were able to perform exercises using the spring resistance. At the end of the war Pilates returned to Germany. 

In 1926, after refusing the German army's request to train soldiers by the method he invented, Pilates decided to emigrate to the United States. On the ship, on his way there, he met his future wife Clara. The couple got married and together they opened a studio in New York on Eighth Avenue. The studio mainly catered to artists and dancers who wanted to develop their physical ability and strengthen their bodies. Joseph developed various customized tools and exercises for many injury situations and found how to work around an injury, strengthen the supporting muscles and allow the client to heal quickly. It is one of the elements unique to Joseph Pilates' original method and the way in which it is used to diagnose and treat weaknesses and injuries.

Romana Kryzanowska was a dancer sent to Joe's studio following a recurring ankle injury. She quickly forgot her injury and became Joe and Clara's protege and a trainee with the couple, and over the years became the modern "face" of the method, establishing a certification network from where the best and most gifted instructors working today in the field graduated.

Joseph Pilates died in 1967, leaving no will regarding the method's future. His wife, Clara, kept the Studio on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan open for business. In 1970, she appointed Romana to the studio director and entrusted her with the responsibility of continuing the couple's legacy. Romana lovingly accepted the responsibility and even made sure that the various instruments left by Joseph, which we know today - the standard reformer, the Cadillac, the various chairs and other wonderful devices, will continue to be made in the original factory according to Joseph Pilates' precise instructions and drawings. Romana, who wanted to maintain the purity of the method, began training new generations of instructors at the training centres she opened.

Romana's certification network is called "Romana's Pilates" and its major training facilities today are in New York and Florida. Dozens of other studios around the world are members of the network, educate future generations and are committed to maintaining the high standards that the network demands. Pilates House is proud to be the first studio and training center in Israel to represent Romana's work.

                   Romana Passed away in 2013, Her daughter Sari and Granddaughter Daria, continue her path.

20 Lohamei Hagetaot St. Ramat Hasharon, Israel


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