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My Time with Kathy Grant

Kathy Grant was my first Pilates teacher. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I would have pursued a career in Pilates. So when Blossom Leilani Crawford asked me to contribute to her site “KathyGrantPilates.com” , I was thrilled to oblige. If you’d like to learn more about Kathy I would like to encourage you to visit Blossom’s site, it is filled with wonderful stories and anecdotes about Kathy. Following is my story.

WHAT MADE YOU GO TO KATHY GRANT IN THE FIRST PLACE? HOW LONG DID YOU STAY?

Like many dancers majors attending NYU, Tisch School of the Arts I was referred to Kathy to help with the multiple overuse injuries I was beginning to develop.

When I walked into her studio in 1988 she probably saw a scared, young dancer with an earnest desire to improve and a yet willfulness that was getting in her own way. My passion to become a dancer translated into me inadvertently working with a lot of tension and missing a deeper strength. After that day,  I worked with Kathy on and off for the next 10-12 years. Through this time, Kathy helped me unearth my deeper power and stay true to my movement practice.

Did KSG ever make up an exercise for you? If so, what was it? Do you still do it?

At Kathy’s studio all of us had our own set of warm ups that prepared us to move, to dance or to do Joe’s exercises. Many of these warm ups she created out of a necessity for a particular student – the dancer with the tight hip had one thing, the business women with a  painful neck had another and the older women with a bad back had yet another.

I don’t recall if my many injuries inspired an exercise made expressly for me. What  I do know is that I had an especially long pre-pilates warm up , which meant it wasn’t unusual for me to be there upwards of two hours!

Is there something in your movement practice or teaching practice that came from or evolved from a movement or an image from Kathy Grant?

The pre-pilates exercises that she taught me have morphed over the last 20 years . I too have created my own versions , both out of need and , because time has a way of changing things. I think Kathy would have wanted it that way. She recognized that nothing stays the same – each body is different and each day presents different needs.

What has stayed with me most is not so much a particular exercise but the process of working from the inside out. Kathy worked with our minds, our inner strength and our imaginations. She treated us more like actors than dancers.  Kathy insisted that we embody the movement from inside, become baby birds or a weathervane, or a wave of water or a key in a lock. She was relentless in saying “no, that’s not right” as many times as she needed to until we either burst into tears or become the “baby bird”.

And to my surprise, only when I embodied what it meant to be her image from deep inside was the movement right. The day that I expressed the spirit of a tiny helpless bird just learning to move its wings for the first time was the day I realized how transformative imagination could be and that I was capable of it – not to mention the healing power it had on my troubled and painful shoulder. 

What do you think is an important thing for people to remember about Kathy?

Although the Pilates community has made a wonderful effort to preserve Kathy’s work, sometimes I think her process defied codification. I am not sure anyone can really know her exercises unless they worked closely with her.

How do you think Kathy would feel about the current atmosphere of
the Pilates world?

Kathy used to warn us about the unmindful way of doing Pilates. In her words she would say, “ Don’t slam the door shut. If you keep slamming the door shut , its eventually going to break.” That was her way of describing how some studios taught Pilates, always slamming the door. She was advising us to take care of our bodies, to listen to them.

Kathy’s packaging was sometimes harsh but her messaging was often something soft and tender. There was love and understanding at the core of her work.

If you could ask Kathy one more question, or say one more thing to her, what would it be?

Thank you for teaching me how to dig deep- really deep, to stretch my imagination and for inspiring my life long career.


How do you think Kathy would want to be remembered today? Or what do you think Kathy Grant’s legacy is?

I think Kathy was proud that she launched so many careers in Pilates, helped so many dancers prolong their professions, and reached a wide diversity of people.

Her legacy is in her out-of –the-box thinking, adapting exercises for the needs at hand and using the mind to change the body. She was way ahead of her time!

FASCIA and pilates

Fascia: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How We Use It in Pilates

WHAT IS FASCIA?

Fascia is a fibrous type of connective tissue in the human body that preserves physical shape by enclosing discrete elements such as organs and muscles. It exists throughout the entire body. In fact, the deepest layer encloses every single cell!

FASCIA CREATES FORM IN THE HUMAN BODY

Fascia can be found throughout the muscle tissue, encasing bands of muscle and enveloping the entire muscle and its tendon. It also exists directly underneath the skin, functioning like a final envelope around the entire body. In other words, fascia creates both separation of body parts and unity of the whole body.  Without fascia, our body wouldn’t be able to hold its shape. We’d slide off our skeletons!

FASCIA AND MOVEMENT

Healthy fascia allows the muscles, organs, nerves, and blood vessels to slide along each other, essentially allowing the body to move without falling apart. To effectively fulfill this role, fascia needs to be both structural and mobile. It needs movement to stay hydrated and flexible. In the absence of movement, fascia becomes dry, hard, and stiff. It then begins to inhibit movement. Lack of movement creates more lack of movement, and the cycle continues! Fascia can also become rigid from injury, years of moving inefficiently, and not moving enough.

Recognizing the presence of fascia and understanding its role in the body are essential in the practice of Pilates. Through the use of soft rollers and balls, fluid full-body movement, and kinetic imagery, fascia can be softened and hydrated so it can function at its best.

MYO-FASCIAL MERIDIANS

Fascia, along with muscle, creates long myofascial bands that can be traced from head to foot. This concept is very important to movement educators as we use these vertical meridians to assess alignment and identify imbalances.

For example, the underneath of your foot (plantar fascia) can promote flexibility up the posterior myofascial chain to the low back and sometimes even to the head and face. If you’ve tried rolling the bottom of your foot on a pinky ball, you may have observed this holistic effect.

Additionally, movement educators use the knowledge of myofascial lines to create movement cues that engage the entire body, giving the students a sense of physical wholeness. For example, when instructing a side bend, a student may be asked to sense the stretch not just through the ribs and waist but also from the edge of the foot all the way to the back of the palm. This kind of attention builds full-body awareness and can “rewire” mind-body connections to improve functional coordination.

Learning about fascia helps us to understand that the body doesn’t only work as a mechanical set of levers and pulleys. The biomechanical body can be a useful construct, but a more inclusive model takes into account the holistic unifying force of fascia.

Maintaining healthy fascia is important and easy. You just have to move fully every day and practice mind-body techniques such as Pilates to exercise your proprioception and kinesthetic awareness. 

To learn more about Fascia and how to optimize your movement potential contact us at info@mongoosebw.com

Mongoose Bodyworks is a boutique Pilates studio in soho NYC that focuses on delivering customized private sessions designed for your exact needs.

Halle Clarke NCPT is a 2nd generation master teacher having studied  closely with two of the great NYC protégés of Joseph Pilates: Kathy Grant and Romana Krysanowska. Halle opened Mongoose Bodyworks, a boutique Pilates Studio in New York City in 1999 .

As well as training in Pilates Halle has pursued studies in ideokensiology, anatomy , biomechanics, muscle energy technique, trigger point therapy ,neuromuscular re-patterning, Alexander technique, The Feldenkrais Method, Polartity therapy and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. She has additional certifications from the PMA-CPT and ACE. Halle integrates all of her extensive studies of the body into her work as a New York based Pilates Instructor and Teacher Trainer.

She has been conducting Pilates Teacher Trainings for Balanced Body since 2006 both in New York and around the country. Halle has taught Master Pilates classes nationally and internationally, including at The PMA Conference and Mind Body Expo.

Pelvic Floor Health in NYC

Pelvic Floor Health in NYC

COREY SILBERT IS A PHYSICAL THERAPIST AND CO-OWNER OF “BEYOND BASICS” , A CLINIC THAT SPECIALIZES IN ALL CONDITIONS AFFECTING THE PELVIC FLOOR IN MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN. WE LOVE THIS AT MONGOOSE BODYWORKS, AS SO MUCH OF OUR PILATES CORE WORK IS RELATED TO THE PELVIC FLOOR.

HALLE: Tell me a bit about your practice .

COREY: We specialize in treating all conditions affecting the pelvic floor in men, women and children.  We are a manually based clinic and treat patients one-on-one for an hour.

HALLE: How did you come to focus on women’s health and pelvic floor issues ?

COREY: I had been treating orthopedic injuries for some time and was seeing more and more complex cases of back pain, hip pain, etc that didn’t resolve with traditional PT.  In treating these patients I started to feel that the source of their pain was coming from something else, something I didn’t understand completely, the pelvic floor.  I had the opportunity in 2015 to work and train with Amy Stein who has revolutionized the pelvic floor field in New York City.  I decided that I really needed to train more and understand this region of the body better so that I could help these patients.

HALLE: Who can benefit from this type of therapy ?

COREY: Any individual who is having pain or discomfort in their pelvic region, which is the area from the top of your pelvis to your sit bones.  This includes the Sacroiliac region as well as the groin.  We can help patients who are having genital pain, or pain with intercourse.  We also treat issues with bladder which can be incontinence after a vaginal delivery, or increased urgency and frequency incomplete emptying which can affect women and men.  We also see a lot of patients who are having pain with bowel movements or constipation, bloating, and pain.  We also have pretty much seen it all, so we can offer insight if PT has not worked in the past, or a patient wants to know if their complaints are muscle/joint related.  We treat the hard cases, the people who tried traditional PT for their hip or groin pain and the exercises either made them worse or didn’t help.

HALLE: Do you think people are ever embarrassed to contact you?

CORY\: I hope not.  We are all very approachable and we offer phone consults if a person wants to know if PT can help or if they are a candidate for Pelvic Physical Therapy.

HALLE: Why do you love this work?

COREY: I feel I have a special skill set and knowledge where I can help a lot of people where their symptoms are scary and distressing and they have not been able to get the answers or treatment they need.  The symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can be scary and these patients get bounced around from doctor to doctor without getting answers.  I also feel like I have a lot of tools at this point, I have spent a lot of time taking continuing education classes to learn new ways that I can help.

HALLE: What gets you out of bed in the morning?

COREY: My brain is always going, I am have always wanted to understand how things work.  I used to take apart VCRs and radios when I was a kid because I wanted to see how it worked.  I feel the same way about the body.  I want to understand how everything works together and is related to the whole so that we are pain free and functional.

HALLE: Do you have a favorite exercise?

COREY: I really like to roll my arches on a pinky ball.  I have really tight feet and calves and I am on my feet all day so it feels really good to do that at night when I get home.

HALLE: What’s your experience with Pilates? Do you have a favorite Pilates exercise?

CORY: I have been doing private pilates now for a little over a year.  It has really changed how I move and my posture.  I feel stronger through my core and better grounded when I am working.  I don’t know if I have a favorite exercise, but I do know which one kicks my butt the most!  I have never been able to do a complete curl up/roll up.  Using the arc and roll down bar I can finally do it (with a little help from the bar).  I also found out that my whole life I was doing the ab curl wrong and it has been very enlightening to learn how to do it correctly and also to work through my own limitations that prevented me from being able to do it correctly.

HALLE: How does Pilates relate to your work?

COREY: In doing Pilates myself, I have learned so much the benefits of working with a skilled Pilates instructor to identify my own limitations and also learn how to correctly activate the correct muscles.  In the work I do I find that eventually all my patients get to a point where I have been able to restore normal muscle tension through their pelvic floor muscles, abdomen, hips, and spine, and now they need to start to learn how to use these muscles in an optimal alignment and what better to do that than pilates!  The women who teach Pilates are masters of observation and I trust them entirely to make sure my patients are not compensating with the exercises.  It is the compensations that occur, when we don’t even realize it, that get us into trouble in the long run.

HALLE: What do you do when you are not being a PT?

COREY: I am a knitter and a foodie!

HALLE: Anything you’d like to share about home life?

COREY: I have a wonderful husband, who is also a PT, he is an amazing teacher in regards to PT, but it is more his teaching me to not be a PT all the time that has really done so much for my work life balance.

THANKS COREY!!!

A Holistic Approach to Wellbeing

A holistic approach to wellbeing in NYC; Pilates and Naturopathy

It’s no surprise that Pilates is on the rise – with a focus on efficient movement and core awareness, there’s a lot to love about this mind body fitness program. At the same time, Naturopathic medicine – a holistic and natural approach to healing – has become a welcome health alternative for many.

While the two disciplines may seem worlds apart, they both value looking at the whole body, illness prevention, and educating their clients.

The Total You

 The most obvious connection between Pilates and naturopathy? A holistic approach.

While naturopathy differs from traditional medicine in numerous ways, one of the most powerful is its concern for the “whole” you. This means considering a range of factors including physical, mental, and environmental conditions of a patient.

Similarly, Pilates exercises consider the whole body. The body works best when it is experienced as an integrated whole and not compartmentalized into unrelated parts. A painful knee may be a misalignment in the back and a misaligned neck and cause problems lower down. Because of this whole body approach Pilates delivers a whole body experience and workout.

 

Prevention

 

Because Pilates focuses on moving with proper mechanics one is constantly learning and reinforcing efficient and safe ways of moving. These new patterns will carry over into other disciplines like sports, as well as help guide an aging body. This attention to alignment and moving well prevents injury down the road.

For Naturopathy patients, prevention is also critical. Whereas traditional medicine typically operates on a diagnose-treat basis, many Naturopathy professionals try to predict health issues and complications before they occur.

Wellness With Education

A final commonality between Pilates and naturopathy: proper education.

Both disciplines involve a personal client – teacher and patient-doctor relationship. Most of all, Pilates and naturopathy are built on the idea of ongoing education, improvement, and self-discovery. With the goal of empowering clients to take care of themselves as a lifestyle and prevent dis-ease in the future.

 

This means a qualified and knowledgeable guide is critical. If you are interested in exploring therapeutic Pilates and naturopathy in NYC , the experts at Mongoose Bodyworks and Dr. Maura can help. Mongoose Bodyworks Pilates is located in Soho NYC convenient to many subways. Dr Maura is located Chelsea, NYC. We look forward to meeting you!