Pilates Style: Where did you grow up?

i was born in lancaster county in Pennsylvania. it’s an interesting region, as it was populated by many amish and mennonites, though my family was of swedish and southern descent. the amish don’t go to school past ninth grade, so schools there were no nonsense—reading, writing and arithmetic (no football, no sororities) but the standards were very rigorous.

Pilates Style: Where did you grow up? Photo Gallery

PS: What were you interested in as a child? Pat: my father taught me three-dimensional drawing when i was three or four. now if i have to talk about the pelvis at a workshop, i draw it on my flip chart. i also started dancing at age six, a combination of tap, acrobatics and ballet. in high school, i took flying lessons and got a private pilot license when i was 17.

PS: What did you do after high school? Pat: i wanted to be a scientist and majored in biology at stetson university in florida. meanwhile, i kept dancing. i got married early and had two daughters. in 1975, our family moved to atlanta, where i met a teacher, mary stanton, who profoundly changed my life. she had danced with murray louis and alwin nikolais, and was a national endowment for the arts teacher. she was an impeccable technician, so because of that, Pilates was not alien to me when i was introduced to it later.

i was the assistant director of the mary staton dance ensemble for 10 years. the company moved to Boulder in 1982; i then got divorced and couldn’t afford to dance anymore, so i ended up working three jobs to support my children.

PS: How did you first hear about Pilates? Pat: in 1984, mary told me that there was going to be a presentation about something called Pilates at a local gym. a benefactor had purchased 10 reformers for the gym, hoping to sell elite athletes on the efficacy of Pilates for cross-training. stephan frease, who had a studio in los angeles, was invited to come teach. i started working on the reformers three times a week and taking private lessons from stephan, who came back and forth from l.a. to teach.

About six months later, after the gym had lost several teachers, the owner said, “i hear you could teach this!” so i started teaching without any formal training. in fact, there was no such thing at that time—only apprenticeships. i later heard that when stephan saw me teaching, he said, “that’s the best teacher i ever trained—except i never fully trained her.”

then in 1985, i invested in a studio along with stephan and melanie murphy, which we called centerworks. it was the first Pilates studio in Boulder.

PS: How was business?

Pat: at first, not great! nobody knew what Pilates was. But Boulder is a small community; everyone is athletic, so the chiropractors, osteopaths and nurses came for classes, saw the rehabilitation benefits and began referring clients to us. one of the surgeons at the local hospital asked to see the reformer, so i carted it over to the hospital. he came out, i demonstrated three or four exercises on it, and he said, well, that makes sense and started referring patients.

PS: What did you do after Centerworks? Pat: i worked at Boulder osteopathic center, where i had a fully equipped studio. i was registered as a physical medicine assistant in the state of colorado for 10 years. my patients were injured, and insurance companies would only pay for limited rehab, so i had to learn to adapt Pilates for their recovery.

in 1986, i joined the institute for the Pilates method (now Physicalmind institute), which was the first Pilates organization. at one point, Boulder was the largest Pilates community in the world. ron fletcher often joked that there were more Pilates teachers in Boulder than Pilates students, which may have been true.

PS: And you continued training with various elders?

Pat: yes, Bruce King was hosted by the centerworks to come and teach in Boulder in 1986. he thought we had a lot to learn!

in 1992, the institute invited Kathy Grant to present her wunda chair workshop. this was the only time she taught the entire wunda chair syllabus. eve Gentry was also

there, though she was not doing well at the time. i remember Kathy, who was in her 70s, demonstrated the swan dive on the wunda chair. she dove on, then jumped off and did what i would call a gymnastics salute, with her hands up in the air. then she looked at eve and said, “how was that?” eve quipped, “well, it was good, but it wasn’t up to performance quality!” they loved to tease each other!

the other thing i remember about that workshop is that Kathy hit me! she put me on the cadillac and told me to get in the Jackknife position. i just put my legs into position; i didn’t use Pilates to get my legs up. so she slapped me! i was humiliated! i later recounted this story to dianne miller, who brought Pilates to canada, and she said, “Pat, don’t you remember, she hit everybody!”

in 1995, ron was invited to do a workshop in denver. ron taught in a dancer’s style, with the students in rows and columns. i was standing like a dancer. he came up to me at the break and said, ”you’re like me.” i said, ”how’s that, sir?” and he said, “you and i both were both well trained.”

BELOW: Guyton with close friend and first- Generation teacher ron fletcher around 2004.

PS: How did you come to work so closely with Ron?

Pat: after that first workshop with ron, my husband said, ”i can tell you’re really happy—you should do more of this.” i said, ”i’m going to every workshop that man teaches.” ron taught at least one workshop a month, and i went to every one—over 90 workshops between 1995 and 2006 (1,800 hours). i had a good body to demonstrate He [Ron Fletcher] came up to me at the break nd said, “Y°u’re İlke me.“ I said, “How’s that, sir?” And he said, “You and I both were both well trained.” very opportunity to study with our eneration teachers while you can. ways try to get to Lolita and Mary’s workshops at PMA conferences.

AT RIGHT: Guyton having an impromptu late night chat with elder mary Bowen in the hallway of their hotel at the 2015 Pma meeting.

BELOW: Guyton teaching a mat worKout for Pilates anytime. Photo courtesy of Pilates anytime.

on, so over time, i became his assistant and then his paid assistant.

Ron awarded certificates of merit. he asked to formally test my competence by observing me teach a class in which he was a member—with no prior warning for preparation. in 1997, he awarded me a certificate of merit, senior teacher of the ron fletcher work. in 2000, he awarded me master teacher, and in 2006, i was named artistic director of his work. though the term “master teacher” has many connotations, i always clarify that ron bequeathed these titles for mastery of his work.

in 1997, he gave me permission to notate his work, including the towel and his floor exercises, for medical conferences. this was before there was a formal ron fletcher training program. i was one of the co-founders and co¬owners of his school. i am proud to have been part of the preservation of his legacy.

PS: What did you do after you stopped working with Ron?

Pat: having been privileged to do my part in ron’s work, it was time for me to move into my own vision. i had to redefine who i was. mary Bowen said to me, “Pat, we can only be ourselves, we can’t be Joe and clara, and not all of us can be the first-generation teachers. we can only be authentic when we step into who we are.” she said it would take some time, and it did.

i started working on Pilates conservatory®, my comprehensive teacher-training program. currently, i offer this program in Japan and teach continuing-education workshops in the u.s. and other countries.

PS: What were the elders’ feelings about the trademark lawsuit?

Pat: i must say that many of the stories that are heard are based on selective memory and are therefore hearsay. all of the first- generation teachers still living were asked to testify. ron was willing and eager. Kathy was conflicted, because romana [Kryzanowska] was her friend. ron begged Kathy to do it for the good of the larger community, saying, “look what she is doing to the rest of us.” Kathy finally relented. i also heard that Kathy asked romana, “why are you doing this?” romana replied, “Because if i don’t go along with it, i won’t have a job.” these people were human and they persevered in the ways they thought best. thankfully, Pilates survived these struggles and has grown.

PS: How did the elders feel about the Pilates Method Alliance?

Pat: the trademark was broken in 1999, and in 2000, the first Pma conference was held in miami. the first-generation teachers—ron, Kathy, mary, lolita san miguel—were there, and they became our leaders. we tried for years to get romana to attend, but she would not come if the rest of the first-generation teachers were in attendance. i believe that there were too many hurt feelings on both sides.

PS: What do you remember about the beginnings of the PMA?

Pat: Kevin [Bowen] and colleen [Glenn] worked relentlessly toward the formation of Pma despite the majority of the community saying it couldn’t be done. i attended the first meeting in miami with ron. at those first meetings, we would have breakout sessions where smaller groups would discuss their vision for an organization. one of the lawyers finally told us, “you can’t just sit around arguing about how to do short spine. you have to get organized and figure out how to set up an organization legally.”

i was invited to become a board member in 2001 and stayed on for seven years. i was part of the preparation of the Pma exam. At first, the Pilates community insisted it wanted an exam, and then the board commissioned an exam, yet there is still mistrust and misinformation that continues. it is natural that everyone wants an exam that represents how they define Pilates. But i believe the exam and certification did provide an essential step in the development of the Pilates method as a profession with set standards.

PS: Looking back, what do you think the impact of the PMA has been?

Pat: it was the first step in forming a cohesive and inclusive Pilates community guided by those first-generation teachers. they are our connection to the heritage. ron had a love/ hate relationship with the PVa, but he came every year.

today, the annual meetings are a forum for teachers from around the world. i think Vary puts it best: “it’s a homecoming where we gather to share friendships.” i’ve heard so many colleagues say, i can’t wait to go to the PVa to see you!

PS: How do you divide your time today?

Pat: i still own my studio in Boulder, Pat Guyton Pilates, inc. i am 65 and don’t want to retire, but i do want to spend my energy wisely. i work with private clients, teach PVa-CeC workshops, guest-teach at Pilates anytime, and maintain the Pilates Conservatory® teacher-training syllabus in Japan.

i’m also a certified franklin teacher, level iii. eric franklin’s functional approach to anatomy, imagery and movement has influenced my teaching.

PS: Tell us about your personal life.

Pat: i ‘ve been married for 26 years to J.B. Guyton. Kirsten, my oldest daughter, lives in lahaina, hi. she surfs, scuba dives and sails. my younger daughter heather lives in colorado. she’s a professional land surveyor as well as an upper-level expert skier, hiker, climber and cross-country skier. Both of them love Pilates.

PS: What’s your advice for new teachers? Pat: take every opportunity to study with our first-generation teachers while you five minutes with pat guyton

FavoritE ap paRatuS:lat different points, each apparatus has been my favorite. at first, i only knew the reformer, so it was my favorite. then i got the first Cadillac in Boulder, and i thought that was incredible.

Favorite mat Move: i love the rolling exercises rolling Back, Open and Closed rocker, Boomerang, Seal and my version of Control Balance/helicopter rocking.

Favorite move on the apparatus: We seniors need more emphasis on balance and momentum, so i like standing arm work on the trapeze table, because it requires balance in reaction to changing momentum.

Most inspiring moment as a teacher:Ideborah lessen had invited ron fletcher to do a workshop in nyC, and i was his assistant. Kathy Grant was there—she had just had hip surgery, so was sitting in a chair in the corner. ron said to me, “Viss Pat, i’m going to go down the side of the room and see how the stomachs look. Would| you please go up front?” So i did. all of a sudden, i realized Kathy had gotten up and was also doing the exercises, as was ron. So i was teaching not one, but two, first-generation teachers! i will never forget that! i thought, How did I get this fortunate? can. i always try to get to lolita and vary’s workshops at pva conferences.

Vary has a unique perspective because she studied for years with Joe, Clara, hannah Sakmirda, Bob Seed, romana, Kathy, Bruce and Jean-Claude west. no other first- generation teacher can compare the style and approach of each of them as she can. She also brings her humanity, psychology and generosity. and she continues to study she takes a private every week.

lolita founded Ballet Concierto de Puerto rico, where Pilates was always part of the daily dance training. although she studied with Carola trier and Joe, she is very adamant that we owe it to our students to know more about the most up-to-date science and about Pilates for rehabilitation. She started her Pilates Vaster Ventor Program in 2009. it is very inspiring to see our mentors continue to give tirelessly and with intelligence.

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