My thoughts upon reading “Joseph Hubertus Pilates: The Biography” by Javier Pérez Pont and Esperanza Aparicio-Romero

I have gobbled up every word, even the ones that are arranged on the pages with a Spanish syntax, even the ones that I didn’t completely understand (I think because the translation didn’t account for idioms).

I enjoyed revelation after revelation thanks to the thorough work of the Spanish team that put this book together.  And I’m so heartened to know that this book marks only the beginning of another lengthy and equally thorough inquiry into the work of Joe Pilates.  I admire Javier and Esperanza for completing the tremendous task of discovering and sorting out the facts and myths that make up what we in present day can learn about Joe Pilates.  And I admire Javier for the inquiry into the method via the apparatus that he is now in the midst of.

The opportunity that they had to do this work is enviable, but the task of doing it surely involved countless hours of toil.  Anybody who loves Pilates owes them a debt of gratitude for taking on the enormity of the task, and completing it!  Which is to say that if you care about Pilates, read this book!  Think of it as the cost of a lesson – a very important, game changing lesson.

I appreciate the respect that they expressed for all people involved in the story of Joe Pilates’ life.  The book itself is at some points rather dry, although I daresay not for a Pilates enthusiast.  The authors chose to present the information directly, based on what they learned.  Which leaves each reader to fill in the elements of story.  While the story-lover in me loves a good yarn, I applaud their restraint.  Indeed, the whole of the life that the book chronicles is so much bigger than anyone could attempt to encapsulate in a series of stories, that it seems that the authors made the most respectful choice that they could have made at this stage in the inquiry.

I am grateful that there are others who are grappling with the question of how to keep the full method that Joe developed alive and thriving.  For me this is a daily challenge.  Honestly, I often feel that I’m engaged in an exercise of futility, but I realize that by simply setting my intention upon the goal of honoring Joe, I’m setting myself up for some measure of success.  And I have experienced an increasing clarity with the work that surely indicates some measure of progress.  All that creates a platform on which I am relieved to know that others are engaged with this challenge, and they are armed with much more information than I, as well as having each other.  When I am not bound by my duties of motherhood, I know that I have a place to go and learn that which interests me most about Pilates:  It will be a nice carrot to munch on someday.

This task of honoring the original work over 50 years after Joe left this material world, is no easy feat.  As the authors point out, we are working with incomplete information on the topic.  But with a fair amount of sleuthing and an intention of respect, I have faith that their efforts will yield good results and that we will all have access to a fuller picture of the Pilates Method than ever before.  This team of Pilates enthusiasts is well on their way to building a new course of study within the Pilates Method.

My introduction to Pilates came by way of people who were enthusiastic and knowledgeable, but not well versed in the original method.  The more I learned, the more I realized that the only way I’d feel that I knew Pilates was to learn from Romana.  Learning from Romana and many of the people who worked with her through the decades, was everything that I wanted it to be, and more.  Along the way, though, I realized that I could not stop there.  There is still more to the story.  More to uncover within the method.  And more to discover within myself.

Romana, among so many other things, kept Pilates alive.  The authors have shown us how this occurred.  In the initial decades after Joe’s death that meant doing the work of the method day in and day out.  But there was another, and perhaps greater, task that she took on which was the dissemination of the work.  In that process, choices had to be made.  She chose well and did an admirable job of doing what Joe could not manage to do in his lifetime.  Joe created and left us the work.  In a very real way, Romana kept it alive and gave us a blueprint for doing the same.  In doing that, she gave us a jumping board from which to delve deeper, to realize the fullness of the method and the richness that a complete and thorough study offers each and every student who accepts Pilates into his / her life.  (I know it sounds a little religious, what can I say?)

With this biography, this European team is building the foundation of that phase of redevelopment.  I guess I’ll have to move to Europe someday….

2 thoughts on “My thoughts upon reading “Joseph Hubertus Pilates: The Biography” by Javier Pérez Pont and Esperanza Aparicio-Romero

  1. John

    Great resume from Bodyslueth, Esperanza & Javier are without doubt the most seriouse Pilates teachers in Spain, and most probably are in the top 10 in Europe. There dedication to teaching the true system of pilates is extrodinary and they should be highly respected for this fact. Both my wife and son are pilates teachers, they both have decent level, and got there qualifications through Peak Pilates, saying this, since then, they have both starting training with Javier at his center in Barcelona. Allthough the respectabilty of the Peak pilates method the training they are now getting is completly different. The only thing that these two methods or systems share are the name ” Pilates ” thats where things stop, Javiers training , useing the original Josep Pilates method is simply supreme, the transitions, the positions, the flow are more natural. The true method might be slightly more complicated to learn at first, but the benefits in short and long term are far more complete. Both memers of my familly agree that since training with Javier there knowledge on how to train Pilates has changed immensly, there clients are bennefiting from this and and have noticed and commented. Pilates is here to stay, it will be teached for years, but as Romana said some years ago, I have never changed anything I was taught from Josep, why should I, its simply perfect.

    1. elizatwist Post author

      Thanks for sharing your reflection in working with Javier and Esperanza. I have experienced something similar to what you are describing in my personal studies. We are fortunate at this day in age to have so many more people available to share the work that Joe developed and Romana sustained. More people assures that Pilates is here to stay!


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