by Jillian Hessel
If you’re a teacher or avid student of Pilates, you can trace your roots back to a mentor or formative teacher. Since Pilates is life-changing,many of us decide to become teachers ourselves. This is how the living chain of Pilates lineage works: Our mentors change our lives, and we teach the next genera-tion of students, inspiring them with the transformative magic of Pilates.
I initially studied with two Pilates elders simultaneously: Kathy Grant and Carola Trier. In 1981, I was dancing professionally in New York City, but years of ballet training had taken their toll on my body. A fellow dancer told me about her teacher, Kathy Grant, who had helped her with a chronically painful back condition, so I decided to give it a try.
My first impression of Kathy’s studio was intimidating. It was very small, and filled with all sorts of strange-looking apparatus. But oh, the beautiful movements her clients performed on that equipment! To my untrained eye, it looked like a combination of gymnastics, yoga and underwater ballet. I longed to do it immediately; after all, I was a professional dancer, so why not? All too soon, I learned why not.