My very first Pilates studio was on the 2nd floor in our apartment in Cheltenham. The equipment was bought second-hand from the Pilates studio at my dance school in London where I first started my Pilates journey.
And if you think the Reformer and Cadillac at my Stone studio look daunting, well then you should have seen this!
It was made by a blacksmith, to exact specifications. It looked like black scaffolding with springs attached (which is pretty much what the Cadillac was, really). And no, you couldn’t slide the Cadillac spring rail up and down. And no, there was no gear change on the Reformer. But it worked great, and it was on this apparatus that I first learned Pilates, before moving on to train as a Pilates teacher.
Actually, it’s not that un-common to get someone handy to make the equipment. My first sitting box was made by my brother-in-law who is a carpenter, and I know studio owners in the US who have their husband make some of the apparatus for them.
Anyway, my studio was in the spare bedroom of our Cheltenham flat, and it had a sloping ceiling which meant that you couldn’t even stand up straight in some places. So that part of the room was where we did the mat exercises and the sitting exercises. A Pilates studio where you couldn’t stand up straight, and the equipment looked positively medieval. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked!
Eventually I ended up buying brand new equipment from California and we moved to a house which gave me room for a bigger home studio, which was great untill we moved a few years later to a tiny house that needed extending and complete renovation. (Yes, the very one we are still doing up!)
So, I sold my treasured Cadillac and Reformer to my first Pilates teacher from whom I had bought the black scaffolding equipment. Things had literally gone full circle.
So it was back to mat work only for me for a while, but I was missing my Reformer terribly. But my husband was adamant that we didn’t have space, so he put his foot down and said no to getting another one.
But where there is a will, there is a way! When he asked me to help him with a charity dinner (he is a chef, and he needed a waitress and washer-upper), I saw my chance, and said: “only if I can have a Reformer” 😃
So, I got a Reformer that would fit under the bed.
It was awful, I am not going to lie. It had no springs, but had elastic bungy jumping cords instead. It was too short to do a proper Frog. But I adapted my workout, and it worked. And boy, has it made me appreciate the fabulous equipment we have in the studio now!
Why am I telling you this story? Because the last few weeks have been all about making changes and working with what we have. That’s what Joseph Pilates did. It is the very foundation of the Pilates technique. We work with the body we have. We work with the space and equipment we have.
To each and everyone of my lovely clients, keep up the good work however you are doing Pilates and even if things are not ideal.
What have you had to “make work” recently??