Chris Robinson - Keeping Joe’s Legacy Alive
Written by Kira Lamb
When you’re a two-time Muay Thai Kickboxing Champion like Chris Robinson you value tradition, legacy, and respect for one’s teachers. As an International Pilates teacher himself, Chris honors his mentors Romana Kryzanowska and Jay Grimes with the conscious intention of preserving what Joseph Pilates passed on to them; and them to him. Not just the technical elements of each exercise and how they progressively and systematically fit into his Method; but also the spirit of the work. That spirit is about getting people to move while skillfully guiding them with the rhythm of your voice and the deliberate use of hands-on cues. It’s about developing the type of leadership that unites people from around the world toward one common goal - mental and physical conditioning for optimal function, quality of life, and longevity.
Not to be overlooked in the preservation of Joe’s legacy is his equipment. He spent a lifetime developing and refining each piece of apparatus to complement the intention behind every exercise in his Method. According to Chris, “The angles, the resistance, and the dimensions have to coincide with the work or you have to alter the work to fit the equipment.” So to remain true to Joe’s Method means choosing equipment that seamlessly integrates with it. Gratz is the oldest manufacturer of Mr. Pilates’ designs, and they remain at the forefront of the industry in hand-craftsmanship, quality, and integrity.
Chris was one of the first to “test drive” Gratz’s 80” Archive Reformer. By refining it to reflect even more closely to Joe’s original design, this sixteen-year teaching veteran was awed by the noticeably deeper workout it provided. The Footwork Series introduced him to the firmness of the new carriage which allows for greater proprioceptive feedback. He noticed the “smooth ride”, even resistance, and the amount of effort it took during that final inch to bring the carriage home. The shorter shoulder blocks allowed the straps greater range of motion which required more powerhouse control in exercises like Short Spine, Leg Circles, and Frogs. As an athlete, that’s the depth of conditioning Chris has always valued since his first Pilates workout in 1999. What he originally expected to be a fusion of ballet and yoga turned out to be “weird movement on weird equipment”. It was also really hard. But at the end of the workout, he could instantly punch and kick better because he was connected to his powerhouse. It was that notable difference that ultimately inspired Chris to go to NYC to train intensively with Romana; not to become a teacher, but to become a better martial artist. After certifying with The Guild he returned home to San Diego, bought a Gratz Reformer and a Wunda Chair and began incorporating them into his personal training business. With his advanced degree in Kinesiology, Chris’ goal had always been “to make better athletes; to throw further, jump higher, run faster and not get tired.” He realized that the Pilates Method empowered him to do just that; and with a level of detail he knows he can’t find anywhere else. Soon after, his personal training clients became Pilates clients and he opened a fully equipped Gratz studio.
Chris continues to put his heart and soul into his own training and his work with other teachers and clients. He humbly recognizes that “Joe’s work is still ahead of his time.” and that “it would take a lifetime to master it”. But he is dedicated to that journey while honoring his commitment to his teachers to keep Joe’s legacy alive.