• Chris Hoguet
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Scholarship Recipient: Chris Hoguet

Gratz Industries is proud to present its second scholarship award of 2019 in conjunction with Romana's Pilates. We have chosen Chris Hoguet as the recipient and have presented him with a full scholarship for his tuition and classes in the Romana's Pilates Certification Program. Chris started taking classes after retiring from the military in 2015 with Romana's Pilates teacher Kerri Bender.

Gratz Pilates had donated a Reformer / Cadillac Combo to Kerri and she worked with the Island Dolphin Care Program in co-ordination with the Wounded Warrior project as a way to support active and retired armed service members in restoring physical and mental health through the Pilates Method.

This scholarship has enabled Chris to train at Pilates in Paradise with our friend Christi Allen in the Florida keys as well as studying with Daria Pace at her studio in Ft. Lauderdale. Chris has been very lucky in attending classes with some great visiting instructors including Javier Perez Pont, Juanita Lopez, and, of course, with Sari and Daria.

Please read the interview below with Chris and we will be following up as his journey in becoming a Romana's Pilates Certified Teacher continues over the next several months.

Gratz approached and collaborated with Romana's Pilates with the scholarship concept and Daria Pace immediately suggested that Chris Hoguet would be a deserving candidate for the scholarship in the Teacher Training Certification Program. Gratz is currently supporting Chris Hoguet as he attends the Romana's Pilates Certification Program in South Florida and trains at Pilates in Paradise with Christi Allen and at Daria's Romana's Pilates studio in Ft. Lauderdale. Chris's tuition will be paid for by Gratz Pilates and our intent is to support Chris on his journey as an apprentice and for him to share the process and to allow Gratz to follow his journey and share his thoughts and evolution throughout the process.

Chris is a former Special Forces military officer and combat veteran and he retired in 2014 after a distinguished career and at that time Chris started taking some Pilates classes offered by Romana's Pilates instructor Kerri Bender in the Florida Keys. Please read her account of meeting and working with Chris below. We will be sharing an interview with Chris as well as observations from his instructors, photos, and eventually videos of his Pilates training.

Kerri Ann Bender

I began teaching Pilates to Veterans at Island Dolphin Care in Key LArgo in 2015. Gratz Industries and David Rosencrans had made my idea of showing our gratitude to Veterans by providing them with the many benefits of Pilates possible by donating apparatus to Island Dolphin Care, a non-profit Dolphin assisted therapy center.

My father was a Veteran, and as he was sick and passing, we spent many hours together in his hospital room dreaming together. My amazing mentor, Romana Kryzanowska, always said 'Love All Around'. I knew there was one way to show love and gratitude... Share the gifts of Pilates and with gratitude, get it to those who need it. Chris Hoguet came to me through a recommendation of a local acupuncturist who had been treating him for pain. As a Special Forces Officer who was also an Army Ranger, Chris' list of injuries was extensive. It was clear after our first lesson how Pilates was going to change his life. His body took to the work in a way that allowed him to decompress areas of his body that I expect had been locked and loaded for years.
As our work continued over the next few years, Chris began also taking lessons and classes at Pilates in Paradise. As his pain decreased, we began to casually broach the subject of becoming an apprentice with Romana's Pilates. I'm thrilled that one of the very first Veterans I taught in the Pilates for Veterans free program at Island Dolphin Care through the generosity of Gratz Industries is now training to become a Romana's Pilates Instructor with dreams to continue the program and expand this needed work for our country's Veterans.

Kerri Ann Bender
Romana's Pilates Instructor Trainer - Level IV

Daria Pace Comment's on Chris's Development at her Studio:

Chris was an ideal recommendation for me to become the beneficiary of the Gratz Industries Scholarship simply because I know my grandma, Romana, would have approved of his journey to become certified. Many of her relatives served in the military and we, as a family, believe it is pivotal that we all continue to support our troops.

Working with Chris has been a pleasure. His background is quite different from the majority of people who go through the Romana's Pilates Instructor Trainer Program. The military is very strict, with many specific rules and regulations. We have guidelines as well, but much of our focus is not as regimented.

As a Pilates Instructor, one needs to focus on understanding the exercise in depth and then applying it to individual, as every body we teach is unique with different needs, limitations, and abilities. I am happy to say that Chris is adapting to our flexible ways of teaching the mind and the body, while still showing dedicated discipline to deepen his own Pilates practice.


As Chris advances into the Intermediate lessons and techniques we will interview him again and have Christi Allen share her thoughts as she works with Chris on a daily basis. We also encourage questions from the Pilates Community related tot he apprenticeship and challenges in becoming a Pilates Instructor. There are many talented Pilates students that have wondered about becoming a teacher, and we hope that Chris's story will help understand the process and commitment required.


Interview Part 1

1. Where and when did you first do Pilates work with Carrie and the Dolphin project initially?

Pilates was a recommendation of my Acupuncturist (Candice Nelms). She knew of a program offering Pilates to veterans. I didn't know anything about Pilates, thought it was the other Yoga thing but since Candice recommended it I agreed to go to be polite. Thats when I met Kerri Bender. Kerri had worked with Island Dolphin Care (IDC) and Gratz to organize a program for Vets and others that attend IDC's events.I still didn't know what to expect and thought maybe I would be with 10 or 20 others leaning to do some of that other yoga stuff. I was surprised at what Kerri was offering (one-on-one sessions) and her dedication, attention to detail, exacting standards, but also able to adapt to the not-so-flexible-me. Somewhere around the third or fourth session we did the Push Through and I felt my lower back just open up. I knew then that there was something to Pilates, not just an exercise program.

2. Please confirm a little more background on your history prior to studying Pilates- where you grew up, what sports did you participate in, what were the years of your military service, and any other details that you are comfortable sharing with us and the Pilates community.

I grew up in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Played Little League Baseball and grade school football because my dad made me join. I wasn't any good at either. Didn't play anything after that.In 1982 at age 19 I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve as an Officer Candidate and attended the first phase (6 weeks) of training after completing my first year at Penn State. Later I switched programs to Army ROTC. I was Commissioned in the Army in 1986 and Graduated PSU with B.A. in Telecommunications technically in 1987. I enter active duty in Sept 1987 and retired at the end of Jul 2014 as a Lieutenant Colonel (O5).

3. What have the first few months of teacher training been like?

The past few months have been a bit eclectic. Separating standards from techniques has been the challenge. A physical challenge that has existed from the beginning of my Pilates practice has been to accept that the "No Pain No Gain" and "run till your numb" mind sets don't apply.Learning the nuances of the proper technique and then keeping that in my mind-body. Old bad habits are hard to replace. Another physical-mental challenge is to incorporate good Contrology techniques into my Instructing practice and training, i.e. how I stand, bend, adjust the apparatus, etc... After that the challenge of the Instructor Training is developing my own methodology.

4. What apparatus do you enjoy working on the most ?

The Tower. I'm 6' 4" @220 lbs, I can easily fit and I my feet don't hit the vertical bars when using leg springs.


Interview Part 2

1. Having completed the basic portion of the teacher training program, is there anything that surprised you or was easier or more challenging than anticipated in the basic program?

Having completed the Basic seminar of Romana’s Pilates Instructor Trainer program has been informative and also challenging. One of the main challenges for me was separating the Syllabus from the technique of teaching actual bodies. Each instructor I have worked with has had their own unique way of presenting the information to their clients, unlike the Basic seminar which seemed to me to be more of a black & white definitive structure. This was an adjustment for me...one could liken it to speaking the same language, but with many different dialects. Each variation on technique was different from how things were presented in the Basic Seminar, but also effective. Coming from a military background, this fluid way of teaching the same information with so many different approaches was both a surprise and a challenge for me. 

2. Have you noticed a change in your body and mind as you get deeper into the Pilates method and practice and study more intensely?

I am happy to report that my reduction in pain and discomfort continues as I continue to consistently practice Pilates. I credit this to my private lessons and hope that my future teaching, once I complete my Instructor training, will be this beneficial for others living life with pain and body functionality issues.

3. How is it working as a teacher and leading a client through the technique, inspiring, and directing them during a class?

At this point, I am focused on learning the safeties and the syllabus. I am working to understand the exercises in my own body and to learn who each exercise is best for and how to build an efficient and effective Pilates lesson. From my experience thus far with a number of Master Teachers and Instructor Trainers I know the inspiration will follow. I have been fortunate to already study with Sari Mejia Santo, Juanita Lopez, Rhonda Celenza, Javier Perez Pont, Daria Pace, Moses Urbano, Enza Arrizza, Kerri Ann Bender, Anthony Rabara, Hosana Ganem, and Christi Allen Franchini. They are all inspired and deliver this work in their own special way and I’m sure to find my voice in it as well. I find that the classical Pilates community has some similarities to the Special Operations Community. With a willingness to try, you will earn your way, quality is more important than quantity, people are more important than equipment or apparatus, and good instructors cannot be mass produced.


Interview Part 3

1. Please let us know how the intermediate work was challenging.

Some of the most challenging aspects of the Intermediate System were learning the sequence, deciding on modifications for each client in order to accommodate for injuries and needs and to edit the entire system for a well-rounded lesson. Choosing what to omit, while still delivering a whole body Pilates lesson proved more challenging for me then expected! Thankfully, it seems that I had a harder time with this editing process when working on practice written exams, but had fewer problems with it in person with real bodies! Learning to properly assess injuries, such a hurt shoulder or knee, keeping Range of Motion and severity of pain in mind is important. I’ve learned by watching Daria and Christi that each injury is different and each body reacts differently to pain and limitation. I have come to understand how important this individual approach will be when working with Veterans...as I expect them to present with many injuries and challenges (as I did when I first beginning Pilates)! There is no “one size fits all” or one way to assess and work with injured clientele, but the standards and practices that the Romana’s Pilates Instructor Trainer program is helping to instill within my teaching is helping me grow confident in my ability to safely deliver Pilates to anyone who comes to work with me.

2. How do you feel teaching at this point? Are there any techniques or exercises that you are finding easier or more difficult to perform and/or teach?

As a whole, I’m enjoying teaching and find it very fun and rewarding. I believe, like most apprentices, I’m most comfortable with Reformer and Mat, but the Systems and extras are the biggest challenges for me. Consistent practice and patience seem to be helping me become more competent and less hesitant in teaching those exercises.

3. What is the most rewarding experience you’ve had in the Intermediate phase of the apprenticeship?

Far and away I would say that participating and helping to facilitate the Romana’s Pilates Global Conference in Orlando in October was the most rewarding experience so far. I found the whole community of Instructors, Instructor Trainers, and Master Teachers so supportive and open. Willingness to learn is all that is needed and you will be supported and helped fully by our community. On a smaller, but still significant scale, I would say that all of the little victories that occur in the studio day in and day out are very encouraging. When a client says they feel better after class than when they arrived, or that they feel like they finally “got it” regarding an exercise...those moments are very rewarding!

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