April 2014 | Valencia, Spain
" The Gratz apparatus was UNFORGIVING!If you didn’t do it right then you couldn’t do it at all! There is nothing I love more than a new challenge.
My body began to change quickly with the use of Gratz. It still does on a daily basis
- Tony Balongo, Owner and Instructor
Valencia Classical Pilates
This past November saw the opening of my own studio. The Valencia Classical Pilates Studio was born. Fully Gratz equipped and at a great location about 5 minutes from the beach. I will be eternally grateful to David Rosecrans for his support and to Kathryn Ross Nash amongst others for believing in me. More and more people in Valencia and from all around are coming to the studio to experience the real work on the real equipment. More and more teachers are becoming curious about the traditional work and the traditional apparatus. Through the conferences and my classes, I feel I am making a difference to keep the method alive. I hope to see you all at the conference this year! June 21st - 23rd, 2014!!!
Tony Balongo, London born with Spanish descent. I have a background in contact sports, martial arts, british boxing. I snowboard when I can and kite surf too, and I am crazy into motorcycles. I came to Spain on a motorcycle and decided to stay. I discovered Pilates through boxing. I had spent a few years living Essaouira, Morocco training regularly with a 5 time Moroccan lightweight champion named Boushma. Boushma was a man in his late 60’s maybe 70’s and was as fierce as any 30 year old I had ever came across. Boushma came across pilates while training boxers in Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. The training he gave me involved a lot of core work and looking back I can see he had unknowingly incorporated a little bit of the Pilates Method here and there. I felt I had been exposed to the tip of the iceberg and was really hungry for more.
Upon my return to Spain I began taking classes and shortly after then began a training course. The big change for me came when I attended a pilates conference and met Peter Fiasca, Kathryn Ross Nash, and Brett Howard in person. They blew my mind. As I was observing one of Peter’s workshops, “pilates for most men”, I could see he wasn’t use to the equipment he was using. I asked Kathryn Ross Nash about this. She told me about Gratz and about the Classical Pilates Conference Dana Santi holds in Chicago. I couldn’t wait until May to attend.
I was a Gratz virgin and it was there that it all changed. I had booked a class with Jay Grimes and booked myself for what was marathon of workshops. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to take a class with somebody that had learned from the big man himself including Peter Fiasca, Kathryn Ross Nash, Mari Winsor, Brooke Siler, Chris Robinson. All of whom are close friends now.
My first experiences with the Gratz equipment was a little intimidating, but AMAZING. The work I thought I knew all of sudden became an almost impossible feat to perform. Exercises I thought I had down had me pouring with sweat and trembling all over. The Gratz apparatus was UNFORGIVING! If you didn’t do it right then you couldn’t do it at all! I had a new challenge on my hands. I would have to relearn all of the work in the traditional style with the traditional equipment. There is nothing I love more than a new challenge. My body began to change quickly with the use of Gratz. It still is on a daily basis.
Pilates in Spain and probably everywhere else is considered a gentle exercise by some or something only women in their later years practice. This is so far from the truth. It is a kick-ass exercise and I really wanted to get that through to people, especially guys. A while back I even use to give a free class for guys on Fridays for them to try out what a little bit of pain could feel like in a Pilates Studio. Apart from that, I really wanted other teachers nearby to experience what I had - the difference between using the correct apparatus in the correct way like I was now being taught.