Gratz Pilates has initiated a series of interviews with some of our prominent instructors to allow them to tell their story and discuss the current challenges in our industry. We are proud to present an interview with our friend and brand ambassador, Clare Dunphy Hemani

Gratz had an opportunity to learn more about the “Influencers” and high profile teachers in the Pilates community to share their experiences in 2020-21. We interviewed Clare to tell her history, present situations and hopes for the future.

ABOUT Clare Dunphy Hemani

Clare Dunphy Hemani is a world recognized Pilates teacher, educator, and mentor. Her roots in the field of human movement began at Northeastern University where she earned a BS in Physical Education in 1985, and holds NPCP and ACE certifications. In 1995, Clare began her Pilates studies under Romana Kryzanowska and has since studied with several other teachers. Currently, she serves as an education commissioner for the NPCP. As co-author of the Peak Pilates Comprehensive Education Program, she mentored scores of teachers and teacher trainers between 2001-2013. Clare’s lives in Newburyport, MA where her studio Progressive Bodyworks is located, a unique space where students and teachers worldwide come to study the art of teaching. Committed to preserving the authenticity and tradition of Pilates, her approach is refreshing, inclusive, and supportive. Clare’s audio program Pilates Avatar®, has helped thousands of people gain greater ownership of their practice. Her willingness to share knowledge generously and explain concepts in simple, clear ways is her gift. Clare’s mission is to support the potential in all students/teachers and to keep the spirit of Joe and Romana alive in her work.

Please share any family or childhood memories or interests related to sports, hobbies, education, music, health and fitness history

Like most kids I experienced the world through my senses: touching, tasting, smelling and especially moving. I was a kid on the move all the time. My competitive swimming career began at age 7, summer and winter all the way through high school which then also included diving (pictured here). In junior high, field hockey and lacrosse entered the picture ushering in not only a new phase of my development but taught me discipline, sportsmanship, self respect, leadership and patience. This marked the beginning of my curiosity into self-mastery.

In high school, I recall making a conscious link between physical activity and how it magically and consistently balanced out my mind and teenage emotions. Every sport season brought new life lessons and I was thrilled to be varsity captain for several consecutive seasons. I was awarded a full athletic scholarship to Northeastern University for lacrosse, and it is probably no coincidence that I choose Physical Education as my major.

Soaking up all the information I could on the science of the body and movement, I was fascinated to discover that what I had intuited growing up had a scientific basis. Freshman year, I began teaching aerobics and a new passion emerged. I was able to apply what I was learning academically with my love for movement and sport. The following year I began personal training in residences and then expanded to teaching sports teams and businesses. By senior year I had my own aerobics studio and personal training business. By the time graduation came, I knew what my calling was: to be a teacher. I taught fitness workshops and masterclasses all over the world, created video content for Body Bar, and overall enjoyed what the fitness industry had to offer at that time.

What brought you to Pilates? Please describe your evolution as a student, apprentice and certification, organizational alliances, etc.

After 18 years in the fitness industry my interest was growing in the mind, body, spirit aspect of movement & health. I began to question the “more is better” model of fitness that was prevalent and sought out other avenues to health and well-being. What attracted me to explore the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning were the underlying concepts of Pilates, absent from the current mainstream fitness approaches but which happened to resonate with what I was resolutely cultivating in my own teaching. When I was introduced to Pilates formally in 1995, it changed my life, as I rediscovered the pure joy that movement had always provided me. Walking into Drago’s Gym the first time was like touring a history book with all the crazy looking contraptions and gymnastic-like movements being performed by people of all ages and sizes all with amazing strength and ease. Romana Kryzanowska was the grand master teacher. Her knowledge of the body coupled with her infectious spark for life and generosity with her knowledge, will forever remind me of the type of the teacher I aspire to be like.
The apprentice experience in those days was very rich and filled with knowledgable teacher trainers, other teachers, apprentices and New York had a competitive learning environment. I loved it!! There was a low tolerance for wasting time and as a result, the days were physically and mentally demanding. Like any endeavor worthwhile there were days of frustration, exhaustion, and exhilaration. Romana kept us on our toes!

A few years later in 2001, I was invited to co-author the Peak Pilates comprehensive education curriculum. I was part of developing a dynamic network of global teacher trainers where I really cultivated my understanding of how to
mentor other teacher trainers. In 2014, I departed Peak Pilates to develop my own audio program, Pilates Avatar, to help students and teachers be more independent in their practice. The intention behind Pilates Avatar is to help people have greater access to Pilates regardless of expense or time.

As a PMA member, an NCPT, and also a newly elected NCPT Education Commissioner, I’m excited to continue my personal mission to grow the quality of education and certification standards.

What do you love about teaching Pilates and teaching clients? What about your training, teaching teachers, and how do you see yourself as a leader and influencer?

I love connecting with a person in motion and drawing them out of their current comfort zone to find something more for themselves both as students and also as teachers. There’s so much going on in a teaching relationship on any given day and I love being in that moment for whatever can potentially happen. I find it exciting to be a conduit for other people’s transformation which also impacts my own transformation.

My hopes for primary education is that schools get on board with the standards of the NCPT pathway. It brings professionalism to the industry and educates the public as to which schools have taken the next step to raise their level of professionalism. I think at this point in time, in 2020, primary education schools should stop calling their programs “certifications” as it is confusing to the consumer. Why should someone be able to take a level 1 course of study and call themselves “certified”? It’s not fair. On the other side, for comprehensive assessed education programs, I hope in the future they will encourage their graduates to sit for the national exam. That’s the direction the Pilates industry needs to head to be taken seriously by the public and other professions.

"At the end of my training program, I bought my first apparatus fromanother company because it was less expensive. Once it was delivered, Iwas under the carriage trying to figure out how to change the wheels,springs and anything I could to make it feel like a Gratz, to no avail.So I bought a Gratz reformer for my home use"

Advanced training is fabulous for so many reasons. It keeps everyone learning and growing and exposes teachers to aspects of Pilates they may have missed in their training. Plus it exposes teachers to other excellent master teachers. My advice is to learn from as many master teachers as you can, while you still can. I still do!  I will continue being a teacher and a teacher’s teacher and am excited to continue developing programs, tools and interactive experiences to help Pilates teachers as well as students gain self mastery through Pilates as both a movement system and a lifestyle choice. Most recently, I’m excited to be part of the NCPT Certification Commission where I am honored to add my voice and experience to the ongoing development and improvement of the only nationally recognized third party certification.

Due to the pandemic and global health emergencies, COVID has financially impacted the Pilates Community and particularly studio owners pretty hard - how are you dealing with the challenges?

It’s hit us all very hard. Initially for me, I was already teaching a few people remotely on Zoom so I created a daily teaching schedule right away. That kept me on track to have a reason to get up in the morning! Once we started getting used to the idea of a longer term situation, I brought my workshops online. I bought a new camera, lens, lighting, mic and computer so I could offer a high quality audio and visual experience. I’ve been taking some courses to learn about new platforms and new ideas from experts that can support what I am doing into the future.

Of course, my website needed changing as well to reflect the current reality. It’s been a busy time for sure. Having been in the industry for several decades, one thing I’ve learned is that we periodically need to reinvent ourselves and that change is a constant. Recalibrating is a good thing, it means we’re resilient. On a positive note, I’ve had time to reconnect with colleagues, friends, family, and myself and actually get on the phone instead of social media to check in.


Going forward, I hope to see a new generation of teachers engage with 2nd generation teachers (and 1st gen too!) and take the time to continue learning, fill in some of the gaps from their education and take the next big step to get feedback on their own teaching from a mentor. I believe that will help us into the future to keep the work alive and well.


The first apparatus I was exposed to was Gratz. So the feel of the Gratz apparatus was ingrained in my bones. At the end of my training program, I bought my first apparatus from another company because it was less expensive. Once it was delivered, I was under the carriage trying to figure out how to change the wheels, springs and anything I could to make it feel like a Gratz, to no avail. So I bought a Gratz reformer for my home use. After selling my studio and relocating, I began the process of changing out all of my apparatus to Gratz. It’s not just the feel of the apparatus, it’s the real results I get for me and my students.


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