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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 have featured interviews developed by Gratz Euro correspondent, Tavis Bohlinger, with Brooke Siler and Marjorie Oron and now we are proud to present an interview with our friend and brand ambassador Kathyrn Ross Nash.


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


ABOUT KathI ross-nash

Kathryn began her Classical Pilates training in 1982 and has had the privilege to study with First Generation teachers Romana Kryzanowska, Kathy Grant, Sari Mejia Santo, Jay Grimes and Edwina Fontaine. She is trained through the Pilates Studio, Romana’s Pilates, Authentic Pilates, the Pilates Method Alliance, a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, and through the National Pilates Certification Program. She was a principle dancer for ten years with Ballet Hispanico of NY, where she now sits on the Board of Directors. Kathryn holds a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and an undefeated AUU sparring record.

Kathryn worked closely with Romana for many years. Romana named her founding Vice- President to her Presidency of the Authentic Pilates Guild. Kathryn often traveled and demonstrated the work for Romana during her workshops. She is the only woman to demonstrate on the Romana’s Pilates Mat DVDs, be the voice and teacher of the individual follow along Mat workouts and the Legacy Series DVDs. Romana is quoted about Ms. Ross-Nash, saying “her work is like ice cream”, “poetry in motion” and “she is one of her best”- Romana’s “Star of Stars.”

Kathryn appeared with Romana multiple times in Pilates Style Magazine.She can be found on her own Vimeo site, Pilatesology and Pilates Anytime. She was featured instructor in the premiere issue of Pilates Style and has been featured in the magazine many times since, served a writer for its blog, magazine and currently sits on the Advisory Board.She is an often-quoted expert whose advice on the method and its authenticity is sought after worldwide. To celebrate her 55th Birthday she had the honor to grace the cover of Pilates Style Magazine as the oldest single cover model in their history. With this cover, which included a ten-page spread featuring her work “The Red Thread®”. Along with her daughter, Zoe Ross-Nash, this cover kicked off the campaign#donttouchme, encouraging others to embrace their authentic self and shed the use of filters and photo shop alterations. She is most recently featured in Prevention Magazine’s exercises of the month, their DVD and Balanced Body’s App 2021.

“My favorite thing in the world is to be able to teach the work I believe in so strongly, as my teachers so generously gave it to me.

Known throughout the industry for her purity and devotion to the work, Kathryn’s client list spans the athletic and entertainment industry. In 2016 she was bestowed the honor,by the PTA, to be the first instructor to teach Joe’s work on the Isleof Man at the site of Camp 4, where Joe Pilates was interned. She was the first Pilates instructor to train the young dancers of the Vaganova School, in St. Petersburg, Russia. Kathryn has taught in Moscow, Chile,Australia, Spain, Russia, Germany, England, Portugal, Scotland,  Israel,Brazil, Costa Rica and throughout the United States.

Kathryn founded the Authentic Pilates Union and was appointed Chair. She hasowned and operated the American Body Tech Pilates Studio since 1992 andin 2017 opened the Red Thread Ranch™. She is the creator of many innovative workshops including: The Red Thread®, The Add On Mat®, FixYour Feet ™, Connection to the Jump™ and Variations on a Theme - Mat& Reformer™. Her DVD, Kathryn Ross-Nash New York Pilates© and books,Fix Your Feet - Using the Pilates Method© and The Red Thread® ofPilates - The Integrated System and Variations of Pilates - The Mat© ,The Red Thread® of Pilates - The Integrated System and Variations ofPilates - The Baby/Arm Chair ©, The Red Thread® of Pilates - TheIntegrated System and Variations of Pilates – The High/Electric Chair©,and The Red Thread® of Pilates - The Integrated System and Variations ofPilates - The Foundational Reformer © have been acclaimed worldwide.



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

I was a Principle dancer for 10 years with Ballet Hispanico of NY. It appeared the young life was about dance, but in reality- I was a tomboy. I come from a very active family. My brothers were football players and wrestlers. My father came from a football background. He coached Jr. Football and founded the Ridgewood Junior wrestling program. I would crayfish, go crabbing and wade knee deep in mud catching frogs at our summer home in Cape Cod.

When I was 13 or 14 years old, I was brought up by Raoul Gelabert, the forefather of Dance Kinesiotherapy. Mr. Gelabert had actually met Joe. It is rumored they were not fond of each other. This was my first exposure to Pilates. He would teach pre- ballet floor exercises before class. He was the one who introduced me to Pilates in 1977, and I had no idea what I was doing.


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

I was not built for Ballet... Let's put it that way. I was not long and lean. I had thicker muscles. I was trained by Michael Fokine’s niece,Irene Fokine. I was not learning how to physically perform correctly- I was only muscling through.  In 1977, my mother’s best friend’s daughter was a dancer at the legendary Julliard School. She told my mother to take me to Raoul Gelabert. He used Pilates like exercises to teach me how to move/ dance kinetically correctly.

Later, around 1982,  I was brought to Romana Kryzanowska and Kathy Grant by my artistic director Tina Ramirez. Tina was an avid believer in Pilates and had studied with Joe. She also had a long-standing relationship with Lolita San Miguel. Lolita San Miguel also, as we all know, is one of the elders in the method.Tina strongly believed that this method would keep me free from injury as well as give me the body that I needed to continue dancing professionally. When I was about 19 years old, I went to Romana to continue my training. I can’t remember exactly when I went there, but it was pretty early in my life that I started doing it. I hated it. I absolutely hated it at first. Even though I hated the work, I realized the benefits. The days I did my Mat work before a performance or class, I hit my turns, I held my balances. The days I didn’t do Mat- well, let's say they weren’t as pretty!

Later to be able to share that relationship with Romana, which continued for many more years after, that was a blessing. I became her "body" to demonstrate movements and learned so much from her and a loving friendship developed. After my weekly lessons we would sneak off for cocktails and lunch. We would not only talk of Pilates, but life. Romana was a believer in a balanced life. Play, Work & Rest…. I think we both liked play the best.

 

When I was around 30 years old, right before I was pregnant for my son,  I was invited to teach Mat at  my old dance studio. This is where I began teaching the work. There was a student who came in that disclosed shehad hurt her back prior to the class. Her doctor said she would never walk again, let alone dance without pain. I told her, "That is not true"and I invited her back to my house. At the time, I had a portable Reformer that I would use my own lessons. Led by my intuition, I gave her a lesson and she loved the session so much she kept coming back. Not only was she able to return to dancing, she also became a certified instructor. It is a wonderful feeling sharing the work and having students be able to do what was thought to be initially impossible.

At the time I trained for my Pilates, there was no basic, intermediate or advanced order. You were given your exercises, which you had to memorize. Exercises were added as you were ready to add them. God bless Tony and Michael though, because they had to teach me these new “levels” when I returned for certification. I went back to Romana and I was lucky enough to become her body for demonstrations, videos and magazines. More importantly her friend. When she decided to start the Authentic Pilates Guild, I had the honor of being her naming me her Vice President! It was one of my most special moments. When you are sitting around with all these wonderful instructors asking Romana who she wants to be the VP and she names you, it's so validating. To be able to share that relationship with her, and continue for many more years after that was a blessing. I became a Teacher Trainer under her tutelage for her program. I did not teach workshops or events until she told me I should ”show the world what Pilates is”. My life growing up in the Pilates world was very organic.

For many years I maintained my studio in New Jersey, teaching clients. My clients were real people. I had many clients for over 20 years. This allowed me to teach the method as a method. This is what I realized I needed to share with the teachers of today. I looked at my client cards and realized there was a pattern to teaching the work. This could be broken down and shared in a digestable form. The Red Thread® was born. I created the Pilates Professional Advanced Teacher Training Program™- also known as The Red Thread® Method. This focuses on the teachers who have completed a comprehensive training program and have been actively teaching for 5 or more years. the focus is understanding the application of the method. For example, why go to the Cadillac for this particular exercise? Why the Baby Chair for this other exercise? Why are the equipment measurements so specific, you know? All of these nuances so that they can understand that these are all pieces that fit into a puzzle that creates the work.

I'm seeing a correlation with the other pilate instructors on their first exposure to the work!

Think about it! You go as a dancer or a martial artists, and you think you know how to move. But then you realize that you were never moving with economy. You are not moving with efficiency. You are not moving with clarity. You are not moving kinetically correctly. And that is a very eye-opening and frustrating experience. You think you can get your leg up, but you're not getting your leg up correctly. So you have to step back and re-investigate yourself. When you come to Pilates, you have to be prepared to not just look at your body, but understand every bit of you. There's so much somatic behavior related to it. When you look at what you can and cannot do, you learn how to adapt your body to the changes. It also has to do with how you change yourself mentally. And sometimes that is very, very difficult to do.

"We make people's lives better. For me personally, I love the physicality of it and the relief that comes with it. I love the dynamic force. I love its applicability. I can take someone out of a wheel chair and work with them, and I can also take the most skilled athlete and work with them. I don't know any other method that is that diverse."


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?

As a teacher, there's nothing better than the gift that your job is improving the quality of somebody's life. We have the best job in the world. We make people's lives better. For me personally, I love the physicality of it and the relief that comes with it. I love the dynamic force. I love its adaptability. We can take someone out of a wheel chair and work with them, and also take the most skilled athlete to the next level. I don't know any other method that is that diverse. All I want to do is share the work that I know and through it, invite other teachers to share it with me and expand my vision. I ask my students (teachers) to share a relationship that makes me culpable for the choices I make while teaching. The more they question me as to why I choose to do something, the more I am forced to further articulate my process verbally. I ask them to continue training the work in their own bodies.  You must truly know your body and trust it before you can begin to teach. If I can expand that, then I know Pilates will live on forever. Once you really feel and believe in the work, you don't need anything else. You will always want to share it. Have you ever been to a restaurant and you tasted something amazing for the first time and make everyone around you try this extraordinary thing? That's what Pilates is like for me. I want to share this experience with everyone. I want everyone to have a taste!

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?

As much of a curse this pandemic has been for the Pilates community, there's a silver lining. Through communications like Zoom, we're able to connect to people we would have never been able to connect to before. I think this pandemic brought us closer. Normally I would just be within my students in my studio, but now we have an opportunity to see and share the work with teachers from all over the world on a weekly basis! It forces us to look into places we didn't look before. I might not get to travel much, but I can open my home to the world virtually.
 
Teaching virtual classes has its own challenges. For example, I have to give my clients verbal cues on how to interact with their bodies without physically touching them. However, my hands still move as if I was trying to pull their hips back. It's quite frustrating when I know they can't feel my hands!

I am teaching several different workshops now. I teach follow along workouts 3 times a week and 2 instructional workshops. I am also teaching a ten-week challenge for a smaller group of 35 teachers. We are going back to basics and building the work by applying . The Red Thread® . Each Student has an advocate, one of my trainees to become a Teacher of Teachers for the Pilates Professional Advanced Teacher Training Program™- to help with their individual threads. I will teach a class once a week and then they will repeat the class three more times. A full studio set up of equipment is required.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE PILATES COMMUNITY WILL ADJUST TO THE NEW REALITY MOVING FORWARD?

I have also noticed that the teachers are giving themselves a gift in the process: the chance of doing the work again instead of just teaching. I've heard over and over during the first wave of the Pandemic of people saying they are strong again. My advice is this: give yourself 3 hours a week to change your life. That is all you need. It is so common to forget to take care of ourselves, and this is a prime time to allow yourself to remember that you're valuable. Say to yourself, 'I am worthy of 3 hours a week to change my life'.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CLASSICAL EQUIPMENT to work out in?

I don't particularly have a favorite piece of equipment. The difference between the apparatus I use and other equipment is that  my apparatus was built for the work. The others are only built for the exercises. For instance, Joe started off with his Mat. You are unable to perform a certain exercise, so he would create a piece of equipment to help you do the work.  He is set up this equipment for your body. Not all equipment that are called Pilates are for the work. They tend to focus on a body part rather than full body engagement. Pilates is a full-body engagement workout and every exercise applies this. We don't work just a bicep or triceps- it's always the whole body involved. We use exercises to build more difficult exercises. Not exercises to build body parts. That is the main difference. The classical equipment doesn't deviate from Joe's original work.

Without Gratz, and without Donald and Roberta Gratz relationship with Romana, we would not have what we have today. When Basil Blecher took over for Gratz he copied the first baby Chair for me from Joes in 1998. that is dedication to the work. When David took over Gratz we sat and talked. I told him my interest in supporting Gratz’s  manufacturing because without it, I would not have my work. Without Gratz and their dedication to making the equipment, when there wasn’t another equipment company making our equipment- we would not have the method today.


READ MORE ABOUT KATHY ROSS-NASH