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Notes from the May 2002 Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) Conference

Pe-La-TuS...? Pi – lates...? Pi - late-tees...? Pi-lah-tees...? You are never going to believe what we found out at the 2nd Annual Pilates Convention in Miami this year...

First, some historical facts to bring you up to date...In October 2001, New York District Federal Court overturned the trademark rights of Sean Gallagher and The Pilates Studio and The Pilates Guild of New York as sole owners of the Pilates Trademark and name. Pilates is now considered a generic term which refers to a type of exercise which includes specific characteristics which stem from the work of Joseph H. Pilates. Pilates invented specific equipment and exercises for therapy and exercise training and never trademarked his method or equipment. He and his wife Clara lovingly shared their life's work with all who showed interest. For years Mr. Gallagher terrorized exercise studios who’s focus was Pilates, claiming that he and his associates were the original Pilates or "authentic Pilates." He harassed, sued and made the lives of many of Pilates practitioners a nightmare. Alternative Health & Fitness was one of the studios on his hit list and we spent thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting his bogus claims.

Since the freeing up of the Pilates name an organization called the Pilates Method Alliance was created to help unite the thousands of Pilates Practitioners world wide.

The second annual convention for the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance) was held this year in Miami Beach. Attendees to this annual convention included: Ron Fletcher,82 yrs. (LA Pilates), Mary Bowen, 70 something (North Hampton Mass Pilates), Kathy Grant, 80 something (NYU Pilates) and Lolita San Maguel (Puerto Rico Pilates). What all these people have in common is that they studied directly with Joseph and Clara Pilates. Sadly, my teacher Romana Krazanowska, 80 something, (NYC Pilates) was not present due to the existing political problems from the trademark lawsuit. She was missed by all of her students, we wish her all the best and respect her decision.

Anyway...A surprise guest was the niece of Joseph Pilates, Mary Pilates. Ms. Pilates, 84 yrs (Mid West Pilates), sat atop the stage, poised and answering all kinds of questions from eager attendees from around the world.

It was amazing to hear her accounts of the early days in Joe's studio in NYC . Then some one asked the quintessential question of the hour...How do you pronounce your last name?

In her very laid back, mid-western way she said, "Pi-lates or Pe-la-tus." The crowd of students roared with laughter for about 5 minutes. While Mary Pilates sat not knowing what to say. Then she began to laugh herself and she said..."I don’t care how you say it really..."

Well, for those of you not getting it. It is a historical fact that the "P" word is always being mispronounced. Instructors are always correcting clients in their pronunciation saying, "its Pi-lah-tees". Even newspaper articles make sure to phonetically spell Pilates due to everyone saying, "how do you pronounce it...?" So the joke is on us, Pi-La-tus Instructors...

Here’s to all those women and men who called my studio and I corrected their pronunciation of Pilates. I stand corrected. The 2nd annual Pilates convention was a success. Alternative Health & Fitness is a sustaining member of PMA and we look forward to becoming a source of support in their growth for the future.


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