Brooklyn with Blossom

My final private session with Blossom at Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn NYC
My final private session with Blossom at Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn NYC

After experiencing Blossom’s teaching at the PAA conference in Sydney last year I was a big fan. So when it was time to have my private sessions with her at her studio Bridge Pilates in Brooklyn I was very excited. We were staying at an AirBnB apartment in Brooklyn Heights and I got to walk to the studio and pretend I was a local- very fun! Blossom had some time before her client was due to arrive and greeted me as though she had known me for years. The wonderful thing about her is that it is soon obvious that she offers this beautiful energy to all who come her way.

Bridge Pilates is a beautiful light filled space in the DUMBO neighbourhood of Brooklyn. The studio has two reformers (Gratz- modified to have an additional spring), a trapeze table, ladder barrel and an original Joseph Pilates wunda chair and spine corrector inherited from the days that Kathy Grant worked from the space in the Henri Bendel department store. While we could all spend thousands of dollars on gadgets that release this and things that do that, Blossom has collected an array of little balls and other bits and pieces from hardware store visits that are just the right size to make you REALLY FEEL what she has in store for you. Observing Blossom teaching was great. She incorporates a lot of hands on work with her clients and it is obvious that they completely trust her. I loved the way the traditional work was done with slight variations like using the straps on the trapeze table to create an uneven base of support and using the edge of the trapeze table to do work reminiscent of the short box series.

I’m a massive history nut. I love people’s story and I think the way that someone makes you feel is definitely what you remember about your experience with them. Blossom has some beautiful photos of Joseph Pilates in motion that you could easily stare at for hours. But it was the way that Blossom spoke about Kathy that was really beautiful. Imagine that, your first introduction to the work of Joseph Pilates through a pilates elder! I loved the way that Blossom’s eyes glistened as she said… “I miss that woman”. I have always felt that the respect for the legacy of the elders is just as important as respect for Mr Pilates himself but that also innovation is crucial. People’s bodies are different in 2014 than they were in the 1950’s and the way the general public uses their body is completely different. I feel like Blossom’s approach is the perfect balance of honouring the work of those who entrusted it and working with the body in front of you, your skill set and your own creativity and flair.

After we talked a little- Blossom made my booty burn like never before!

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NYC- where to next?

My fascination with Kathleen Stanford Grant began many years ago when Pilates Style magazine did a feature on Kathy Grant’s cats. I thought it was really interesting that she loved and was so inspired by cats that it influenced her teaching style so much. I remember trying to incorporate some of the versions of her cats into my mat classes at the time (but I don’t think I got it quite right).

When I visited New York in 2007 I spent some time with Roberta Kirschenbaum at her studio Rolates Pilates. She told me that I should come along and observe her having her own personal pilates class with Kathy Grant at NYU. I was so excited- I’m sure you can imagine how devastated I was when I couldn’t find the building in time- especially when Kathy passed in 2010 and I realised I had missed my opportunity to meet her.

So the years passed and Blossom Leilani Crawford was invited to the 2013 PAA conference here in Sydney. This was the perfect opportunity to learn more about this pilates elder I was so intrigued by. After attending her workshops at the conference I was a fan of Blossom- independent of her amazing connection with Kathy.

Blossom’s sense of humour while teaching is so great and I loved the feeling of connection to the tiny deep muscles (of the shoulder especially) with some of the very intricate exercises. When it came to deciding on a second person to spend my time with while visiting New York this time around, there really wasn’t any question of it being anyone but Blossom!

My Time With Deborah Lessen

Deborah Lessen has been teaching pilates for a very long time. My experience of her was only as an attendee of the Polestar Pilates Australasian Conference in 2010 but I was lucky enough to volunteer myself a couple of times in her workshops and felt completely at ease. I never forgot the speech she gave regarding the trademark case she was involved with and how inspired I felt by her fight for the broader pilates community. Deborah studied under the guidance of pilates elder Carola Trier and her beautiful studio space on Greene Street Soho has been operating since 1983. I wanted to spend some time with someone I considered to be of a traditional New York Pilates background but mentored by an elder other than Romana Kryzanowska.

It would be interesting for me to spend time with someone who has made pilates teaching their primary focus- both of regular clients and teachers. You see, a lot of the amazing teachers I look up to here in Sydney and more widely are also physiotherapists. I also wanted to spend time with someone happily operating out of a intimate setting rather than the operation of a massive studio requiring the management of many instructors.

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