Today, you are 127 years young. Happy Birthday!
You were a Saggitarius! You HAD to be a cool dude. How could you not have been?! It’s one of my favorite star signs for a man- exemplifying all of the character traits and qualities I esteem: Pioneer, visionary, freedom-lover, philosopher, multi-talent, generous spirit, man for the people. Describes you to a “T” from what I have come to understand, and all that I have personally gleaned by being an avid fan, student and teacher of your work all these years…
Your revolutionary system changed the face of fitness today.
And I can’t help but grow nostalgic and take a stroll down memory lane on this special day. As a budding baby ballerina at age 13, I had no idea what that first mat class taught by the illustrious and endlessly elegant Eve Gentry, one of your beloved disciples, would mean to me one day … that your work would inform and influence the better part of most of my years since then.
Hard to imagine really, who could have guessed … after getting certified by Romana at Drago’s, when I bought my first equipment set up from Ken at Balanced Body (who then had a small operation with no more than 20 employees!) and opened a small studio at a place called “West Village Workout,” in the early nineties, where that beginning, that first fateful mat class would lead. I’ll never forget how, when I made a deal with the owner of the gym, he said he didn’t think the “Pilates stuff” (mispronounced “PIELATES”) would go over that well. I offered him $10 per head for each client I brought in, and within 3 months, he was making well over $2,000 from the “Pilates Stuff.” I’ll never forget how it caught on like wild fire, and everyone wanted to know what it was, to experience it. Everyone from the staff to the postman wanted to know why people were raving about it … why people said that it made them look and feel taller, more poised, more powerful, more alive. It was a special little studio, that space on Charles Street … and many of today’s notable personalities in the field got their start there (just to highlight your far-reaching influence): Brooke Siler was one among many of your fans- then working as the receptionist there and asked me to teach her all that I knew about your Method, and so I did- invited her into group classes, taught her very first private session on the apparatus, and recommended that she go to Drago’s to continue her studies; I’m proud to say that Alycea Ungaro was not only one of my fellow graduates from Romana’s certification program, but one of my first employees (and a damn good one at that!) … and just look at them now- carrying the torch! From that little studio sprung myriad opportunities, not the least of which was my fortuitous meeting with Cal Pozo, the man who is responsible for introducing me to the world of mind-body fitness via film–the producer of my video and the very first Pilates video ever, and again, I could write all night about the serendipitous and infinitely rewarding experiences that I have had and the exceptional people I have met and worked with since that memorable time in the west village- and all thanks to you!
This is all to say, Joe, and I know that I speak on behalf of the countless lives that have been not only touched, but dramatically transformed by your genius, your visionary, pioneering work, that we are very grateful for you and your incredible contribution.
Thank you for giving so much to so many people. I only wish that I could have met you while you were alive and worked with you, experienced your gruff magic firsthand. I have been privileged to have worked with so many of your exceptional master inheritors, Eve, Ron, Romana, and the list goes on and on and on. What a legacy your life catalyzed, and what a gift that continues to give on a daily basis, touching millions of lives worldwide.
Thank you, Joe, and Happy, Happy Birthday!
With highest regard and gratitude,