International Pilates Nerd: Mother, Designer, Mover
Please enjoy the below interview with one of our powerhouse clients Blakely Griggs!
How long have you been doing Pilates and why did you start?
I started pilates about ten years ago -- a couple of years after my third child was born. At that time, I lived in Carnegie Hill in New York City and there was a studio around the corner from me that had a full docket of classes everyday. So, my first time doing pilates was in a class. I liked it immediately and started going to classes regularly. I guess that lasted for about a year. Then, I moved to Houston. I wanted to continue but the first few studios I tried were a bust and a very far cry from classical pilates. They basically comprised using a very modern reformer as resistance. And, I was overwhelmed by all the carpooling I was doing in Houston with three children in three different schools spread out over the city (as opposed to in New York, where our schools were a short walk within our little neighborhood) so I just kind of gave up on exercise for a couple of years. Then, a couple of year later I came up for air, first by visiting John Gossett once a week, which I did for many years, up until he died, and I also began attending classes at Good Space. I purchased a Gratz reformer (I bought one used on craiglist from a former New York ballet dancer and had it shipped to Houston) and studied and read all about classical pilates that I could. And, I visited purely classical studios during my frequent visits to New York City, which in many ways is the hub of classical pilates -- it's where Joseph Pilates original studio was located. And many of Joseph Pilates students, went on to have their own students, and many of them still teach pilates in New York City.
What is your favorite non pilates activity?
I love hunting for art and furniture --- visiting auction houses in NYC -- Christies is my favorite. Cooking is also a hobby for me -- as well as a necessary enterprise, as I have three children.
How are you feeling after one year at Control Studios?
I feel great. I adore Control Studios. I was so frustrated by the absence of a truly classical pilates studio in Houston that also offers group classes on equipment. I was so pleased to be able to work out on a Gratz equipment (Gratz made the pilates for Joseph) in an atmosphere of learning and community -- one reason why I like group classes is for the company and community. Control classes stand out to me, even compared in classes in NYC -- in that they employ a combination of the reformer, the tower, the chair and even the spine corrector, This is extremely rare for a class setting -- I'm not sure that I've ever seen it done before. There is a surprising amount of choreography that goes into each class.
How does your career and daily routine in life feel affected by your Pilates experience?
Pilates changed my life. And, I know this sounds like an overstatement but it's not. At 48, I'm definitely in better shape and in better command of my body than I was at 38. The real name of pilates is Controlology. The point of it is to gain control of your body to the highest degree possible. The point of controlling your body is to have the optimum body for daily life -- that means strength and flexibility. There is a misconception that pilates is a feminine activity. It's not, Joseph Pilates was an intensely masculine individual -- he was a boxer and a gymnast and as tough as nails. Those were sexist times and in many ways, pilates was designed for men. Pilates takes a great deal of strength and the serious persuit of it builds functional strength like nobody's business. Obviously, we live in our bodies and having a strong and flexible body is paramount to a daily life and improves every aspect of daily life -- maintaining one's body is as important as maintaining one's mind, and, of course, the two are inextricably linked. I highly recommend reading Joseph Pilates book, "A Return to Life." It is short and entertaining. For me, pilates truly was "a return to life." When I became fanatical about it, about seven years ago, I was out of shape and a bit down about having left New York. Pilates helped me come into focus and turn things around.
Have you experienced other Pilates studios in the past? If so, what did you find in Control that made this training suit you best?
I have experienced pilates studios all over the country and abroad. It is my first and foremost hobby. Whenever I travel, I visit the best pilates teachers in that town. And by the way, the best pilates teachers (including Courtney and Kale) are and always and without fail, highly educated people with a great deal of depth and personality. The reason why I am devoted to classical pilates is a framework that is cohesive and the highest level of it is impossible to actually reach. You always have something to work towards and when done properly, it is very tough. If you are doing something and it isn't uncomfortable and doesn't take up most of your mind to control the movement, you are doing it wrong. I love Control because Kale and Courtney have learned from the best classical pilates teachers across the country and they continue their education every day. This what it takes to have a top level classical studio.
What’s the hardest thing about Pilates?
The hardest thing is the reality that the more you learn about pilates and perfect your practice, the more you realize how little you know. It's an endless pursuit of mastery and therein lies the beauty of it -- all along the way your body and mind are engaged and you are improving them both.
What’s your favorite result you have gained from Pilates at Control Studios?
Being able to work on classical pilates within a community devoted to that practice within the city in which I reside. I've been in the thick of it with pilates for awhile but until Control Studios opened, I didn't have that larger community of others in Houston. Having this kind of studio locally has allowed me take my practice to the next level. The community part of it is important as pilates cannot be fully learned in isolation.
What do you think our tagline means ‘OG Pilates’?
OG pilates means original pilates, which is, quite literally "Contrology" thus the name of the studio: Control Pilates. (She’s correct Original and OG as in Original Gangsters. We need to do a better job of explaining this sentiment. We use that because we pride ourselves in learning from ALL the “OG’s” of the industry.)
Is this something you consider a part of your life for the long haul and what’s your biggest goal?
This is fundamental part of my life from here on out. It's part of who I am. My biggest goal is to continue on this journey and eventually, I would like to become an instructor. That part is on hold right now because I'm in the process of building an interior design business and there are only so many hours in a day. But eventually, I will become fully certified as a classical pilates instructor (I have been certified in mat). Continuing to improve my personal pilates practice and building my knowledge of the original work of Joseph Pilates is the real goal (becoming a certified instruction is a part of that pursuit but not essential to it).
Our last client feature was on a woman who had a bit of experience as well but it was so different than Blakely’s our upcoming client feature will showcase a woman who went from Pilates beginner at our studio to full on Pilates addict with privates and classes as a part of her weekly necessary physical and mental health routine. Stay tuned and send us questions or comments below about what you want us to share next time! Who do you want to hear from and what questions do you have? Let’s talk about it and spread the good word of this vastly misunderstood system.