Purpose and Legacy

September 28, 2010 at 1:10 pm 12 comments

Kathy Grant Dancing!

Our lives are busy.  Filled with family, friends, work, hobbies and sleeping.  It’s not easy taking time out for more.  Still, sometimes we must and when we do, we are sometimes rewarded beyond our expectations.

I hope this post inspires you in some way either personally, professionally or both.  While I will write a post that is about exercises and tips another day this week, sometimes we need tips and reminders not about technique, but about living and why we teach Pilates.  If we remember why we started doing and teaching Pilates in the first place, take stock of how we’ve grown, then we can continue with passion and grace for a long time to come.

Can you tell I went to Kathy Stanford Grant’s memorial last night?  Yes.

The Alvin Ailey Theater was filled with Kathy’s family.  Those she is/was genetically connected to, those who she claimed as her “kids” and those who admired her, learned from her and are still learning…like me.

Last night, I learned more of what I had suspected about Kathy.  She was more than a stunning dancer, creative administrator, intuitive and intellectual teacher of dance and Pilates.  Kathy was a woman.  She lived life.  Lived it.  No holds barred, I see, she figured out what she wanted to say and said it.  She grew beyond ego and shared her heart.  Sometimes the package was soft and sometimes it was hard.  Last night, those who shared their memories of her showed us all that she would stop at nothing to teach what she believed, help others and live life the way she desired.

If we’re lucky, we all go through many phases in life.  We are shy, then bold, then full of ego, then humbled and more.  These are often the phases of our teaching in Pilates.  They are natural and necessary.  Especially the “humbled and more”.  Once we understand our truest gifts and their power to do good for others, ego goes by the wayside and must.  It’s important to have experienced boldness and know the value of what you have to give and then find yourself humbled by your purpose which is to share and help.  That is what a teacher does in and out of the studio.

Kathy seemed to delight in giving all that she had to everyone who wanted it.  Can we do the same?  I think so.

I came to Pilates hoping to help others in the way that it helped me.  This method and my teachers helped me regain both physical and emotional strength after I was paralyzed and then scared to move again.  I was sorely disappointed when I learned how much in-fighting there is behind the scenes and how much of the business is about training very wealthy people who don’t find value in their time, dollar or lives.  Of course, there are many who appreciate every moment of their sessions, apply it to their lives in every aspect both physically and emotionally, but you all know what I’m talking about.  I have been blessed with a remarkable clientele of hardworking, passionate people, but I have also seen my share of those who do not appreciate their privileged position.  I want to stay excited about doing and teaching Pilates even when a client or life has the potential to take me down.

So, I look at what Kathy has done with her life and career.  Beyond her dance work where she performed, of course, but then built dance companies that gave life to art and gave livelihoods to many, many people.  In Pilates, she continued to save the dancer, among other non-dancing clients.  From my perspective, she seemed to have a mission:  Save the dancer…Keep her/him dancing throughout life in one way or another.  She did it!  She did what she set out to do.  She had a purpose and now has a legacy.  She had her niche.  From her niche she reached out to all people…she would have been successful with anyone, but it is from her primary passion that she developed something tremendous for all.

Would you take  a moment to recall what passion got you into Pilates in the first place?  Why did you decide to start teaching?  Why are you teaching still?  Have you fallen into the common mundanity of it or do you find ways to reignite that fire of why you started in the first place?

Our “Pilates Elders” are just human beings.  Kathy Stanford Grant was just a woman.  She truly lived a life.

Kathy Grant

Please take a moment to comment, ask a question about this or anything in Pilates, say hi, etc.!
If you’re around, I’m presenting workshops in Burlington, VT on Oct. 16, New York City on Nov. 13 and Barcelona, SPAIN Nov. 5-7. E-mail me if you want information!  info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com

If you’re in NYC and want a Pilates session e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
If you’d like a workshop and/or semi-privates at your studio, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com  I travel all over the world and would be thrilled to come to you!
If you’d like to set up a meeting on the phone or in person to ask questions about the teaching or building your business, e-mail me at info@TheVerticalWorkshop.com
– Shari

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Commanding Your Class – A question from a reader Flow, rushing, pacing…what’s it all about?

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aliceann  |  September 28, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Once again, a wonderful, insightful blog. The Pilates community has so much to offer. As a teacher I’m in the “humbled and more” state. I appreciate that you keep the blogs empowering and positive but you also touch on some of the negatives or downsides of teaching as well. It’s all about balance!

    • 2. theverticalworkshop  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

      Hi, Aliceann!
      Thank you!
      Indeed, there are upsides and downsides of every business. I was hoping to remind people of why they started teaching Pilates in the first place. Sometimes the tricky parts of any business can drag us down. Tapping into why we began helps keep the fire burning!
      Humbled and more,
      – Shari

  • 3. John Steel  |  September 29, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Hi Shari,

    Really enjoy your posts. Joe had no patience with and no time for clients who were not dedicated to, or at least emotionally involved with the Work. But then again, he never saw himself as running a business – and in fact didn’t. In those days so few people knew of Pilates that there was a very degree of self-selection. No one came to it because it was fashionable, or popular, or their friends “did it”. And, as a consequence it almost died when Joe died. Yes, Kathy, and some of the elders carried on, but with no real momentum until the modern era. In my view the current situation, even with the uninvolved, the superficial, etc. is better.

    By the way, do you know Javier Perez from Barcelona? He wants help from me for his book. Can you write me privately about him if you know anything.


    • 4. theverticalworkshop  |  October 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      Hi, John, it’s always so good to hear from you! Thank you!
      I do agree: even with the uninvolved and superficial, the situation is a great one for Pilates!
      I hope you’re well and hope you’ll let me know if you’re in NYC at some point!
      All the best,
      – Shari

  • 5. Rose  |  October 1, 2010 at 6:47 am

    I am in Vermont and did not even know that Kathy Grant had died. I have heard about her all of my Pilates life and appreciate your thoughts about her life, as well as the pictures. Shari, I have signed up for your workshop in Burlington on the 16th and look forward to meeting you!

    • 6. theverticalworkshop  |  October 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm

      Hi, Rose,
      Thank you for reading and writing a comment!
      I’m glad we’ll see each other on the 16th! I’m looking forward to it!
      Please invite any Pilates teachers you know even if it’s a bit of a drive for them. It will be worth it!
      All the best,
      – Shari

  • 7. Gina Jackson  |  October 26, 2010 at 5:55 pm


    What a beautiful tribute and such a passionate expression for the work we do and Ms. Grant, the person. The image at the top reminds me of what I believe to be that days of the Cotton Club in Harlem; the one at the bottom is that peaceful face of Kathy the vibrant individual, I had the good fortune to meet personally (actually at Real Pilates; about two years ago.)

    Funny, I just wrote a text message to a client just prior to scrolling down and finding the “Cotton Club” image and thus reading this post. Told her that I believed my job as a teacher was really about compassion and that Pilates was just the method I have been given to use it (compassion) in my experiences with others.

    It only takes one to walk in the door, needing the most compassion,to keep us all on our toes as teachers, trainers and and human beings.

    big hugs to you

    • 8. theverticalworkshop  |  October 26, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      Hi, Gina!

      Thank you for taking the time to read this post and comment!

      I believe that compassion is fundamental to teaching. I often talk about compassion for our clients and compassion for ourselves.

      Pilates a great platform to practice what it is that you love best; what you feel you have to share with the world. We all could do so many things with our particular talents. Pilates provides a great home to so many of us!

      Thank you, Gina!
      – Shari

  • […] Purpose and Legacy2010/09/28 […]

  • […] Purpose and Legacy2010/09/28 […]

  • 11. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    […] Purpose and Legacy2010/09/28 […]

  • 12. The Vertical Workshop's Pilates Teacher Blog  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    […] Purpose and Legacy2010/09/28 […]


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