by Risa Sheppard

When I found out that Kristi Cooper White and I shared the same birthday, July 25th (not the same year of course, but the day, or as I like to call it, Christmas in July), I knew we were destined to become good friends. With one Leo at the helm, you are sure to be out-shined by the sun sign. But with two, rest assured that the sun will never set!

So, when Kristi, one of the owners and founders of the Pilates site, Pilates Anytime, asked me to come to her studio in Carpinteria, CA, to participate and lead three mat classes, I jumped at the opportunity. I was also honored to be listed in the “distinguished” teacher category on the website.

As a young girl, to me, the term “distinguished” meant “seasoned” or of the “elder “ generation.  Now, as a 35-year veteran of Pilates, I am proud and honored to be considered “distinguished.” Wow, where did the time go?  It seems like just yesterday I was known as “the kid” at Ron Fletcher School of Body Contrology in Beverly Hills. Everyone was so much older and “distinguished,” especially Ron, who at 55, seemed quite the dapper man he was, and continued to be until his death last December at age 90. But who would have thought that I would ever be considered “distinguished”? Time has a way of marching on, and before you know it, you are of another generation, another tree of life, and you have, hopefully, the wonderful opportunity to share with those of another generation your life lessons, what you have achieved, and to impart knowledge that only the years can offer. Youth is wasted on the young, as the saying goes. But when people of any age can learn and grow from one another, you stay forever young just by being inquisitive and open-minded.

So what does this have to do with my experience with Pilates Anytime? Well, for one thing it is a pleasure to be able to share my knowledge and expertise with a family of friends who embrace different ways to express the same “religion,” or Pilates. I for one, am sick of all the petty jealousies and backstabbing I have seen among my peers. For instance: Everyone thinking his or her way is the only way, and that no one else knows anything. And: Being afraid to let anyone have his or her say, for fear someone else will pick it up and run away with it. I have to give Kristi credit for allowing us to be who we are, and not follow the dictates of any particular leaning. As long the form is right (I say, form is foremost), the student comes away with the experience of well-being and health. What a concept!

It was a beautiful Saturday in Los Angeles. I embarked on the 101 Freeway North about 60 miles. It was a wind-blown afternoon with no traffic (what? In L.A. that almost never exists!) I drove along the Pacific Ocean toward Carpinteria. Ah, so relaxing. I forget the simple pleasures sometimes. Like a drive on a beautiful day along the ocean. Bliss.

When I arrived, Kristi met me and took me to lunch. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me she remembered a book I wrote back in 1987, and kept the poster of the cover on her wall. You never know when you touch someone’s life. It can come back many years later. I thought no one even noticed! A book I wrote before anyone ever heard of Pilates. But something in the book touched her, and I feel so honored it was mine. Maybe I did make a difference. Maybe my efforts through the years have mattered. Maybe, I’m so lucky.

I taught two mat classes on boomer Pilates. Why? Being a part of the largest population on earth is a clue. Not to mention I will be doing a DVD with Katharine Ross, the quintessential baby boomer of all time. (Got to plug the DVD, why not?) Plus, not all of us just want a cute booty to show off at the beach. Most of us want to live and move in a body that is agile, pain free and strong. So I know that a large number of people who have never done an exercise program in their life just may be inclined to move with someone they can relate to. Plus, Kristi let me inject all my metaphysical leanings I don’t always talk about. Another feather in her cap, allowing us to express who we are.

Sunday morning I taught a Sheppard Method Pole class, another unique and never-before-done approach to Pilates. It’s also another way to show how we may express ourselves with our bodies and move with grace and agility.

As I said my goodbyes, I told Kristi I wanted to move in, as her studio is right on the beach with a picture window that spells tranquility. But I will be back, and hopefully do more classes for Pilates Anytime. I am reminded how fortunate I am to live in a glorious part of the world, and how lucky I am to be in a career that lets me help others help themselves. I love what I do, and especially when traffic is clear and I can cruise the freeway along the ocean that takes me to Pilates Anytime—and new horizons, both mentally and physically!

March 6, 2012 at 11:45 am
Category: Pilates Blog, Risa Sheppard