THE WORK Graduate Feature: Ken Heizman

We are pleased to present this interview with Ken Heizman — a longtime client of Jay Grimes, and a graduate of both THE WORK and TEACHING THE WORK.

A disciplined, independent “man of the earth,” Ken is the owner of The Original Method Pilates studio in Agoura Hills.

Enjoy Ken’s take on Pilates, and get a glimpse into what inspires his own practice and teaching.

Describe what Pilates has done for you in one sentence:

Pilates has helped me in all aspects of my life.

How did THE WORK change your teaching and your practice?

THE WORK was a rewarding and enlightening experience for me. My practice evolved and has continued to evolve since graduation. Pilates to me has become so much more than a set of exercises, a repertoire, and a great workout.

My teaching has become more about allowing the clients to find and control and understand their bodies themselves. “Allowing” the client to discover their own body and how to move it properly means that I have to stand back, observe and let it happen. I have to learn about the body in front of me, and then let the client find “the work” within themselves with some guidance from me.

I learned from Jay the importance of not “over correcting”, That allows the corrections that I
do make to have a more significant impact on the client as he or she develops a greater understanding of their own body through movement.

What was your most memorable anecdote from THE WORK?

I remember Alisa [Wyatt] and I on reformers doing high frog at one of the workshops. Jay pointed out how differently we both did that exercise. However, he liked both versions.

There were many more examples of us and the rest of the group doing exercises, and doing them well — as we all did them so differently. The same is true in our teaching.

In TEACHING THE WORK it became apparent that we were all so very different from each other as we practiced our different teaching styles. Finding and developing one’s own practice, and one’s own teaching style is incredibly important in becoming a great teacher.

Other than Pilates, what are your passions-and how do they mix into your Pilates teaching and practice?

When I was young I played a lot of sports, and I rode mountain bikes, hiked, and a lot more. I’ve always been physically active in one way or another.

I am also a musician. Music has always been a great and important part of my life. My first performance was at my family’s church when I was 5 years old. I don’t perform publicly anymore, but I used to regularly when I was younger, mostly during my college years.

I worked on an organic farm for 2 years after college in Northern California, and that began my long career in the natural foods industry.

My career, my work, and my passions have always been intertwined. When I was young I thought how wonderful it would be to live in one of the beautiful places where my family used to vacation, usually in the mountains. I also love the culture and opportunities of living in a large city, and somehow I brought that vision to fruition as I live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth in the Santa Monica Mountains just outside of the great city of Los Angeles. Every day I drive down a beautiful mountain road to my wonderful studio, and once a week I see Jay at Vintage Pilates in LA for a session. I cannot separate my passions from my work. I feel blessed, and I am thankful every day for that.

If you could ask Joe and/or Clara Pilates one question, what would it be?

I would ask Joe and Clara what they think of the Pilates industry today. I always wonder. It is such a mixed blessing. Pilates is everywhere, in every city and town, just as Joe envisioned it would be. I think that Joe would be so happy to see his work carried on, but at the same time, what would he think of the “Pilates” that does not resemble the method that he created?

Legally anything can be called Pilates. As I see it, the shining light in all of this is that the “original” style, the “real”, and “true” Pilates is carried on by teachers from so many different backgrounds who work hard, gain experience, and then seek to learn more of the “original” method that goes so much deeper than all of the rest.

Jay says that Pilates, in general, takes at least 10 years to learn fully. I believe that too. And that is only when one continues to work hard and learn consistently for 10+ years. There are now more and more people doing this, and that is what is so great about the Pilates industry today. Again, I would still love to speak with Joe and Clara about all of this, (and so much more).

All photos provided by Ken Heizman