Siri Galliano: Guest blog

“You need help when you do Pilates properly.”
-Romana Kryzanowska

In 1970, when Clara Pilates turned the New York Pilates Studio over to Romana Kryzanowska, it had only thirteen clients left, and Romana, building the business back over the years, trained new teachers.

In the eighties, training became a bit more formal and several people became “certified.” There were no written documents; a person became a teacher because Romana perceived that they were qualified to do so.

From 1985 to 2001, Romana, needing help organizing the teachers’ training, would partner as an independent contractor with four different men certifying under their different brands. Romana signed the certificates and the teachers were certified through Healite, Synergy, or the Pilates Guild. Each would ignore, if not nullify, the certified teachers of the group before. Romana would often have to write letters to defend her beloved teachers.

By the trademark lawsuit of the late nineties, all Pilates teachers were on edge waiting to see where their training would legally and competitively land them.

The outcome of this unfortunate historic battle changed the future of the Pilates Method, and although Romana’s partner lost, she continued carrying on training teachers, not letting the studio or the world work of Joe Pilates end.

In 2004, Romana, now in her eighties, left New York City to semi-retire. She turned the program over yet again, this time to her daughter Sari Meijia Santos and her granddaughter Daria Pace, who named their certification process “RomanasPilates.”

In registering for their teachers’ conference, at Romana’s invitation, I said I was “Romana certified” but I was not allowed to attend by the family she now depended on since I did not have a signed certificate by the new brand. I was not “RomanasPilates” certified.

Many teachers have this same experience.

In 2010, “recognizing the day to day administration was infringing on their abilities,” Sari and Daria have turned over their responsibility to “True Pilates,” who are currently determining their new guidelines for the players of this decade. Hopefully they will not suffer the fate of Romana in letting another businessman try to control Contrology to its detriment.

Meanwhile, there are thousands of disenfranchised Romana-certified teachers; some trained before the certification fad, some never joined any of the controlling bodies, a lot feeling solid in their rights to teach the method since they were, after all, given training considered to be the Harvard Law School education of the complete Pilates System, some wanting to connect to their peers in a world of confusing Pilates commercialism, and some feeling confused. Were they still certified? Did they need to be recertified?

The face of certification changed in the nineties when the physical therapists put this exercise method into a medical model, one that requires teachers to formally continue their Pilates education, but there is no legal requirement to reeducate or recertify or even be certified.

What are the choices of the disenfranchised Romana instructors?

  1. Sign up, pay and get recertified? But for what purpose? Any teacher needing continuing education can take privates from any of Romana’s best trained teachers.
  2. If you feel your education is incomplete, recertify.
  3. The original model of successful service is the individual teacher, like Joe, like Romana, like Jay Grimes, all with no certificate, needs no validation other than a healthy body and a filled appointment book.

Teachers who had that personal relationship with Romana, miss that relationship but cannot find it in any other certifying body.

Pilates teachers have found their own new friendships, and although there may not ever be a community, there are new healthy relationships as evidenced by the new video on the Gratz webpage with Jay Grimes leading Romana teachers in a workout.

Always looking to the source, the philosophically German founder, Joe based his work on the individual, the development of the Universal Man. He never was a joiner of group or organizations seeking acceptance, permission, or validation.

He did like to play, though. We should be certified in that.

Siri Galliano, certified by Romana in 1994, has trained teachers throughout the world and will be presenting next at the April Dallas Conference. She can be reached through

2 responses to “Siri Galliano: Guest blog

  1. A great article. Makes me realise that I both want and need to find out more about the lawsuit.

  2. Interesting article.I dont think its only Romana teachers who feel that way.I dont belong to any major group anymore and see no need to recertify with anyone.My education continues by learning the work in my body witht the help of teachers I consider to be more experienced or who have worked closely with Romana or Joe.I dont need to pay someone to validate my education.

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