So, I get this question a lot – a ton actually. And they’re not asking about my fashion style, they’re asking about the style of Pilates that I teach. It’s a good question. At least I used to think so. Now, I don’t really think it means that much, because my “style” is John Garey. I’m an individual and as of about 2 years ago, completely independent of any large brand of Pilates. And…I love it!
TO FULLY UNDERSTAND MY STYLE, YOU’LL NEED A BIT OF HISTORY ABOUT MY PILATES AND FITNESS JOURNEY, BECAUSE THEY ARE SO TIED TOGETHER.
I started in the fitness industry in the mid-’80s. I went to grad school at NYU for a Master’s Degree in Physical Education, with an emphasis in corporate fitness. My first job out of grad school was working at the fitness center at the Paine Webber Operations Center in Weehawken, NJ. I lived in Manhattan and took the ferry across the Hudson River every day.
n order to get that job, I had to agree to teach aerobics, now known as Group Exercise. I had never taken a class before, but I could stay on the beat and was a pretty quick learner. Well, that move changed my life. I was hooked – totally in love with teaching groups to exercise. Somehow I managed to find the courage to audition at Molly Fox Studios in Manhattan, one of the most popular studios in the country at that time. After my audition, I was offered a class – 3pm on Sundays. Not the most popular time slot, but everyone starts somewhere. I was thrilled. To be among these amazing instructors was like being in a dream. My first class was a total disaster. I walked in and half the room walked out. I’m completely serious. One said, “Oh, hell no!” It was not a confidence booster. And, once I started teaching, a few more walked out. But some people stayed and they even came back the next week. And, I got better. The classes got bigger. I started teaching at more places, like David Barton’s Gym. It was just awesome. I decided to leave corporate fitness and continue to teach more and more classes. I wanted to become an International Fitness Presenter and I wanted to compete in, and win, the National Aerobic Championship.
In 1989, I was ready to move out of NYC and I moved to Chicago. I was still really green as an instructor, but I had gained confidence, auditioned everywhere, and picked up classes all over town. In those days, it was common to teach 25-30 classes per week. Eventually, I became the Director of the Group Fitness Program at the Sporting Club. At the same time, I started competing in the National Aerobics Championships.
THEN, IN 1992, I FOUND PILATES.
I was so tight, I could not even touch my toes. This was not the way to win a title in the Aerobics competitions. One of my Personal Training clients suggested Pilates as a way to increase my flexibility. I went to my first Pilates studio and I, once again, fell in love. I had no idea what I was doing, and it was way too expensive for me, but I knew I had to continue. I struck a deal with my instructor. I was his personal trainer and he was my Pilates Instructor. I, of course, gained much more than flexibility while practicing Pilates. In fact, everything got better: my strength, balance, and control. And in 1995, I won the title National Aerobics Champion with my team.
I hired my Pilates Instructor to teach Mat classes at the Sporting Club. They were so popular. One day, my instructor called in sick and I had no one to teach the class. So I did. Once again, it was not good. I realized that I needed to get into a program fast if I was going to teach this again. A short while later I moved to San Diego and managed the Group Fitness Program for the Sporting Club there. That’s when I took my first Pilates Certification with Polestar. It was taught by Elizabeth Larkam. She was brilliant. Even with my Master’s Degree though, I knew I was in over my head. This was a totally new way of movement for me and I didn’t get the details of how to teach it at all.
Next, I signed up for the BASI (Body Arts and Sciences) Program and Rael Isacowitz was my teacher. I loved it, but was already teaching so much, that I could not get my hours of practice and observation in. I was still not getting it. It was time to make a bold move.
While I was presenting at the IDEA World Fitness Conference, I met Moira Merrithew, co-founder of STOTT PILATES. I was supposed to be working at the Schwinn Booth in the expo hall, but I was spending all of my time at the STOTT booth. Moira was teaching and I really connected with the way she taught the exercises. After a lot of thought and scraping together the funds, I quit my job, and moved to Toronto, Canada to study at the STOTT PILATES Headquarters. I immersed myself in pilates for the 7 months I lived there. I passed my exam and went right into the Instructor Trainer Program. Then, I moved to Long Beach, CA, opened my studio and started my new career as a Pilates Instructor. I wasn’t teaching fitness any longer. It was pilates all day, every day. After a few years, I really missed teaching group fitness. I missed the excitement. I felt like Pilates, at least the way I thought I had to teach it, was boring. I started adding more athletic moves and creating workouts that had a very fitness feel to them. And that is how my style was created.
I teach a blend of fitness and Pilates that I think works for everyone. My style is a blend of all I’ve learned over the years and from some of the greatest teachers from both fitness and Pilates. Then, five years ago, I started John Garey TV so that I could share my style and my passion for Pilates and fitness with the world. I am so happy that I did. It has been a fantastic ride and I can’t wait to see where we go next.
Join JGTV And Find Your Style!
I have recently released the Booty Challenge, which is a 7 class series of glute workouts. The great thing about this series is that all of the classes can be done in under 15 minutes! Jump into these booty-burning workouts today. Want to take your Reformer practice to the next level? The Intermediate Reformer Challenge is for you! This 6-week challenge is a great way to experience the versatility of the Reformer! It is a progressive series where I will we will build on exercises every week as you gain strength and mobility. Use this challenge to hold yourself accountable through the rest of the summer! Don’t miss out on these great challenges and get your first month of JGTV for only $10!