A brief history of ellie herman

Published authority on the Pilates Method, Master Trainer Ellie Herman is an innovator in the field of Contemporary Pilates and the inventor of the Pilates Springboard. Formerly based in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 20 years, Ellie now resides in Park Slope  and owns three studios in Brooklyn, New York.

Ellie has taught Pilates since 1991 and has written nine books to date; Pilates for Dummies, Pilates Workbook on the Ball, Pilates Props Workbook, Pilates Mat, Pilates Reformer, Pilates Cadillac, Pilates Wunda Chair and Pilates Springboard. She will publish her tenth book this fall, Ellie Herman Barre.

Ellie developed a comprehensive teacher training program that she leads annually in her studios in Brooklyn and travels to teach at conferences and private studios worldwide.

How it All Started


My  romance with Pilates began in 1988 when I was a professional dancer and choreographer in San Francisco. Also an experience junkie, I decided to try my hand as a professional wrestler. My career as “Ruth Less” was cut short by a serious knee injury, which occurred during a tag-team match.  As I lie on the mat with a swollen knee I cursed myself for being so stupid.

But there was a silver lining -   the Dance Medicine Department at St Francis Hospital in San Francisco, where I ventured to heal myself with this mysterious thing called Pilates. I was put under the care of Elizabeth Larkham, and after months of Pilates rehabilitation and no surgery (normally advisable after an anterior cruciate ligament tear), I returned to dancing only to realize that I was a much better dancer than before my injury. Pilates had not only allowed me to return to jumping, leaping, and twirling, it had actually improved my technique, control, balance, and core strength. 

In 1991 I attended the Masters Dance program at NYU where my favorite thing was the  Pilates mat class with Kathy Grant, a disciple of Joe Pilates. Kathy Grant not only taught me that depth and creativity could be brought to the Pilates Method, but also helped to relieve the mounting hip pain I was experiencing due to daily ballet classes. Kathy's Pilates classes inspired me to drop out of NYU and pursue Pilates teacher training with Steve Giordano and master teacher Romana Kyranowska, another of the Pilates Elders .

In 1992, I opened my own studio in my live/work loft in the Mission district of San Francisco, and I opened a second studio in Oakland, California, in 2001. I earned a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine in 2001.

In 2005 I moved to Brooklyn and opened my Union Street studio, then the Class Annex in 2008, and the Court Street studio in 2012.

The ellie herman springboard

In 2003,  I invented a piece of Pilates equipment called the Pilates Springboard, an inexpensive and space-saving variation of the Pilates Cadillac. Like the Cadillac, the Springboard comes with arm and leg springs and a roll down bar.  

Manufactured in California by Balanced Body since 2005, the Ellie Herman Springboard is a perfect way to get full-body resistance training in Pilates studios around the world or in the comfort of your own home. 

You can purchase Springboards, reformers, accessories and more Balanced Body equipment at a 5-10% discount by shopping our online store or by emailing cait@elliehermanpilates.com. 

books by ellie herman