Ellie has taught Pilates for twenty years and has written eight 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. Check them out!
Ellie teaches teachers at her studio in Brooklyn and travels to teach at conferences and private studios worldwide.
How it All Started
My torrid romance with Pilates began twenty one years ago when I was a professional dancer and choreographer with my own dance company in San Francisco. To supplement my paltry income and to satisfy my desire for edgy experience, 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. At the time I cursed myself for being so stupid: how could I have taken my body for granted?
But then I learned about St. Francis Hospital Dancemedicine in San Francisco, where I ventured to heal myself with this mysterious thing called Pilates. I was lucky enough to be put under the care of Elizabeth Larkham, who later became one of the superstars of modern Pilates. After months of Pilates rehabilitation and no surgery (normally advisable after an anterior cruciate ligament tear), I returned to dancing only to realize that, to my surprise, 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. At this moment, I became a Pilates convert.
I then moved to New York City, where I briefly attended the Masters program in dance at New York University. The best thing about my short stay at NYU was the morning Pilates mat class with Kathy Grant, a disciple of Joe Pilates. She not only taught me that depth and creativity could be brought to the Pilates Method, but also helped me figure out how to relieve the mounting hip pain I was experiencing due to daily ballet classes. These Pilates classes inspired me to pursue Pilates teacher training with Steve Giordano and master teacher Romana Kyranowska, another of Joe Pilates original students.
The following year 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.
As part of my ongoing interest in Pilates innovation, I have developed a new piece of Pilates equipment called the Pilates Springboard, an inexpensive and space-saving variation of the Wall Unit/Cadillac now being manufactured by Balanced Body.
Although Pilates is a fabulous system that can correct and rehabilitate a plethora of physical ailments,it doesn’t always translate to standing and gait. Since an active person takes over 5000 steps a day, I became obsessed with the notion of how our gait reinforces postural habits. With the help of the lovely and brilliant Nancy Myers (the former VP of Ellie Herman Studios, who can see a gait abnormality a mile away), I developed a system that combines Pilates and walking called Walk-ilatesSM. We use the MBT shoes (Masai Barefoot Technology), which are stability shoes that roll instead of hitting the ground flat, to enhance the corrective aspects of the Walk-ilates program.