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Contrology Unfolded

Lisa Hubbard

“Contrology is a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”
- Joseph Pilates

The essence of Contrology is what lies in-between the work and the performer of the work. It guides the intention of breath and every movement. It is the spirit in which we carry out, in thoughtful coordinated fashion, the exercises, which exhibit not only simple patterns of movement, but direction of energy and supportive breath. In order to have complete coordination of body, mind and spirit, Contrology requires that the practitioner dedicate 100% of their awareness to the task at hand and - not only the task at hand - but also how you enter that task and exit from it. However, that awareness means nothing if it is not brought forth with true heart. Ultimately, the essence of Contrology is the passion and dedication in which the practitioner innervates each cell commanding it to perform sequentially and thoughtfully, thus allowing every component of the human structure (cells, blood, nerves, muscles, etc) to become invigorated and cleansed through the process.
If the essence is what is in-between the fibers of Contrology, Joseph Pilates’ intention for the method is the fiber of the work itself.  Contrology was intended to cleanse the body by “properly and scientifically exercising every muscle in the body in order to improve the circulation of the blood so that the bloodstream can and will carry more and better blood to feed every fiber and tissue of the body” (Return to Life page 24).  It was intended that through this internal cleanse, the external skeleton and muscular support system would then be able to become a fine tuned machine, working to perform every daily task with ease and suppleness.  It was Joseph’s observations that modern day civilization suffocated the true freedom and animalistic sequencing of movement in humans.  By conforming to modern work environments, sedentary transportation and the demands of the home, humans began to lack the mobility, balance, and suppleness that defines true connectivity to our earthly existence.  Contrology, ultimately, is intended to reconnect and reinvigorate the human self. 
For better or worse, with the popularity of modern technology and the modern obsession to fight aging and retain a sense of youth, Contrology has become high demand and mainstream.  Now, Contrology, or as we more commonly know it, “Pilates”, can be found across the spectrum from its pure intentions to the most twisted and unidentifiable form of “so-called” exercise.  It is my impression that modern Pilates falls into four categories and is driven by the teacher’s knowledge of the work and their own intentions:

  1. Classical Pilates: Those who adhere to the traditional sequencing of the repertoire.
  2. Evolutionary Visionaries: Those who have a deep understanding of the intent and philosophy of the work, but who embrace proven conclusions from modern scientific understanding and whom study the effects of any alterations to the repertoire. Based on these new findings these people, ultimately make educated decisions about evolving the work to a more modern method. 
  3. Trend Pilates: Placing economic value above the impact of the work drives this category of practitioners to lose the passion, quality and any original intention of the work.  Simply said, this category is quantity over quality and markets itself to the fast-paced modern client who lacks time or attention to detail.  One need only look at the roaring popularity of this form of fitness and it’s endorsements from celebrities. It is regarded as the fastest growing fitness trend in America.
  4. Fusion Pilates:  PiYo, Barre Fusion, and YogaLates are all examples of this category, where people are looking for something less rigid and more dynamic and have tapped into a creative spirit that has resulted in several variations of the classical work.  This category is unique, in that it can fall across the spectrum of intention from Joseph’s original objectives to a complete lack of motive.  Creation did not stop with Joseph Pilates.  He never stopped thinking and creating his method, nor should we ever expect that this type of enlightened thought should have stopped with his passing.

Regardless of the category above that one physically practices, the intention of the work can still remain as close to – or as far from – what we individually believe was the original intention. 
Your Health, published over 80-years ago, gives us clear insight into Joseph Pilates’ principles, philosophies and theories about health and fitness. He believed that his method was a way of life and a path to total health rather than merely a series of exercises. It is without question that Joseph Pilates was a man ahead of his time.  For me, embracing the intentions and essence of the method, as I understand them to be, has changed my life.  Exploring the depth of the work is a never-ending journey.  Although, Joseph Pilates is no longer with us, I believe that he has achieved his legacy.  He said it best, when he stated, “My work will be established and when it is, I will be the happiest man in God’s Universe. My goal will have been reached.”  It is our responsibility to preserve his legacy and to embrace the path in which it leads us.

Interview with Christine Baltes

Lisa Hubbard

Tell us a little about your movement background?

I come from a dance background.  My dance training was from the Chicago area.  I studied ballet, tap, modern, and specialized in classical jazz dance with Gus Giordano.  He was the grandfather of American Jazz dance.  You will find him in your dance history books.  I always felt fortunate that I was born where I was & lived so close to such a great man.

Where did you receive your training and where do you teach?

My training has been from a variety of people that I feel have been extremely influential in each of their own areas.  I have studied with numerous people, but will mention only a few that have made an impact on me. Dance:  Gus Giordano,  Pilates: Diane Diefenderfer, Rael Isacowitz, Marie Jose Blom,  Gyrotonic:  Donna Place, Suzie Mann Lewis, Gyrokinesis: Serafina Pechan, Donna Place, Alicia Head.

Teaching: I’ve taught at many locations, too many to mention, but will highlight some.

Dance: University of California, Irvine, Calif State University Long Beach, Irvine Valley College, Orange Coast College, Academy of Dance Performing Arts High School, Chapman University and DeFore Dance Center.

Pilates/Gyrokinesis:  Irvine Valley College, Orange Coast College, & my own studio.

Gyrotonic/Gyrotonic for Dancer:  O.C. Gyrotonic Studio, Long Beach Gyrotonic, Balance in Form, and my own studio located in South Coast Metro Area.

Self Created Pilates, Gyrotonic & more Workshops:  Loretta Shaw Core Pilates, Align Pilates, Orange Coast College, DeFore Dance Center, (Orange County), Core Concept, Spring, Lou Conte, Giordance Dance (Chicago), Form Pilates, Body Evolution, Gyrotonic Manhatten, Kinspirit (New York)

Christine’s Pilates & Gyrotonic Studio (South Coast Metro Area)
I have 2 Gyrotonic Pulley Towers, Gyrotonic Jump, Stretch, Board, Pilates reformer & Cadillac where I work closely with students.

What do you love most about teaching?

Helping others succeed.  Seeing the results of hard work between my student & myself pay off.  Watching the beauty of movement grow in front of my eyes. 

Who has been one of the most influential persons in your journey of Pilates GYROTONIC, and dance? 

Gus Giordano (dance). He has taught me so much from the age of 16 into adult life.  He trained my technique, eye for placement, strength and style. As far as Gyrotonic goes, I have to say that although I’ve worked with several master trainers that are all so brilliant, I’ve worked more closely with Donna Place who has helped me individually the most.

Tell us a little about your teaching style.

This is a tough question to answer.  As a dance instructor, I use to be more of a drill sargeant, but I have evolved from that teaching style.  In the dance industry, I’m known for being a technically strong teacher and one where you will get a training instead of just learn dance steps.  Here goes the adjectives; I’m kind, nurturing, disciplined, creative, and  have lots of respect for the artform of movement (dance, pilates, Gyrotonic, etc) I believe in the student taking responsibility and good work ethics. I teach all types of classes and although I’m the same person teaching each, I do add a different hat for what the class is designed for. I don’t know if this is the type of answer you were looking for, but….

What advice would you give someone trying pilates or gyrotonic for the first time?

Don’t be afraid or nervous.  Be open for what the possibilities can bring.  I have heard too many times over & over again (heck, I’ve said it), students say  ‘I use to be able to do this’, or ‘why didn’t anyone ever tell me I was doing it wrong’, & the come back I have for each is to not look back, but look at the endless possibilities of opportunity to finally move forward, to learn and reach an experience a new journey. Hmm, maybe I should also add that all teachers are not the same. 

What is your greatest passion?

Dance and it will always be! The word passion is filled with so much.  I believe I was born with passion.  I feel like exploding at times with how much I have.  Music sparks passion, movement sparks passion, combine the two & holy cow!  My Gyrotonic for Dancer choreographed sequences bring me passion. Life itself brings me passion!


Christine Baltes, a master teacher, specializing in jazz dance is recognized as a leader in technique, and one who doesn’t just “give” class but truly “teaches”.  Ms. Baltes possesses a California Teaching credential in dance and a certification in Pilates.  She is a Gyrotonic© and Gyrokinesis® pre-trainer, and certified in the Pulley Tower, Leg Extension Unit, Jump Stretch Board and Archway of the GYROTONIC® EXPANSION SYSTEM.  She has been involved in dance for most of her life, & in the mind body fitness industry since 1992.

Her teaching career spans over 40 years with faculty positions that include the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, California State University Long Beach, Orange Coast College, Irvine Valley College, Santa Ana College, Academy of Performing Arts High School and many more. 

This very passionate individual has an abundance of experience and knowledge in the functions of the body.  She brings a hands-on approach that imparts this knowledge, care, passion and the understanding of the body to all who work with her.  Clients from all backgrounds benefit from Christine’s teachings.  This devoted, passionate and energetic professional is bound to make a difference in your body, mind and overall improvement of movement.

Christine’s Studio, is located in the South Coast Metro area and offers private, semi & group sessions.  She offers specific training for dancers and classes in the O.C. & Long Beach area on the Pulley Tower that incorporates a wide variety of creative and choreographic dance styles, dance repertoire in conjunction with the Gyrotonic® repertoire and principles.