I’m John Garey, Pilates and Fitness Master Teacher. Having just turned 60, I’ve been reflecting on my lifelong journey and particularly how Pilates has literally changed my life and has me writing this with more energy and enthusiasm than I had in my twenties and thirties. I love to share my story to inspire others and to encourage using Pilates to fuel a fulfilling and active life.
I got my start in the fitness industry in the mid-’80s. First, a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from NYU, then a corporate fitness job in Weehawken, NJ. In the early 90s, I began competing in Sport Aerobics. Success in this requires a lot of strength, combined with a lot of flexibility. And I had the strength, but couldn’t even touch my toes. So, one of my personal training clients suggested that I try Pilates as a way to improve my flexibility. The rest is history.
My first Pilates session was in Chicago, Illinois, in a small private studio. That one-on-one session changed my life. I fell in love with this strange and seemingly magical movement. I had never seen Pilates equipment before or even anything similar. I had no idea what I was doing or if I was doing it right. But I felt a connection to the work and in a very short amount of time, literally, everything I did improved. My flexibility improved, I was stronger, I could jump higher, and I had a connection like I never knew to the way my body moved day-to-day. In 1995, along with my two teammates, I won the Team Division of the National Aerobic Championship. Yes, you can find the performance on YouTube. Enjoy!
I was so inspired by these changes that I decided to take my love of Pilates to the next level and learn to teach it. But the system seemed so elusive to me. No one could explain to me why it worked or how, which I needed to know if I was to master it and teach it. Coming from an anatomical and science-based approach to exercise, the cues I was given did not connect with me. Most of the terms came from the world of dance, which was not my area of expertise. By the time I took my first Pilates Education Program, I was living in San Diego, California. It was 1998 and I finished the Balanced Body Pilates Fitness Intensive through Polestar Education. I started teaching, but knew that I was nowhere near mastering this method of exercise.
In August of 2000, I quit my job and moved to Toronto to immerse myself in the world of Pilates. Over the next six months, I practically lived at the teacher training studio and when I wasn’t there, I was studying for my examination in my small apartment. In December 2000 I passed the exam and was invited to continue into the Instructor Training courses. I left Toronto with a grounded understanding and a deep passion to share Pilates with as many people as I could. I moved back to Long Beach, California and opened a small Pilates Studio. I started teaching clients, the studio grew and we became the first and only Licensed Training Center in Los Angeles offering STOTT PILATES. Eighteen years later I sold that studio to pursue my ultimate dream. I created John Garey TV (JGTV).
I now live outside of Chicago and share my passion for both traditional fitness and Pilates since 2016 through JGTV, a video-on-demand subscription service reaching people around the world with fun Pilates and fitness workouts. I know that when you do something you love and that brings you joy, there is a greater chance that you will continue practicing and reap all of the benefits that it offers.
If you are looking for fun and effective workouts, teaching notes to fuel your Pilates career, or a challenge or series to progress your Pilates practice, join me on JGTV. I’d love to be a part of your Pilates journey!