Where did you grow up?
What were you into as a child?
KRISTIN TURNER I was born and raised in New York City. I danced at Madison Avenue Ballet and at Martha Graham; (my mother was on the board, so we were very involved with the company as children.) I also played a lot of team sports for my school— gymnastics and volleyball were my favorites. PS What did you do after high school?
KRISTIN I attended the University of Colorado at Boulder. I also had a part-time job teaching high- impact aerobics at a local fitness studio. (It was the 80s.) After graduating from CU, I worked in the investment business for Merrill Lynch in New York City, and as a trust investment officer/portfolio manager at Wells Fargo and Santa Barbara Bank and Trust in Santa Barbara, CA, where I had moved in the early eighties. I had visited while I was in college and felt drawn to live somewhere that was not as crazy as New York City!
Jean Delafield an Kristin and Emma Turner are Linked by Blood and Their Lifelong Dedication to Pilates Photo Gallery
Santa Barbara is a true paradise—ocean, mountains and the most perfect climate in the world! That whole time, I continued teaching fitness in addition to my full-time career in finance.
When did you first discover Pilates?
KRISTIN When I was four! My mother took private sessions with Joe Pilates and [first-generation teachers] Carola Trier and Bob Seed. I spent a fair amount of time around Joe, Carola and Bob while my mother was training with them. My mother, who passed away last year, was very fond of Bob; she truly admired him. I was just recently talking with my sister about Bob. The thing we both remember well about him was that at the end of every session, he would crack our backs!
Remember, we were quite young, and he was a big strong guy! The memory had us smiling. In August, Carola would go on vacation, so she referred my mother to Joe Pilates—it’s interesting that he would cover clients for Carola. They had a mutual respect for each other that was unparalleled. Since it was summer and I wasn’t in school, I would go with her to his studio, which I loved because Joe or Clara would ask me to demonstrate an exercise. PS What made you decide to become a Pilates teacher?
KRISTIN After the birth of my second son, Will, I was living in New York and had left the investment business, so I considered pursuing a Pilates teaching career. In 1993, I began studying with Romana Kryzanowska. At that time there was no formal program with written materials or “certifications” available, not at least as we know them now. PS Why did you decide to become a teacher?
KRISTIN I wanted to help others, to give them the training and skills that would bring them greater health, wellness, mobility and the ability to stay strong, flexible and balanced as they aged. I had watched my mother start Pilates when she was in her early thirties. She continued to do Pilates into her early eighties, even after having three hips, two knees and two shoulders replaced!
What was Romana like?
KRISTIN I loved Romana; she was firm but lovingly so. She was strong, clear and precise but with a sense of humor. She definitely was not interested in learning the anatomical terms or the names of the muscles. She made it very clear to me that it wasn’t necessary to know the names; it was necessary to understand, feel, control how the body moves and most importantly to find the flow. I believe applying the mind to connect with the body in a concentrated fluid manner is one of the integral parts of what makes Pilates different than other training methods. Once I had begun to master the techniques she had taught me, I did go on to study anatomy, including doing human dissection at Tufts Medical School with Gil Hedley of Integral Anatomy.
You also studied with a number of other first- generation teachers
KRISTIN I was too young to “study” with Carola Trier in the early years. It was only later that I took some privates with her and with Eve Gentry in New York. Over the years I have studied with some of the other elders such as Ron Fletcher, Jay Grimes and Kathy Grant. Each one of the Elders has anywhere from a slightly different to greatly varied interpretation of Joe’s work. I originally met Ron Fletcher at Martha Graham’s; he remembered me years later, as he said, “all grown up!”
But you didn’t start teaching until later?
KRISTIN It wasn’t until years later that I actually started teaching, having gotten another certification with Cathy Murakami of PhysicalMind. I was given an opportunity to study with Cathy and decided it would expand my understanding of the classical training and where the method seemed to be going. After that, a handful of other teachers and I started the Pilates program at an athletic club in Santa Barbara. It was there, through an introduction from a friend/client, that I chose to get another Pilates certification with Rael Isacowitz at BASI Pilates, traveling to Costa Mesa regularly during the work week as needed and most weekends.
S How did you end up at La Playa Pilates studio in Santa Barbara?
KRISTIN I decided I wanted to teach in a Pilates studio, not a gym that had Pilates, so I moved to La Playa Pilates in 2002. La Playa Pilates was founded by Lorena Cheverez, who continues to teach there and is a good friend. After a few years, I decided to take the next step and purchased the studio.
What is your favorite part of the job?
KRISTIN The fact that teaching Pilates is not a job, it’s my passion! I love working with all types of clients from post-surgical to elite athletes, from young to older (my oldest client is in her 80s). I love watching and experiencing the Pilates method as it changes people’s lives, or brings them back to enjoying their life again versus struggling to move through space. I love teaching something that I have full confidence will make a difference, not just today, but with consistency and commitment, in the future. I love working with the outstanding teachers in my studio who feel as committed and passionate about the work as I do, and who are dedicated to our clients and each other.
What’s your teaching philosophy?
KRISTIN My teaching philosophy is, and has always been, to teach to the body in front of me! This may sound like a very simplistic answer, but actually applying such a philosophy involves so much more than you can imagine. Let me explain: When I started doing Pilates as a student in my pre-teens, I was young, dancing, playing sports at a relatively high level. I was strong, flexible and blessed with finely tuned mind-body control. In short, I could do almost anything.
In my 30s and early 40s, I was divorced, raising three young children, teaching Pilates, racing bicycles, competing in duathlons and half marathons. I’m now 56 years old; last year I was diagnosed with an untreatable progressive motor neuron disease. I’ve lost most of my ability to balance. I have difficulty standing up, going down stairs or down anything. I walk with a spastic gait, and each morning when I get out of bed I wonder if this will be the day that my legs will be paralyzed or something worse. The doctors are amazed at how much I can do, which I and they, credit to my years of Pilates, which has developed such a strong mind- body connection in balanced strength and flexibility. In short, I can do less and less. I still teach Pilates. I also practice Pilates every day, sometimes twice a day, with different teachers in my studio. The body in front of them, my body, is very changed and very challenged. In the past, Pilates helped me decrease stress, increase strength, balance, flexibility and kept me injury-free as an amateur, competitive athlete. Today, Pilates keeps me motivated, focused on making the necessary adjustments in order to accomplish the exercise, and moving relatively independently.
Tell us about your personal life.
KRISTIN My husband, Quentin, and I have been married for nine years. He’s a race car driver, does Pilates four times a week, loves to travel and reminds me that life is an adventure! I have three grown children: Derek, Will and Emma. My oldest, Derek graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is currently a Captain (Army Ranger), stationed overseas. He’s the father of my amazing granddaughter, Lou. She speaks Italian, rides horses, travels all over Europe with her father and his wife, Courtney. My other son, Will, graduated from the University of California at Berkeley; he recently returned from New Zealand where he was playing semi- professional rugby. My youngest, and only daughter, Emma is currently an associate buyer at Barneys corporate offices in New York; she also has a BASI Pilates certification but isn’t currently teaching. In 2010, she and I were featured, along with my mother, Jean Delafield, in a story called “A Family Affair” in Pilates Style, featuring three generations of Pilates practitioners! I also have a micro Teacup Yorkie named Peanut!
What do you like to do in your free time?
KRISTIN My greatest hobby is traveling! On a Butterfield and Robinson bike trip anywhere; hiking in the Dolomites or Switzerland; adventures in India, Myanmar, Morocco or Antarctica, or something simpler—the world has so much to show us! So when I’m not in my Pilates studio, I can usually be found just about anywhere on earth. It’s hard to pick just one place as my favorite; if I had to, it might be Italy since my granddaughter lives there!
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