Inside the Pilates Studio: Kerry DeVivo

Inside the Pilates Studio: Kerry DeVivo

Kerry DeVivo

Kerry DeVivo is one of my first Pilates teachers. In the fall of 2000, I took a Mat class at Excel Pilates (formerly Excel Movement Studios) in Washington, DC. Kerry was co-owner of the studio (along with Lesa McLaughlin) and was friendly when I would see her in the studio. We bonded immediately because of the whole Italian thing, and I have always been envious of her last name. Mine sounds too much like a verb (Andrea Maida cake, etc…), whereas DeVivo means “To life!”

After a while I started to take semi-private lessons in addition to the weekly Mat class (you can see the addiction was growing…).  Finally I got to have a private lesson with Kerry. I was nervous. I wanted to be really focused and do my best. She did not have many openings in her schedule and I managed to snag one. If I did really well, maybe I'd get another? She could tell I was pretty amped up and wisely suggested that I relax. It turned out to be quite the hour. I had no idea I locked my knees so much…

I learned many valuable lessons from Kerry. I mean besides the body of work known as the Pilates Method. Oh that.

  1. The goal as one advances in Pilates is to sustain the work of the powerhouse from the moment the class begins until the final finish 50 minutes later. It was quite the blow. Cynthia Lochard mentioned this just last week. All roads lead to Romana Kryzanowska.
  2. If you are stressed out and need to focus, do the Wall. In a few minutes you'll be calm. And taller.
  3. It's okay to need counseling after teaching your spouse. In fact it's expected.

I was thrilled to be able to catch up with Kerry this past May when she hosted me for a workshop at her studio. Our relationship has developed over the years and I am so fortunate to have her as a friend, teacher, mentor and colleague. I am positively in love with the swiftness of her replies be it via voicemail, email or text. Really, when we need something, we need it yesterday, am I right?

1. What is your favorite Pilates exercise and why?

Kerry DeVivo: At this point in my life, my favorite Pilates exercise is footwork on the reformer.  I lie back on the reformer, set my feet on the footbar, and as I start the first repetition I think, “YES!  I've arrived on the reformer – lucky me and I have a whole workout ahead of me”.  Part two, as a teacher, my favorite Pilates exercise is rolling like a ball on the mat.  First, this exercise is an icebreaker.  First repetition – roll back – roll up…. not quite.  It catches people's attention.  It makes them realize there's something more to this work.  Second, rolling like a ball is a building block to so many other exercises and you see aspects of many exercises in rolling like a ball.

2. What exercise is your least favorite? Pick only one.

KD: Neck pull.  Well, if after 27 years I still can't do it well – then it gets the “least favorite” award.  Of course, it also means I need it!

3. What turns you on creatively, mentally or physically about the Pilates method?

KD: The severity of Pilates' brilliance of the layering and intertwining of the exercises.  It's all there, Pilates has provided it all.  And I just love how it helps us all “return to life”.

Inside the Pilates Studio: Kerry DeVivo4. What is your idea of earthly happiness?

KD: The ability to experience silence, pure silence.

5. What to your mind would be the greatest misfortune?

KD: The lack of appreciation of any thing or anyone.

6. What is your favorite Pilates word?

KD: Empower.

7. What is your least favorite Pilates word?

KD: Belly.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

KD: I would love to be a full-time philanthropist.

9. If Heaven exists, and by some chance when you arrive at the pearly gates Joseph Pilates is also there, what would you like to hear him say to you?

KD: “Gut gemacht! (which is German for bravo), now would you like a lesson?”- as I would not want to stop learning.

10. What did you learn today?

KD: Simplicity really is best.

Kerry is the owner of Excel Pilates Annapolis. Learn more about Kerry and her Pilates POV in Peter Fiasca's recent book Voices of Classical Pilates.

Must-reading for nerds of all stripes.

Inside the Pilates Studio: Kerry DeVivo

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