Romana Kryzanowska 1923-2013

I knew the legend of Romana long before I ever met her.

My first Pilates teachers Lesa McLaughlin and Kerry DeVivo spoke of her fondly. They would tell their apprentices and clients stories about studying at Drago's gym (now True Pilates NY).

Sadly, I was only able to meet Romana a handful of times. My study at Drago's was just at the time of her retirement. She had recently moved to Texas and was no longer in the studio everyday. My dear colleagues that studied regularly with Romana for years have truly received a special gift.

I got just a little taste of her magic, and even that small amount was huge!

Romana Kryzanowska visits San Diego, California…

Moses Urbano brought Romana to San Diego in 2006. We had a big party and Mat class at the Hotel del Coronado.

It was my first time to meet Romana and I remember I did the Rocking with such a will that I rocked myself into a crazy calf cramp.

It was still my best Rocking ever and hey…

It's Romana!

I don't see her everyday and I made sure I got myself into top shape before the event.

Jerome Weinberg, one of Romana's top teachers, was next to me in class. Romana looked at him with a twinkle in her eye as he did the Teaser.

“Get your legs together. Work a little.” Jerome also had a twinkle in his eye and a smile, and of course, worked even harder for Romana.

2008 New Orleans

Romana Kryzanowska 1923-2013

It was Halloween in New Orleans and it was my first Romana's Pilates Conference. I had completed their training program the previous year and I was super-psyched for this event. I did not know Romana personally, so I took every one of her classes. My favorite was a class on the Reformer, about 30 of us, again, striving to do our best as Romana watched and inspired us to do it better than we ever had before.

Just in case you're curious about the photo above, my ‘popo' is the first one on the left.

After class Daria was kind enough to introduce me to ‘Grandma.' I had heard a colleague say that Romana was slowing down some and not the tour-de-force she once was in the 1990s.

Well, neither was I.

Romana shook my hand, firmly I might add, and took one look at me after teaching that big class.

“Honey, you need to relax your neck.”

Oh she's still got it.

Romana Kryzanowska 1923-2013A bit later in Los Angeles 2008

Romana is in the state of California! And there was much rejoicing!

Michael Levy hosted the yearly continuing education and Daria and Romana were in Los Angeles. Wooo Hooo!

This time it was a Mat, Reformer and Reformer Mat extravaganza.

Early on in the Mat workout – during Rolling Like a Ball – Romana had us do somersaults and come up to standing. It was early in the morning, this was not a move I was familiar with yet and Romana was shaking us all up.

Alas, she was not very happy with our efforts. But after about 20-30 more of them we got a little bit better.

All that happened before 10am.

By afternoon most of us were on the Reformer. If you were not on the apparatus for all the exercises you were expected to follow along doing the Reformer exercises on the Mat. Yum yum. Much to my surprise Romana encouraged me to fold myself up smaller than I thought possible in Coordination. Such an innocent exercise, you might think…

Now I understood all that talk of “Squeezing the juice out” of the exercise. I had worked harder in that one exercise than I had all afternoon.

“Now it's Something!” said Romana.

Arlington, TX 2009

Seeing Romana in Texas was perhaps the best time ever. My in-laws live in a tiny town in Texas about 2 hours from Metroplex Pilates in Arlington. 2 hours? Perfect. I was in the same state as Romana, there was no way I was not going to see her. We were in Texas during the Christmas holiday, so Romana's daughter Sari was in town as well. I was hoping to get a private lesson with Romana. Oh boy. Christmas indeed.

Good Cop Bad Cop

As it turned out, I would have my lesson with Sari, although Romana would be in the studio. Ok, still great. Although I had been eating a lot of BBQ since my arrival in Texas…hmmm…

When I arrived Romana greeted me wearing the beautiful Robin's egg blue color I always saw her in. She also sported some really awesome cowboy boots. Red ones, I believe. Sari gave me a lesson on the Reformer and Romana sat beside us.

Romana soon became my cheerleader.

Whatever Sari picked on, Romana applauded. To my horror, after the debacle that is the Snake/Twist, I began to take requests.

Me: “Should I do the Backbend with the Straps?”
Sari: “Why do you want to do that when you can't even do the Snake/Twist?”
Romana: (applauding) “I want to see it!”

So I did the Backbend with the Straps – and even Sari had to agree that it was better than my Snake/Twist.

Romana taught a duet after my lesson to Cha Cha (owner of Metroplex Pilates) and Sari. That was a fun treat as well. At one point Romana decided that Sari needed some help with (irony alert!) the Snake/Twist…

“Honey, help her.”

To my surprise I was now giving Sari a spot for the Snake/Twist.

See, it's everyone's favorite exercise 🙂

 

Thank you so much, Romana, for all your hard work through the years to disseminate Pilates to the world.

You have given me and countless others a passion, a discipline and a livelihood while enabling so many to become the best person they could be.

My thoughts go out to you Sari, Daria, Monica and your families. Peace and warm wishes to you all.

Love all around.

 

Share your thoughts or stories about Romana in a comment below. Thank you so much for reading and sharing the love.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your fun Romana stories Andrea! I always found it fun to hear Sari and Romana’s banter. I remember being in New York once and Sari was whipping everybody into shape for Romana’s upcoming visit. “Mother wants to see those bottoms up!” was a common refrain that day. For Romana, we all worked a little harder. My lessons with her were the only ones that required an immediate rest of my trembling body on the floor and a nap after lunch. Now we’ll have to find that motivation within ourselves and from the company of our Pilates friends.

    • Thank you so much for reading, Eliza, and for sharing your comments. It’s true – for Romana we all worked just a little bit harder 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Pilates day today – xo

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