Pilates Mat Class at Jacob’s Pillow

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Joe Pilates taught daily classes at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival every summer for approximately 15 years. During a visit to the Pillow last June, we had the pleasure of joining dancers and locals for Sean Gallagher's weekly Pilates class. As a highly respected physical therapist who specializes in the needs of performing artists, Sean brings a unique perspective to the Pilates mat. While remaining true to the traditional method, he leads a class that is influenced by many movement modalities but is ultimately all about empowering the student to take charge of their own health. Don't miss the unique balance practice at the end of class! Visit Sean at Performing Arts Physical Therapy. Our thanks to Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival where this class was filmed.

What Others Are Saying


  1. Catgal01
    Catgal01 5 months ago

    Thankyou for adding this matwork to the Pilatesology medium Sean. The additional contribution you make to the site is the body detail you put into the teaching. From watching and listening to your presentation / teaching style I have learned more about the relationship of the student to their body in space. Knowledge is power! If a student feels more knowledgeable about why they are doing a particular movement (not just what) they understand more about their own body AND Joe’s work. Because as we know, the Method of pilates is not just a ‘physical training system’, it is an application of the mind AND body together.

  2. shaunarock 2 years ago

    I must add I like learning from Pilatesology, I feel the true foundation and essence of Jo’s work comes through from the senior teachers. I Graduated through Peak, I felt I learned a lot until I watched the senior instructor videos through this medium. It gave me a different perspective of the depth of Joseph’s work , and how to find it in my body using their cuing. This medium also allows people in different communities a chance to learn from people they would never meet. When I read someone’s comment above about this should not be used for that purpose, I had to disagree, this is the icing on the cake, adding these wonderful people who know so much some leaning directly from Joe, what a gift.

  3. Yasmin95 3 years ago

    Thank you, Great class!

  4. aubergine22 3 years ago

    I have been doing Pilates for a long time and I think that was the first time I’ve gotten anything out of the Spine Stretch Forward. I now finally get it and enjoy it. Thanks for a great no nonsense style of teaching the mat.

  5. catedavies 3 years ago

    Great teaching of Saw, especially liked the leg movements before as demo of what not to do and the sawing coming from chest rotation not the hip. Like the balance in different head positions too. Shall be using both in my next class! Thanks.

    • Sean Gallagher Author
      Sean Gallagher 3 years ago

      Thanks Catedavies Just remember to make sure you let them know that the balance work is not Pilates. Since the class at the Pillow is always open I do not teach many of the more difficult mat exercises thus there is not enough time for when teaching mat. So I usually say were finished the Pilates mat now were going to doing some balance exercises or something like that.
      Let me know if you have any questions.

  6. brooke
    brooke 3 years ago

    Fantastic class, wish there was more Sean!!

    • Sean Gallagher Author
      Sean Gallagher 3 years ago

      Hi Brooke,

      Thank you, I am persoanally not a big fan of online learning for Joe’s work and thus why you don’t see more of me here. This was done because Joe taught at the Pillow and I have been teaching there now for 19 years (next year is 20 years maybe you can come and take a class) so wanted to honor him and the pillow, also this was done when Pilatesology came to film the property so it made sense to do both.

      • Alisa Wyatt

        Sean and Brooke, thank you both for your comments! I have to chime in here to say that even though I started Pilatesology, I agree with Sean and don’t think videos are how we should learn Pilates–either as an enthusiast or teacher in training. I hope instead that Pilatesology can serve as a record of the roots of the method and the classes here can inspire, remind and encourage us to stay true to those roots for a long long time. And Sean, if you decide there’s something you’d like to share, we always welcome you here ;).

  7. Maria Hammond

    Love this class! The balance at the end is great, boy i have to work on that again…..:/

    • Sean Gallagher Author
      Sean Gallagher 3 years ago

      Maria Thank you for that the balance work is not Pilates but something that I like to use whenever there is extra time. since 70 percent of reasons for visiting emergency rooms for those over 70 is due to falls it is something that we all need to be working on and teaching to our clients if they are not doing the apparatus workout or a consistent workout that requires standing balance. I sometimes also teach the standing pilates work out as well I like to make sure that they have things that they can practice on their own. But Like I stated above I try and make clear that my balance work is not Pilates but my own.

      • joesmat 3 years ago

        Dear Mr Gallagher:

        I concur absolutely with your observations about the necessity for mature people to practice Standing Balance work. I believe I have seen a short Archival piece on the internet of Joseph Pilates doing many Standing exercises, and from memory, several were very much about Balance. Therefore, would you not agree that it was perhaps part of his agenda!

        Although I do respect your feelings that you are not ” big fan of online learning for Joe’s work and thus why you don’t see more of me here”, without the Romana Kryzanowska Mat DVD’s, and indeed, Peter Fiasca’s Mat DVD’s, I for one, would never have learned the Classical Mat Work. So I would appeal to your goodwill to reconsider letting us see more of your Mat Teachings here on Pilatesology, to perhaps, include the seldom seen so lost exercises. You are in the privileged position of being able to pass on this Legacy of Work as it is said Joseph Pilates intended,

        I do very much hope to see more of your Mat Instruction here soon. Thank you.

  8. joesmat 5 years ago

    Will you be offering more of Mr Gallagher Instructing the Mat?
    Very knowledgeable and informed Gentleman.

  9. Suilven
    Suilven 5 years ago

    Thank you Sean – enjoyed watching this class and listening to your cues.

  10. Erica Van Stralen
    Erica Van Stralen 5 years ago

    Thank you, Sean!
    I liked to watch this class for several reasons:

    It’s nice to see how you explain everything, very helpfull for my own cueing. This class has people with different Pilates backgrounds, just like the groupclasses I teach myself. I recognize a lot in how people react, move and behave.

    What I really liked is the way you took time for every person, to give them individual attention through functional touch: in the rest (childs) pose and in the standing exercises.
    I think that is most valuable.

    Greetings from The Netherlands, Erica

    • Sean Gallagher Author
      Sean Gallagher 3 years ago

      Hi Erica,
      That individual touch in the stretch pose/rest was taught to me by Romana and she would call it the candy 😉
      The head work I do to help each person find their length in their spine in standing.

  11. Laurie Hayes 5 years ago

    I enjoyed this…..thank you! Some of the simplicity of the cues are really great!

  12. ladyjane 5 years ago

    Great class ! Thank you! Loved the ending working on balance ,.interesting !

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