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Building Pilates Equipment and Promoting the Industry

A Talk with Ken Endelman, the President of Balanced Body, Inc.

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Updated August 15, 2012

Ken Endelman, Marguerite Ogle

Ken Endelman, president of Balanced Body, Inc. with Marguerite Ogle, the Guide to Pilates at About.com

photo: Louisa Ferrer

Ken Endelman the founder and president of Balanced Body, Inc., started making Pilates equipment started making Pilates equipment in the nineteen-seventies when he had a custom waterbed store on the famed Melrose Ave in Los Angeles and a customer insisted that he make a Pilates reformer for her.

Since that pivotal time, Ken has steeped himself in the challenges of Pilates equipment design and manufacture. He has done extensive research on Joseph Pilates and the equipment Joe designed, and brought that together with his own passion for innovation and improvement to make Balanced Body an industry leader in Pilates equipment and instructor training.

On a sweltering afternoon, in between his landing in Denver to present a talk and slide show on the history of Pilates at the Pilates Center of Boulder summer conference, Ken and I talked about how he makes decisions for Balanced Body with regard Pilates equipment design and sizing, and a few other Pilates industry issues.

As a Pilates equipment manufacturer, designer, and inventor do you feel a special kinship with Joseph Pilates? If so, how does that play out in your mind and actions? I do feel a special connection with Joseph Pilates because he was a geek and I'm a geek. He had at least 5 patents and he probably invented a hundred different things. There are still things I'm discovering that he invented. And Joe kept on improving things. That need to improve and fix resonates deeply with me. The thing that came to me later on is getting people to move their bodies and heal themselves. That has become really important to me as I spend more time in the Pilates world.

Through Balanced Body, you've brought out many unique pieces of equipment or adaptations of traditional Pilates equipment designs. I'm thinking of the Orbit, CoreAlign, or the rocking reformer as examples. What kind of criteria do you use to decide, is this Pilates?
That's a huge debate and it always gets down to definitions... On one side you've got "Pilates as only what Joe did the year he died and anything different is not Pilates". On the other side you've got "Well, if it utilizes Joe's principles then it's Pilates". And you've got everything in between. You could spend billions of years arguing about it. In the end, the reason people are doing what they do is because clients are walking out of their studios in better shape than when they walked in. The big question is: Does it serve the interest of the customers? That's what guides me.

I think Pilates is probably the most efficient form of exercise in the world, but it's not the only thing. If we can get people to move by doing something other than Pilates then that's worth a million bucks. The more people we get to move the better our society becomes. The better our society becomes the more People are doing Pilates. That's the win for everyone.

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