Interview With Pilates Instructor Karen Frischmann

How did you become a Pilates instructor?

I had been studying Pilates for about 4 years when my studio announced its first training program. I loved the work and I was shifting out of my career as an assistant director in film and was looking for a flexible job while I pursued my masters degree.  It’s funny – what started as a job turned into a fascination and then a twenty year career.

What are a couple of your favorite Pilates exercises and why?

I have to say that there are very few Pilates exercises that don’t become favorites at one point or another.  Fencing on the Cadillac has never made the list, but there is still hope….  However, my all-time favorite exercise is the Pull Up on the Wunda Chair.  First time on the chair I could not figure out how to lift the pedal to save my life.  I couldn’t stop laughing, I have never had an instance where my body would not do what I asked it to.  Now I love it for the ability to open the back, deepen the round back and challenge the center.  Next I would have to choose the tower exercise on either the Cadillac or the Guillotine (tower).  I have a really tight lower back, and this exercise really opens it up and helps me find that deep connection to the lower body.  Finally, I would have to say the teaser on top of the Wunda Chair.  It offers such a challenge for the low stomach, back, lower body reach and an incredible opening in the chest.

What is your favorite Pilates apparatus?

If I have to have a favorite apparatus I guess it would be the Reformer.  As a teacher, it offers me so much information about the body in front of me. I can see imbalances, connection issues etc. For my workout, and the workout of my students, it offers unparalleled leverage and support which allows the body to really find the two way stretch and deepen the connection into the center.

What do you think is a common misconception about Pilates?

Ok, wow, there are so many. I guess my top one is that Pilates is gentle stretching for women or dancers.  The truth is Pilates is a hard sweaty corrective exercise regime created by a man for men. It can be adapted to every level of fitness and gender, but at it’s core it is really hard work, both mentally and physically.

What do you like to wear when you do Pilates?

I have different Pilates wardrobe for teaching and working out. For working out I like to wear leggings or capris. I don’t like excess fabric around my legs and ankles, it just gets in the way. I love Wacoal sports bras and I usually wear a comfortable t shirt or tank .  For teaching I prefer a bootleg workout pant like Athleta’s Kickbooty pant, Dansko shoes for teaching on concrete all day and a classic v neck t-shirt. I like to look professional, but also be able to demonstrate an exercise if I need to.  I am a Pilates teacher, but I am also a curvy girl and quite frankly most fitness clothing lines don’t offer great options for me.  Most athletic tops and bras these days are cut with racer backs, which put a lot of pressure on my traps and have shelf bras, which offer no support, so I have to wear a second sports bra. The angle of the top and most sports bras put pressure on the top of the traps and the after wearing them for a six or eight hour day I go home with a splitting headache.  For women with my build, I think Athleta offers some of the best options.  My dream is to create a smart, beautiful, comfortable line of fitness wear for women like me.   All woman should have options to feel beautiful and healthy in whatever we wear.

How do you incorporate Pilates into your busy schedule? 

You know, I have to say it’s hard to get my workouts in with teaching, running a studio and caring for my kids. I have to schedule my workout into my day. I mean literally block out time in the scheduling software that says “workout”.  It’s a reminder to me to take care of myself.  I love the work. Doing Pilates is what brought me to teaching. I love the way it feels, the way it centers me, and reminds me why I teach. It’s important.

Do you adhere to any diet or food philosophy to stay in shape? 

I have a lot of food allergies, so to keep myself healthy, I have a very limited diet and adding any additional restrictions would leave me with really poor nutrition.  My philosophy is to eat real food when you are hungry, not too much, and enjoy every bite.
If you weren’t a Pilates instructor, what would you do?

If I wasn’t a Pilates instructor I would be an architect or interior designer.   A secret about me is that I am in the middle of my master’s degree in interior architecture.  It is my second love, ok my third – my kids trump everything, and I am hoping to graduate before  I am fifty.

Do you have any books or videos you recommend? 

I still love Brooke Siler’s book “The Pilates Body”. It is a great companion to studio lessons.  The descriptions are clear and the corner illustrations are amazing.  It is my go to book when a client asks for an at home reference.

What is your favorite Joe quote or story?

I have many, but what I really love are the stories about Clara.  You know, every genius needs a grounding element, someone to soften the intensity.  I feel from the stories that Clara was that for Joe.  Don’t get me wrong, from what I have heard she was a force to be reckoned with, but she also sounds like a caring and gifted teacher.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Abey, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to participate in your blog.



 likes / 3 Comments
Share this post:
  1. Vintage pilates girls /

    Thanks abey for this interview! We’re loving this at the studio… especially because karen is usually so private about herself.

    • abeyclark /

      Thank you! Very fun to learn some tidbits about her!

  2. Pilates Glossy Interview with Karen FrischmannHummingbird Pilates /

    […] Interview With Pilates Instructor Karen Frischmann […]

comment this post

Click on form to scroll


> <
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec