Ron Fletcher: A Short History of a Movement Visionary


As many of you know, we lost Pilates Elder Ron Fletcher in 2011. Although he’s gone, his creative and inspired work lives on through his method called Fletcher Pilates. He was a wonderful man and teacher and a beautiful storyteller. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with Ron early in my career. He was visiting a friend of mine in Tucson, Arizona, and when my friend had to teach I got to spend a few hours with Ron one-on-one. He shared with me all the stories of Joe and Clara, and the studio in New York.

I was captivated with Ron’s story. He found his love of movement “later” in life (for a dancer). When living in New York, he watched Martha Graham perform, and instantly fell in love with the movement and wanted to be a part of it. Through diligence and dedication he became a part of the company, but due to the fact that he didn’t attend dance classes from a young age, his body took a beating. Surgical intervention looked like the only path until a colleague of his suggested he see a man named Joe Pilates. This is when Ron changed his body and his life through Contrology.

In the same ways that we have all fallen in love with the work, so did he. The body awareness, the balancing and centering, and focus on the breath got ingrained into his body, soul, and psyche. With his new education in body mechanics from Joe and Clara, he freshly inspired by how the body moves in space. He went on to translate what he learned from Martha and Joe and became an esteemed choreographer and dancer. Years later, after life gave him some tough breaks, Ron returned to the studio in New York with Clara to put himself together again. There, with Clara’s blessing, Ron decided to open a studio in Beverly Hills to bring Contrology to the West Coast.

Ron was expansive in the work. His creative energy and passion for human movement motivated him to develop and further the work just like his mentor did. He experimented with what breath does to the body. This is why the Fletcher Method has a distinct breath pattern called Percussive Breath. Also, another Ron Fletcher innovation was his towel and mat work which is invigorating and challenging.

Ron Fletcher built his life around the work of Contrology, eventually taking it to what it is today. I feel so lucky to have spent even a very minute amount of time with this expressive man who brimmed with vitality. I am so sad that we lost this wonderful first generation teacher, but I am so happy to know that Ron Fletcher’s essence is alive and well in studios and bodies all over the world.

~ by Casey Marie Herdt

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  1. E_748

    Great write up!