See our interview with Mary here

A number of first-generation Pilates teachers that Joseph Pilates passed the work onto are still with us. These teachers are full of wisdom and give us real insight into how and why the work developed like it did. I have gotten to work with a number of these individuals, and Mary Bowen is one of the best. She is so full of life and humor and is really ready and willing to dive into the work. She is inspiring to me also because she has always expanded on the work and found the deeper layers within the work. She is very interested in the individual and how the work and the psyche connect.

In 1959, at 29, Mary began to learn the Pilates Method. At that time she worked as an actress/comedienne/musical comedy performer with a recurring back problem. She found Joe through a newspaper article! In the article he was standing bare chested, with bare legs, swimming trunks, and a white mane of hair! In the short article he said “I base my method on the baby and the cat!” Mary was intrigued! After only two sessions her back improved. She was sold to the Method and devoted herself to it. She has, to this day, for 50 years taken two privates a week. She started with Joe and Clara and continued to study with greats such as Bob Seed, Romana Kryzanowska, and Kathy Grant. She recommends that all Pilates teachers find someone excellent to watch over and guide their own Pilates practice. She adds that this is pivotal to the development of oneself and one’s teaching.

In the same year that Mary Bowen started Pilates, she also began Jungian psychoanalysis. In 1971 Mary began her psychoanalytic practice and just four years later started teaching Pilates. These two worlds lived side by side for a number of years until she started to unite the two disciplines. In the world of Pilates, Mary is known especially for her integration of Jungian analytical psychology with the Pilates Method. Mary explains, “For years the two careers were side by side. Pilates was directive–analysis was non-directive. After 20 years the analyst in me began entering and combining with the Pilates work. I couldn’t help seeing each client in depth and began to engage the whole person, conscious and unconscious.” Mary maintains a practice as a Jungian analyst in NYC, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Every week she travels between three states, three homes (each with an analytic office), and two Pilates studios. For some of her clients, she does only Pilates but for many others she has expanded the Pilates work to include the whole psyche and therefore the whole body.

Mary’s loving husband and partner, Alec Martin, has built all her machinery and her two Pilates studios. They often travel together (sometimes with their 11 cats and dogs!) to the different places Mary teaches. Not only do they love cats and dogs but they feed the wildlife outside their door, often “birds, raccoons, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, whatever is trying to make a life for itself out there.” Mary has a huge, expansive heart and it comes out in every part of her life.

~ by Jennifer Gianni

We hope you enjoyed this article. Be sure to take a look at our interview with Mary!

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  1. ClaireVogt

    I have always been fascinated with Mary Bowen, so I am very excited for the coming in-depth article! Thank you!

    • Angelo

      We had the chance to enjoy a 3 hour conversation with Mary. She’s a great storyteller! We hope to have a video of the interview up in the next few weeks…