Jumpboard Origin Stories

The Reformer Jumpboard has been used in both classical and contemporary Pilates studios for over 30 years to strengthen, lengthen, and align the feet, legs, hips, and spine. One ongoing debate in the community is where exactly it came from. Everyone agrees that Joseph Pilates did not invent it, and his original Reformers did not include it. In discussing this topic with several people, most of whom were not there then, three stories emerge about its origin. Eve Gentry appears to have created the prototype of the Jumpboard for use at her studio in the early 1970’s. Ken Endelman and Romana Kryzanowska seem to have come up with the idea for a commercially viable product at around the same time (late 1980’s to 1990). While these may have been truly independent and simultaneous flashes of creative genius, we must remember that the community was VERY small at the time and that we all knew each other or at least knew of each other. Any of them could have come up with the idea, which could have quickly spread throughout the community. Because both Romana and Eve are no longer with us and Ken’s memory is not infallible, here are three stories of the origin of the Reformer Jumpboard:

Eve Gentry

Eve Gentry, a Pilates elder who spent many years with Mr. Pilates, is credited with developing the first jumpboard in the early 1970’s. According to Nora Gomez-Dears, Michelle Larsson, Elizabeth Boswell-Jones, and Kevin Bowen have all used Eve’s original Jumpboard, which differs from current models in shape, size, angle of the landing surface, and its attachment to the Reformer. It was created by Eve’s husband at her request, presumably to provide a more ergonomically appropriate surface for the feet and to assist with jump training for dancers and others. This jumpboard was not produced in any quantity and did not become a product for sale.

Ken Endelman

Ken Endelman of Balanced Body has been building Pilates equipment since the mid-1970s. As a builder rather than a teacher, he spends a lot of time listening to teachers about what they need in Pilates equipment. Ken worked closely with St. Francis Memorial Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine, specifically with Patrice Whiteside, who founded the Dancemedicine division. Before the invention of the Jumpboard, dancers would use the footbar to jump on, which was not the ideal surface for safety or biomechanics. Dr. James Garrick was an orthopedic surgeon, Center for Sports Medicine’s founder, and dance medicine pioneer. He sponsored a conference at St. Francis in 1988 or 1989, and many of the Pilates elders were present to discuss the specific rehabilitation needs of dancers and how the Reformer and the Pilates Method could be used. Ken took this information and created a longer Reformer with longer springs, a design for the Jumpboard, and a way to attach it to the Reformer. That became Balanced Body’s original Jumpboard.

Romana Kryzanowska

In the early 1990s Romana was working at the Pilates studio on 56th St. in New York City under the ownership of Wee Tai Hom. She was introduced to the CMC Shuttle 2000, which bears some resemblance to a Reformer with a flat foot plate rather than a foot bar. According to Phoebe Higgins, Romana said, “Joe would have approved of the Jumpboard.” From this serendipity, Romana worked with Steve Giordano and Gratz to develop the Jumpboard for Classical reformers and exercises to take advantage of the new apparatus.

Three stories point to the development of an extremely useful accessory for the Pilates Reformer.

@Nora St. John has been teaching Pilates for more than 20 years and leads the Balanced Body education department. In her role at Balanced Body, Nora develops workouts for Balanced Body equipment, trains studio owners to be experts in the industry and on Balanced Body equipment, and collaborates with the product development team on equipment innovations. @Nora Gómez-Dears is a Classical Pilates instructor since 1997. Currently, Nora is a Teacher Trainer for The Pilates Standard and Buff Bones. Nora has a BS in Physical Education and Dance from the University of of Wisconsin, Madison and graduate studies in Dance Movement Therapy and Counseling Psychology from Antioch University in Keene, NH. In addition, Nora has taught Ballet and /or Pilates at Boston Ballet, Boston Conservatory, Walnut Hill Hugh School of Performing Arts, as well as at International and National Pilates Conferences.


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