MELT STORIES: How MELT for Pilates was born
Hallee Altman first became aware of MELT at the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Sue Hitzmann’s MELT Method class was offered right before Hallee’s Pilates class, and Hallee noticed that the students who took MELT first had better form. Hallee enrolled in a MELT training and what she learned began to change the way she taught Pilates.
“My own MELT practice helped me so much in changing my own body,” Hallee says. “Two years after my first MELT training, Sue and I collaborated to create MELT for Pilates.”
MELT for Pilates is a unique blend of the two techniques: First, the MELT Soft Roller is used to prepare the body for the demands of Pilates. Then the Soft Half Roller is used as a prop under the ribs or pelvis or along the spine during classical Pilates mat work. This helps to bring the precision of Pilates apparatus techniques to a group mat class so participants get a deeper core workout while reducing the risk of injury.
MELT creator Sue Hitzmann was intrigued by the idea of helping people get more out of Pilates with less wear and tear and compensation.
“I wanted to use MELT sequences to better prepare any body to perform the Pilates mat moves with less neck, low back, and hip joint stress and strain,” says Sue. “One of my main concerns was decreasing the risk of spinal compression and fixation in the ribs, which can cause strain in the neck and low back.”
Sue soon realized that this new program would need a new kind of roller – a soft half roller.
“I realized a new soft half roller was needed to create variations of the traditional mat techniques and help modify people’s positioning rather than modifying the exercises themselves,” she says. The MELT Soft Half Roller was developed in 2013.
Sharing MELT for Pilates with PMA
Last October, the Pilates Method Alliance asked Hallee to present MELT for Pilates at the pre-conference portion of the annual meeting in Phoenix. It was a very special opportunity: Rarely are modalities outside of Pilates discussed during this gathering.
“What Sue and I came up with doesn’t change Pilates at all,” says Hallee. “We’re just trying to prepare the bodies to do the work without compensation.”
Her workshop, entitled “MELT for Pilates: Soft Half Roller Assisted Mat Exercises & Connective Tissue Hydration Techniques,” was a hit and covered ways that MELT can enhance the Pilates experience.
“Pilates just feels so much more natural after I MELT,” says Hallee. “I feel like I can achieve what the actual intent of the exercise is.”
How Hallee got her start
Hallee discovered Pilates at a local studio while an undergraduate at Emory University in Georgia. She dove in and learned from the best, becoming certified by Romana Kryzanowska, a protégé of Pilates founder Joseph Pilates. Hallee also holds a certification from the Pilates Method Alliance.
“Pilates opened the door for me in a really positive way,” she says.
Hallee went on to earn a master’s degree in Dance Education from NYU, and she was inspired to work as a creative movement teacher and social skills educator, teaching children with special needs to discover the power of movement and nonverbal communication. She then opened her own Pilates studio, The Center Studio, which is located in the same building as the Manhattan JCC.
“Teaching has always been in my wheelhouse,” she said. “MELT has completely transformed the way I teach Pilates. I’m just putting together the answers. Giving my students the confirmation on all their instincts that MELT is good for Pilates.”
Today Hallee shares MELT for Pilates with her private clients at The Center Studio and her ongoing group classes at the Manhattan JCC and the new JCC Harlem. She also trains MELT instructors who are also Pilates instructors in the MELT for Pilates curriculum so they can bring it to their students and clients. She is developing two new MELT for Pilates trainings: a Level 2 curriculum and a workshop that explores this work as it applies to the apparatus. There are currently more than 60 instructors trained in MELT for Pilates. To find out if there’s one near you, visit: https://www.meltmethod.com/finder/