Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence in Pilates Education, Equipment, and Innovation
From its modest beginnings in a small college classroom in Australia to its position today as a major player in the global Pilates community, BASI can look back on a longer history of success than most other Pilates schools. For the last 30 years, BASI has been at the forefront of Pilates education and innovation within the industry, setting the standard for high quality Pilates training.
The Early Years
BASI was founded in 1989 by Rael Isacowitz while he worked as the head of the modern dance department at the McDonald College of Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia. As a Pilates teacher and practitioner of 10 years, Rael taught Pilates to his dance students and had a small studio set up in a converted classroom in the college. After a brief visit to the USA as a guest choreographer and dancer in 1990, Rael was invited in 1991 to work alongside an American orthopaedic surgeon who had a close association with the Cal State Long Beach dance department and with dancers and athletes throughout Southern California. With nothing but a backpack and the small amount of money he had to his name, Rael left his entire life behind to move to the United States and embark on this new chapter in his career.
In the U.S. Rael trained with several of Joseph Pilates’s students (also known as Pilates Elders), including Kathy Grant, Eve Gentry, Romana Krysanovska, Ron Fletcher and later Lolita San Miguel. Everything he learned from them and through modern scientific research shaped his approach to Pilates, bridging the gap between classical and contemporary styles. He traveled extensively to share his knowledge and passion for Pilates, often staying with friends and colleagues and sleeping on floors when working with shoestring budgets. Rael's unwavering dedication to the craft resoundingly laid the foundation for BASI's growth and respected stature within the international Pilates community for years to come.
Education and Innovation
Since the beginning, innovation has been a key driving force in BASI’s approach to the work. One of the signature elements of BASI training is the groundbreaking Block System, an organized, balanced methodology of structuring each Pilates session and the massive amount of repertoire. Throughout the years BASI has expanded the ways in which information and education resources are communicated. In the early 1990s BASI launched the annual BASI Learn From The Leaders international conference series to bring Pilates continuing education to different parts of the world. The early 2000s saw the release of BASI’s notorious DVD workout collection, followed shortly by two best-selling books, Pilates and Pilates Anatomy, both published by Human Kinetics, USA. In 2010 BASI introduced the revolutionary Pilates e-learning platform, Pilates Interactive (now called BASI Interactive), one of the first online Pilates resources of its kind.
Rael understood early on that Pilates is not a static practice encapsulated in time—it has to evolve with the bodies performing it and reflect the progress of modern movement science and research. The BASI repertoire is constantly re-analyzed for present-day conditions and education materials are regularly updated as new studies are released. To cap off the BASI education experience, the Legacy Program was created—a collection of advanced and original repertoire, garnished with Rael’s sage perspective and guidance on what it means to be a Pilates teacher and truly embody the work. It is the culmination of 40 years of teaching experience and practice.
In addition to providing thorough and innovative Pilates education, BASI has endeavored to evolve the traditional Pilates apparatus. In the earlier years Rael worked closely with Pilates apparatus manufacturers and was instrumental in consulting on prototypes for new equipment. One of BASI’s most notable achievements is the development of the F2 System (also known as the Avalon System by Balanced Body). This trailblazing attachment system upgrades apparatus like the Spine Corrector and Arm Chair to increase and diversify the repertoire that may be performed on these pieces, and in fact the full lineup of Pilates apparatus. In 2015 BASI Systems was launched, BASI’s own line of high quality Pilates equipment, each piece incorporating the F2 System. BASI Systems is now sold worldwide and continues the tradition of innovation in Pilates equipment by engineering cutting edge designs and improvements to current models.
To a Movement
After 30 years, one thing has become certain: BASI is not just about Pilates. BASI has become just as much about people and serving as a force for positive change in the community. Championing values such as inclusivity, mutual respect, integrity, and compassion, BASI aims to change the world one person at a time. In his recent speech at BASI Learn From The Leaders, Rael Isacowitz said, “In a world with far, far too much suffering, BASI is a beacon of light. BASI is a safe haven for all, no matter who you are, where you are from. BASI is warmth. BASI is compassion. BASI is love . . . BASI is for everyone, every religion, every culture, wherever you’re from, that is what BASI is.” By also implementing environmentally-friendly practices at BASI Headquarters, BASI hopes to set an example for encouraging environmental sustainability, as well. “Our vehicle is Pilates; our mission is a better world,” Rael says.
BASI’s 30th Anniversary is a monumental year, as it is the year that BASI has settled into its permanent headquarters in Newport Beach, California, as well as the year BASI celebrates the very first Legacy Program graduates at the BASI Learn From The Leaders 2019 conference. Today BASI is represented in over 40 countries, across 6 continents and has tens of thousands of proud graduates. With 75 faculty members and a family-like community that spans the globe, BASI continues to lead the way in promoting the highest standards in the Pilates industry. What started out as a move, has become a worldwide movement. We look forward to the next 30!