Final Destination: Hanoi! header image

Final Destination: Hanoi!

by The Tay Ho Times on 03/01/2020

Text and photo by: Jack Scala
Facebook pages: Rolfing Vietnam – Stephane Pilates


“This year is my year, I am changing life, I am changing country.”

Stéphane is Canadian, he danced in several major dance companies in Europe and North America, The Joffrey Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens among others. And like all great dancers, he had to think about his career transition. He decided to become a Pilates’ Master Trainer ten years ago.


Today his reputation precedes him wherever he goes across the globe. You’re probably wondering what is Pilates? The name comes from Joseph Pilates who was born in Germany in 1883. He was a boxer and performer living in England. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was arrested with other citizens and detained in Lancaster. He taught a concept he developed over more than twenty years to the other prisoners in order to stay in shape despite the restrictions of the camps.


Pilates is based on yoga, Zen, gymnastics, dance, Feldenkrais. Since then, this discipline has evolved, it is practised on a mat or using machines such as the Reformers, the Cadillac, the Chair. It also uses balls, resistance circles, elastic) inducing imbalances, which prompts the body to use deep stabilizing muscles. In this method, we try to strengthen the weak muscles and relax the tense muscles. It also takes into account the breath during the execution of movements and a good posture.


But back to our man: “2009 was a crucial year for me, I’d been living in Montréal for 10 years I needed to see and live differently. I worked too many hours. I had no social life and hated the cold. “His desire was to go to Spain, where he felt close to the culture and people, but Destiny decided otherwise and took Stéphane to Senegal, a continent he had never set foot on. Senegal’s abundant sensations, colours, smells, fantastic temperature and quality of life was exactly what he wanted!


“Before I flew to Senegal, a friend who knew me well, told me that I may have a hard time adapting to the culture, you must be patient! he told me.” A golden rule in this country. “I had never set foot in West Africa and I was dreading this trip somewhat but I was motivated to forget everything. So when I landed, I found myself looking at the world with the eyes of a child. I was amazed. I wanted to live here!".

It did not take long for Stéphane to find the premises to open his Pilates studio, the first in West Africa. A giant step for this discipline that was never taught or even practised in this part of Africa. Pilates is currently the most widely practised discipline in the world.

Today Stephane is in Vietnam. This passionate globetrotter of the world fell in love with Hanoi two years ago. “ I could feel her in my bones. I had to come back and experience her culture, her language and her people”. Stephane teaches Pilates of course but also Rolfing©, a unique manual and movement practice. 


Rolfing© helps people young and hold and athletes enhance their potential and get rid of the pain. It is its philosophy of movement that allows me to understand people, their history and their abilities. When I ask him how he likes Hanoi: “Every day, I ride my motorbike in Hanoi, and I smile. I am living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I love it. I am where I am supposed to be”.