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Again today we are looking at where the origins of the Pilates work began. To understand the metamorphosis and the progression that this work has endured, we need to understand the people behind it. As Contrology got passed down exercise by exercise and then got translated into certification form, those creative souls that regard this practice as their life’s work are in every inch of this field. Their understanding of what Joe and Clara taught to them materialized into what is in training manuals all over the world.

It is important to see the differences in the work between the elders, but it is more important to see the similarities. No matter your “lineage,” we are united by the fact that we love this work and how it changes people’s lives. We need to understand and respect that some people’s passions lie in the purely classical representation of the work, while others choose to expand and move forward with the movement science of the times. Either way you choose to express yourself in this field is valid and good. All of the information is worth its weight in gold.
And speaking of gold, let’s talk a bit about Pilates elder Carola Trier. Before arriving in New York where she was introduced to the work, Trier was a German Jew who had escaped a Nazi-run concentration camp in France during World War II. From there she made her way to New York City to make a new life for herself. Carola is not only inspiring, but she had a wonderful and extraordinary background in movement! This tiny, powerful woman was not only a dancer, but also a skilled acrobat and, get this, a roller skating contortionist! You can imagine what it takes to not only contort the body, but then to do it on a moving platform! Come to think of it, I am not surprised by how she was drawn to the work in Joseph Pilates’ studio. Carola sought out the help of Joe and Clara after being sidelined by a debilitating knee injury.

The theme of injury rehabilitation is a common thread that links our Pilates greats with our novice clients. That is something to always be aware of and be grateful for. After working on herself, Carola wanted to share the work she had learned with others. And in the late 1950s she opened the first studio besides Joe’s with his blessing. Other Pilates greats walked through Trier’s doors such as Kathy Grant, Lolita San Miguel, and many others. Carola also taught with and mentored Jillian Hessel, who has studios in California and teaches around the country.

In 1989, Hessel asked Carola to do a workshop in her studio while Jillian videotaped the whole weekend. Luckily for the Pilates community as a whole, we can see this work firsthand on the DVD named Carola Shares. This is an unparalleled looks at the dynamic Trier and her wonderful ease and grace in teaching and with the equipment. This is an amazing insiders’ treat for those who want to explore what this inspiring movement educator had to say about the work that we all adore. Carola passed away in 2000, but her legacy lives on through the many lives she touched and changed through the years.

~ by Casey Marie Herdt

We hope you enjoyed this look at Pilates history! Tell us what you thought below.

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