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Original Pilates Gangster "OPG" Series: Lolita San Miguel

The Original Pilates Gangster "OPG" Series

The original Pilates teachers, otherwise known as The Elders, were taught by Joseph Pilates himself. Each of these teachers took his work and had their own individual interpretation depending on what era of his work they were with him, and what their background and issues were. Many times they invented their own original moves out of Joe's teachings. For example, the jump-board work we do in level 2 classes was NOT actually part of the original exercises designed by Joe. His famed student Romana Kryzanowska, was the first one to introduce this addition to the repertoire. Another fan favorite is Eve’s Lunge. Have you ever wondered why it’s not called Joe’s Lunge? His protégé Eve Gentry added this delicious move into the original choreography. Each of the Elders, brought their unique touch and interruption to his work. Each month we will feature one of these original teachers, also called 1stGeneration Pilates Teachers. As you read each one can you catch a glimpse of your Zen teachers in them –maybe even take a guess which linage your favorite zen teacher came from.

Each "OPG feature was written by one of our Teacher’s-In-Training as part of their training certification program. Enjoy!

Lolita San Miguel

By Courtney Clark

Early Life

Lolita San Miguel was born October 9,1934 in New York City. When she was three years old her family moved back to their native Puerto Rico. It was there that she began to study dance. By the age of 11, her family traveled back to New York so she could attend a summer study at the School of American Ballet. Four days after they arrived her father died from a heart attack and her mother decided to remain in New York once again.

After graduating a Performing Arts High School, Lolita went on to travel with many different ballet companies. While at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet she injured her knee, and was treated by the famed doctor for dancers, Dr. Henry Jordan. He told her she would not need any sort of knee surgery but should keep her quads strong to protect her knee joint. Guess whom he recommended she build up those quads with? None other than Carola. Carola Treir’s Pilates Studio.

Carola’s Pilates Studio was filled with dancers, athletes and the creme de la creme of New York. Carola had two assistants; Romana Kryzanowska and Kathleen Grant. After being a client of Carola’s for many years, Lolita was asked to stop dancing and apprentice to teach The Pilates Method from Carola herself. Lolita became the only person ever certified by Carola.

One day speaking to Carola’s assistant, Kathy Grant, she discovered Joseph Pilates was alive and well and… just a few blocks away.

Life with Joseph Pilates

Kathy and Lolita decided to pay their idol, Joseph Pilates a visit and request he train and certify them.

When Lolita met her idol he was in his 80’s, white haired, and undeniably strong. She learned from Joseph for over a year: working out, observing and assisting clients for 520 hours. She received her certification from Joseph February 2, 1967. He died 8 months later. Lolita and Kathy Grant are the only two to ever become certified from Joseph himself.

Life Now

She incorporated Pilates into her ballet teachings. She has taught over a thousand teachers, clients, chiropractors, children and dancers The Pilates Method. She attributes her excellent memory as an 84 year old to her training with Carola and Joseph.

She established Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, The Conservatory of Ballet Concierto, Pilates y Mas and Lolita San Miguel Pilates Master Mentor Program. She now lives in Florida where she continues to certify others and practices Pilates everyday.

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