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Original Pilates Gangster (OPG) Series: Carola Trier

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 physical 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!

Carola Trier

Carola's Early Life

Carola was the second daughter born in Germany in 1913 to chemist and philosopher Eduard Strauss. She studied at the Laban School in the 1920’s and she was performing as a professional dancer around Europe by the 1930’s before her family immigrated to the United States in 1938, while she stayed behind in Germany. She was performing in France at the time when she was sent to the Gurs internment camp, but escaped with the help of fellow dancer Marcel Neydorf and immigrated to New York in 1942. She married Edgar Trier and was able to support herself as a dancer, acrobat and roller-skating contortionist throughout the 1940’s until a knee injury ended her career in 1950. While seeking treatment, she met Dr. Henry Jordan who introduced her to Joseph Pilates for her rehabilitation as he was a fellow student himself.

Carola's Time with Joe

Carola was hesitant at first to train with Joe after her experiences with the Nazis, but after giving it a chance, she loved Pilates. She discovered he had created a genius way to rehabilitate dancers specifically. She consistently trained with him for 10 years before completing her rehabilitation. After completing her rehabilitation with Joe remained on his team as a permanent guest of the studio and observed Joe closely and became most intrigued with rehab students. Carola also educated herself more within the medical side of things as well by observing her Dr treating his rehab patients. By the time she was in her 50’s Carola had now been training with Joe for over 10 years and she decided it was time for her to open her own studio. Amidst all of this, she had also gotten married to Edgar Trier, so she proceeded to open her studio as Carola Trier.

Carola's studio was located on 58th Street, in New York City, only two blocks away from Joe and Clara’s studio. Carola’s take on her studio was 'modern and minimalistic' and in her studio students were required to work one on one. Either Carola or her assistants prepared the machine, gave the instructions and prepared to give feedback. She was the first student of Joseph Pilates to open her own studio and she even hired assistants such as, Roman Kryzanowska and Kathy Grant. She and Joe were similar in their teaching styles in the sense that they didn’t allow for much talking to be done in her studio and she was rumored to have an explosive temper.

Carola's Legacy

Carola was the first student of Joe’s to open her own studio with his blessing. In 1961, Dance Magazine published two articles about her work with dancers. In 1963, she had some of her exercises she had developed out of Joe's repertoire featured within Newsweek and Vogue. Because she demonstrated exercises that she cerated she did not mention her connection with Joe. He did not appreciate this and their relationship turned distant. She ran her studio successfully until she retired in 1986 and her work within rehabilitation was what created the groundwork for the Pilates method to be used in this regard. Carola trained many Pilates teachers, among them were some of the most influential teachers, such as, Kathy Grant, Lolita San Miguel, Deborah Lessen and Jillian Hessel.

Carola passed away in 2000 at the age of 89 years old in New York City.

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