Coffee with Jay Part 3

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In this ongoing series, Jay Grimes answers questions from Pilates Instructors and enthusiasts about his years as a student and teacher in Joe Pilates' original Studio for Body Contrology on 8th Avenue in New York City. You can visit Jay's own studio for his teaching and workshop schedule at: Vintage Pilates. CLICK the Chapters Menu (upper right corner of the video player) to click ahead to topics in this video. Topis Covered in Part 3 include: 0:00min: The Pilates community is divided by the teacher you can track your lineage to. What are these differences and what was Joe's style like? 3:13min: Who did Joe train to teach? 5:52min: Lolita San Miguel. 6:42min: Kathy Grant. 9:15min: Carola Trier. 10:35min: Joe's body specifics. 11:24min: How Jay teaches. 12:13min: What would Joe think of the short certifications for mat over a weekend? 15:36min: How often did Joe suggest to practice? 17:14min:  How did Joe train?

What Others Are Saying


  1. HighBridge 8 years ago

    These 3 videos were a pleasure to watch, and I’m sure I’ll watch them again – I don’t think we can ever get enough information and stories about Joe’s studio and legacy. Thank you so much for that, Jay and Alisa!
    One point I would like to make is about Carola Trier. As far as I know, she opened her studio under Joe’s blessing and continued to be in close relationship with him until his death. She was trained by him to be a teacher, and they often shared general and specific observations with each other. It is true that she added some variations of her own to the method, and also that she practiced slightly different versions of exercises than Romana and some of the other elders, which was mostly due to the fact that she opened her studio in the 50’s, and since then variations have changed at Joe’s (as Jay mentioned in one of the videos).
    However, knowing her work I think it is absolutely incorrect to say that no one ever did a backbend at her studio, or to presume she only knew what was taught for her body, and not the whole system for different bodies.

  2. kirsty hall 8 years ago

    Thank you Jay and Alisa – these interviews are so important to catalogue for future generations, as well as those of us who came later in life to the method and may not be so familiar with all the names and places. Loved the analogy of downloading the hard drive – although holding it on the cloud would describe your site more now! I’d like to know if there was any 1st generation who developed the method outside of the influence of dance? And also what Jay thinks of the incorporation of technology into instruction – what it adds or takes away from the issue of authenticity?

    • Alisa Wyatt

      Excellent questions Kirsty, we will be sure to address them next session. Thank you for watching!

  3. Alisa Wyatt

    Dear Jay,
    The following comment comes from a viewer who saw this video via Facebook. As you can see from Reiner’s reply to her comment, Mylene brings up a topic that many others are wondering about. If you would like to elaborate on this topic here, your thoughts are welcome or we can talk about it in our next interview. – Alisa

    Facebook comment from Mylène Wiltberger Brock:
    First of all, thank you so much for your work, Alisa, I enjoyed watching, and trying to imagine the original studio in NY, with that burly Joe guy and his german accent yelling orders in all directions! I have a few comments regarding this third instalment of the “coffee with Jay” videos. One of them is that, since most agree that Joe was the (somewhat impatient) genius behind the method, while Clara was considered by many to be the true (and more patient) teacher, who would you presume to be the better teacher of future teachers? Since Romana learned primarily from Joe, while Ron learned primarily from Clara, why would anyone consider Romana to be the (only) “taught to be a teacher” teacher?

    Reply to Mylene’s comment from Reiner Grootenhuis:
    Mylène, thank you for addressing this topic. I keep asking me similar questions again and again. Who in the studio was educated to be a teacher? Jerome Andrews, Mary Bowen, Naja (before Dolores) Corey, Robert Fitzgerald, Ron Fletcher, Eve Gentry, Jay Grimes, Bruce King, Romana Kryzanowska, John Winters, Lolita San Miguel, Bob Seed, Kathleen Stanford Grant, Carola Trier, Helen Drusine, Lawrence Hayward, Marry Pilates, Joseph Pilates niece Irene Zeuner Zelonka, Hanna Sakimirda? Some of them worked in the studio, two of them have a get a certificate (even if it was a requirement of the state to receive the money). So Jay’s description “they were trained to work in the studio” would fit to most of them. Jay was – as he describes – only in the last (3 I guess) years in the original Pilates studio, so he would only know those who where in the studio with him. But a lot of teachers Joe had trained for his own studio where already gone. And who would know? It stays difficult to shed light on this.

    • Jay Grimes Author
      Jay Grimes 8 years ago

      Wow! You bring up some very good points Mylene. I know I have said Clara was a better teacher than Joe, but never dreamed someone would take that to mean that Joe’s teaching was anything less than genius. Perhaps it would be better to say that Clara was a more universal teacher. She was patient and kind, while still being tough. She could teach anybody. Joe, on the other hand, had no patience and would just walk away from people. If he didn’t like you, he made no bones about it. But when a person clicked with Joe it was truly amazing. He gave and gave and gave, and turned you into a physical beast. He had you doing things you never dreamed possible. (I think of choreographer Jerome Robbins: you would not have to go far to find dancers who hated him, but every dancer who ever worked with him will tell you he made them a better dancer.) So I guess it boils down to how you define a good teacher – one who can teach anybody without getting emotionally involved, or one who is volatile, emotional, impatient and demanding, but a true genius. (I had worked with Robbins, so Joe seemed like a pussycat to me!)
      As for being trained to teach, I cannot speak for what went on before I got there, but I know Joe was very possessive of his method and only trained the teachers he needed to staff his studio. Some students went on to become teachers based on what they had learned for their own body. Not necessarily a bad thing, but when Joe trained someone specifically to teach, his approach was different. He made sure you understood the hows and whys of every exercise, how they were all pieces of the whole, and how they all fit together. You learned not only your own body but what variations may occur in others. When he sat down with Romana to “download his hard drive”, he explained everything he had learned about the body in his 80 years of study and trial and error, as well as every why and wherefore of his method, something he had never done with anyone else, and never did again after.

  4. soul_eil
    soul_eil 8 years ago

    Wow Alisa, I just loved this interview. This particular segment was so enlightening. Love learning more about the elders and the bits of branching out they did not knowing it was Joe’s concept for them, not necessarily the true embodiment of the work. Jay is so cool to share his memories this way. Thanks for putting this series together.

  5. lghammerle

    I love these coffee sessions. It is so inspirational to know that I am just one of many who are intrigued by the true history of Joseph Pilates and all he and Clara offered in their studio. These coffee sessions are like little bits of Gold.

  6. leslie 8 years ago

    Thank you Jay for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience with us. I am grateful.

  7. joesmat 8 years ago

    May I ask if you would confirm the name of the Japenese Choreographer/Dancer that Mr Grimes spoke about please?………..just for my notes!
    Thanks for revealing the RED BOOK….it is a treasure.

    • Alisa Wyatt

      I believe it’s Japanese choreographer Yeichi Nimura that you are asking about. Next interview we will film the original Magic Circle and Reformer Handles that Jay owns.

      • joesmat 8 years ago

        Thank you very much for answering that question, and looking forward very much to the next interview.

  8. presspaws
    presspaws 8 years ago

    Awesome! Really enjoyed these videos. Are you going to do any interviews with other teachers such as Kathi?

  9. joesmat 8 years ago

    Truly outstanding. I would never have learned about this history were it not for Mr Grimes sharing it with us and of course Alisa’s Pilatesology. I really hope you both continue these discussions.Thank you sincerely.

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