We kick off our Live Interview Series with The Pilates Link’s Eric Carlovich and Mariano Dolagaray. Get up close and personal with these Pilates greats in this fun Q&A!
When it comes to Classical Pilates, Eric Carlovich and Mariano Dolagaray are among the best in the business. Both world-renowned instructors who share a strong passion for the original Pilates Method, it is an absolute honor to have them in The Pilates Link team!
In part one of this interview, we get to know Eric and Mariano on a more personal level. Read on as they open up about how they first got started with Pilates and what it was really like to train with Romana Kryzanowska and Inelia García in Brazil. We touch on the struggles and lighthearted moments they experienced during those times—moments that solidified their friendship and bonded them for life.
How old were you when you started practicing Pilates?
Eric: I was 17 the first time I practiced Pilates. That was in 1999. It was my mom who introduced me. She was starting her program and encouraged me to start practicing Pilates as well.
Mariano: I started here in Argentina when I was 26 years old. I was studying Kinesiology when a teacher mentioned the word Pilates. I did a Google search and some things appeared. That’s how I met Mile Moreno, a teacher from Argentina, who had done her teacher training the same year as Eric. That lady who was my first teacher, still has her studio here [in Buenos Aires]. She was the first Classical Pilates instructor in Argentina! I started because of her.
How did you get to Romana in Brazil?
Mariano: I am a Professor of Physical Education, but before that I had done a bachelor degree in Psychology for 5 years. Since it was a 6-year degree, I never finished but I was always interested in that part in sports—the psychological part, body-mind-spirit. I really liked high performance sports; I worked with people in rugby, tennis and other professional sports but I felt very empty. I wanted to reach people and could not find the way. There was a missing link. When I did my third Classical Pilates class—I am talking about Classical Pilates because before this, I had had a Contemporary Pilates studio in Puerto Madero for a year. But when I was working with that [Contemporary] Pilates, I felt that it was very empty, that I was doing something that did not fill my heart. Thank God I found Mile. After that third class with her, I felt that I was already breathing better, that something had moved me, something very strong. It was a feeling of tranquility. I said, “Well, this has something special!” without knowing anything about Pilates. It was Mile who told me, “Mariano, if you want to study Pilates you have to go to Brazil because Inelia García receives Romana every year.” It was at the beginning of 2005 that I traveled to Brazil to enter the certification program. Aninha, Eric’s mother, helped me a lot in the beginning. She was like a mother to me too, and Eric was always my inspiration.
Eric, do you want to tell us how it started for you? How did you get to Romana?
Eric: It was in the early days of Pilates in Brazil so there weren’t many options. In 1999, I would say about one unique studio in Brazil. The other ones were just starting. It was in 2003 that I started studying to be a teacher because I had to go to university first. So I went to university, finished my studies in Physical Education, and I finally entered the program. Romana was still there. She started in 1997 and stayed in Brazil until 2007, if I’m not wrong. Inelia García had this connection with her. Inelia was responsible for preparing us to receive Romana and Sari, who would run the seminars and the tests.
What was the whole experience in Brazil like?
Eric: It was fun times in Brazil. We used to train and workout a lot to receive Romana. Inelia was pretty good. She was a restless person and an amazing commander who kept us excited. She used to say to us, “Romana will give us her knowledge according to our level of fitness. If she sees Pilates in our bodies, she is going to remember old school stuff and teach us everything she has. If she comes here and people cannot handle the positions or the exercises, she’s not going to get excited and she’s not going to share much.” So we were practicing at a high level all the time.
Tell us a little about your life before and after Pilates.
Eric: My life before Pilates? I don't remember anymore! For me it was always very difficult. It is very important what the physical practice of Pilates gave me for my personal life in terms of having more discipline, concentration, direction, center. Everything feels physical when one practices Pilates. But I became conscious of the behavioral side, the emotional side. The way in which I began to organize and understand myself, understand life—I had a lot of difficulty with those things before Pilates. For me it is incredible how Pilates interferes not only in the physical part. My life before Pilates was always active with surfing, soccer. But I never had much discipline in practicing it. After Pilates, I think I found an anchor, something that gives me this satisfaction for the practice.
This question is for Mariano. When you left for Brazil to study with Romana, it wasn’t that easy—not just to study but all you had to go through to get there. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that was like?
Mariano: It wasn’t easy. At that moment in my life, I didn’t even have the money to buy a ticket to Brazil. First of all, it was that—the first step. But then my girlfriend at the time, who used to work in an airline, gave me a ticket to fly to Brazil, and this was the first sign. I said, “Wow, I have a free ticket to go to Brazil? Okay.” I arrived in Brazil and I didn’t speak Portuguese. I remember sitting on a desk and trying to say, “I need Pilates classes,” and the people didn’t understand me. There were all these transitions—the language and a new culture. But something about Brazil [that drew me in] was the people. I was born in Argentina but I love Brazil. If I had to choose some place to live, it would be Brazil for the people. Of course, I love Argentina—my family, of course! But my friends are Brazilian. My friends for the rest of my life, Eric, Pedro, Guillerme, Fernando—well, Fernando is Argentinian. But I met my best friends in Brazil.
What are some challenges you faced in the beginning?
Mariano: I remember going to the supermarket with not a lot of money. Inside the supermarket, I would open some packet of biscuits and eat it inside the supermarket, and buy only one yogurt for dinner. I spent all of my money to rent a little apartment to live in and to pay for the program. The program was so expensive for me at that time. But it was the best program ever. Inelia is a genius and Romana, of course. For me, I was so happy that it didn’t feel so difficult then. But now, when I think about the past I think, “Wow, it was a difficult moment.” I remember one day Inelia looked at me and said “Mariano, you need to eat.” I said, “I am eating!” And she said, “You need to eat well.” It was a funny moment then but now I can see how difficult it was. But at the same time, I was so happy. For me, it wasn’t bad, you know?
How did you two meet and become friends?
Mariano: I think it was one of the first times I entered Inelia and Aninha’s studio. I think I saw Eric hanging from the Guillotine. I remember one of the first times I went in there, Eric was already hanging there with his feet upside down. I don't know when the moment was but with Eric, it was a very natural friendship. Eric is a person that I can tell everything to, and he’s the same with me. Me with my girlfriend at the time and Eric with his, we were all friends and it was a lot of fun. The times that one fought with a girlfriend, we would live together temporarily because we were left without a home. When we were single, we lived together and worked a lot. Eric was waking up at 5 in the morning every day because he had class at 6. It was very funny because I would wake up and would want to make Eric breakfast because he was a boy to me—not a boy, he was always a man. “Come on let’s eat, Eriquito!” I used to say. We would work 6 hours straight in the morning with Aninha and Inelia. Aninha must have many stories to tell too!
Eric: I lived in Manaus in the Amazon for a year in 2006. When I came back to Brazil, I went back to teaching in this studio where my mom taught for many years. I saw Mariano but we didn’t talk much. I was practicing and teaching a lot. And then I see this Argentinian guy sitting there just quiet. He always had good posture. He was quite rigid but the posture was pretty good! Anyway, I had this friend, Pedro. We were starting to practice handstands and stuff and then Pedro comes to me and says, “Have you seen this Argentinian guy around? This Mariano?” I was like, “Yeah, I think I’ve seen him.” He goes, “You know that the motherf*cker can do handstands?”
How did your friendship develop?
Eric: We just became friends, you know? I started helping him with teaching and then we started talking about Pilates and about life. As Mariano said, it was very organic the way the friendship developed over the years. There is a lot of understanding between us. There are things that no one else can understand unless you’ve taught for many years, 10–12 hours a day. We did this for over 10 years. We choose to teach a little bit less nowadays but we used to teach 50–60 classes a week! It’s hard to explain but something just comes into your body and you have no choice but to really learn and dive deep into this. You start seeing life through this because most of your time—conscious and awake—you are doing this. That’s why there’s something very deep that connects us. It comes from this comprehension, this time that we’ve both invested. We understand each other.
Any funny memories from those times?
Eric: I’ll tell you about this one. This is one of the best! At some point, Mariano was already teaching with us. We were already really good friends at this point. He had decided, “Okay, I’m staying in Brazil. I have my life going here already, and it’s been pretty good.” But he had to go through the whole bureaucracy and legalize his papers from Argentina to Brazil. In Brazil, you had to have a degree in Physical Education or in Physiotherapy to be able to work in Pilates. These people would go and check studios and gyms to see if everyone that was working there was clear with their paperwork and documentation. Mariano was teaching but didn’t have his papers yet. One time, he came to me and said “Eriquito, I’ll just leave a broom just beside the Reformer. If someone that I don’t know walks in the studio, I’ll get the broom and I’ll start working as if I’m cleaning. It never actually happened but the image is just too amazing. Imagine the situation!
What inspires you in your Pilates practice?
Mariano: My friends are my inspiration. One day Eric was asked, “who do you admire from Pilates?” And he said, “My friends.” And I say the same. For me, they are my references. Even when I see Eric train I would say, “Who is that child prodigy there? I want to be like that!” I have images of those boys training, mainly in the training sessions that Inelia gave for men. I was beginning that process and there was Eric and other people. Seeing those guys I said, “Wow!” Because I had not seen Pilates yet, it was like wanting to learn football by reading books. I was learning Pilates but I had never seen it. And one day I saw Pilates when I saw those training [sessions]. I said, “This is magical.” That's when I entered and followed that path.
Eric: Mariano said something about me in terms of how I somehow inspired him and I want to say something about him also. When we say this work is somehow connected to our spirituality—through what we do or what we practice—this I learned with Mariano. Through a lot of practice together and a lot of long conversations in his home, at my place or at the beach. I found a link with having this as a spiritual path also, you know? Not just our own practice but the way we help people or the way we interfere in people’s lives through this beautiful tool that we have and the meaning that I give to this, it just became even higher because of all these conversations with Mariano.
Part two of this interview is coming soon so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can catch Eric and Mariano’s weekly classes by booking here. This is the first of our Live Interview Series. Watch out for more in-depth conversations with world class instructors only at The Pilates Link—the link to your best Classical Pilates practice online!