Live Interview Series: Get to Know Eric Carlovich and Mariano Dolagaray (Part 2)

Patty Andamo

Our sit-down interview with The Pilates Link’s Eric and Mariano continues!

In part two of our interview with Classical Pilates instructors Eric Carlovich and Mariano Dolagaray, we dive deeper into the topic of—what else? Pilates, of course! The two let us in on what they do to keep up with their practice these days, what they believe makes a good teacher and how they envision the future of Pilates.

Missed out on part one of this interview? Check it out here! You can also catch Eric and Mariano’s weekly classes at The Pilates Link by booking here

How do you plan your training and how often do you train? Do you have a monthly program or do you just go on the mat or the Reformer and start exercising?

Eric: I workout the way I workout my students. I follow a routine on the mat or on the Reformer and I identify a few things that I think I have to work on. Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken a class with someone else’s eyes on me, giving me feedback and directions. Which makes us fall into [certain] habits. It’s been a long time but I know how to stay fit and keep healthy through the method. The way I use the method nowadays is just to maintain my health to be able to surf and do my other stuff. It’s not as performative as how I used to do Pilates. It’s still the same intensity, just in another direction. I don’t go that far with my flexibility nowadays—not because I can’t, but it’s just a matter of priority. But no, I don’t have a monthly or weekly program. I go to the beach and if there’s no waves I come back and workout!

Mariano: I have not been in a studio for three months, so I only have the mat. I train everyday effortlessly because for me it is natural to lie down on the mat and move. Because of this online work, I made the mistake at the beginning of quarantine of sitting down to teach classes. After the first two months, I began to feel a very strong pain in my back that I have never felt in my life. I was scared because I had that pain for a month. When I'm in a Pilates studio I use the Cadillac a lot. I do a lot of pull ups. So something happened to my muscles after three months without hanging—some imbalance. I have now been teaching while standing for two months and I no longer have that pain. I bought a device that they use in gyms simply to hang myself and do pull ups, and after doing that for two weeks, the pain is gone. My family was telling me, “Mariano, you have to go to the doctor!” No, there are no doctors here who understand. This is Pilates, this is movement. The one that is going to cure me is movement and I think that way with everything. I have had some injuries before and I always healed by doing Pilates.

Is there a specific aspect you focus on when you train?

Mariano: I always train my flexibility. It makes me feel very good. When I do Pilates, I do the roll up and sometimes I stay longer in the roll up to explore that flexibility. It is not that I change the method but I start doing exercises specific to flexibility. I feel inside me that my brain chemistry changes; an hour later I feel different. Something happens inside my body. That's why our students continue to practice because something moves—something very strong inside. And I think that the more you practice, the more that increases. [Achieving] that well-being is what leads me to lie down everyday on the mat.

For you, what makes a good Pilates teacher?

Mariano: Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges was once asked, “How do you write those books? Where does that inspiration come from?” And he replied, “It comes from persistence. I sit every day with a pencil in my hand and a sheet of paper in front of me and I stay this way for three or four hours. For many months, sometimes I do not write even a single word but in one day, I write a book. That persistence makes everything come one day, and that is the Pilates method. You have to practice everyday. During quarantine, there have been days where I am not inspired. I wake up, jump on the mat and fall asleep. But other days I put in a great workout. That’s what it’s all about. That persistence.

Eric: Discipline, being consistent, and finding a balance between teaching and the rest of your life. You gotta teach a lot until you understand what you’re doing. That’s a fact. And again, you will define how deep you’re going to go with your understanding of the method. But it’s not just understanding the method in terms of biomechanics and history. It’s about understanding how you’re going to interfere in the life of the person in front of you through the method. How you develop this sensibility to feel the person, to know how the method can help that person in that moment—that takes years of teaching and going over it over and over and over again. People sometimes say, “You guys are very gifted.” I don’t see it this way. Maybe it takes a little bit of talent but it’s a lot of work. Long hours and many years of doing the same thing over and over. What makes you a good teacher in my opinion is staying well. Finding a way to use the method to maintain a beautiful lifestyle. In order to actually interfere in people’s lives to lift them up, you gotta be higher already. You need to really live the method’s purpose, and pass it on and spread it out through the practice.

What advice would you give to aspiring Pilates instructors?

Mariano: Investigate well the person who is going to teach you. I wouldn't pay for a certificate program under a person who doesn't have many years of experience. Currently there are many choices, so my advice is to investigate well where to learn.

Eric: As Mariano mentioned, search for a serious school or a person who actually knows what he is doing, has had a lot of years of experience and has taught students for a lot of years. There are a few people that teach students for two years and start teaching teachers only after this. That is not quite the best way to teach teachers. You gotta get back to the real people, the everyday people that walk into the studio. So search for someone serious, a school with a good structure. Another thing is, these days we are “immediatists.” We want everything yesterday. We are always anxious and it comes from our lifestyle and new way of living. This can be dangerous to Pilates because the physical body needs time to get used to a new way of moving. You’re not going to become flexible in two weeks. You’re not going to become stronger in two weeks. You’re not going to become a good teacher in a year. No. If you want to get into this, it’s a long term thing. Not a one year thing, not a three year thing. So there’s a lot that you need to search for about the school, but it’s more about how much commitment you’re going to put into this, and how much patience you’re going to have to understand the whole method. 

If a contemporary instructor wants to learn Classical, how should they go about it? Does the Classical Method ever get monotonous?

Mariano: The Classical Method is never monotonous. Never. You have to open your mind and not place your mind in little houses. Contemporary? Classic? Open your mind and study the real Pilates. Study and practice, and there is no monotony. If you feel monotonous with Pilates, life will feel monotonous, too. You will wake up and say, “Oh, do I have to brush my teeth again? Do I have to hug my husband and make love to him again?” The same monotony that you can feel in Pilates you will feel in life. So there is no monotony in Pilates. No, that is magic. Every time I lie down on the Reformer or sit in a Chair, it is a new trip. A runner runs everyday. It depends with which mind one sees things. Things are not as we see them, we see them as we are, remember that. Pilates is not a list of exercises, it is a method, a concept of life, a methodology.

Lastly, what do you see for the future of Pilates and what would you like to see?

Eric: I’d like to see something more accessible for more people and at the same time, maintaining and respecting as best we can what has been created, you know? I don’t want to see Pilates becoming like what a few people have done with yoga. I don’t want to see beer Pilates the way I see beer yoga. People getting into a yoga class with beers in their hands to do asanas. I don’t wanna see this with Pilates. I see a lot of serious people in yoga after 7,000 years trying to do the best they can to maintain what yoga is about. I think we do have people doing this in Pilates but we are far away from being the majority. I hope we become the majority in terms of maintaining what the method is about. That’s what I’d like to see.

Next up in our Live Interview Series, we welcome Pilates legends Sandy Shimoda, Gloria Gasperi and Miguel Silva. Join them on October 16 as they discuss anything and everything Pilates! Learn about their personal stories and pick up some valuable advice and tips that you can apply to your own teaching and practice! Register for free here.

Patty Andamo