The Pilates method started to be taught around the world by the « Pilates Elders », as were called the first students of Joseph Pilates. Their teaching varies with their own approaches, their personal experiences and their understanding of the method, which will produce different styles of the method.
Eve Gentry began to study with Joseph and Clara in 1938. She taught with them until 1968, and then opened her own dance school and Pilates institute in Santa Fe (New Mexico).
The acrobat Carola Trier, who escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in France, emigrated to the United States working there as a contortionist. In 1940, she approached Joseph Pilates when an injury prevented her from performing. In the late fifties, she opened her own « Contrology » studio in New York, with the consent of the creator of the method himself.
Ron Fletcher, un des danseurs de la Cie Martha Graham commence la pratique de la méthode Pilates dans les années quarante pour surmonter une blessure chronique du genou. En 1971, il ouvre un studio à Beverly Hills (Californie), qui devient vite très apprécié des stars du cinéma.
In 1941, Romana Kryzanowska a dancer with an injured ankle was advised by George Balanchine to make her rehabilitation with Joseph Pilates. She studied the method with him and when he passed away in 1967, she started to teach the method in the « Pilates Studio » with Clara Pilates. When Carla decided to retire, she appointed her as director of the studio.
Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel, both students of Joe and Clara became instructors in their turn. Kathy Grant was nominated at the head of the « Bendel’s Studio » in 1972, and Lolita San Miguel left teaching Pilates at the « Ballet Concierto » of Puerto Rico. Just before the death of Joe in 1967, both received a Pilates’ instructor certificate from the « State University of New York ». Among all the Ancients », Kathy and Lolita would be the only two students formally graduated by Joe himself.
Bruce King practiced for many years with Joseph and Clara Pilates. In 1970, he opened his own studio in New York.
Mary Bowen a Jungian analyst, who studied « Contrology » in the sixties, began teaching the Pilates method in 1975 and founded « Your Own Gym » in the Massachusetts.
Robert Fitzgerald also a student of the two founders opened his own studio in New York in the sixties. The studio was very popular among New York companies’ dancers.