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We revere our elders in Pilates- in fact, there’s a whole gang of cool octogenarians who are still on the teaching and mentoring circuit, imparting their wisdom AND showing off their incredible athletic prowess!

Lolita San Miguel is one of them. She was trained and certified by Joseph H. Pilates through the State University of New York in 1967 and still runs her own studios in Palm Beach, Florida. Because she was trained directly by Joseph himself, she is considered a first generation Pilates teacher. Lolita lives by her motto ‘Preserve and Evolve’ – at 82 she moves so gracefully that you would think she was only in her 50s!

Mary Bowen is another Elder. Currently 87, she studied with Joseph Pilates twice a week for six and a half years (apparently he was such an egoist he didn’t even bother to learn her name). Mary is an incredible teacher and a renowned Jungian psychoanalyst to boot- so she not only teaches you how to move better but can tell you why you have adopted the physicality that you have. And she injected the personal care into Pilates as we now know it. Mary still takes lessons after 56 years of studying the method, ensuring that she continually grows better in her practice and more integrated with her body. 

‘I don’t feel age. My Pilates is better now. Age is not to be feared. We improve with age if we stay actively engaged.’ – Mary Bowen


Whilst not an ‘elder’ per se, our British top dog is Alan Herdman. Alan is a second generation Pilates teacher having studied with Carola Trier, one of the few people to have been professional certified by Joseph himself. We’re not quite sure whether Alan is in his late 70s or early 80s- he is rather coy- but he looks marvellous. His message of ‘Quality, not Quantity’ in Pilates to improve your own posture, appearance and physical wellbeing suits him well.


At One Grove, because we train across various international bodies, we have been fortunate enough to study directly with Alan Herdman and with other second generation Pilates teachers. Inspiration from the Elders is a huge blessing and gives weight to our work.

Finding the right balance of training your body without exposing it to sustained inflammatory processes, or neglecting key elements of wellness through your life is a challenge. Pilates exercises, well delivered, can promote the perfect balance of training for optimal daily human performance well into old age. Still…might continue to apply that anti-aging cream. Pilates can’t (quite) do it all….

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