What is Pilates?
While the popularity of Pilates seems to have only recently burst on the scene, it is actually a method that has been around for about a century. The method of exercise was pioneered by Joseph Pilates. Born to a gymnast father and naturopath mother in 1883, Pilates was a sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. In an effort to restore his own health, he studied anatomy books and reinforced what he learned by observing animals in the woods. He dedicated his whole life to improving his physical condition. (Something I completely appreciate!) He studied body-building, yoga, martial arts, and gymnastics. In his young adult years, he spent time as a gymnast, a diver, a body builder, and a self defense teacher. Joe Pilates immigrated to England in 1912 and earned a living as a professional boxer, a circus performer, and a self defense trainer for Scotland Yard.
At the outbreak of WWI, Pilates was placed in an interment camp along with other “enemy alien” German nationals. It was during his internment that he refined his method by training other internees in his system of exercise. He even rigged springs to hospital beds allowing the wounded and bedridden to exercise. This innovation led to his later equipment designs such as the reformer and the cadillac. When the war ended, Joe returned to Germany where his method gained favor with the dance community. It was when German officials asked him to teach his system to the army that Joe Pilates left Germany for good.
Joe then voyaged to America, meeting his wife Clara along the way. Together they opened a fitness studio in New York City. His method became very popular with the NYC Ballet and the dance community. He continued to teach clients at his studio until his death at age 87.
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities of the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.” Joseph Pilates
When practiced regularly, Pilates can truly transform your body. It is a system of mind-body exercise using a floor mat or a variety of equipment which evolved from the principles of Joseph Pilates. It can dramatically change the way your body looks, feels, and performs. It teaches body awareness, good posture, and graceful movement. It improves flexibility, agility, and economy of motion. Quality of movement is stressed over quantity of movement. Proper body alignment is a key focus. Pilates builds strength without adding bulk and is capable of creating a sleek, toned body with a flat abdomen and slender thighs. Now, who wouldn’t want that? What are you waiting for? Give it a try today!