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Pilates has an interesting background. Here’s a potted history …

History Of Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf in 1880. He was a weak and sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Wanting to improve his health he studied anatomy and a variety of different exercise regimes including boxing, gymnastics, yoga, thai chi, weight training and dance. He chose aspects of each to develop his own body and by the age of 14 he was modelling for anatomy charts.

By mixing the various exercise regimes and selecting the most effective features, Pilates was able to work out an exercise system that had the perfect balance of strength and flexibility. He began to teach his technique to others calling it “controlology”. It was only later that it was renamed Pilates.

During the First World War Joseph Pilates was interned in the Isle of Man. While there he took responsibility for the health of the other interns and began training them with his fitness regime. During this time there was an influenza epidemic and while other camps suffered massive fatalities, Josephs camp suffered none.

In 1926 he went to New York where he set up his first exercise studio teaching Pilates. He achieved a reputation for his exercise regime amongst the dance community and by the early 1960’s many of New York’s finest dancers were amongst his clients.

When he died in 1967 his wife Clara continued to run his New York studio and trained a number of aspiring teachers who passed on the technique and added their own versions of his method.

Joseph Pilates criticised a pressurized pace of life which he believed was responsible for people’s physical and mental problems. He was extremely aware of the connection between the structure of the body and its internal organs. He wanted his system of exercise to educate people about their bodies, how they worked and also to combat the effects of modern living so that our bodies become not only stronger and lengthened but that we regain control over our movements.