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What is Pilates?

“Physical fitness is the first requisite to happiness”
    Joseph Pilates

Pilates is a system of physical and mental conditioning developed by Joseph Hubertus Pilates. It utilizes the mind-body connection and challenges the body to work in optimum movement patterns thereby correcting body alignment, posture and balance. The 6 Pilates principles;  Centering, Control, Concentration, Breath, Precision and flowing Movement permeate all exercises and guide the body to work with optimum efficiency. The great diversity of exercises on the mat and equipment add variety in each workout and allows Pilates to be practiced by anyone and everyone.

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. He was a sickly child, suffering from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. In an attempt to overcome his ill health, Joseph Pilates traveled widely to seek out different forms of exercise to condition his body and improve his health.

Due to his German National status, Joseph Pilates was interned in a camp on the Isle of Man (England) on the eve of WWI in 1912. It was here that he began to develop his physical fitness program and began devising apparatus to aid in the rehabilitation of the disabled and sick. After the war, Joseph Pilates returned to Germany. His success in rehabilitation and physical conditioning stimulated interest in the German Government who invited Joseph Pilates to train the new army. Recognizing the implications of this, Joseph Pilates decided to leave Germany and travel to America.

During his journey to America, Pilates met Clara, who later became his wife and helped him further develop and promote his system of physical conditioning. In 1926 Joseph Pilates’ first studio was set up in New York. The studio became popular amongst the Dance community who witnessed the positive effects the Pilates method had on their training and rehabilitation of injuries. Over the course of his career Joseph Pilates developed more than 600 exercises for the various pieces of apparatus (reformer, cadillac, tower, chair,….) he devised.

Throughout his career, Joseph Pilates wrote 2 books on his exercise system; “Return to life through Contrology” and “Your Health”, and trained select individuals to carry on his work (including Romana Kryzanowska, Eve Gentry, Ron Fletcher, Carola Trier, Mary Bowen, Kathy Grant, Lolita San Miguel and Jay Grimes). The Pilates method is now practiced in many countries in the world. It continues to have a profound impact due to its mind-body-spirit connection as well as its numerous benefits including: increased body awareness, coordination, a fitter leaner physique, spinal flexibility, improved posture and strengthened abdominals.