Pilates is an exercise system that works with and for your body, whether you are in top shape, just starting a workout routine, or have physical therapy needs. It works equally well for women and men.
This body conditioning method, developed by Joseph Pilates, combines strengthening and lengthening of the body and tones the muscles without building bulk. It emphasizes the flow of movement, centering, concentration, control, precision and proper breathing. The results are increased strength of the “Powerhouse” (abdomen, lower back, inner/outer thighs and buttocks), flexibility, balance and improved posture. In addition the Pilates system unites mind and body by developing your awareness of muscle function and control.
Joseph H. Pilates was born in 1880 in Mönchengladbach, Germany to a Greek father and a German mother. Frail and sickly he became interested in physical fitness in order to improve his health and body strength at a very young age.
Joe Pilates studied body-building, yoga and gymnastics and improved his health enough by the age of 14 that he posed as a model for anatomical charts. He became a gymnast, diver and bodybuilder, and after moving to England in 1912 he also worked as a boxer, circus performer and self-defense-trainer for Scotland Yard. During World War I he was interned as a German National and in the camps he began to develop his concept of a physical exercise system which he called “Contrology.” He started to use bedsprings and other available material to help increase the results he was looking for. He worked out his ideas using his fellow inmates as his subjects, and it is said that all of them survived the flu pandemic of 1918 due to their excellent physical condition.
After the war he returned to Hamburg, Germany where he trained police officers, but he moved to the US in 1926 after being asked to train the German Army, an offer which he declined. On the boat to America he met his future wife Clara, with whom he opened a studio in New York City. They taught devout followers from all walks of life, including dancers and performing artists.
Joseph Pilates kept developing his vast variety of exercises and apparatus and registered many patents. He died in 1967 from the aftermath of smoke inhalation that he suffered during a fire in his studio. Clara continued to run the studio until her death in 1977.