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Pilates History

Pilates is a safe and smart system of physical exercise developed in the early 20th century by a young German called Joseph Pilates. Joseph was fascinated by the human body from an early age and he spent his youth training as a gymnast, diver and bodybuilder. With the grumbling of impending war, he left Germany in 1912 and moved to England where he earned his living as a professional boxer, circus-performer and self-defense trainer at Scotland Yard.  When World War 1 broke out, he was an enemy alien and forced to live in an internment camp on the Isle of Man. Never one to sit idle, he started training his fellow Germans with great vigor and helped rehabilitate sick and injured POW’s.

Joseph was considered a man ahead of his time. He designed his own “apparatus” (todays Pilates studio equipment) to help accelerate the process of stretching, improving body alignment and general strengthening. He called his method of exercise “Contrology” as it was the art of controlled movements that led to an improvement in overall health and wellbeing. In the early 1920’s Joseph migrated to New York and on the voyage, he met his future wife Clara, a nurse. Clara was instrumental in helping him improve and grow the Contrology method. He set up his first studio opposite the New York City Ballet and became well known for his exercise regimes which helped dancers overcome their injuries. Joseph kept teaching until his death in 1967 age 83. His beloved Clara continued teaching his method and passed it on to a handful of trusted students. These students became known as The Elders and together they ensured his methods were kept alive. Over time, the Contrology method became known as Pilates.

Pilates improves body awareness, efficiency of movement, agility and flexibility. It builds strength and develops control and endurance for the whole body. It works the body as a unit and improves alignment, breathing, core strength, coordination and balance. Pilates exercises are suitable for everyone as they can be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced.