Pilates is a series of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1930’s for dancers and boxers in New York. The result is a low impact workout primarily focused on strengthening the deep abdominals and the back muscles while lengthening the muscles and increasing mobility (whilst retaining stability!) in the joints. Pilates is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness.
Pilates has been modified over the years to address physical problems brought about by today’s sedentary lifestyles.
Regular practitioners of Pilates claim to feel taller, stronger and more energised.
Joseph Pilates believed the modern lifestyle brought with it bad posture and breathing patterns and developed a series of conditioning exercises to counteract the affects of this detrimental lifestyle.
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany in 1880. Throughout his childhood he suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever that he overcame through the practice of gymnastics, diving, skiing and body building.Joseph traveled to England in 1912 and was interned on the Isle of Man during World War 1 with other German nationals. This is where he began to practice his exercise method to help rehabilitate the sick and injured. It is said to be a credit to him that no one in this camp succumbed to the influenza epidemic during this time.Joseph was invited to train the German army on his return to Germany after the war. He decided to leave for America instead, and on the journey over, met Clara, who later became his wife. Joseph and Clara moved to New York, where they set up their Pilates Studio in 1926. Many people frequented the studio, including dancers, gymnasts, circus performers and the elite of society. Ultimately however, it was the dance community that embraced his exercise method so openly, understanding the impact that it had on their bodies.
Pilates developed over 600 exercises on the various types of equipment that he invented. The machines use springs and pulleys to create resistance, stretching the body, while maintaining and encouraging a stable and aligned body.
At the age of 83 he died penniless while still trying to promote the benefits of his exercise system. Pilates has since been refined and adapted so that everybody can enjoy the benefits of Pilates. Joseph Pilate was a visionary, in his own words, “I am 50 years ahead of my time!”
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