(Joseph Pilates at age 57 & 82)
Top Benefits of Pilates
"In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you'll be on your way to having a whole new body."
"Physical fitness can neither be achieved through wishful thinking nor outright purchase."
"The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power."
"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness."
"Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty not only to attain it but to maintain it".
How Pilates Began
Joseph H. Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach, a small town near Duesseldorf, Germany, in 1880. Joseph's father was a prize-winning gymnast of Greek origin. His mother was German, a naturopath.
A family physician gave him a discarded anatomy book: "I learned every page, every part of the body; I would move each part as I memorized it. As a child, I would lie in the woods for hours, hiding and watching the animals move, how the mother taught the young." He studied both Eastern and Western forms of exercise including yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman regimens. By the time he was 14 he had developed his body to the point that he was modeling for anatomy charts!
Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an "enemy alien" with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe's trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system. 90 years later we still see the effectiveness of his system!
In 1926, Joe immigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. By the early 1960s, Joe and Clara could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine studied "at Joe's," as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.
"Pilates" was becoming popular outside of New York as well. As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, "in dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake."
The Pilates Studio on 8th Ave , NYC in 1945
What is Pilates?
The Pilates Method, or simply Pilates, ("Pih - LAH - Teez"), is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Pilates is very challenging yet extremely gentle on your joints. It creates a sleek body and a strong core and spine which can prevent injuries. It also dramatically improves your flexibility and posture.
Pilates is one of the most popular exercise systems in the country.
It seems like everyone is either doing Pilates, or interested in starting a Pilates exercise program. As of 2005 there are 11 million people who practice the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States. Indeed, one of the best things about the Pilates method is that it works so well for a wide range of people. Athletes and dancers love it, as do seniors, women rebounding from pregnancy, and people who are at various stages of physical rehabilitation.
The top benefits people report from doing Pilates exercises are that they become stronger, longer, leaner and more able to do anything with grace and ease.