What is Pilates?
Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s. Joseph Pilates was born in 1881 in Germany and as a child was reported to have suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Determined to improve his own health he became interested in physical fitness and dabbled in yoga, martial arts, boxing and gymnastics.
He moved to England before World War 1, but when the war broke out he was interned as an enemy alien. He was sent to work in hospitals as a nurse orderly. During this time, he used bedsprings to help injured soldiers exercise and rehabilitate. This was quite revolutionary, as bed rest and subsequent muscle atrophy were the common practice of the day.
After the war, Joseph emigrated to the USA. Together with his wife Clara, whom he met on the ship, he opened an exercise studio in New York. Here, he perfected his technique and called it “contrology”. Equipment using spring loaded resistance was developed and used to exercise the mind and body in harmony. It gained a great following in the ballet world.