Joseph H. Pilates was a sickly child. He suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. From an early age he studied movement and understood the need for the complete mastery and control of his body movement. By the age of 14, Pilates had rehabilitated his own body to the point that he was able to pose for anatomical charts.
In 1914, Joseph Pilates was interned in England and began developing his exercise system. He called his method “the Art of Contrology”. His unique approach used the mind to master the control of the muscles. During World War I he taught his method to fellow internees and successfully maintained their health through the deadly influenza epidemic of 1918.
During the latter part of the war, he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man, where he began rigging bed springs to assist the rehabilitation of no ambulatory patients. This system of exercises and the equipment he developed was the beginning of Pilates as we know it today. These spring-based exercises became the blueprint of our current Pilates apparatus Pilates would later design to be used in conjunction with the mat work. The mat work is the original movement system that Joseph Pilates created and is just as effective as the work done on the equipment and can be done anywhere anytime.
Joseph Pilates stated: “Physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mindfully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”
Overall, the Pilates Method of movement is a system of exercises is a system of exercises that are designed to build strength as it lengthens muscles. There is never any stress on the joints, through the muscles and joints are worked through their full range of motion. Each exercise focuses on relaxation, concentration, coordination, centering, alignment, breathing, stamina, and flowing movement.
Pilates believed that if practiced daily, a uniformly developed body would be achieved. This refers to when the smaller, intrinsic muscles are turned on and the dominant larger muscles become secondary muscles to create a balance of forces at the joint level. This allows the breath to pass through all the tissue without blockage and restores equilibrium and suppleness to the spine.
Its many benefits include:
– Increased lung capacity
– Strength and Flexibility (particularly the abdominals and the back muscles)
– Muscular and mental coordination
– Improved posture, balance, bone density, and joint health
– Better overall health & well being