Balance From Within
"If, at the age of 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old.
If, at 60, you are supple and strong, then you are young"
Originally known as Contrology, Pilates is an exercise system that was created by Joseph Pilates in 1926.
Pilates was born in 1883 in Germany. His father was a gymnast and his mother, a naturopath, who believed in stimulating the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.
As a child, Pilates struggled with his health, affected by Asthma, Ricketts and Rheumatic Fever and being determined to overcome his physical disadvantages, went on to dedicate his life to improving his health and strength and that of others.
The study of breathing techniques improved his Asthma, he studied body building, yoga, martial arts and the natural movements of animals. The influence of these activities can be seen in Pilates exercises today.
By 1912, Pilates was boxing and a self defence trainer for Scotland Yard.
During WW1, he was interned in a British Enemy Citizen Camp, where he worked as a hospital orderly. He worked with injured soldiers, devising daily exercises to maintain their physical and mental well being. For the bed-ridden soldiers, he used springs from the beds as resistance training, and it was these early ideas that became the forerunners of the spring based exercise machines we know today.
Returning to Germany after the war, Pilates worked with experts in the field of dance and trained Police officers.
During his passage to the USA, he met his wife to be - Clara who was a nurse. Together in 1926,they founded their studio in New York, in close proximity to the dance studios. Well into the 1960's, this exercise system was the secret domain of dancers, actors and performers who valued and depended on it for the strength and grace it developed, as well as it's rehabilitative effects.
In 1967, Joseph Pilates passed away at the age of 83years, having maintained his incredible physique through his life. Through the work of his apprentices, his legacy continued.
Eventually, exercise science caught up with the Pilates method in the '80's and the health benefits became widely recognised. Pilates went mainstream and global. It continues to thrive and has evolved to incorporate the latest medical and sports health related research.
Joseph's principles, although never formally documented, were clear through his teaching and were clearly ahead of their time. These principles of breath, alignment, centre, focus, precision and flow have carried through the years and seem ever more relevant in the busy, modern world in which we live today.