What is Pilates

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A brief history

Pilates is a low impact workout suitable for all levels. The Pilates technique focuses on strengthening the core (abdominal muscles) and balancing the muscles to create better alignment. Often injury, pain or discomfort comes from imbalance and incorrect muscle strains and movement patterns. Pilates works towards creating a more harmonious relationship between the muscles and joints thus relieving a lot of general aches and pains. It tones and strengthens the body as a whole and is fantastic for getting back into shape or maintaining a healthy physique. Once you embark on the Pilates journey you will start to feel stronger, taller and more energised within a few sessions. Your body awareness increases and your posture improves leaving you feeling lighter and more confident.

Where did it originate?

Joseph H Pilates (originally from Germany) was the founder and creator of the Pilates method in the early 1900’s. In 1912 he was working for Scotland Yard as a self defence instructor. When World War 1 broke out they recognised him as one of the “good guys” and had to put him somewhere. He was interned with the other German nationals as an “enemy alien” in Lancaster. It was here that he began refining and teaching his exercises to the sick and injured rigging springs to hospital beds allowing the bed ridden patients to exercise with resistance. This was the innovator for the modern and beautifully made equipment we use today. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918 killing thousands of people and too his credit not one of Joe’s patients died.

After his release he returned to Germany briefly. When German officials asked him to teach his fitness system to the army he then decided to leave Germany for good. It was on a boat to America where he met his future wife Clara. Together they set up the first ever Pilates studio in New York in 1926. Many dancers, gymnasts and actors all regularly visited Joe and Clara for their workouts which was originally called “Contrology”. It was mainly favored by the dance world but grew over time to be popular with all walks of life and now is practiced by many people world wide.

At the age of 83 he died penniless while still trying to promote the benefits of his exercise system. He would be very pleased at the amount of people there are, that still to this day, carry out his work and at the wide variety of people that participate. Pilates has since been refined and adapted so that “everybody” can enjoy the benefits of Pilates.

He was a visionary ahead of his time. In his own words, “I am 50 years ahead of my time” and he was!
Joseph Pilates: 1883-1967

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