What is Pilates?
Joseph Pilates created his “Art of Contrology” in the early 1900’s in Germany and brought his system of exercise to New York City in the 1920’s.
Pilates, named for its master, is a system of exercises that seeks to develop core strength and stability and spinal health by integrating mat work with various pieces of apparatus designed with spring resistance. Guided by six fundamental principles – breath, concentration, control, centering, flow, and precision – the Pilates Method is most commonly seen in group mat classes or in private sessions with a certified Pilates instructor.
Pilates is an innovative and safe system of mind-body exercise using a floor mat or a variety of equipment. It can dramatically transform the way your body looks, feels and performs. Pilates builds strength without excess bulk, capable of creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen.
It is a safe, sensible exercise system that will help you look and feel your very best. It teaches body awareness, good posture and easy, graceful movement. Pilates also improves flexibility, agility and economy of motion. It can even help alleviate back pain.
No matter what your age or condition, it will work for you, but don’t just take our word for it. According to the SGMA, in the U.S. alone nearly nine million people participated in Pilates in 2009 – a staggering 456% increase from 2000.
Who was Joseph Pilates?
Joseph Pilates was born in a small village near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883. His father was a prize winning gymnast and his mother was a naturopath. In his early years, Joseph was interested in and influenced by both Western and Eastern forms of exercise, including yoga. He achieved some success as a boxer, a gymnast, a skier and a diver. During WW I, he taught wrestling and self defense.
Joseph came in contact with many soldiers who had suffered from various injuries during and following the war. He devised spring mechanisms attached to beds to aid in rehabilitation and so began the development of what we refer to today as the Cadillac. His system focused on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which support the spine. The central aim of Pilates is to create a fusion of mind and body so that movement is efficient, balanced and graceful.
Joe and his wife, Clara, opened a gym following their arrival in New York in 1926. The gym was located on Eighth Avenue in the same building as several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. Joseph began to work with the dancers, eventually including such luminaries as George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Jerome Robbins. Many of today’s Pilates teachers have a background in dance.