WHO IS JOSEPH PILATES?
Pictured: Joseph Pilates with various students.
Joseph Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1880. He was a sickly child, plagued with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. His determination to overcome these ailments led to the practice of gymnastics, bodybuilding, diving and other physical pursuits. He studied Eastern and Western forms of exercise and was largely influenced by ancient Grecian and Roman regimens.
In 1912, Joseph Pilates traveled to England. When World War I broke out, Joseph was interned in a camp on the Isle of Mon, along with other German nationals. It was in the camp that Joseph began developing apparatus to aid in the rehabilitation of the disabled and sick. He is credited with assisting many who had succumbed to the influenza epidemic of that time and helping others recover from wartime illness. After the war, Joseph Pilates returned to Germany where he was invited by the German government to train the new German Army. Joseph did not accept. Instead he decided to migrate to America. On his journey to America he met his wife, Clara.
In 1926, Joseph and Clara Pilates set up the first Pilates studio in New York City. A diverse population frequented the studio, including the elite of New York society, circus performers, gymnasts and dancers. It was particularly the dance community who truly recognised the value of this work and Joseph Pilates' deep understanding of the human body. They embraced the work and what it could do for their bodies, be it for rehabilitation or for enhancing performance.
Over the course of his career, Joseph Pilates developed over 600 exercises for the various pieces of apparatus he invented. His guiding philosophy in creating the apparatus and the movements was that the "whole must be exercised to achieve good health”.
Joseph regarded his method, which he called Contrology, as a way of life and a path to total health rather than merely a series of exercises. Contrology, know today as Pilates, is a holistic approach and life long process, rather than only a physical fitness regimen.
This information has been adapted from BASI Pilates©.
Pictured: Joseph and Clara Pilates.
Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.