Let’s put the ‘J’ into Pilates…

Lockdown got you thinking? Well it got me thinking maybe you could learn a little bit about where Pilates came from…

We show up, we do the exercises but how much do you actually know?

Did you know that the name Pilates actually came from the inventor himself, Joseph Pilates? Or that he originally called his method ‘Contrology’? and that the Cadiallac (no, not the car), came from his time where he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man, where he helped patients regain strength by adding springs to their beds? No… pretty snazzy though.

Pilates was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883 and so stories say, he was a fragile child suffering not only with asthma but also rickets and rheumatic fever. He was given a short life expectancy yet through his determination to prove everyone wrong he lived to the grand age of 84 (I’ll take that!) an became a physical beacon of health and movement.

Due to his ill health, Pilates tried different disciplines to help build up his strength. He studied martial arts, yoga, dance, self-defence, gymnastics, circus training and weight training. Through this it allowed him to filter out the best practices for his own body and allow him to gain in strength and flexibility. Maybe knowing this now you can see some of these elements in your own practice today?

After serving as an orderly on the Ilse of Man he emigrated to America where he met his wife Carla. Sharing the same passions for fitness they set up their own studio in New York and this is where the magic ignited.

The studio started off male dominated… hard to believe that now when you look around the room, although I do believe men are making a comeback! It was a place of exploration and learning, talking and discovering. Back then many ballet dancers would seek out Pilates for rehab, now dancers and sportsman have Pilates as an integral part of their training, not surprising really.

Pilates always thought that his work would become larger than life and he wasn’t wrong. Pilates today dominates gyms, private studios and even more so today our homes (can’t leave them!). It teaches us not only about how to our build our body strength but how to use our coordination, mind and body to make seamless and controlled movement, not only in the studio but in life.

“Pilates is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” J. Pilates

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