Pilates is a method which is more than one hundred years old and its growing popularity proves best that it meets expectations and satisfies the human body's needs.
Its creator, Joseph Pilates, was born in 1883 near Düsseldorf. He was an unhealthy child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic ailments. Thanks to his determination and good role models – his father was a gymnast – he was not only able to overcome his physical limitations but also to create an innovative method for physical fitness improvement.
In his youth, Joseph Pilates lived in England, working as a circus artist, boxer and self-defence trainer. During the First World War, Joseph was interned along with some other German citizens. He used the period of captivity to develop his method of working with the body, teaching it to his fellow prisoners, too. At the end of the war, he worked as a medical orderly in a hospital on the island of Man where he was taking care of patients unable to walk. It seems that that was the time when he attached springs to hospital bed frames and so developed a unique device which has been known as cadillac and used until today by the enthusiasts of his method.
Then Pilates emigrated to the United States where, at the beginning of the 1920s, he and his wife Clare developed a method – which they called “Contrology” – and taught it in their studio in New York. It accommodated unique devices designed by Joseph Pilates – cadillac, reformer, barrel and wunda chair. This place quickly became known and popular especially among dancers as news spread that training at Joseph’s and Clare’s both helped improve the dancing technique and recover after injuries. Clients of the Pilates included such dance legends as George Balanchine and Martha Graham.
What is interesting, originally, most of Joseph and Clare’s clients were men.
Joseph Pilates is the author of two brochures – the first, entitled “Your Health” was published in 1932, followed by “Return to Life Through Contrology” published in 1945. Thanks to these works and also to the Joseph and Clare’s students, this method has been preserved and - being modified to a certain extent - it has been increasingly popular all over the world.
Joseph Pilates called his method Contrology. It was only after his death that it became known as the Pilates method or simply Pilates.
Even though Joseph has been the inventor and face of the method, as reported by persons who were trainees in the first Pilates studio in New York, it was actually Clare, his wife, who was a better teacher and who developed the approach, so characteristic of this method, which consisted in customising exercises to the needs of individual people.
The Pilates method is founded on six basic rules. These original principles are concentration, control, center, flow, precision and breathing.
The Pilates method gradually evolved over the years, influenced both by the growing knowledge about human anatomy and by the changing human lifestyle and the new challenges which that change brought for our locomotor system. Today Pilates is exercised by people all over the world and it is gaining popularity due to its effectiveness and immense possibilities to adapt the programme of exercises to the needs of a specific person, a specific body.
What distinguishes Pilates among other forms of activity is the focus on the activation of deep muscles which stabilise the body. These are the muscles which keep our spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle in proper alignment; they are what keeps our joints stable and able to move in full and healthy ranges. When deep muscles do not work properly, their functions are taken over by superficial muscles, which makes them become overloaded and excessively tensed. The pain appears.
It is the precision, one of the key five Pilates rules, which allows deep muscles to be activated. By making precise and conscious movements in combination with fluent breath, one can feel the difference between the correct and the compensatory movement pattern. Regular trainings will make your body move healthier and fuller, simply in a correct way, not only in a Pilates studio but also in everyday life. It will begin to change.
If you wonder whether Pilates is a training method for you, the answer is simple: yes, absolutely. Pilates is the right method for everyone: the young and the little less young, the fit and the sedentary (especially for them!), for athletes whom it helps to achieve better results and for persons prejudiced to physical activity.
Pilates will help you recover from injuries and prevent further ones from happening. By practising Pilates on a regular basis, you will feel better in your own body, you will get rid of bad movement patterns and the pain caused by them; you will become stronger and more flexible. Your body will work in the way it has been designed to work; it will move effectively and beautifully. Pilates is a promise fulfilled!
“In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body”.
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