The Pilates Method was developed
by Joseph H. Pilates in the 1920s. He was born
in Germany in 1880, and, as a frail and small
child, he gained a fascination with exercises
that would make him healthier, stronger and more
physically attractive, making him become an accomplished
gymnastic, skier, boxer and diver during his youth.
During World War I, Joseph was placed under forced
internment together with other German nationals
in England. During his internment, he taught fellow
camp members the concepts and exercises of his
"Contrology", or "Pilates
Method" as it is known nowadays,
which he developed after 20 years of self-study
and apprenticeship in Zen, Yoga, Roman and Ancient
Nevertheless, Modern Pilates has modified and
adapted many exercises to make Pilates more functional
for our lifestyles today.
or traditional Pilates Method consists of a series
of exercises on the floor on mats ("matwork"),
designed to improve flexibility and strength for
the total body without building bulk. It is
not just exercise, but a series of controlled
movements engaging your body and mind.
A few years later, Joseph Pilates
was transferred to another camp where he took
care of the internees suffering from wartime disease
and physical injury. It was at that point that
he started designing complex exercise apparatus
using springs from beds and rigging them together
to create spring resistance and movement for the
bedridden. With this equipment, he soon started
to rehabilitate injured war victims.
This new style of exercise and
specialized equipment formed the foundation of
his method of body conditioning, which, in 1926,
he brought to New York when he opened his first
studio together with his wife Clara, in the same
building as several dance studios and rehearsal
This proximity made Joseph´s "Contrology"
become an integral part of many dancers' training
and rehabilitation sessions. George Balanchine,
the famous choreographer, studied with Joseph
and recommended him to many of his dancers for
strengthening and "balancing" as well
as for rehabilitation, as did Martha Graham, another
famous dancer and choreographer.
Later on, other dance masters such as Jerome Robbins
became devoted to his method. The method also
gained immense popularity among professional dancers,
Broadway stars and movie celebrities (Ben
Affleck, Brad Pitt, Goldie Hawn, Mathew Broderick,
Jeniffer López, Liv Tailer, Bruce Willis,
Sylvester Stallone, Madonna, Demi Moore, Julia
Roberts, Juliette Binoche y Sally Field are only
a few of the famous Hollywood stars dedicated
to the method).
Currently, the Pilates Method is used internationally
by individuals at all levels of fitness as well
as by dance companies, Broadway shows, students
at performing arts schools and universities, sports
teams, spa clients, and fitness enthusiasts at
private health clubs and gyms.
The success of this method is due
to two main reasons: The Method has a COMPLETENESS
which other traditional systems lack, being anatomically-based,
addressing the bodys entire mechanics with
each exercise and focusing on CORPORAL RE-EDUCATION.
It also meets the recent trend towards more HOLISTIC
EXERCISE, offering psychological as well as
physical benefit, and developing mental as well
as physical fitness As Joseph quoted: It
is the mind itself which builds the body.
The Pilates Method is a physical
fitness system developed in the early 20th Century
by Joseph Pilates. It is based on a set of principles
and exercises engaging the mind (over 500 controlled
exercises) which work the whole body in balance,
coordinating the upper and lower musculature with
the body's center in order to re-align and strengthen
the full body, as well as toning muscles and balancing
muscular force at the joint level.
Joseph Pilates called the method The Art of
Contrology, which refers to the way the
method encourages the use of the mind to control
What makes the Method different
from other body conditioning systems is that it
takes a balanced approach so that no muscle group
is overworked and the body works as an efficient,
holistic system in sport and daily activity. Therefore,
Pilates is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility
training that improves posture, reduces stress
and creates long, lean muscles without muscular
Based on proper breathing, good posture and
intense concentration, the exercises are performed
on a mat or with specially designed equipment
and work several muscle groups simultaneously
through smooth, continuous motion and with a particular
concentration on strengthening and stabilizing
the core or "Power House" (the abdomen,
back and pelvic girdle region).
Focusing on breathing and support from deep within
the abdomen, the practitioner develops a new way
of standing and a more graceful way of moving
"flowing motion outward from a strong
As we've said, the regular practice
of the Method stretches and strengthens the muscles
uniformly resulting in long, sleek muscles rather
than muscular bulk. In addition, by learning the
proper stance and correct body alignment through
the practice of Pilates, one soon feels and looks
taller and leaner and, as the focus in Pilates
is on quality of movement rather than quantity,
a Pilates session makes one feel invigorated rather
As both a rehabilitation and
a wellness program, Pilates is a wonderful
complement to physical therapy, chiropractic,
massage therapy and many other therapeutic or
physical fitness systems.
Pilates exercises stimulate circulation
through facilitating muscular flexibility, joint
range of motion and proper musculoskeletal alignment.
In addition, the Method promotes new neuromuscular
patterns, heightened body awareness, and more
precise coordination which help prevent future
re-injury and reduce - even in some cases alleviate
- chronic pain altogether.
In particular, Pilates is used
to rehabilitate spine problems. The method
strengthens, lengthens, and balances spinal musculature,
thereby aligning and decompressing injured vertebrae
and helping to relieve nerve and disc pressure.
This decompression also facilitates and stimulates
healthy circulation to the damaged spinal tissue.
Furthermore, the pelvic and spinal stabilization
work also helps prepare the body for rehabilitation
of other weak or damaged areas more effectively.
The effects of practising the
Pilates Method start to be noticed in the short
term, there is no need to spend a long time
working out at the Gym. As Pilates stated:
"In ten sessions you will feel the difference,
in twenty sessions you will see the difference,
in thirty you'll have a whole new body."
Joseph H. Pilates.