Pilates Biography

“The attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind, fully capable of naturally performing our many daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”

Joseph H. Pilates was born in Munchengladbach in Germany, in 1880. Both of his parents were creatures of the physical. His father was a gymnast, his mother a naturopath. So it is no surprise that Pilate made physical health his lifelong obsession. Pilates was also a sickly child who, through his efforts cured his own asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He put his whole life force into improving his physical strength.

Joe Pilates began by studying bodybuilding, gymnastics and yoga. He was posing for anatomical charts by the age of 14. Having overcome his own genetic weaknesses he spent the rest of his life fighting the exogenetic effects of modern lifestyles. He was convinced that poor posture and inefficient breathing was the root cause of poor health for most people. He ultimately devised a complete physical workout routine. He engineered all the specialized equipment; specifications and tuning required teaching his methodology properly.

In 1912 Pilates moved to England and worked in a circus and as boxer and fitness instructor. He was imprisoned in a British prisoner of war camp during the first world war. Of course he kept himself and his fellow internees fit during his time in the camp on the Isle of Man. Here the Pilate’s regime and philosophy really began to take shape.

Eight years after the war Pilates migrated to America. On the ship he met his future wife Clara. They founded an early fitness studio in New York and began a lifetime of fitness instruction and supervision. He called his method “contrology” because it was about leading the mind to control muscles. It places the core torso muscles that help keep the human body centered and balanced, at the center of lifestyle. Giving support to the spine is the key. In particular, Pilates taught awareness of breathing and of alignment of the spine, and strengthening the deep torso and abdominal muscles.

Joseph and Clara Pilates soon had a good living and an established clientele that swore by the methods. Pilates wrote several books including “Your Health” and “Return To Life Through Contrology”.

According to devotees, the central aim of Pilates is to create a unity of mind and body, so that without thinking about it the body will move with economy, grace, and balance. The objective is to produce an unconscious union of mind and body. Practitioners believe in using one’s body to the greatest advantage, making the most of its strengths, counteracting its weaknesses, and correcting its imbalances. It has to be an individual tailored program. The method requires that one constantly pay attention to one’s body while doing the movements. Paying attention to movement is seen as so vital that it is considered more important than any other single aspect of the movements.

Joseph Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 87 in New York.

Source by Wendy Pan

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