Joseph Hubertus Pilates (Monchengladbach, December 9, 1883 – New York October 9, 1967), a German born U.S. citizen, entrepreneur and teacher, succeeded and reached fame thanks to the creation of Contrology. Contrology is a physical-mental training based on the control of the movement by the synergy between mind and body. This is the method that nowadays we call Pilates. He had a very slight physical build at the beginning of his career, like many others destined to succeed in physical performances. He started to devote himself to Body Building so hardly that, when he was just 14 years old, he was asked as a model for the realization of anatomical illustrations of human body. Anatomy and muscle development became his main points of interest and integrated parts of his boyhood.
In addition to these one, skiing, scuba diving and many other athletic disciplines captured his attention and interest during the years passed in Germany. In 1912 he moved to UK, where he became self-defense teacher for the local Police Academy, and in the meantime, he continued to cultivate interest for boxe and acrobatic. At the beginning of First World War, he was interned with other compatriots in Lancaster for one year. During this period his spirit was strong, and he started to arrange training, both personal and for his prison mates. In this way he enforced his health fundamentals and when, in 1918, an epidemic killed thousands of English people, everyone who had had physical training with him survived the killer flu. Later J.H. Pilates was moved on Man Island, where he found soldiers survived to the war but disabled by the injuries, debilitated by the diseases and paralyzed for long time. So, he decided to build machines useful to help in the rehabilitation therapy.
In the early ’20 he went back to Germany where he continued to project rehabilitation equipment’s, some of them still used nowadays. Later, his career brought him in Hamburg, where he worked in the local police as personal trainer not only for the recruits but for the entire Police unit. In this period, he met Rudolph Von Laban, rising star of ballet, that combined a part of Pilates’ work in his teaching. Pilates method was officially mixed with Dance, creating a union that still lasts today. In 1925 Pilates method teaching became important for German government, and he was invited to personally look after training program for German army. Pilates decided that it was time to leave Germany for U.S.A.
During his journey, he met a young nurse called Clara that will become his wife later. Arrived in New York, Pilates opened a studio where he started to codify his technique. The first part concerned only Mat Work, a series of floor exercises conducted on a mat. This program was codified in a book called Contrology, the original name coined by Pilates himself to define this technique. Anyway, the work wasn’t reduced to codifying the exercises but also extended to improve some equipments. During his imprisonment in UK, indeed, Pilates attached some springs to patients’ beds in order to help them to recover and maintain muscular tone during their convalescence. He died in the 60’s. Romana Kryzanowska, one of his apprentice and teacher of the method for years, took over his studio in New York.
Pilates method is based on six fundamentals: concentration, respiration, barycenter, control, precision and fluidity. It consists of a rich program of exercises that help to strengthen entire body muscles, starting from the ones of the deepest level of the trunk that provide stability and support to spinal column and to all the joints.
Exercises can be practiced both floor, on a math, and with equipment. So, Pilates is a training method thought to foster joints flexibility, fluidity movement and muscles stretching, using mind for the body control.
The main purpose is the strengthening of trunk, abdomen, gluteus, abductors and lumbar area muscles. This body portion is called Power House.
A certified Teacher guides you in the research of your own barycenter, the perception of pelvis stabilization, the reinforcement of your Power House and the posture improvement.
The Respiration, taught exercise by exercise, is always coordinated with movements and it is acquired with naturalness day by day.
Practicing Pilates is good not only for body remodeling but also for regain entire anatomic structure functionalities, according to your own state of health.
The correct practice of Pilates method enables to shape strong and harmonious body, to improve trunk resistance, stability and flexibility, to develop mind usage in muscles control, to teach breath awareness in coordination with movement, to facilitate correct posture and to help in rehabilitation processes.
Pilates method is one of a kind, thanks to its great versatility. Its benefits range from the physical well-being to the effective toning and the rehab. Pilates can be practiced by anyone who wants to keep fit in the best way, but it’s particularly suitable for: