The mystery behind Pilates for most seems to begin with the name – Pilates. An actual person? Yes! Joseph Pilates simply applied his name to the fitness method he founded, (like so many others – Lotte Berk or Franklin Method, anyone?) yet most seem not to know that this is the case.
So how did it all begin? Joseph Pilates’ interest in health and movement does not at all seem to have bloomed from a dry field as his parents both practiced within those given fields – his father a prize-winning gymnast, his mother a naturopath. One of four children, born in 1880, he was plagued as a child by rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever. Pilates was determined to overcome these childhood ailments during his youth, and took on various physical regimens including body-building, gymnastics, skiing, and diving. If you can even believe it, by the time he reached age 14, Pilates was posing as a model for anatomy charts.
“Through the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning this unique trinity of a balanced body, mind, and spirit can ever be attained. Self confidence follows.” – Joseph Pilates
Joseph Pilates found some success as a boxer, diver, and skiier, a star circus performer, before eventually serving in World War I where he served as a nurse as well as teaching boxing and self defense. He later took these teachings and developed them into his renowned method known as “Contrology,” which emphasizes the mind’s control over the body – now, famously, known as “Pilates.”
In 1925, upon declining an invitation to officially join the German armed forces, Pilates moved to New York City. He quickly found a dedicated following from the physically elite – dancers, choreographers, athletes – who all appreciated his philosophy that “”the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneously zest and pleasure.”
Today, Pilates is world-renowned and embraced as the ultimate fitness method by everyone from dancers, athletes and celebrities to simply anyone seeking a mind-body connection. It is famed for producing long, lean and toned muscles, strength, flexibility and beyond. Pilates stands out and above the ever-revolving fitness fads, proving time and time again it’s physical, mental, and rehabilitative benefits.