«True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.»
Pilates is a holistic method of exercise that promotes the strength, flexibility and structural balance of the body. Two important components of this form of training are a specific breathing technique and deliberate sequences of movement. Pilates is perfect for use as a holistic training programme, but it also works as an ideal complement to other forms of sport, or as part of a rehabilitation programme. Pilates is carried out as a floor-training exercise and using special items of equipment developed by Joseph Pilates.
Training takes place at different levels of difficulty and has been designed to suit all levels. Ordinary lay people, dancers and sports people are all supported and encouraged individually.
Regular training increases the power, flexibility and balance of the body. The core muscles, especially the deep abdominal and back musculature, are targeted and strengthened. Precisely executed exercises and conscious breathing movements improve the concentration and the balance between body and soul. This method also affects the body’s erectness and posture in a sustainably positive manner – it can even optimise bone density and the mobility of the joints.
Joseph H. Pilates was born in Mönchengladbach near Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1883.
From 1912, “Joe“ Pilates lived in England where he is supposed to have performed as an actor and boxer. In 1914, during the First World War, he and many other German people were interned. He began to teach his exercise programme to his fellow captives during this period. Today’s “mat work” (floor exercises) originate from this time. He called his system of exercises “Contrology”. His fitness programme is said to have been so successful that none of his protégées were affected by the Spanish flu, which took the lives of thousands of people in 1918. Later, he was moved to a different camp, where he worked in the infirmary. The injured and sick from the camp were his “first patients”. It is said that Joe Pilates experimented with bedsprings there in order to create exercises involving reaction. In 1919, after the end of the war, Joe returned to Germany and developed his programme of exercises still further. He worked with clients and taught self-defence and endurance training with the police.
In 1926, Joe Pilates emigrated to America. During the course of the journey, he met his future life partner, Clara, who was a nurse. They settled together in New York, where they opened their first studio in 1929, at 939 Eighth Avenue – a city quarter they shared with the New York City Ballet.