The Pilates method practised by so many of us now in so many towns, counties and throughout the world all origionated because of one determined and special man, Joseph Pilates. Mr Pilates himself was in fact German and born in 1880, into a woking class famly in Dusseldorf. There is little known about his family and childhood except for the fact he was a sickly child and reprted to have suffered from rickets, ashma and reumatic fever but by the age of 14 he managed to re-build his body enough to pose for anatomical drawings.
Joseph used the influence of a new awareness of health and exercise of the time to explore the physical effects of strength and gymnastic training on the body and mind. He devised through his own transformation his method of mind/body training. He came to England in his 30’s and worked as a circus performer and a boxer amongst other things, one of those being a fitness teacher to detectives in the Police force.
When war broke out he was interned but continued to expand his knowledge and fitness methods, practising on other internees. And during this time he designed the “reformer’. A machine to be used as a help to strenghten muscles with the use of pulleys and springs, helping work with assistance or resistance and this machine is very much a part of the pilates studio world now and a brilliant aid to body fitness and alignment.
Mr Pilates was convinced there was a connection between poor posture, sedantry lifestyles and ill health, and studied many forms of exercise and fitness such as yoga, bodybuilding and even acrobatics to use as a whole body exercise experience. The need to engage mind and body and use flowing movements and slower fewer repetitions can help you contol your body. Used correctly and regularly it helps to re-align, reshape and repair bad posture, weak muscles restore a balanced and stronger body.
The most common phrase I hear when new clients either come to watch classes or when they watch me teaching them basic exercises in assessments is “oh you made that look so easy………..and it’s not is it!!” No it’s not, I have been doing Pilates for 20 years and teaching for 10 and I still find certain things challenging. Yes, injuries can make things difficult but with the right kind or re-conditioning at class or in a one to one session you can start to help make the changes you need in your body to get back to your best “you” physically. No, it will not happen over night and you will have to work hard for it but with the right kind of direction from your Pilates instructor and a willingness to see it through then anything is possible. Mr Pilates proved that in his own body and in all his students. Photographs of his students before and after his teaching really do show incredible results in body alignmnent and muscle definition and strength.
Mr Pilates was certainly an inspitation to me and all my fellow instructors, and now to my clients too. An inspiration to want to do better, to re-align, reshape and repair my body, and to keep going because even when I have made one target I know there will always be more challenges so i can set new targets.
Sadly Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967 from smoke inhalation whilst trying to save some of his studion equipment in a fire. He was 87 and in great physical shape and I see no reason to believe he would not have gone on many many years more. I have clients in the 70’s and 80’s who are amazing and have really increased their movement and strength as a result of their Pilates. It is an exercise regime for all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels. Joseph Pilates was a true inspiration. Come and join me at a class or have a one to one and be inspired too.