The name 'Pilates' originates with the name of its creator, Joseph Pilates. Born in Germany in 1880, Joe was a sickly child riddled with rickets (Vitamin D deficiency), asthma and rheumatic fever. Thus he was determined to overcome his frailty and over many years of study and refinement developed a system which he coined "Contrology". At the heart of his creation is an amalgamation of eastern and western disciplines and influences of Greek and Roman philosophies of mental and physical perfection.
THE FIRST CHAPTER
At the onset of WW1, Pilates was residing in England and was interned with other Germans. Here he taught self defense and wrestling, inspiring and encouraging others to participate in physical activity on a regular basis. The blueprints of the reformer were developed here: taking bed springs and attaching them to the ceiling, Pilates created a unique exercise system for the non-ambulatory. He was then moved off to the Isle of Man where he worked with sickly and bed ridden internees. It is said that when the flu epidemic descended upon the world, Pilates' devotees where left untouched. An amazing feat - if true - considering that the war camps were the most vulnerable at that time in history.
Pilates returned to whence he came and started a new chapter in his life working as a fitness trainer for the Hamburg Military Police. He also took interest in holistic medicine, breath work and meditation among other things. It was at this time that he made connections to the modern dance world where his work was highly respected and influential (and continues to be). Did you know that most Pilates instructors have dance backgrounds? I do!