The History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany.  He was a frail child but determined to  improve his physical condition.  Rather than let his physical fitness dictate to him, he worked hard at body building and conditioning.  By the age of 14 he was posing as a model for anatomical drawings.  He went on to become a keen sportsman in various fields, he was a gymnast, skier, diver, boxer, circus performer.  In 1992 he left Germany and came to England where he became a professional boxer and taught self defence to detectives at Scotland yard.  During the first world war Joseph Pilates was interned as a German National where he influenced his fellow internees and encouraged them to join him in his practicing his evolving techniques.  He claimed that it was this reason that insured none of the interns in his camp died in the influenza epidemic of 1918.

At some point during his internship he worked as a nurse where he experimented with the spring tension on hospital beds to create resistance which allowed the patients to move and strengthen their bodies even though they were bed ridden.  This is thought to be where he got his ideas for the equipment or apparatus he uses from.

He went back to Germany after the war and worked with most of the pioneers of movement techniques at the time one of them being Rudolf Laban, founder of the original Art of Movement Studio then, renamed after him the Laban Centre (now Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).  He was working as a trainer for the Hamburg police force and then left to move to New York with his wife Clara.

Pilates became popular with Dancers, who realised the rehabilitation process was quicker with Pilates exercises.  The Pilates method was bought to England by Alan Herdman in the 1970's who was taught at one of Joseph Pilates studios in New York.The method over the decades has been adapted for everyone to enjoy and benefit from.

Joseph Pilates was an inspirational man before his time and would be proud to see how his legacy has grown and is continuing to grow.

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