Pilates, the generic term given to the physical exercise system that strengthens the body as a whole, comes from the inventor’s name: Joseph Pilates. Born in Germany in 1880, influenced by his poor health, he was interested in the human body and methods of improving physical condition. The desire to become stronger led him to study anatomy, bodybuilding, yoga, gymnastics, martial arts and the behavior and movements of animals including cats from which he “borrowed” some of the movements.
Convinced that physical and mental health are in close interdependence, he has managed to create a series of exercises to improve posture, coordination, balance, physical and mental strength, flexibility, breathing and organ functionality, as well as a variety of equipment with arcs of resistance specially designed for these exercises. The most effective and popular is the Reformer or Universal Reformer, designed to effectively reshape the body.
The first Pilates Studio in the world
Many of the ideas came to Joseph Pilates during the First World War while working as a nurse. Thanks to the resistance-based exercises invented by him and reunited under the name of Contrology, the wounded were able to stand up and move on their own.
In 1926, Joseph Pilates and Clara, his wife, opened the first pilates studio in New York, attended by the elite of society, but also by circus artists, gymnasts and dancers who recognized the value of Joseph Pilates’ work based on a deep understanding of how the human body moves. They were the first to embrace this method and what it could do for their bodies, either for recovery after injuries or for increasing performance.
Throughout his career, Joseph Pilates has developed over 600 exercises for mattress and apparatus. The main idea on which it is based is that the whole should be trained so that the pieces to be healthy.
Pilates exercises have been created to train the entire body, using positions and movements that correct the body’s posture and balance it. For example, certain movements generate eccentric and concentric muscle contractions, stimulating functional muscular activity, while other stabilizing muscles are used isometrically to maintain correct posture and alignment.
Today, more than 25 million people practice this form of exercise: intense but gentle exercises with joints that require absolute control of the abdominal muscles and the sense of balance, continuously coordinated with breathing.