Pilates was created and named after it’s creator Joseph Hubertus Pilates. He was born in Germany in December 9, 1883. Pilates suffered from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever as a child so he became obsessed with restoring his health and body. By religiously practicing his method of fitness he overcame his frailty and became a pugilist, acrobat, skier, diver, yogi, martial arts, and body building.
In 1912 Pilates moved to England, but when World War I began in 1914 he was put into an Internment camp in Lancaster with all the other Germans. At this time he taught self defense classes and wrestling. He was later moved to the Isle of Man interment camp where he began to refine his mat work which will later become called “Contrology”. In this second internment camp Pilates cared for the sick inmates, many who were bedridden. This is when he began to attach handles and pulleys to the hospitals beds which allowed the patients to rehabilitate themselves and get well faster.
In 1918 the Spanish Flu epidemic hit the world. Tens of thousands on the Isle of Man died but none of Pilates followers died. The overseers of the camp compelled everyone to start following Pilates teachings.
At the end of the war Pilates returned to Germany and began working with rheumatism patients until 1925 when he visited the USA with boxing champion Max Schlemming. Schlemming to train him in the Pilates method. On this trip he met his wife Clara a nurse who became his life long love and professional partner. Soon after in 1926 Pilates arrived in New York and opened a gym at 939 Eight Avenue.
Moving forward Pilates created over 500 exercises which he called Contrology. Today we call it the Pilates method which consists of mat exercises and equipment based exercises performed on the reformer, cadillac (trapeze), ladder barrel, spine corrector, ped-o-pull, wunda chair, foot corrector, magic circle and the toe gizmo.
Pilates has blossomed into a thriving and innovative industry. There are many different derivatives on the original/classical Pilates exercises, but the main goal is really the same… to create pain free movement so that it’s practitioners can thrive throughout their whole life.
In the past 15 years Pilates has been on the rise and is now getting recognition with health care communities. More therapy offices are offering Pilates as a method of rehabilitation and professional athletes are seeing the results. The method has become more refined and continues to evolved. More men are opening up to the female dominated classes and finally seeing the benefits that it’s creator, a man lived his life by.
Now Pilates is beginning to embrace the online world!