Pilates is an exercising method developed by Joseph Pilates in order to strengthen the muscles, increase the flexibility and improve the health of the body in general. Exercises are done on mats or with the help of specially designed equipment. The pilates method includes suitable exercises for different activities to train all parts of the body. Pilates, which came up at the beginning of the 20th century, was a method ahead of its time and attracted great attention of the modern people of the 21th century. Today in the Unites States, approximately 10 millions of people are practising pilates and this number is increasing each year.
WHY HAVE PILATES BECOME SO POPULAR?
The main purpose of pilates exercises is to establish the integrity of body and mind. During each exercise, the focus is on breathing and the correct performance of the movements for an effective workout. Pilates reduces stress by empowering the core of the body and increasing balance and coordination. Exercises are suitable for all ages since they are performed safely and in a controlled manner. Pilates makes us know our body better and we can feel its benefits in our daily lives as well. Today pilates is used to improve everybody’s health; from people who have various complaints/disorders to professional sportsmen, at fitness clubs, private studios, rehabilitation centers and hospitals. Pilates keeps facilitating the movement ability of people regarding their needs as the number of participants get more and more each day.
HISTORY OF PILATES
Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany in the 1880s. He suffered rheumatic fever, asthma and rickets in his childhood and he had breathing problems. In order to improve his health, he started to follow a new approach to empower his body and mind. While striving to reach this aim, he discovered yoga and zen meditation as well as dealing with boxing, gymnastics, wrestling and fencing. At the begininning of the 20th century, Germany had all the necessary facilities for these discoveries; many physiologists, dancers and kinesiologists were carrying out their studies there. When the World War I started, Joe was in England as a boxer. During the war, he was taken into custody at an internment camp near Lanchester and was kept there throughout the war. He trained the exiles every day as long as he stayed at the camp. According to what Joe told, during the flu epidemic between 1918-1919, nobody who attended his exercising programme and followed his regime was influenced by this epidemic process.
The camp manager who recognized Joe’s success, appointed him to the hospital in Isle Of Man. He trained 30 patients in his care every day. Those days were the beginning period of the western medicine and there were almost no remedies for the patients except for morphine and performing operations. The patients attending Joe’s exercising program began to make progress and recover in a short time; moreover, they did not get sick due to any epidemics which caused many deaths. Joe created his first exercising equipment after a systematic effort; it was difficult to train 30 patients every day so he installed springs on the bedridden patients’ beds and created the first cadillac so that his patients started to exercise by themselves under his supervision. Returning to Germany after the camp period, Joe began to give trainings to the police forces of the Nazi Germany. However he was not happy with working with the Nazis and he decided to go to the United States by sea and he met his future wife Clara during this journey. Clara was a nurse and she was the correct partner for him as she worked with him at the studio every day and she was helping him with the training of the patients he did not want to train.
When they moved to New York in 1926, they hired a flat at a building at the 8th Avenue, where the New York City Ballet also was a tenant, and they opened up their first pilates studio and began to carry out the method Joe called contrology. Joe cared for his patients throughout his life but drew great attention by healing Ted Shawn, Ruth St. Denis, George Balanchine and many other injured dancers who work in the dance community. Joe was an inventor who perpetually tried to develop new exercising equipment. He designed the Reformer, Wunda Chair, Cadillac, Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector and many other perfect equipment. Later on, he modified these equipment which he had designed for himself at first. Most of the equipment Joe designed are still in good condition and can be used. Joe managed to make his body-mind integrity oriented method known on a large scale from military trainings to primary schools.