About the Pilates Method
The Pilates method is designed to bring the spine closer to how it was positioned at birth. To do this the exercises were conceived to uniformly develop the body by strengthening it from the center..
Pilates isn't just about "working out" it is about learning to be at home and connected with one's own body in order to have the energy and health to enjoy life and meet all of its demands each and every day.
By coordinating breathing with the execution of precise movements the entire body works together to tone and strengthen. The act of rolling and un-rolling the spine articulating each and every vertebra is an action unique to the Pilates method. This movement is meant to render the spine supple and pliable.
First and foremost performing the exercises requires significant concentration so that mind, body and spirit can work together as one. This level of acute concentration while moving increases one's awareness and can help lead to the simultaneous development of a healthy mind and body.
The Benefits of Pilates
The benefits of doing Pilates are numerous and significant thanks to the full-bodied nature of the method.
Regular practice of Pilates makes you makes you feel better because your posture, breathing, balance and circulation are all improved.Your muscles are strengthened and more toned thus better defining your silhouette. Looking better also makes you feel better as does the increased awareness of body and self that doing Pilates gives you.
When you do Pilates you feel more energetic and in the case of past injury or tension you also find that you are no longer living with pain. By regularly doing Pilates at any age you can prevent the onset at many of the aches and pains that plague people as they age.
After a Pilates lesson you feel invigorated, relaxed, full of energy,and satisfied with yourself for having completed a challenging full-body workout!
History of Pilates
Joseph Pilates was born in a small town near Dusseldorf, Germany in 1883. He was a small and sickly child who was often teased. As he grew older he took it upon himself to become strong and healthy. He was a gymnast, a boxer, and a diver. He observed the movement of animals in nature and devoured anatomy manuals.
Before World War I he spent time in England and ended up interned on the Isle of Man upon outbreak of the war. During the worldwide influenza outbreak he and all those interned with him survived and remained healthy thanks to his teaching of his exercise method. It was here that the basis of his method, Contrology, was developed and that Pilates began using springs (removed from beds!) as "extra muscles" to help bed-ridden patients exercise.
Pilates returned to Germany after the war and continued developing his method: training the Hamburg police in self-defense and in working with rheumatism patients. Before World War II, Pilates immigrated to the US. On the boat to New York City he met his future wife Clara who was a teacher suffering from arthritis, her work with Pilates during their journey cured her of pain.
In New York Pilates opened his "gym". It is there that he further developed his method and with Clara's assistance taught it to those who came to his studio. A relationship between Pilates and the dance community quickly emerged as Pilates rehabilitated injured dancers during a time when physical therapy did not yet exist. Contrology came to be used in dance companies as complementary training and still is today. Pilates is also widely used in physical therapy settings in the US and the UK in particular.
Joseph and Clara trained numerous clients who came through their studio, a handful of whom went on to teach the Pilates method themselves. This group of people, known as "The Elders", is credited with spreading the method throughout the world. It is one of these Elders, Romana Kryzanowska who took over the studio upon Clara's death in 1977.
Pilates lived a long and healthy life and died at age 84 in 1967 after respiratory complications resulting from his being trapped in a fire in his studio.
Why is it important to be physically active and healthy?
Joseph Pilates, Return to Life Through Contrology, 1945 Return to Life Through Contrology, 1945 :
With body, mind and spirit functioning perfectly as a coordinated whole, what else could reasonably be expected other than an active, alert, disciplined person? Moreover, such a body freed from nervous tension and over fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind that is always fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living. Personal problems are clearly thought out and calmly met.
Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.