Physical conditioning that strengthens and tones muscles that other sports don’t touch.
Pilates improves functional stability and control with the aim of lengthening tight muscles and
strengthening weakened muscles whilst locating and toning muscles you probably never knew about. Regular Pilates results in a properly balanced body, with better joint mobility, a firm musculature and a natural ‘corset’ posture. Most other sports simply exercise the body’s stronger outer muscles.
Boxing coach Joseph Pilates opened a “body-conditioning gym” in New York in 1926 to teach people how to achieve strength through better body control, a technique he called ‘controlology’.
German born Joseph Pilates was a poorly child who set out to make himself strong and healthy. He studied anatomy and animal movements; he researched and practised every kind of exercise he could, ranging from Roman and Greek exercise regimes to body-building and gymnastics; he learnt Eastern disciplines of yoga, tai chi, martial arts and Zen meditation; he was the first influencer to combine Western and Eastern ideas about health, wellness and physical fitness and identified the power of mindfulness 100 years before it became fashionable!
Joseph embraced as many disciplines as he could whilst developing his methodology; he became a professional boxer, an expert skier and diver, taught self-defence to detectives and found work as a circus acrobat. During the first world war he worked as a nurse which inspired him to experiment further; by attaching springs to hospital beds his patients were able to tone their muscles whilst bedbound! Here in you find the origins of the first Pilates machines, which were shaped like a sliding bed
and used springs as resistance.
Following the war Joseph worked with pioneers of movement technique such as Rudolph Laban, still renowned today as a founder of modern dance techniques, he then travelled on to the US where he put his research into practice. His new method of exercise was an instant success, particularly among dancers who found the ‘controlology’ method the best way both to recover from injuries and to prevent their recurrence. As a wider audience got to learn of the phenomenon that embraced a mental as well as a physical conditioning his technique became known as Pilates and today is championed by elite sports professionals, David Beckham credits Pilates with improving and strengthening his own body and is a regular practitioner, as well as many others. Alan Herdman established Britain’s first Pilates studio in London in 1970.