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Pilates - a brief history

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ExploreYogaPilates Joe Pilates

Pilates is a series of flowing exercise movements either done on a mat or on studio equipment. It focuses on articulation of the spine with abdominal initiation and control. Attention is paid to alignment, precision and breath resulting in increased strength, flexibility and well-being of the mind and body. Co-ordination is challenged and clients will feel taller, more open, with improved posture and muscle balance, more able to focus and concentrate, along with a feeling of creating length and space within the body.

Jospeh Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany and came to England in 1912 to further his training as a boxer. When World War l broke out, he was interned in the Isle of Man. Joe (as he was known), had already established his exercise regime and apart from boxing, was a self-defence teacher, a gymnast and a circus performer. Whilst looking after prisoners of war in hospital, he came up with the idea of attaching springs to the hospital beds so patients could exercise to rehabilitate. During a very serious outbreak of influenza, thousands died, however the group under his exercise regime and guidance were the only ones not to catch the virus.

After the war was over, he returned to Germany and then in 1926, departed for New York. On his journey over, he met his second wife, Clara. They set up a fitness studio on Eighth Avenue, near the New York City Ballet and quickly built a reputation of helping dancers recover from injury using equipment Joe had made himself. He was extremely interested in movement, correcting muscle imbalances and improving posture and was known to handle his clients quite firmly, whereas Clara, dressed in her white coat (Joe wore very short pants!) was more gentle, laying her hands softly on areas of the body to ‘guide’ the client.

ExploreYogaPilates Pilates QuoteJoe died in 1967 at the age of 87. His wife continued with the studio until her death in 1977. Many Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates in the late 80’s at Ron Fletcher’s studio in Beverly Hills and slowly but surely through the media, the physical and mental benefits of Pilates became world-known. Pilates is now the generic term for the repertoire of exercises we know today. The original repertoire contained 34 matwork exercises.

Angie is fully-qualified with The PilatesFoundation UK and regularly updates her knowledge attending conventions, workshops, both practical and theoretical and enjoys teaching both matwork and studio, one to one and in small groups. For those with injuries, she works closely with the client’s chiropractor, osteopath or physiotherapist to ensure they get the best rehabilitation programme tailored to their individual needs.