The article on Wikipedia defines Pilates as a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by the German born Joseph Pilates. This form of exercise is popular among the residents of the United States and United Kingdom. This form is exercise is meant for a wide variety of people and some believe that this method can be learned and practiced by anyone. From athletes, dancers to women rebounding from pregnancy, the Pilates method can be easily learned and practiced by everyone.
History of Pilates – How the Founder Joseph Pilates Conceived the Method
Joseph Pilates designed the popular exercise method to enhance both mind and body as well as flexibility. It was done through controlled movements performed as mat exercises or with equipment to shape and fortify the body.
The founder of this exercise method, Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in Germany on December 9, 1883. His father was an award winning gymnast and his mother is a naturopath. During his childhood, he suffered from numerous illnesses including asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Thus, he dedicated his entire life to improve his physical strength. Because of that, he started skiing and studied body-building, yoga and qigong as well as gymnastics. He came to a conclusion that the modern lifestyle, bad posture and inefficient breathing are the roots of poor health. He ultimately devised a series of exercises, equipment, specifications and tuning required to teach his methods properly, and thus the Pilates exercise method was born.
Pilates is known to be a very athletic person, despite his weak physical fitness on his early childhood. He was a gymnast, diver and bodybuilder but when he moved to England in 1912, he became a professional boxer, circus-performer, and self-defense trainer at police schools and Scotland Yard. Then in 1925, he migrated to the United States and he met his wife, Clara. They started their own studio and taught students about the method and named it as “Contrology”.
Characteristics of Pilates Exercise Training
The two students of Romana Kryzanowska, one of Pilates’ direct disciple, Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen, published the modern book on the method entitled “The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning”. The book outlined the six principles of the Pilates Method of Exercise namely, concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing.
Concentration – “You have to concentrate on what you’re doing all the time. And you must concentrate on your entire body for smooth movements.”
Control – “Nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.”
Centering – The center is the starting pace for beginning practitioners to control their bodies. This is the focal point of the Pilates method. It is also known as the powerhouse which consists the abdomen, lower and upper back, hips, buttocks, and inner thighs.
Flow – Pilates aims for elegant and sufficient flow of movement.
Precision – it is essential to correct Pilates: “concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value”.
Breathing – In Return to Life, Pilates devotes a section of his introduction specifically to breathing “bodily house-cleaning with blood circulation”.