By Denise Vidal
Joseph Pilates was born in a small town in Germany in 1880. The son of a
gymnast and naturopath, Pilates’s early years were ﬁlled with various forms of exercises and holistic treatments. It was this upbringing as well as his talent for boxing that inﬂuenced his interest in health and physical ﬁtness.
While living in England during the ﬁrst world war, Pilates was interned in a prison camp for enemy aliens. It was here that his vision began to take shape. He taught other German nationals different exercises to help maintain their mental and physical strength while they were interned. He called his method Controlology to emphasize the method’s ability to give one a sense of control over their bodies. The movement principles of Contrology were: whole body movement, breathing, balanced muscle development, concentration, control, centering, precision and rhythm. The corresponding exercises were adaptable to everyone, including the bedridden and those suffering from diseases. In addition, it has been said that the effects of his regimen allowed his followers to
withstand an inﬂuenza outbreak that affected the camp.
There are various stories that attempt to explain how Pilates came to the United States in 1925. However, it is agreed that once he arrived in New York, he worked tirelessly to try and promote his method. Pilates eventually gained a following amongst members of the dance community, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham. Unfortunately, though, Pilates never lived to see his work become the phenomenon that it is today.
The Pilates method, as it is now known, maintains the fundamental elements of Pilates’ Controlology, and the idea that his exercises can beneﬁt everyone regardless of their condition.
If you’re interested in giving The Pilates Method a try, I am at Beyond Basics every Thursday morning from 8am-12pm. Just give the ofﬁce a call to set up an appointment!