Joseph Pilates And The Invention of Pilates
  • German-born Joseph Pilates was living and working in England as a circus performer and boxer.
  • At the start of WWI, he was placed in forced internment. While in the internment camp, he developed floor exercises.
  • Later on, he began rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from injuries and illness. Necessity led him to use available items like bed springs and beer keg rings to create resistance exercise equipment.
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Because Joseph Pilates had experience in fitness, it enabled him to develop his work.

He studied various self-improvements systems. He drew from Eastern practices and Zen Buddhism and was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man that is developed in body, mind, and spirit. He studied anatomy and developed himself as a bodybuilder, wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier, and diver.

  • In 1925, Joseph Pilates took a boat to New York City. On the boat, he met Clara, a nurse, who would become his wife and work alongside him.
  • Joseph taught in New York from 1926 to 1966. He trained a number of his students to become teachers of the Pilates method.
  • The first generation of teachers is referred to as the Pilates Elders. Some taught the approach exactly, while others integrated it into their own philosophies and exercise sciences.

The dance community depended on the Pilates method of training for the strength and grace it developed in them and its rehabilitative effects.

Dancers and elite athletes kept his work alive. When science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s, it lead to the surge of interest in the Pilates we have today.

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