Joseph Pilates

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The founding of Pilates can be traced back to the German born fitness leader, Joseph H. Pilates, who developed the Pilates exercise system in the 1920s. His interest in physical fitness stemmed from a determination to strengthen his own body and improve his health after an unhealthy childhood. With a background in yoga, Zen meditation and martial arts, combined with success as a gymnast, diver and boxer, he was able to devise a unique sequence of movements that worked the mind and body, in harmony. Joseph was convinced that his philosophy of combining mind and muscle, was one, many steps ahead of the times .

Joseph had the opportunity to fine-tune his wellness regimen while interning in England during the First World War, claiming it helped him and his fellow internees resist an influenza epidemic. Working in an infirmary, he engineered a way to rig springs on hospital beds to offer light resistance exercises to bedridden patients, and thus the seed for Pilates equipment was planted.

After the war, Joseph Pilates moved to New York, where he and his wife opened their first Pilates studio near the New York City Ballet in 1926. It wasn't long before he drew a following of dancers, who took to Pilates for its ability to create long, lean muscles and a strong, sleek physique.Legends Martha Graham and George Balanchine were among his clientele. He eventually published a book on his philosophical approach to exercise, "Return to Life Through Contrology", and soon thereafter, some of his students began opening studios of their own – often with subtle adaptations to the method - and word of Pilates slowly spread.

However, it wasn't until recently, during the 1990's that the resurgence of popularity in ancient health and wellness techniques such as Yoga and Tai Chi, paved the way for wide expansion of interest in Pilates. The mind-body movement took off as baby boomers started seeking gentler paths to health and wellness. No longer an...
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