Clinical Pilates Part 1 – A Brief History

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a form of physical exercise which is based on ‘Contrology’ or coordination of body, mind and spirit. I know for some of you, coordination is not your strong suit but anyone can do Pilates.

Another way to describe Pilates is – it takes the average gym experience such as bicep curls, squats and rowing to a fun, new level where your whole body is challenged not just one muscle group.

Now I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Pilates is spelt with a capital ‘P’. This is because Pilates is named after its creator Joseph Pilates. A man born in 1883 in Germany who suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatoid fever: however he was able to overcome these using athletics and body conditioning programs. This increased Joseph’s curiosity as he continued looking to expand his knowledge base.

Next, Joseph started working with the concept of the classical Greek ideal of man whose body, mind and spirit were balanced. He began using this concept to develop his own exercise system.

In 1912, Joseph went to England to work as a self-defence instructor at Scotland Yard. During his time here, Joseph refined his ideas and started rigging springs to hospital beds, enabling bed ridden patients to exercise against resistance- the concept which is still used today in some of our up to date Pilates equipment.

Joseph then moved to America in 1926 where he opened a fitness studio in New York teaching his new exercise system. His fitness studio also happened to share an address with the New York Ballet. By the early 1960’s Joseph’s Pilates classes were full of people eager to learn and work with him including multiple ballet dancers.

Today, Pilates is still based heavily on Joseph’s guiding principles of whole body health, whole body commitment and breath. Using Pilates skills, we can teach people of all ages and all musculoskeletal conditions. Also by using different equipment and resistance we can help you exercise at the right level for you.

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, call us now to join either out clinical Pilates or health and fitness Pilates.


Written by: Kelsey Lamont

B Physiotherapy

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