Thursday, January 22, 2009


Photographs of Joseph H. Pilates

A Younger Joseph Pilates. Photo taken sometime after he moved to the States.

Photo of Joseph H. Pilates taken sometime in the 50's. I think the color has been added. I have seen this same photo in B&W.
These photos were taken from various places on the internet. I do not believe anyone 'owns' them. Not sure.

I love Pilates. I am a Pilates Practitioner. (Take and pass my Diet and Nutrition test and I will be 'Master Practitioner'.) I do not teach it as much as I used to. In this area, it does not seem to be as popular as in other areas. Though, there is always a demand for the classes! People are always asking me to start the classes, etc. Beg for the classes, but 'life' seems to get in the way of regular attendance.

My solution is I incorporated Pilates in many of my regular classes. Most of the time participants do not know the difference. But the ones who want Pilates seem to be satisfied.

Joseph Pilates was not a healthy child. He had respiratory problems and rickets. I imagine him as a child who was the type if told, "you could never do that..." he would prove you wrong every time. He became an expert swimmer which increased his lung capacity. Joined the circus as a youth, learning gymnastics and acrobatics. By the time he was 14-16 years old, his legs were straight and body developed enough to model for medical drawings.

He was in the UK during WWI. Being German, he was sent to the Isle of Man to work. He became the head Physical Therapist in one of the wards at the Military Hospital. This is where he began to develop "Contrology" what we now call "Basic Pilates". He required everyone in the ward he was in charge of to do Contrology everyday. Employees and even patients, with help and as part of their physical therapy. Many had just been shot up on the war front.

By now, Pilates had studied yoga, swimming, gymnastics, some ballet, perhaps other forms of exercise as well, and he was incorporating what he believed to be the best of all of these disciplines in his physical therapy and exercise programs. And you know what? It was working! He had the fastest patient recuperation. Those who worked in his dept were also in fine health.

During WWI the Hospital was hit by the flu. Pilates ward was the only ward that did not lose a life to the influenza. Not even the patients who caught the flu. (They healed quickly like they only had a cold.) They say it was due to the 'Contrology' exercise they were required to do daily.

After the war, Pilates and his wife Sara, took a ship to the states and settled in New York where he opened a studio. He moved on to develop what we now call Pilates. He died in 1962 in his 80s. His studio had caught on fire. He had left a proto type of a new exercise invention and ran back inside the studio to get the prototype. The smoke overcame him.

In Pilates lifetime, he saw the industrial age take off. He saw poverty disappear. Jobs become more and more sedintary. I have two of his books and he states several times in those books, God did not make our bodies to sit all day at a desk, come home sit and read the newspaper or a book and then go to bed. And somewhere during that time, eat 3 large meals. What we now call Basic Pilates was designed for every individual to do everyday at home in the floor for about 20 minutes or more. So whether 20 or 70, you can get up and down off the floor to play games with your children and grand children.

Jennifer Kries (there is a link to her site in the sidebar) is one of the best instructors in the country. If you have not tried Pilates before I recommend her basic DVD. It is wonderful. She perfectly shows you how to execute the exercises. She takes you in babys steps and moves you up. She also shows modifications and encourages you along the way just as you should be encouraged in a class. Keep in mind, Jennifer has a wide range of motion. She was a Ballarina, and she is a yoga master. She will instruct you to only use your range of motion.

Todays Tip:
Libraries carry exercise tapes and DVD's. It is always a good idea to check one out to try out. If you do like the tape/dvd, then you can invest the money in it. If you do not like the tape/DVD, you can take it back, check out another you might like better. Either way, you have not invested money needlessly.

Have a blessed day


Dani Joy said...

This was educational. Never have gotten into pilates though. I did do something similar like a breathing and stretching technich. anyway... thanks for commenting on my blog too. Great to hear there is another missionary in Spain. Haven´t heard of Journeymen.. What are they?

Dani Joy said...

OH ok. That´s good to know about the Journeymen. :) Thanks

momstheword said...

I have done pilates twice this week. I use the Winsor pilates video. I am trying to do it 3x a week in addition to my cardio. I may decide to do it in place of cardio, it depends on my time.

Kathy said...

Melissa~ I am really enjoying this blog, which of course I found through your other blog. I have done Pilates Reformer 5 times at our Y so far and LOVE it. I'm trying to figure out how to squeeze more exercise in between sessions. Thanks for such an encouraging blog!!!! ...Kathy @ A Little Pinch of This and That