History of Pilates
The history of Joseph H. Pilates is quite astounding. His lineage has been passed down through the 'elders' of the method and is upheld by select instructors today. Pilates was born a sickly child stricken by asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. As the child of a gymnast and a naturopath, he was predisposed to the theory of holistic health. He self taught anatomy from books donated to him and applied what he learned to what he observed in animals in the wild. Pilates created his mat regimen to combat his sickly state and by 14 he was modeling for anatomy charts. He had transformed his weak body to a pillar of strength.
Prior to World War I he was a skilled boxer and gymnast. He even performed as a Greek strong man as part of the circus. Once the war broke, he was imprisoned to various interment camps. He began instructing wrestling, self-defense and his mat work to other prisoners. At some point, Pilates was assigned to the medical unit of a camp. His creativity and determination fused to inspire him to heal others as he had healed himself. Ripping apart beds for their springs and welding frames to create his first pieces of apparatus. Each piece with the purpose to support the patient while increasing strength and balance.
After the war, he continued to expand his methods training German police and military. He began to float in circles with progressive movement theorists emerging in the 1920's. People like Rudolph von Laban and Mary Wigman; both considered to pioneers in the fields of movement analysis. When conditions leading up to World War II began to escalate Pilates made the choice to immigrate to America. He set up shop, with wife Clara, and began teaching his method to progressive minded movers of the time. Word spread quickly. He was soon sought after by societies elite and personal trainer to the George Balanchine's dancers of the New York City Ballet. His client list was truly draw dropping.
This is but a cursory overview of the life of Joseph H. Pilates. He was an amazing man who's views towards health were truly ahead of his time. Information about his life, career and theory are everywhere. One just has to look. Know that when choosing a class that has the word 'Pilates' as a a descriptive that there is a theory to be upheld. 'Pilates' is not a thing. He was a man with an attainable idea of physical, mental and spiritual balance and therefor, health.