About Modern Pilates

About Modern Pilates

What is pilates?

Pilates is a very precise, intelligent exercise system, where the message is 'Quality, not Quantity'.

The exercises themselves are based on a series of movements developed and pioneered by Joseph H. Pilates (1880-1968). You are taught to align your body perfectly before starting an exercise, and then to isolate individual muscle groups and work them without putting strain on other areas. If you are used to the intense pounding of an aerobics class or the ache in your muscles after lifting weights, you will be astonished by the gentleness of Pilates. The exercises are deceptively simple, even minimal, and so effective that you needn't perform more than ten repetitions of each at a session.

Within weeks your muscles will feel more toned and your joints will be more mobile and supple. Some people even claim to get taller as their spine is stretched and straightened. Your posture in everyday life will improve as you strengthen the body's central core muscles, helping you to stand straight and hold your upper body correctly.

Those with back problems will learn to build up their weaker muscles while protecting the spine and relieving strain on injured areas. Once you understand why you have been suffering back pain, and that postural misalignments have been contributing to your problem, you will have the tools to alleviate and prevent any future trouble yourself.

Pilates requires total concentration, as you breathe to enhance the effectiveness of the movements and focus on the feelings in your muscles.

"If, at the age of 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old,

If at 60 you are supple and strong, then you are young".

Joseph Hubertus Pilates

Modern Pilates

The 'Modern Pilates' programme was developed by Cherry Baker (leading fitness professional) and Chris Norris (Lecturer in Physiotherapy and highly acclaimed author of books on Back Stability and Abdominal Training). Modernising many of the original Pilates exercises, Modern Pilates brings a unique focus to posture and the changes to our posture that bring about neck, shoulder and back pain.

As many as 80% of us has experienced back pain at one time or another. Our occupations and lifestyles are often largely to blame. Sitting in front of pc's for long hours, driving occupations or standing for long periods can all cause postural problems, leading to muscle imbalance and pain. Modern Pilates aims to strengthen and re-balance muscles that can cause pain. It also aims to re-educate good movement pattern and limit re-occurring pain.

The History of Joseph H Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in Dusseldorf in 1880. A frail sickly child suffering from asthma, rickets and pneumonia, he was not expected to survive into adulthood. His parents sent him to gymnastics to strengthen his muscles. His drive and commitment to improve his physical health led him to train in many sports, he became a very accomplished boxer, diver and skier.

In 1912 Pilates travelled to England and began teaching self defence to the trainee detectives at Scotland Yard. When war broke out in 1914, Joseph Pilates was captured and held at an internment camp in Lancashire and later at the Ise of Dogs. During his time at this camp, Pilates lent his expertise in health rehabilitation to other patients. There had been a flu epidemic which had claimed many lives and word soon spread that his camp had significantly less illness and fatality than in other camps.

Joseph Pilates was transferred to Hospital to work as an aid and began about getting the patients exercising. Along with conducting a series of exercises on mats, he developed a method of exercising while lying down. This allowed patients who couldn't get up to keep their muscles in use through moving springs with their arms and legs. This machine was later named the Cadillac by Pilates. He called this method "contrology", but rather than this name defining his work, his own name eventually would.

Pilates moved to America and settled in New York, he met and married wife Clara and in 1926 they opened their first 'Pilates' Studio. At that time the studio attracted dancers who were sent to Joseph and Clara for rehabilitation following injury and to improve strength and flexibility.

In 1932 he published a booklet entitled "Your Health" and in 1945 "Return to Controllogy". Through these writings and his students, his Method was passed on after his death in 1967 at the age of 87. He left no will and subsequently there was no named successor to his works.

His wife Clara continued to run their studio in New York however, and by this time it was known simply as "The Pilates Studio". The Studio changed hands in the early 70's as Clara grew too old to maintain it, and later in that decade other Pilates studios began to open.

Pilates Today

Pilates in the present day is taught all over the world, in many different studios and gymnasiums. As an exercise form and method of injury rehabilitation, it is slowly gaining a foothold in the wider social consciousness.

Pilates was first developed before many of the medical and scientific breakthroughs of the current day, and many studios are continuously adapting their methods accordingly. Pilates always felt that his work was fifty years ahead of its time and judging by today's popularity he was probably right!

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