Pilates History

Here is a brief article on the history of Pilates, the day it was born, how it developed and how it got now in all the gyms.

Pilates, this “entity” for many people still unknown, began in the early decades of the ‘900, thanks to Mr. Joseph Pilates, who created this method in order to strengthen the mind and the human body. Mr. Pilates believed that the mind and body were in close connection and that would influence each other and that a healthy exercise could cure health problems.  Very current concept, some might argue that there is nothing new in this, but if we think back to a century ago … here is that Mr. Pilates is seen in a different light, a pioneer of what is the ‘ modern approach to mind-body wellness, common concept in various philosophies and disciplines followed now a days, consider, for example yoga.

Well Pilates, or Contrology, as the same Joseph called his method, was born from the influence of different disciplines (martial arts, dance, yoga, study of movements of animals, anatomical studies, etc …) and developed first as a method mat (bodyweight, on a mat), and then it was supported by the introduction of several tools that the same Joseph invented in the twentieth century, and equipment (think of the famous “reformer”), which would help speed up the learning process and the awareness of correct movements, aimed to stretch, strengthen the muscles and to have proper alignment.

Taught straight from its inventor until the ’60s, Pilates was then passed on, taken up, modified and distributed:

both by those direct “disciples” (among which theRomana Kryzanowska, , Jay Grimes, Ron Fletcher, Mary Bowen, Carola Treir, Eve Gentry,  Lolita San Miguel…… and others including his nieceMary Pilates)
both thanks to the two books that the same Joseph Pilates wrote:
Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education” in 1934,
and “Return to Life Through Contrology”, in 1945.
Today the Pilates method includes both the “classical / traditional”, which aims to preserve the original work of Joseph Pilates method, and the “modern” that sees the addition of exercises and variations to the teachings of first generation of Joseph Pilates students.

Back to the story …

From New York, where in the ’60 Pilates was a “must” for both dancers and for women society  … In Los Angeles, Pilates started to spread, with the help of Hollywood, only in the ‘70, thanks to them and to the increasing interest of media, this method had its first “boom” business in the US in the late ’80s, continuing to spread and take hold, until you come to be practiced by over 10 million Americans becoming more and more popular all over the world.

Nowadays it is found in almost all the fitness centers, but not only, it should be remembered that as a method has now entered, for decades, to be part of the training of athletes daily NBA, football, hockey, and Olympians.

Maybe now you have some clearer idea .. what I think is that Pilates does not really have time nor borders, there is no better in Pilates, is it mat, or tools, whether it is traditional or modern … not even exists as better or worse than other disciplines and fitness activities. It’s method to achieve awareness of our own bodies, of movements aiming at a greater Well-Being …

Thanks to Joseph it was created a path of rules and exercises, which drew on existing disciplines and that will continue to evolve naturally thanks to contributions and external cues …

…Thanks to you too!

“..Panta Rei…”


Pilates History

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