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Exploring The History Of Pilates

If you mention the word "Pilates" to anyone within earshot, most will immediately recognize the name. They may not know what it means or entails, but Pilates has been so ingrained into our society's consciousness that most people are familiar with it. During the past several years, this fitness program has attracted the attention of millions, becoming a relatively recent cultural phenomenon. The fact that Pilates was developed during the first part of the last century adds a slice of irony. Indeed, many would be surprised about the humble beginnings from which the exercise program was born. In this article, we'll describe its origin and growth and briefly explore its explosive popularity during recent years.

A Young Man Battles With Health Issues

When Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates exercise system, was born in 1880, he suffered from a host of health problems. His frame was slight and his body was frail. His health was buffeted by asthma and persistent respiratory issues. As he became a young man, he vowed to create a method of exercise that would help him overcome these limitations. Soon, guided by a belief that the mind and body were inextricably connected, he began pursuing methods of exercise including fencing, gymnastics, boxing, yoga and meditation. Over the next 20 years, devoted to finding the path to overall health and well-being, he would perfect his exercise system.

A Captive Audience

When World War I began, Joseph Pilates was visiting England. He was placed into an internment camp due to his German nationality. During the time he spent there, he coached other detainees with the exercises he had created. He taught others how to remain fit and impervious to sickness and quickly gained the attention of those in charge of the camp. Soon, Pilates was given the responsibility of overseeing the exercise routine for a group of 30 hospital patients on the Isle of Man. Ignoring the normal system of allowing patients' muscles to wither through constant bed rest, Pilates encouraged them to exercise. Ultimately, his exercises helped his patients recover more quickly and battle the infections that would claim the lives of other patients in the hospital.

An Eclectic Mix Of Clients

After the war, Pilates emigrated to the U.S., opening a studio in New York. He taught his clients a program of health and fitness that he referred to as "Contrology." He began to quickly make a name for himself because of his uniquely effective method of training and rehabilitating people. His studio started to attract famous dancers, boxers and other athletes who wanted to learn how to develop their core muscle strength, balance and coordination. Though Joesph Pilates devoted his entire life to the creation and perfection of his exercise program, it wasn't until after his death that it became widely-adopted.

The Legacy Begins

Josesph Pilates passed away as a result of problems stemming from smoke inhalation when his studio burned to the ground in 1967. A few years later, his fitness program began to gain fans across the U.S. and England. Today, his legacy continues as millions of people devote themselves to the same guiding principles on which his program is founded. Thousands of Pilates instructors teach others how to take advantage of the discipline. Though Joseph Pilates was always confident in the potency of his regimen and its principles, he could not have expected how explosively-popular and well-received it would eventually become.