About Pilates

What is Pilates?

Joseph Lyon with Pilates studentsThe Pilates “method” as it is known, is an exercise system that focuses on strength, flexibility and body awareness. Pilates focuses on controlled movements that are performed on spring-resistant apparatus including the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Spine Corrector, the Ladder Barrel and the Wunda Chair. Pilates can also be practiced on the floor with “props.” These include the Magic Circle, Therabands and a Mat.

Pilates is not a cardio workout, but more similar to weightlifting without building too much bulk. The six principles of Pilates are control, breath, concentration, flow, centering and precision and should always be the focus while performing each routine. Every exercise should stem from the core, the center and foundation of the body.

To maximize your workouts you need to be completely focused and connected to your body mentally, controlling the body with your mind. This is what Joseph Pilates called “Contrology.”

As your Pilates instructor, I will create a workout program specific to your needs, and the long-term goals that you have for your body.

The History of Pilates

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born in 1880 in Germany. His father was a prize-winning gymnast from Greece. His mother was German and a naturopath who believed in stimulating the body to heal itself instead of using artificial drugs. This greatly influenced Pilates later when coming up with therapeutic exercises.

Joseph Pilates was sickly as a child, afflicted with asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He was determined to overcome his physical disadvantages, and started studying anatomy weightlifting, yoga and gymnastics. He transformed his body and at fourteen was posing for anatomy charts.

Pilates believed in the Greek ideal of a man who is balanced in body, mind, and spirit, and came to believe that modern lifestyle and inefficient breathing were the reasons for bad health. His answer was to design a series of vigorous exercises that could help correct muscular imbalances, increase flexibility as well as breathing correctly. Pilates invented a variety of spring resistant machines that could be used to do these exercises.

Joseph Lyon with Pilates studentsBefore World War One, he was touring as a circus performer in England, and even teaching self-defense to Scotland Yard police. When the war broke out he found himself interned in England as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man. The conditions of the soldiers that came to the camps were not good and Pilates took springs from the beds and attached them to headboards. Turning them into equipment that gave resistance exercise for bedridden “patients.” These beds were the forerunners of the spring-based machines such as the Cadillac and the Wunda Chair.

At this point Pilates decided to immigrate to the United States. He met his future wife and dedicated teaching partner, Clara, on a boat to New York City. Together they opened the first Body Contrology Studio on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, in the same building as a number of dance studios. For the rest of his life, he continued to develop his exercise system and to create new pieces of equipment including the Barrel and Magic Circle.

Now you can find Pilates studios all around the world. Many athletes, actors, and both woman and men have been improving their lives with Pilates.