Pilates is an exercise method developed around World War I by Joseph Pilates. As a young man he moved form Germany to England where he became a boxer, circus performer, and self defense instructor. When World War I erupted he, and other German national, were incarcerated in Lancaster as “enemy aliens”. Pilates influenced the other detainees to follow his exercise regime which he called, “Contrology”. His fitness program was so beneficial that he and his fellow compatriots survived the 1918 influenza epidemic that took the lives of thousands of people. He attributed their survival to their physically fit lungs! Hence, the Pilates Principle of Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Joseph Pilates was later sent to the Isle of Man to work as a nurse orderly caring for the war wounded. One can imagine the condition of many of these soldiers; some had probably grown weak from lingering in hospital beds for months, their muscles atrophied, further inhibiting their potential for recovery. Unable to participate in Pilates’ floor exercises, these men benefited by Joseph’s cleverly designed apparatus to rehabilitate them right from their hospital beds and wheelchairs. Despite whatever injuries the wounded may have had, Pilates was able to strengthen their muscles and restore them to their potential good health.
After the war Joseph returned to Germany but became disenfranchised with the political direction his country was taking. He decided to immigrate to the United States. He met his future wife, Clara, on the ship. Clara was a nurse and they realized that they shared the same interest of wanting to restore the good health of others. When they arrived in New York they decided to open up a physical fitness studio.
Joseph Pilates’ method of physical and mental wellness has been a best-kept secret of the dance and entertainment world since the 1920’s when his studio was discovered by Martha Graham, the mother of modern dance, George Balanchine, the artistic director for the New York City Ballet, and Rudolf von Laban, founder of Labanotation. Dancers such as Hanya Holm and Romana Kryzanowska, along with prizefighter, actors, actresses, and traveling circus performers embraced his methods both for the total body conditioning needed for the rigors of their work and also for rehabilitating the injuries that often plague dancers, performers, and athletes. Today, Pilates has been re-discovered and popularized with many of the Hollywood elite training in Pilates.
Joseph and Clara operated their exercise studio for over 40 years. He had dedicated his life’s work to restoring the health and vitality of others. Gone now for thirty-five years, the essence of his work continues on into the 21st century.
Anta's Fitness and Self Defense is located at 10721 NW 58 St, Miami (Doral.) Call us today at 305 599-3649 to set up an appointment for a FREE group class.