History of Pilates The Pilates method of exercise was created by Joseph Pilates, who was born in 1880 near Dusseldorf, Germany. Joe was frail as a child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. He overcame his physical limitations with exercise and body building, becoming a model for anatomical drawings at the age of 14. He became accomplished in many sports, including skiing, diving and gymnastics. Joe went to England in 1912, where he worked as a self-defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned as an "enemy alien" with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his ideas and trained other internees in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe's trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system. After his release, Joe returned to Germany. His exercise method gained favor in the dance community, primarily through Rudolf von Laban, who created the form of dance notation most widely used today. Hanya Holm adopted many of Joe's exercises in her program, and they are still part of the "Holm Technique." When Joe was asked to teach his fitness system to the German army, he decided to leave Germany for good. In 1923, he immigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, whom he later married. Joe and Clara opened a fitness studio in New York, sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. The Pilates Movement Gains in Popularity By the early 1960s, the Pilates' could count among their clients many New York dancers. George Balanchine out "at Joe's," as he called it, and also invited Pilates to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet. In fact, "Pilates" was becoming popular outside of New York as well. As the New York Herald Tribune noted in 1964, "in dance classes around the United States, hundreds of young students limber up daily with an exercise they know as a Pilates, without knowing that the word has a capital P, and a living, right-breathing namesake." While Joe was still alive, only two of his students, Carola Trier and Bob Seed, are known to have opened their own studios. Trier, who had an extensive dance background, found her way to the United States after she fled a Nazi holding camp in France by becoming a contortionist in a show. She found Joe Pilates in 1940, when a non-stage injury pre-empted her performing career. Joe Pilates assisted Trier in opening her own studio in the late 1950s and the Pilates’ and Trier remained close friends until the respective deaths of Joe and Clara. Bob Seed was another story. A former hockey player turned "Pilates" enthusiast, Seed opened a Studio across town from Joe and tried to take away some of Joe’s clients by opening very early in the morning. According to John Steel, one day Joe visited Seed with a gun and warned Seed to get out of town. Seed went. The Second Generation of Pilates Teachers When Joe passed away, he left no will and had designated no line of succession for the "Pilates" work to carry on. Nevertheless, his work was to remain. Clara continued to operate what was already known as the "Pilates" Studio on Eighth Avenue in New York where Romana Kryzanowska became the director in around 1970. Kryzanowska had studied with Joe and Clara in the early 1940s and then, after a fifteen year hiatus due to a move to Peru, re-commenced her studies. Several students of Joe and Clara went on to open their own studios. Ron Fletcher was a Martha Graham dancer who studied and consulted with Joe from the 1940s on in connection with a chronic knee ailment. Fletcher opened his studio in Los Angeles in 1970, where he attracted many Hollywood stars. Clara was particularly enamored with Ron and she gave her blessing to him to carry on the "Pilates" work and name. Like Carola Trier, Fletcher brought some innovations and advancements to the "Pilates" work. His evolving variations on "Pilates" were inspired both by his years as a Martha Graham dancer and by another mentor, Yeichi Imura. Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel were also students of Joe and Clara who went on to become teachers. Grant took over the direction at the Bendel's studio in 1972, while San Miguel went on to teach Pilates at Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rica in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1967, just before Joe's death, both Grant and San Miguel were awarded degrees by the State University of New York to teach "Pilates." These two are believed to be the only "Pilates" practitioners ever to be certified officially by Joe. Other students of Joe and Clara who opened their own studios include: Eve Gentry, Bruce King, Mary Bowen and Robert Fitzgerald. Eve Gentry, a dancer who taught at the Pilates Studio in New York from 1938 through 1968, also taught "Pilates" in the early 60s at New York University in the Theater Department. After she left New York, she opened her own studio in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gentry was a charter faculty member of the High School for the Performing Arts, as well as a co-founder of the Dance Notation Bureau. In 1979, she was given the "Pioneer of Modern Dance Award" by Bennington College. Bruce King trained for many years with Joseph and Clara Pilates and was a member of the Merce Cunningham Company, Alwyn Nikolais Company, and his own Bruce King Dance Company. In the mid-1970s King opened his own studio at 160 W. 73rd Street in New York City. Mary Bowen, a Jungian analyst who studied with Joe in the mid-1960s, began teaching Pilates in 1975 and founded "Your Own Gym" in Northampton, Massachusetts. Robert Fitzgerald opened his studio on West 56th Street in the 60s, where he had a large clientele from the dance community. Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967 at the age of 87. In the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates via Ron Fletcher's studio in Beverly Hills. Where the stars go, the media follows. In the late 1980s, the media began to cover Pilates extensively. The public took note, and the Pilates business boomed. "I'm fifty years ahead of my time," Joe once claimed. He was right; no longer had the workout of the elite, Pilates entered the fitness mainstream. Today, five million Americans practice Pilates, and the numbers continue to grow. What is Pilates? An innovative system of mind-body exercise evolved from the principles of Joseph Pilates. Pilates dramatically transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs. It builds strength without excess bulk, creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen. It teaches body awareness, good posture and easy, graceful movement. Pilates improves flexibility, agility and economy of motion. It can even help alleviate back pain. Professional dancers have known the benefits of Pilates for decades. Top athletes use it for strength, flexibility, and injury prevention. Hollywood celebrities and supermodels use it to maintain beautiful physiques. The Benefits of Pilates A refreshing mind-body workout Pilates gets your mind in tune with your body. By emphasizing proper breathing, correct spinal and pelvic alignment, and complete concentration on smooth, flowing movement, you become acutely aware of how your body feels, where it is in space, and how to control its movement. The quality of movement is valued over quantity of repetitions. Proper breathing is essential, and helps you execute movements with maximum power and efficiency. Last but not least, learning to breathe properly can reduce stress. Build strength without "bulking up" - gain long, lean muscles and flexibility Conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles - the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured. Develop a strong core - flat abdominals and a strong back Building on the principles of Joseph Pilates, Pilates exercises develop a strong "core," or center of the body. The core consists of the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. Control of the core is achieved by integrating the trunk, pelvis and shoulder girdle. Create an evenly conditioned body and prevent sports injuries In conventional workouts, weak muscles tend to get weaker and strong muscles tend to get stronger. The result is muscular imbalance - a primary cause of injury and chronic back pain. Pilates conditions the whole body, even the ankles and feet. No muscle group is over trained or under trained. Your entire musculature is evenly balanced and conditioned, helping you enjoy daily activities and sports with greater ease and less chance of injury. Learn efficient patterns of motion Pilate’s exercises train several muscle groups at once in smooth, continuous movements. By developing proper technique, you can actually re-train your body to move in safer, more efficient patterns of motion - invaluable for injury recovery, sports performance, good posture and optimal health. Be confident and safe No other exercise system is so gentle to your body while giving it a challenging workout. Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe, it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries. And be challenged Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves. Pilates Principles Some Pilates forms taught five basic principles, while others stress nine fundamentals. Essentially, the Pilates principles are as follows: Concentration - That all-important mind-body connection. Conscious control of movement enhances body awareness. Control/Precision - It's not about intensity or multiple "reps," it's more about proper form for safe, effective results. Centering - A mental focus within the body calms the spirit. A particular focus on the torso (abs, pelvic girdle, lower back, gluts), as develops a strong core and enables the rest of the body to function efficiently. All action initiates from the trunk and flows outwards to the extremities. Stabilizing - Before you move you have to be still. Makes for a safe starting place for mobility. Breathing - Deep, coordinated, conscious diaphragmatic patterns of inhales and exhales initiate movement, help activate deep muscles and keep you focused. Alignment - Proper alignment is key to good posture. You'll be aware of the position of your head and neck on the spine and pelvis, right down through the legs and toes. Fluidity - Smooth, continuous motion rather than jarring repetitions. Pilates has a grace and elegance to it. Integration - Several different muscle groups are engaged simultaneously to control and support movement. All principles come together, making for a holistic mind-body workout. Training Components of Pilates: Strength and Stabilization The focus of Pilate exericse is to work the deep muscles as stabilizers. Although it is important to work the msucles as porimary movers- isolations. It is also iimprotant to work the msucles as stabilizers. Centering the body by increasing core stabilization , as well as imroving muscle strength and endurance, will ultimately improve posture and alignment. Muscle balace will be achieved from the process. Creating strong msucles iwthin the core (scapulae, torso, and pelvis) will help reduce stress to the jounts, as the core transferspwoer to the working limbs (arms, and legs) It may also reduce the rish of potential injuries assoctiated with weak muslces and msucle imbalance. Flexiblity and Range of motion Flexiblity training improves range of motion as a joint. Improving flexibilty overall may decrease the risk of potential injury and enhance phsyical peformance. Proper Body Alignment Propper body lignment is crucial in executing Pilates exercise. Teaching and cueing proper body alignment to participatns will help them to also focus on proper body alingment in their daily activities. Proper body aligment is necessary to correclty perform each exercise. This will ensure theyare working msucles they intend to work without increased risk of injury. The focus of each pilates exercise should be quality rather than the quantity of repeitions. Balance Balance is achieved when all the body’s muscles work synergisitically. To achieve this a person should be clear and free of extraneous thought. There are various types of balance. A: Symmetrical balance is a balance that is achieved between opposing muscles groups- (anterior and posteior muscles) as well as bilateral (right and left side) for postural support. B: Balance between strength and flexibility: can be achieved by lengthening tight muscles and strenghting weak muscles. C: Passive-aggressive approach refers to the minimum and maximum boudary of movement. Instructing class participants to understand when to go deep er into stretch or adding a layer of diffuculty to make an exercise more challening exercise should challenge both mind and body equally. A person should feel mild tension but never force the body into a position. Imbalance can occur when a person maintains a particular position for a long period of time. D: Imbalance may also occur when the muscles are worked as primary movers( isolation) and not as stablilizars. E: Coordination and body awarness: This component incorporates the concept of mindfuluness with movement. Increased awareness and focus will ary over into everyday life and daily activties. By recognizing and strengthings the body’s core support system.
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