07 Dec 2015

14 Fast Facts About Joseph Pilates

In honour of Joseph Pilates’ birthday on 9 December we thought we’d bring you 14 facts about the Father of the discipline.

  1. Joseph Pilates was one of nine children and grew up in abject poverty. His mother is said to have been an early form of a naturopath, and he wasn’t a particularly healthy child! He was small, suffered from poor vision and weak immunity.
  2. Joe’s first ever client was his mother who was often near crippled by the demands of domestic labour. He showed her stretches and gymnastic exercises to help alleviate her pain.
  3. There are suggestions that while interned in England, Joe joined a circus. While the circus claims were never substantiated, reliable sources say he did perform “feats of strength and balance” with a vaudeville troupe.
  4. Pilates was originally named “Contrology”: the art of control over mind and body in equal measure.
  5. The origins of Pilates can be traced back to time Joseph Pilates spent in an English internment camp at the beginning of World War I. It was here he created and taught inmates a unique form of muscle toning and strengthening exercises.
  6. He got his inspiration for the reformer here also, by using bed springs to create resistance in movement.
  7. Mat moves = vintage Pilates! Joseph Pilates’ original sequence of 34 mat-based exercises (the roll up, single and double leg stretch, the hundred etc…) are still incorporated into classes today (save for a few modern variations).
  8. The “magic circle” was the first Pilates machine, and was made from the steel bands wrapped around beer kegs.
  9. Pilates is a physical fitness system: it is not a derivative of yoga! (Have a read of our Pilates versus Yoga blog for more on this very topic.)
  10. While the mat is your best friend, Pilates cannot be complete without apparatus! Apparatus is how we achieve the “right” method in our practice.
  11. Joseph Pilates’ principles for optimal health:
  • Proper diet and sleep must accompany exercise.
  • Fresh air and sunshine daily.
  • Wear loose clothing outside and embrace the sun’s rays.
  • Always have food on hand, but only refuel when nutrients are needed.
  • Do not fear the cold in winter.
  • Do not overdo exercise: muscle fatigue can ignite poisons in the body.
  • Sleep: use a firm mattress, no more than one pillow, and have a quiet, dark room.
  • Baths: clean your pores! Dry brush daily.

12. “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” – Joseph Pilates

13. “In 10 sessions, you will feel the difference. In 20, you will see the difference. And in 30, you’ll be on your way to having a whole new body.” – Joseph Pilates.

14. “I must be right. Never an aspirin. Never injured a day in my life. The whole country, the whole world, should be doing my exercises. They’d be happier.” – Joseph Pilates, one year before he died from health complications due to a fire. He was 87.

If you’d like to learn more about Joseph Pilates, Return to Life through Contrology is a great place to start! This text is available for purchase at Myaree HQ.



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