Pilates is a form of exercise that was invented by Joseph H. Pilates 100 years ago. He had a very interesting life. He was born with asthma, rickets and rheumatism - a very weak child. He was self-motivated and decided to do whatever it took to cure himself. He learnt yoga, martial arts, boxing, gymnastics and many other forms of movement in great detail - and he actually cured himself! When he was in an internment camp in Britain during World War I, he insisted that everyone in his unit followed his exercise regimen, and for those who were injured and bed-ridden, he actually removed the springs from underneath their hospital beds, and used them as resistance weights to help them exercise.
That’s where the exercise now called “Pilates” was born. But Joe didn’t call it Pilates, he called it “Contrology” - as it was all about control of the body. From there, he migrated to the USA where him and his wife, Clara (who was also an incredible Pilates teacher!) opened their own studio on 8th Avenue, New York. There were many dance studios around the area, and that’s what made Joe popular in the dance world. The dancers went to him for rehab and realized that they had gotten stronger than before!
While he was alive, Joe never became famous. He always claimed that he was 50 years ahead of his time. And this was true. After he died in 1967, all his apprentices and students took the work they had learned from him forward, and they are all called the ‘Pilates Elders’. Here is the time they worked with Joe:
Ron Fletcher, who was learning from Joe and Clara from 1948 till 1967, started his own school of Pilates called Fletcher Pilates®. The PAD is the only studio in the UAE teaching the Fletcher Pilates method of movement. The main difference between Fletcher Pilates® and other forms of Pilates is reflected in the core of the Fletcher Pilates® method - the Fletcher Percussive Breath™. The fully developed, specific training of one's lung capacity while moving through Pilates exercises helps improve posture and recruit core muscles. You’ll hear the Fletcher breath as soon as you walk into The PAD! Everyone breathes loudly and engages their core deeply.
The problems that Joseph Pilates identified in the early 1900’s are still prevalent in society today. One has to wonder, with our computer-centered lifestyle, if things might be getting worse instead of better. Joe said, “In childhood, with rare exceptions, we all enjoy the benefits of natural and normal physical development. However, as we mature, we find ourselves living in bodies not always complimentary to our ego. Our bodies are slumped, our shoulders are stooped, our eyes are hollow, our muscles are flabby and our vitality extremely lowered, if not vanished. This is but the natural result of not having uniformly developed all the muscles of our spine, trunk, arms, and legs in the course of pursuing our daily labors and office activities.” Joseph Pilates made these observations in 1945!
Here are two short videos - one explains how the world feels about Pilates today and the second explains the History of Pilates, where it came from, and the importance and relevance of it in today’s day and age.