History of the Pilates Method

Pilates is a method of exercise and body conditioning that has been practiced since the early 1920s. It was developed by German-born Joseph Pilates who, while working as a nurse in England during World War I, experimented with attaching a system of springs to the hospital beds as a way for patients to begin rehabilitation while still bedridden. This new concept produced dramatic results. Combining his experience as a diver, boxer and gymnast with his studies of yoga, Zen and other Eastern techniques, he eventually evolved this practice into his unique method of physical and mental conditioning.

In 1926, Joseph Pilates emigrated to New York where he began teaching his method to members of the dance world, including the companies of George Balanchine and Martha Graham. His method became the conditioning and rehabilitation method of choice for the dance community and remains so today, due in large part to its emphasis on balance and its treatment of the body as a whole. Until the 1990s, the method had been used almost exclusively by dancers and other artists, but with an explosion of media attention, Pilates became more accessible to the general public, with classes popping up in fitness centers around the country. Today, Pilates studios may be found in all corners of the globe.

Photo: CovaTech Pilates Studio, Milan, Italy

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