Ecrit par Anne Campbell-Crawford. Anne teaches pilates at YogaYoga Paris on Tuesdays at 10h30 and also at 12h30. She also gives private classes by appointment.
I am often asked this question and in a few short paragraphs I shall try and explain. Joseph Pilates was an original thinker in almost every sense of the word and his obsession with body fitness and health he called Contrology. He defined Contrology as ‘the most comprehensive integration of body mind and spirit’. This philosophy is beautifully elucidated in his book, ‘Return to Life Through Contrology’. I have and treasure an early copy of this book which I asked my original Pilates teacher, Alan Herdman (London), to sign and the book has recently been re-printed for everyone to own.
German born, to Hungarian parents, Joseph Pilates was living in England, when he was placed in forced internment at the outbreak of WW1. As a child he had been puny in physique and was often bullied and teased which made him determined to be the strongest and most physically powerful person he could possibly be. He drew from Eastern pratcices and Zen Buddhism, and he was inspired by the ancient Greek ideal of man perfected in development of body, mind and spirit. He studied anatomy and developed himself as a body builder, a wrestler, gymnast, boxer, skier and diver. Whilst interned he set about developing his ideal system of exercises and began to develop the floor exercises that evolved into what we now know as the Pilates Mat Work.
During WW1 Joseph Pilates worked as a hospital orderly and also worked with rehabilitating detainees who were suffering from diseases and injuries. It was invention born of necessity that inspired him to utilize items that were available to him, like bed springs and beer keg rings, to create resistance exercise equipment for patients. He inspired and arranged exercises for the patients to follow daily to the extent that not one of the patients suffered or died from the flu epidemic during that time.
After the war he returned briefly to Germany and worked for the military police where his reputation preceded him but when in 1925 he was asked to work with the German Army as a trainer he packed his bags and took a boat to New York ! During the voyage he met Clara, a nurse and together they developed his techniques and opened his studio in New York which they ran from 1926 until 1966. He died in 1967 and his work was continued by Clara who developed more equipment and teaching the same principals which are :
Today, the Joseph Pilates legacy is carried on by the Pilates Elders, and by a large group of contemporary teachers making the History of Pilates a Living Legacy.