Before we embark on the Pilates in Holland world of toys, here’s a brief Pilates quiz. (Don’t worry, there are NO wrong answers!)
Pilates is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates. He was:
- born in Germany around 1880 to a gymnast father and naturopath mother
- somewhat sickly as a child and vowed to make himself healthy
- a student of various forms of exercise and wellness, from Greek and Roman exercise regimens to Eastern practices of yoga and Zen meditation
Pilates emigrated to England in 1912 where he:
- was a boxer
- was a circus acrobat
- taught self-defense to Scotland Yard detectives
Joseph was sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man during WWI. This is where he:
- started developing a new approach to exercise and body-conditioning that he called Contrology
- acted as a nurse and attached springs to hospital beds so that patients could start toning their muscles even while they were still bed-bound
- named this apparatus the Universal Reformer for “universally reforming the body”
- (ok, ok, the reformer as we know it would come later, but this was where it started!)
Pilates moved to New York in 1923 and opened his first studio. Contrology was:
- an instant hit, particularly among dancers such as Martha Graham and George Balanchine
- mental as well as physical conditioning in which individuals could work their bodies to their full potential. (Pilates liked to quote Schiller: ‘lt is the mind itself which builds the body.’)
- founded on six principles of concentration, control, center, flow, precision, and breathing
- known for it’s founder wearing his exercise briefs wherever he wanted!
- The first Wunda Chair was able to convert into a piece of regular furniture.
- Pilates was a beer drinker and was inspired by a beer barrel and its metal rings for the ladder barrel.
- After creating a new piece of equipment, a client said, “Hey Joe, is that your new Cadillac?” The name stuck.
Raise your hand if you scored 100%…great job! Oh look, Joe is celebrating you!
In the next few weeks, we’ll break down the Wunda chair, reformer, ladder barrel, Cadillac, and Bodhi system regularly used in the PIH studio.