"Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor." Joseph Pilates
Who is Joseph Hubertus Pilates..
Joseph Pilates was born in Germany, on December 9th, 1883. He was an incredibly active boy and studied anatomy, wrestling, yoga, martial arts, and more. His parents instilled the importance of health, strength, and self-healing, which triggered his interest in the human body. He became an accomplished boxer and diver and by the age of 14, was an anatomy model.
Joseph pursued a career as a circus entertainer where he acted as a “living Greek statue.” He became immersed in Greek mythology and the idea of being a spiritually, physically, and mentally balanced man. While traveling and performing with the circus, Pilates began to create a workout that would restore balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength to the human body. During World War I, he worked with wounded soldiers to improve their physical and mental conditions. His belief in using movement for recovery was so strong that he even attached springs to the hospital beds for the men too weak to stand. This eventually led to the development of the Cadillac, an apparatus used in the Pilates Method.
Joseph’s work with the soldiers aided in their return to health and he was so successful, he was hired to train Germany’s secret police. However, Joseph decided to move to New York and pursue a new life developing his method. Contrology, the original name of the method created by Joseph Pilates, is more than just exercise. His desire was for the method to be understood as a "return to life", simply by maintaining our physical instrument - our bodies - to the best of our abilities and capabilities. So that we, as a human species, can function better, and live better lives.
He opened a studio in Manhattan and began teaching the method to dancers who were so prone to injury and in need of restoration. Contrology became incredibly popular and famous dancers such as Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Eve Gentry became advocates for the method. As the demand grew, people stopped referring to the method as Contrology, and began to call it “Pilates”.
Joseph was incredibly innovative and developed the Barrel from a beer keg and the Magic Circle from the medal hoop around the keg.
He continued to develop his exercise method and the apparatus until his death in 1967. His studio was acquired by one of his students, Romana Kryzanowska, who continues to teach and certify new instructors to this day. Pilates has become one of the most popular forms of exercise and is certainly a great way to achieve a Greek god-like physique!
Joseph said, "practice your exercises diligently with the fixed and unalterable determination that you will permit nothing else to sway you from keeping faith with yourself." He didn't just teach core stability, this continues to be a misconception. The method is as much about mobility as it is about stability and in fact it is about how to balance the two for normal function.There is no end to learning Pilates. Learn to savor each moment and each progression in your Pilates education. Then you will find yourself getting to the heart of the method. As we like to say-you have to "let go and let Joe"
Concentration & Focus
Pilates is beneficial because it requires one to focus on the task at hand. Joseph Pilates' work was absolutely holistic. We at Sana Vita Studio strive to creatively and mentally connect the dots between modern movement science and the historical work – and to see how they don’t conflict with each other. On a physical level – borrowing a quote from an original student of Joseph Pilates – I love “to let my body think through the exercises”; the sensation of being (completely immersed and fiercely present in) movement.
To understand Joe’s work, one has to understand the problem he was trying to solve. It was not a problem of saggy bellies, arms, and behinds alone. Rather, it was a problem of decreasing health due to increasingly sedentary lifestyles all around him. He knew that if he couldn’t fix everyone’s lifestyle, he could at least bring people back into their bodies. His mission was to show the world a way to physical health through better exercise, sleep, and hygiene practices.
It is noteworthy that much of what we consider to be “Pilates” was around well before Joe. In the context of physical culture of his time, most of the exercises, the use of springs in training equipment, and his philosophies and theories around physical health were very common. But what truly
set Joe apart — even compared to today’s standards of movement education — was his talent in engineering unique apparatus and furniture, and his holistic understanding of human movement.
Joe documented an incredible awareness of all of the body’s systems and their role in movement. According to him, the main reason to condition our muscles and connective tissues is to create space and support for our organs and joints to function better. He believed that as our modern lifestyles negatively effect our innate movement potential, cultivating improved physical function had to precede the acquisition of specialized strength and motor skills. Modern exercise science shows he was right. Training methods based on “natural”, bodyweight movement, and barebones gyms are back on the rise in today’s fitness landscape. It is said that doing Pilates is like peeling away the layers of an onion; the larger outer layer is just the gross movement patterns, and each successive layer brings more flavor and deeper understanding of the movements. Just when you think you have mastered an exercise, another layer will be revealed, and the exercise will demand even more analysis and a deeper connection. Of course we know that a movement practice benefits the entire body beyond the muscular system. But it’s important to know just how much Joseph Pilates emphasized this all throughout his career.
If it's easy it's probably not Pilates! The Art of Pilates is looking at the body and knowing the most direct way to address it to achieve an optimal level
of health & fitness. Pilates is more than something you do here in our studio...it is a lifestyle. Pilates should affect your everyday life-your posture, how you think about movement, your ability to move, in any task-mundane or athletic.