It all started with a person called Joseph Pilates. He was German-born emigrant that went to the United Kingdom and then to the USA where he popularized his program of exercises for body conditioning. He did that at the beginning of the 20th century. The main idea of his method is to use equipment called apparatus.
The name of this machine is a reformer, which most studios use nowadays. He was born in 1880 in Dusseldorf as a sick child who wanted to become healthy and strong. He did not think that his ideas will become huge and that some artists will start to compose specific Pilates music just for classes.
He entered the world of bodybuilding, and he reached the moment where he worked as a model for medicine students that wrote anatomic drawings. He was the most influential figure that combined Eastern and Western ideas about physical fitness and health.
Since the very beginning, he practiced every single exercise he could think of. He used classical Greek and Roman exercise regiments to gymnastics and bodybuilding. He also found out more on Eastern disciplines such as martial arts, tai chi, and yoga and meditation.
Finally, he decided to study animal movements and anatomy. You can see that he was dedicated, and he is the first person who samples every type of exercise so that he can record the results carefully and with attention.
If you want to learn tips on exercising from Ancient Greeks, you should check here.
Development of Pilates
At the age of 32, he left Germany for the United Kingdom, and he became a professional boxer, an expert diver and skier. He also connected himself with Scotland Yard and taught them self-defense. In some moments, he worked as an acrobat.
When the World War I started, British thought that he was a German spy. He used the time to develop a completely different approach to body conditioning and exercise, which is the program we call today Pilates.
During the internment, he started working as a nurse, which gave him a chance to experiment with hospital beds. He allowed patients to start growing and toning their muscles while they were still lying on the bed. This is the first time he thought about Pilates machine that we know today as a reformer.
The first reformer had the shape of a sliding bed and used springs. He returned to Germany and worked with Rudolf von Laban (check this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_von_Laban for more information) who was a pioneer of movement techniques. The Laban helped him create a system of dance notation that we still use today.
The First Studio
He later moved to America and decided to open the first studio in New York. His wife Clara was his assistant, and he met with her during the Atlantic crossing. This particular method became widely recognized especially among dancers such as George Balanchine and Martha Graham.
They were not the only one, because other dancers became devotees too. They understood that Pilates is the best method to prevent injuries and to recover from them too. After a while, popularity increased, and the whole world found out about this particular program.
He called his technique Contrology, and after he died, it got the name from him because he was the founder and person who did the most for it. He made to be both physical and mental conditioning that would allow individuals to work their bodies with the idea to reach its full potential.
When he explained the guiding principle and the trivia is that he always quoted Schiller with the idea that mind is the one that builds the body and it will help you reach the perfection and balance.
Return to the United Kingdom
Even though this method was widely recognized and popular all across the USA, it did not return to Britain until 1970. Alan Herdman brought him back when he asked London School of Contemporary Dance to visit and investigate his methods. After a while, Herdman was the first person in Britain that opened Pilates studio.
As you can see from everything that we have mentioned above, Pilates is the method that will provide you perfect balance between your body and mind so that you can achieve perfection. It was conceived by a talented person, and since then the perspective we have on workout changed.