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Short History of Pilates

Joseph Pilates, creator of the Pilates group of Exercises was sickly as a child. He suffered from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. At age 14, he remedied his health status by engaging in exercise and body building, and in doing so, became the model for anatomical drawings.

With determination and dedication to his exercise, Pilates became skilled in sports like skiing, diving and gymnastics. In 1912 he worked as a self defense instructor for Scotland Yard, in England. When World War I came, Pilates, a German national, was named an 'enemy alien' like most other German nationals at the time. During his capture, he started perfecting the methods of the Pilates exercise, and started teaching it to the other interns.

He would make use of springs attached to hospital beds to enable bedridden patients to do exercise, with resistance. Pilates was first designed as a reconstructive form of exercise, mostly for those injured and unable to move freely, or else confined in a bed or a chair. The crude 'exercise machines' was the basis for his later designs.

In 1918, an Influenza epidemic struck England, but none of his trainees were among the thousands killed, this strengthened his claim for the exercise's efficiency.

After being cleared of accusations, and his release, Pilates returned to Germany to perfect his method. The dance community, through Rudolf Van Laban, highly regarded Pilates' techniques and adapted his exercises. In 1926, Pilates immigrated to the United States, after being asked to teach his techniques in the German Army. This is where he met his wife Clara, and with her, he opened a studio in New York, with the New York City Ballet.

In the 1960's most of Pilets' students are New York Dancers. One of which, George Ballanchine, also had Pilates teach the ballerinas at the New York City Ballet. As time passed, his method became popular, not only in New York, but also everywhere in the United States.

Two of Pilates' Students, Carola Trier, and Bob Seed, on the other hand, opened their own studio, demonstrating the methods and techniques, taught them by Pilates himself. Carola Trier, found solace in fleeing to the united Sattes, whe she escaped a Nazi Holding Camp, and found Pilates in 1940. Having pertinent dance background and the techniques under her belt, she became a contortionist, only stopping when getting injured in 1940. Due to this, Pilates helped TRier to open her own studio in 1950.

Bob Seed, aformer Hockey player, and an avid student of Pilates opened a studio across form Joseph's and tried to make a competition out of it by opening early in the morning. Some people say that Pilates threatened Seed one day, and told him to leave town, and indeed he left.

When Pilates died, he left no instruction as to how to continue the line of Pilates work, nevertheless, his wife Clara, continued with the Studio, already known as the Pilates studio. Romana Kryzanowska, a student who studied with Joe and Clara aroung the 1940's continued their work and became director of the studio in 1970.

Also in 1970, A man named Ron Fletcher, a Martha Graham dancer, opened his own studio in Los angeles. He attracted many Hollywood stars, and this so impressed Clara, that she gave him permission to carry on the pilates name. Fletcher however, brought on improvements to the exercise regiment.

In 1967, two other students, Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel were awarded degrees by the State university of New York, to teach Pilates, they were the only practitioners ever to certified by Pialtes officially. Grant took over the Bendel's Studio in 1972, whilst San Miguel went to Puerto Rico to teach Pilates at the Ballet Concerto de Puerto Rica.

In the late 1980's due to Fletcher Success in Hollywood, the media covered the Pilates method considerably, it gained its popularity among celebrities as well as average Americans. To date, about five million Americans make use of the Pilates method.

Yoga is 99% practice and 1% knowledge.
- Sri Krishna Pattabhi Jois

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