What is Pilates and where did it come from?

We recently added Pilates to our range of services at Physio (and now Pilates) Central, including the addition of a purpose-built studio in our new Wimbledon clinic.

But how did it come about?

Pilates was named after Joseph Pilates, born in Germany in 1883.

He was a sickly child and believed that fitness and exercise was the key to good health, pursuing a life dedicated to exercise as a boxer, gymnast and self-defence instructor.

Pilates was fascinated by the body and movement, often studying animals with their young to gain a better understanding of their movement and development. This lead to his belief that children have naturally good movement patterns and it’s only when we get older that we develop bad habits.

While detained in a POW camp in the first world war Pilates started teaching his ‘Contrology’ exercises to fellow soldiers, modifying beds and wheelchairs to ensure everyone could take part. The results were so impressive that Pilates was moved to a camp housing more seriously injured soldiers.

Following the war Pilates moved to the US set up a studio and it was here he met his wife Clara, a nurse and teacher who was impressed with his work.Wimbledon Pilates studio

While Joseph Pilates gave his name to the method, it was Clara who helped shape it to become the method that we practise today. Pilates’ more rigid approach was improved by Clara’s understanding that all bodies are different and that exercises sometimes need to be tailored.

Clara worked alongside Joseph in New York until his death in 1967 with the movement growing more popular each year. Today Pilates is popular with all age groups, genders and demographics from office workers to elite sportsmen and women.

Want to find out more about Pilates and what it can do for you? Have a look at our FAQ page.

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