What Is Pilates?

Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century. It is named after its founder, Joseph Hubertus Pilates (1883-1967). Joseph named his method ‘contrology’ because he believed his method used the mind to control the body. The programme focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and are essential to providing support to the spine. Pilates exercises teach awareness of breathing and alignment of the spine and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles.

The Pilates system consists of more than 500 controlled exercises that engage the mind and condition the whole body. This is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that will give greater body awareness. The Pilates method will:

  • Strengthen the Core
  • Flatten the Abdominals
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Realign Posture
  • Help with Back Pain
  • Help with Postural-Related Migraines
  • Improve Balance and Stability
  • Reduce Stress
  • Improve Body Awareness
  • Increase Mobility
  • Tone Muscles 
  • Strengthen Muscles
  • Improve Co-Ordination
  • Prevent Injury
  • Enhance Athletic Performance
  • Relieve Muscle Tension
  • Rebalance Muscles
  • Restore Natural Curvature of the Spine 
  • Help Post-Rehabilitation
  • Increase Energy Levels
  • Create Long, Lean Muscles without Bulk

What Is Stott Pilates?

The Stott Pilates method is a contemporary approach to the original teachings of Joseph Pilates. It is respected by fitness and health practitioners worldwide and builds on the essence and principles of the late Joseph H. Pilates’ work by incorporating modern knowledge about the body. Pilates exercises combine both matwork and equipment to challenge or assist where needed.

The Joseph Pilates Story

Joseph Hubertus Pilates was born near Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1883. Little is known about his early life, but he appears to have been a frail child, suffering from asthma, rickets, and rheumatic fever. His drive and determination to overcome these ailments led him to become a competent gymnast, diver, and skier.

In 1912, Joseph lived in England, working as a circus performer, boxer, and self-defence instructor. During the First World War, he was interned with other German nationals, and at this time he developed his technique of physical fitness further, teaching his fellow internees. During the latter part of the war, he served as an orderly in a hospital on the Isle of Man where he worked with patients unable to walk. He attached bed springs to the hospital beds to help support the patients' limbs, leading to the development of his famous piece of equipment known as the 'cadillac'. Much of his equipment, although slightly adapted, is still in use today in many Pilates studios.

Pilates emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s with his wife Clara, and together they developed and taught the method in their body conditioning gym, which opened in New York in 1926. The studio featured much of the apparatus designed to enhance his rehabilitation work. It soon became very popular, particularly with the dance community, as it offered a chance to improve technique or recover from injury. Originally, 60% of the clientele were men.

In 1932, Pilates published a booklet called Your Health and followed this with another in 1945 called Return to Life Through Contrology. Through these writings and his students, his method was passed on after his death in 1967 at the age of 83. During his lifetime, this method of exercise was called contrology. It was only after his death that it became known as the Pilates method.

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