"Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man, what a mighty good man.
I want to take a minute or two, and give much respect due to the man that's made a difference in my World.
A body like Arnold with a Denzel face. He's smart like a doctor with a real good rep"
- Salt 'N' Pepa
A legend is born...
It was a cold, dark & stormy (I don't know if that was the case, it's just my perception of Germany when I visited in the year 2000) December 9th. The year? 1883. Monchengladbach welcomed Joseph Hubertus Pilates into the World.
He started out in life a sickly child, bullied by older, bigger, stronger kids.
Determined to overcome his ailments, he studied many disciplines of health & fitness, taking particular interest in the Greek ideal of a man who is balanced equally in body, mind & spirit. Such was his obsession by this ideal, that by age 14 he had achieved an Adonis-like "anatomical ideal" which saw him posing as a model for anatomy charts.
J.P gets sprung!
It was while he was touring England as a circus performer & professional boxer that World War 1 broke out.
Finding himself interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, Mr Pilates set to work encouraging everyone in his cell block to participate in daily exercise for the maintenance of their physical & mental well-being. Confined to beds, the infirmary patients were unable to join in on the exercises, but that didn't deter J.P. Instead with permission from the nurses to "do anything you like with them, as long as they stay in bed" he removed springs from the iron beds & rigged them up to the bedposts, transforming the beds themselves into apparatus that provided resistance exercise.
This was the beginning of the specialized spring-loaded Pilates apparatus you know & love today.
It has been said that when the1918 flu epidemic swept the World and killed millions, not a single one of the soldiers under Joe's care at the internment camp succumbed!
New York! New York!
Returning to Germany at the end of the war, J.P trained the Hamburg Military Police in self-defense & fitness. Asked to train the New German Army in 1923, he declined due to his disdain for the political direction of Germany. Instead, he jumped on a boat to the U.S.A.
Not aware that he had boarded the "Love boat" Joseph Pilates met his wife Clara on the voyage & together they opened the first body Contrology (The name he dubbed his exercise method) studio on 8th Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan.
Everybody dance now
Quickly becoming popular within the dance community, the Contrology method had professional dancers relying on it to keep them strong, agile & pain-free, so they could continue their rigorous dance training & performances with greater ease.
Pilates lives on
Pilates the man died at the age of 84, but Pilates the method continues to live on in his memory thanks to the many teachers dedicated to sharing his life's work across the globe & the millions of participants who make his brilliant method of exercise an integral part of their lives.
"Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty to not only attain it, but maintain it" - Joseph H. Pilates
Check out the move of the month - The Hundred!