Pilates is a form of exercise that was originally developed by German born Joseph Pilates. Joseph dedicated his life to becoming physically stronger and studied many forms of movement leading to the development of his unique method of physical and mental conditioning. He brought his method to the USA in 1923. The Pilates Method took the dance world by storm as dancers plagued by injuries common to elite performers embraced this exercise method. Dancers found that by reintroducing movement with the right amount of assistance and resistance provided by Pilates in the early stages of rehabilitation, long recovery periods were reduced and the ability to reach peak performance was enhanced.
Joseph's vision of Pilates as a form of exercise was that it would fit into a total philosophy of health and well-being encompassing three guiding principles:
- Whole Body Health - 'Physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily and satisfactorily performing our many and varied tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure'
- Whole Body Commitment - 'To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life, we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability'
- Breath - 'Above all, learn how to breathe correctly'
(taken from his 1945 book Return to Life)
Physiotherapists began to integrate Pilates based exercises into their treatment programs more than 70 years later, when they realised the benefits of the strength and flexibility gains made by their clients who were doing Pilates. It also fits perfectly into the 'Preventative Health and Well Being' model of keeping the body moving through its maximal range of movement.