How Pilates Got Its StartPosted by Ian Kullhem on Jun 16, 2015
While Pilates studios are welcoming places of exercise and health, the original Pilates studio was nothing of the sort. Pilates originated in an internment camp during World War I with a man named Joseph Pilates.
Pilates in World War I
Joseph was a German martial arts trainer who found himself in Scotland at when WWI broke out. German citizens living in Scotland were placed in enemy alien internment camps. While in captivity, Joseph developed an exercise regimen based on his combined experiences in martial arts, yoga and ancient Greek and Roman physical fitness routines.
Eventually, he gained the attention of the other prisoners of war, and he began training them even going so far as to create various exercise apparatuses out of mattress springs to facilitate his training sessions. Pilates was transferred to another camp where he became responsible for caring for sick POWs during a massive flu outbreak. Though thousands of people throughout Scotland died during the epidemic, Pilates didn’t lose a single patient.
Whether the success of his patients was from sheer luck or from diligent exercise regimens, we’ll never know. What we do know is that his patients were able to use the exercise systems Pilates developed even while remaining fairly sedentary during their recovery.
Dancing into America
When WWI ended, Pilates returned to Germany where his practice began to gain favor within the professional dance community. He immigrated to the U.S. several years later and opened the first Pilates training studio. While Pilates never intended for his exercise regimen to cater specifically to dancers, it became hugely popular with professional and non-professional dancers alike. In 1964, the New York Herald Tribune claimed that hundreds of young students in dance classes across the entire United States relied on Pilates as part of their everyday dance classes.
Other practitioners who had studied under Joseph Pilates for years were beginning to branch off and develop their own studios and practices.
Joseph Pilates died in the 1960s, about 20 years before the Pilates movement became a household name. Today, there are more than 11 million Americans practicing Pilates. The numbers increase daily, and the practice continues to evolve to embrace total body health and fitness.
At Pilates in the Pines, certified Pilates instructors train groups and individuals. See our website for course offerings or drop into our studio for more information. We’re located at 880 W Happy Canyon Rd., Castle Rock, CO 80108. Our phone number is 720.733.9307.