Pilates

Like AT, Pilates is a system that does not have an ancient history. In fact, it was put together by a German national of Greek parentage called Joseph Pilates who had been interned by the British during World War One. He had studied Yoga forms and Zen Buddhism and was inspired by Greek Philosophy, especially the Platonic principles and ideals. Hesaw the possibility of helping the sick and wounded around him, and during the war built up his system utilising whatever aides and props he could to help the disabled soldiers. His system is based on resistance training, and unlike Yoga, flexibility is not the issue – our muscular strength is, plus other factors he re-cognised as important to develop true health.

So, he believed by isolating muscle groups and working on them, by working on breath control and increasing someone blood circulation, the whole body became stronger. He believed that the mind controlled the body and was determined to develop a system that anyone could use, whatever their condition, age or situation.

This determination all stemmed from his childhood, which was plagued by ill health and weakness. So, as a youngster, first he had built himself up and then he was in the position through hardship to help build up the sick soldiers around him, and when the war was over, it was discovered that those soldiers that he had worked with didn’t catch the influenza that had swept through the country and the whole camp, indicating that what he was doing was indeed a phenomena worth investigating. So clearly, by improving the bodily strength, and circulation, and posture, he had proven that the immunity and health of someone could also be improved. After he returned to Germany, he was elevated into a position of importance, but left to find his fortune in the US, where his system became well known by actors, dancers and many celebrities. He published books and lived to be old enough to see the success for himself.

As an exercise system, Pilates is not in competition with Yoga at all. In fact, if anything, it is in competition with the gym, because its sole aim is to strengthen the body, not the mind as such, and he dint develop any way of life or lifestyle philosophy, unlike the yogis. However, he did envision that a strong body necessitated a string mind, and his various techniques and ideas for improving the body also mean t certain amount of mind control and discipline ad to be developed in order to be successful. Another factor in his system is the need for much one-to-one work between the trainer and practitioner.

Whilst some of his props look like instruments of torture, they are in fact all based on original parts of materials he found around him in the camp, so they are very simple in design and the simpler something is, often the more effective.

Today, almost everyone has heard of Pilates, and many,  many millions of people use it across the world, to re-habilitate themselves and generally keep in good shape and develop their muscular and a deeper strength.

I found that it had certain benefits, but if you don’t develop your flexibility as well, mere muscular and body strength is limiting. Also, as there is no guiding philosophy, it can be seen as a somewhat shallow practice and I believe people want and need more guidance in their lifestyles and life choices, not just body work.