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What is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates. Around 1914, Joseph Pilates was a performer and a boxer living in England and, at the outbreak of WWI, was placed under forced internment along with other German nationals in Lancaster, England. There he taught fellow camp members the concepts and exercises developed over 20 years of self-study and apprenticeship in yoga, Zen, and ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens. It was at this time that he began devising the system of original exercises known today as "matwork", or exercises done on the floor. He called this regimen "Contrology." A few years later, he was transferred to another camp, where he became a nurse/caretaker to the many internees struck with wartime disease and physical injury. Here, he began devising equipment to rehabilitate his "patients," taking springs from the beds and rigging them to create spring resistance and "movement" for the bedridden.

Pilates equipment today has evolved, but maintains many of the same elements from its original form. Spring tension, straps to hold feet or hands, supports for back, neck and shoulder are part of contemporary Pilates equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, and Split Pedal Chair. Because of the remarkable nature of the equipment to both challenge and support the body as it learns to move more efficiently, the cleverly designed pieces truly act as a complement to the challenging mat work exercises.

Pilates movements are designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body. With systematic practice of specific exercises coupled with focused breathing patterns, Pilates is invaluable not only as a fitness endeavor itself, but also as an important adjunct to professional sports training and physical rehabilitation of all kinds. Widely embraced among dancers for years, it is now popular with a broad population interested in mindful and healthy practices.

With an emphasis on breath, core conditioning and body awareness, PILATES exercise is a safe and highly effective way to stretch, strengthen and streamline your body without building bulk or stressing your joints.

Whether performed on a mat or using specialized equipment, PILATES exercise is a fitness regime for a lifetime. The perfect complement to cardiovascular exercise, sport, rehab and life, PILATES exercises will leave you looking toned, feeling revitalized and moving with ease.

Proven benefits of the PILATES mind-body exercise method: