"Return to Life" book coverGerman-born Joseph H. Pilates developed the form of exercise called “Pilates” in the early 1900’s. His unique regimen involved using the mind to master the muscles, what we refer to today as the mind-body connection.

Pilates developed many of his techniques using the springs and trapeze attachments of a hospital bed while working with non-ambulatory patients during WWI. The spring-based exercises became the inspiration for the apparatus that Pilates designed, such as the Reformer, and the Cadillac/Trapeze Table.

In 1926, Pilates opened a studio in New York City where he and his wife Clara worked with dancers, actors and athletes, as well as with those suffering from Polio and other debilitating ailments. Pilates’ unique approach was to stretch and lengthen the muscles, initiating each movement from a strong and centered torso. This resulted in training the muscles from the inside out, utilizing deep muscles in the abdominals, shoulders, back and hips (what Pilates called the ”powerhouse”) to support the spine and allow for increased strength and range of motion. The exercises rely on controlled breathing and precise form in order to correct posture and muscle imbalances. The Pilates method provides for improved posture, strength, flexibility and mental clarity, and aids in injury prevention.

Joseph Pilates demonstrating the roll-over