The Pilates exercise method was created by Joseph Pilates who was born in 1880 in Germany. He was unwell as a child and so became interested in and practised sport and physical fitness as a way to feel and look better. During the war he was interned on the Isle of Man, where he began to develop his fitness programme which he taught to his fellow internees.
After the war, Joseph Pilates emigrated to New York, where he met his wife Clara and set up his first fitness studio in New York at an address he shared with the New York City Ballet. His studio soon began to attract the 'elite' of New York with leading ballet dancers coming to him because his exercises perfected and complemented their traditional exercise programme. Actors and actresses, sportspersons, the rich and the famous were all attracted to a workout that built strength without adding bulk, balancing that strength with flexibility, and achieving the perfect harmony between mind and muscle.
Joseph Pilates designed a variety of equipment, for which he used the term "apparatus". Each apparatus was designed to help accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening, body alignment and increased core strength started by the mat work.
Today Pilates is taught in several forms, directly reflecting the legacy of Joseph Pilates, who developed the method some 80 years ago. He did not lay down a formal training programme, with the result that, on his death, his 'disciples' continued teaching by adding their own variations to the core philosophy and exercises. This flexibility in approach is one of the reasons why Pilates has been so successful over this time period.
Pilates is a holistic exercise practice that works to improve flexibility, strength, alignment and control of the body.
The Reformer is the most well known piece of Pilates Studio Equipment. It was created in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates and remains largely unchanged in terms of design and function today. It is a resistance based machine using springs, ropes and straps all connecting to a moving carriage. The springs allow for variable resistance that can be used to improve strength and control or provide support and assistance that allows you to make movements and positions that would otherwise be extremely difficult or impossible. The moving parts of the Reformer also help you to establish flowing, controlled movements challenging stability in one directions whilst providing stability in another. The Reformer is extremely versatile with a limitless number of exercises that can be performed on it. Exercises can be performed lying down, sitting, kneeling or standing. The ropes and straps are used for either the hands or the feet to enable you to pull or push yourself on the carriage against the resistance provided by the springs. The variable resistance provided by the springs can be changed to reflect individual ability and exercise objectives.
Reformer Pilates adds another dimension to your Pilates practice which enhances the effectiveness of the mat work exercises. Reformer Pilates will strengthen, lengthen and tone the body as well as mobilising joints through their full range of movement. Plus the addition of jump board in some classes increases the cardio vascular workout.