Joseph Pilates called his system Contrology, his students called it Pilates, but neither term is protected by a trademark. This means that anyone who develops a system of exercise can call it Pilates, even though it isn’t. The students who learned Contrology from Joseph himself are called the Pilates Elders or the Joseph Pilates’ system of body conditioning is the most powerful way I know to help my students develop a strong, balanced and healthy body. the First Generation teachers. Next in line are students like myself who learned the method from those First Generation teachers. We are known as Second Generation. Joe Pilates had decades to observe and document the effects of the hundreds of exercises he created. Until he passed in 1967 at the age of 83, his goal was always the same: practice Contrology on the mat and the apparatus and anyone can develop stretch, strength, control throughout the entire body.
”It is the mind that builds the body”
(Joseph Pilates)Every Pilates exercise is designed to activate the deep abdominal, low back and core skeletal muscles. Time is also spent on the transitions from exercise to exercise which establishes a flow so necessary for mastering the full routines. In addition, the breath is integral to the method and many of the exercises are defined by the breath. Joe Pilates often said to his students, “If you only learn one thing from me, learn to breathe properly.” His Contrology studio in New York City was filled with apparatus meant for students to practice and achieve their fitness goals. But learning this method requires a methodical and careful approach until someone can understand where the work originates in the body.
He gave us brilliant gifts. Those “gifts” were originally built by Joe and his brother, Fred. Joe constantly tweaked the apparatus designs to accommodate his students. The invention list is awe-inspiring, beginning with the Foot Corrector followed by the Bench Mat, then the most recognizable apparatus, the Reformer. The list continues: Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Electric Chair, Baby Arm Chair, Guillotine, V-Bed, Junior Reformer, Ladder Barrel, Baby Barrel, Ped-O-Pul, Spine Corrector, Magic Circle,Toe Exerciser, Hands Tens-o-meter, Breath-o-sizer, Bean bag roll up device, Push-up Device, Airplane Board and the recent discovery and reproduction of the Resister. How cool is that amazing line-up?
For history buffs here is a list of Joe's patents:
The foundation of the Pilates Method is the Mat work. Although, if a student’s body is too weak to begin with the Mat, he or she will begin on the Reformer. All of Joe’s other inventions build on the Mat work and the Reformer. Each apparatus has its own set of exercises, but it’s the Mat and the Reformer that prepare the body for the rest of the Pilates system. . Unlike weight machines or free weights that focus on particular body parts, each Pilates move requires the full body to be activated.
This means for example, when practicing exercises on the various apparatus which are spring loaded, the springs are set to a light weight so as to not recruit the larger and more global muscle groups. Unlike other fitness workouts, as as you build your inside strength, the chance of injury is slim. And though the exercises actually look simple to do, learning and mastering them can be a life-long discipline.
Joseph Pilates taught his method to anyone, but in particular those who were injured. His rehabilitative skills helped scores of people needing to be “fixed,” including most of the First Generations students. He studied the human body and how it functioned and even posed for anatomy charts.
The Pilates Method has helped patients recover from broken bones, sprains, feet/hand issues, balance problems and it isn’t just Pilates studios that offer his healing method, but physical therapy clinics as well. Their clinically based Pilates treatments are among some of the most effective patient protocols. For those healing from an injury or are de-conditioned, a careful and thoughtful approach guarantees success as the body acclimates to moving from a strong center.
It’s a very deceiving method initially, because it appears as if the exercises are so simple to do. It’s only when a patient begins to understand how the movements feel deep inside the body, and as Joe Pilates explained to his students, “work from your inner muscles,” that the patient’s body can transform and heal.
... and explore with me the wonderful journey to a healthy body and your best life.