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The History of Pilates

The Pilates Method is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th Century by German-American Joseph Pilates.

Joseph Pilates called the method The Art of Contrology, which refers to the way the method encourages the use of the mind to control the muscles.

Instead of performing many repetitions of each exercise, Joseph H. Pilates preferred fewer, more precise movements, requiring proper control and form. He designed more than 500 specific exercises.

The most frequent form, called "matwork", involves a series of callisthenic motions performed without weight or apparatus on a padded mat.


Pilates also designed five major pieces of unique exercise equipment that can be optionally used. In all forms, the "powerhouse" (abdomen, lower back, and buttocks) is supported and strengthened, enabling the rest of the body to move freely.

In terms of physical exercise Pilates exercise resembles yoga but without the spiritual element. It was originally used to bring injured dancers back to full fitness, the idea being more to build bodily co-ordination and flexibility than stamina or muscle strength.

It has been used to train dancers in flexibility and physical strength. In recent years it has become a popular fitness modality. It has also been combined with yoga to form Yogilates.

The first official Pilates Studio was opened in New York in 1926.

For more information: The Pilates Power System
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