Saturday, November 9, 2013

Pilates - an introduction

If you were to play 20 questions with this one, you should know that "pilates" can be both a person and a thing.

The exercise program Pilates is derived from the name of one man, a German, Joseph Pilates.  By all accounts he was a sickly child who turned to exercise, sport and competition.  No video games a hundred years ago! 

One thing there was about a hundred years ago was a World War, the first World War in fact.  And  Mr. Pilates found himself in England at a time when Germans were not particularly popular.  Why was he in England?  He ran away and joined the circus.  No, I'm not joking,  He really did run away and join the circus!

So there he is in an English internment camp, along with other 'enemy aliens', many of whom were suffering from war injuries.  And depressed as all get out.  Well, wouldn't you be?  So our man Pilates starts to develop a series of exercises that can be done on the floor, or on a bed, or in a chair - using straps and ropes and bed frames and anything he can find to isolate and develop muscles that will not only speed the healing process, but make the body stronger, and through doing so develop a more positive attitude. 

After the war Joseph Pilates returned to Germany, where his method had became famous. When 'invited' to join the German army, he wisely whipped off across the Atlantic and settled in New York.

And lived happily ever after.

Well maybe.  Maybe not.  I never met the man myself.  I can only hope good things came his way because he left us with a program of exercise that might just be a scoliosis sufferer's best friend.

With scoliosis, the spine is rotated and tilted and curved, so standing straight becomes like the holy grail, impossible to find. And if the body has problems standing upright as originally designed to do, then the muscles must try to do what the vertebrae can't.  Enter Pilates.

My next post will illustrate how Pilates does what it does, and why I will never live without it!

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