What is Pilates?

13th July 2020

Pilates is a form of exercise for the whole body, concentrating on posture, balance and flexibility.

Pilates uses low-impact flexibility, muscular strength and endurance movements, emphasising postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance. It uses a range of mat and equipment-based exercises that are suitable for all ages, levels of fitness and ability.

How did Pilates come about?

Pilates as a form of exercise began in the 1920s and was developed by a man called Joseph Pilates.

Joseph was born in Germany in 1880 and suffered a number of ailments throughout his childhood, making him very frail. He was determined not to let this affect his life and in his teenage years, he began to exercise regularly through body building and gymnastics.

He was enthusiastic about the idea of health and fitness and tried every kind of exercises he could, including martial arts, meditation, yoga and tai chi. He went on to become a professional boxer and an expert skier and diver and in 1912, he moved to England where he taught self-defence and worked for a time in a circus.

It was during World War I, when Joseph was working in a hospital with patients that couldn’t walk, that he started to develop a new way for them to exercise.

Joseph tied springs to patient’s hospital bed frames so they could start exercising their muscles even though they were confined to bed. There is still a version of this machine in use today, albeit an updated and improved version.

After the war, Joseph returned to Germany where he continued to work on this new exercise regime and in 1923, he moved to America and set up the first Pilates studio with his wife Clara.

Pilates was an immediate hit, especially with dancers, who found it was a good way to recover from injuries as well as helping them strengthen any weak areas and prevent further injury.

Joseph initially called this new form of exercise Contrology, and it only became known as Pilates after his death in 1967. His wife, a teacher in the Contrology studio, passed his teaching methods on to ‘apprentices’ who went on to open their own studios.

Because Joseph did not set out a formal training plan for how to use his exercise regime, over the years, his apprentices adapted the original exercises and added their own variations. From here, Pilates has grown into the widely known practice we’re familiar with today!

The growth in popularity in America made it possible to bring Pilates to the UK and the first Pilates studio opened in London in 1970.

What is the APPI Pilates Method?

At Crushes Manor Clinic, we use the APPI Pilates method. This was developed by two Australian physiotherapists, Glenn and Elisa Withers, and is based on 14 years of clinical practice as physios and Pilates teachers.

They found that some of the original Pilates exercises required high levels of strength and control to be effective to their patients and because of this, patients did not always reap the desired benefits. However, after a lot of research, they modified the movements and found that this new form of Pilates was a lot more successful for the rehabilitation of patients.

The APPI Pilates method is now used widely for physiotherapy injury rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, sports injury rehabilitation and women’s health, and can be used at any fitness level.

Crushes Manor Clinic Pilates 1:1 sessions are currently available Tuesday and Thursday. Group Classes not currently available due to Covid-19 regulations.

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