When Joseph H. Pilates came to America in the early 20th century, he brought with him a unique approach to training the body and mind.
Just doors down from the famed NYC ballet studio, a new kind of therapeutic movement was being offered, and at the insistence of the studio’s ballet master, George Balanchine, the famous 20th century choreographer, dancers began trying Pilates, taught by little known inventor and educator, Joseph Pilates. This revolutionary approach to body conditioning was finding an audience quickly as dancers were hooked from their first lesson, as was with a young dancer named Romana Kryzanowska, who soon became one of her new teacher’s most devoted pupils. And no wonder. As Romana explained, “I had a bone problem in my foot and it needed fixing, so George Balanchine told me to go down the hall and see Uncle Joe who looked at me and said, “Little girl, if I don’t fix you in 5 lessons, I will give you your money back.” Romana finished her story by telling me her foot was healed in 3 lessons.
Mr. Pilates knew what he was talking about, plagued by rickets and asthma, he found health by developing a physical and mental discipline he eventually named Contrology. His genius enabled him to create many mat exercises as well as inventing nine different pieces of workout equipment, as well as many auxiliary props to help his clients further improve their health – no matter what their physical challenges.
Joseph Pilates described to his students what his extensive anatomical studies had taught him – that all heathy movement originates with the band of muscles that wrap around the body just below the navel. To fully engage these muscles is fundamental in practicing the Pilates method. In addition, Mr. Pilates specified that his exercises be practiced in a specific sequence to best cleanse and stimulate the internal organs. In his words, “Give the body an internal shower.” This depth of this of body conditioning results for many a true state of health and is considered the key to happiness. Joseph Pilates said it himself, “Physical fitness is the first requisite for happiness.”