Joseph & Clara Pilates
Joseph Pilates was a man. He originally designed his Contrology exercises and equipment for men, in an Internment Camp on the Isle of Man during the First Work War.
Born in Germany in the early 1880s, Joseph Pilates grew up studying many of the “physical culture” systems which were so popular in late C19 and early C20 Europe.
He later developed his Method in the US where it became a well kept secret of dancers and athletes.
Their New York Studio
Just as many others did, Pilates developed his own method of training, "Contrology" more often now called “The Pilates Method”, which is now a household word when all the big names of his time are footnotes in the history of body building.
Pilates created what is believed to be a method of total body conditioning that emphasizes proper alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing and flowing movement (The Pilates Principles) that results in increased flexibility, strength, muscle tone, body awareness, energy, and improved mental concentration.
He obviously got something right.
For decades, Pilates continued to dedicate his life to training others in his method, developing and polishing exercises, routines, making new apparatus and modifying existing ones.
The results of his system over nearly 100 years show that he had a phenomenally deep understanding of the human body, its potential and how to train it.
He was able to bring together the exercises and fitness technology of his era in a way that has stood the test of time.
Joe took clients with different and new problems as a challenge, and new exercises, adaptations and equipment modifications appeared. He and Clara taught the body that was in front of them.
The famous New York choreographer and personal friend of Pilates, George Balanchine, described him as “a genius of the body” and sent many of his dancers, including Romana Kryzanowska, to the Pilates' studio.
Joseph Pilates died in 1967, and Romana, who was one of his lifelong students, stepped in to help his widow, Clara, run the studio. When Clara died 10 years later, Romana inherited their New York City studio. She preserved their legacy by travelling the world for six decades educating the next generation of Pilates instructors.
Romana's daughter, Sari Mejia Santo, who also trained directly with the Pilates', taught at her mother’s side for more than three decades, and she herself still travels, as her mother did, training the future generations.
Sari's daughter, Daria Pace, later joined her mother and grandmother in teaching the Pilates method and she now runs Romana’s Pilates.
When you work with a Romana’s Pilates instructor, you can be confident you’re getting quality and experience, not an instructor who achieved certification over the weekend or using a fast track approach.
Romana’s Pilates instructors will teach you much more than just the mat; they will teach you using all the key pieces of Pilates equipment. The UK is very lucky to have a Romana's Pilates Teacher Training Studio at Kinetic Pilates in London, where Kirstin undertook her most recent certification.
What can Pilates do for you?
Our genetic makeup, where and how we live, work and play, all have a major impact on how we look and feel.
Everything we do, from carrying your baby on your hip while you hover, to how you sit at home, at your computer, or at work, how you use your phone, how you drive, what you do in your spare time, they all can affect your body's structure, its movement and its well-being.
Those activities, wrongly performed over a lifetime, can have an increasingly detrimental effect on your body as you age. Pilates helps turn that clock back, helps your body back into a natural alignment, as the method concentrates on working with the whole body and how each part affects another as you move, rather than training to develop a specific part.
Pilates, whilst it can be gentle when necessary, can also be very challenging too.
Pilates matwork is probably the most well known Pilates class, but to workout on the equipment is the most beneficial and gets the fastest results. Today we still use the equipment (apparatus) he devised, and, with a teacher who knows The Method thoroughly, we can apply the exercises to each person’s individual needs. It is the way Joe Pilates meant it to be used and what Romana has passed on to us all.
Going through the movements is not enough. How you do them is more important than what exercises you do.