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Pilates
The History

Pilates is a system of specific exercises for optimal health created by Joseph Pilates, the son of a gymnast and an osteopath. Joseph was working  in England as a gymnast, boxer, and circus performer when WWI began and was interned on the Isle of Man with other German nationals. It was during this time he created his method. To ensure that every muscle in the body was used, he organized familiar movements from gymnastics into a progressive and orderly system. Originally this system was performed on the floor with only gravity and body weight as resistance.  

Joseph immigrated to the USA in 1926 and ran a boxers' training gym in NYC. By coincidence, his gym was located in the same building as many dance studios. The dancers soon learned of Mr Pilates' skill in rehabilitating injuries and found value in the method he created.  For the most part, it was the dancers who wished to preserve Mr Pilates' methods and spread his message. As the dancers began teaching and promoting his work, his original method took a turn towards the dance world's aesthetics and jargon. However, by all accounts Mr Pilates was known as a very manly man, and if you read his two books you'll find he intended for his methods to help ALL people become universally healthy. (you'll also notice his love for the word universe) He never spoke of turning everyone into ballerinas, and part of me thinks the thought of his method being known as "girly exercise" must have him turning in his grave!

Below is an animation of the story of Joseph Pilates.  While some of it might be a little mythological, it's still fun to watch!

The Pilates Universe, Now

Fast forward the 50 years since Mr.Pilates death, and the popularity of Pilates has boomed. Along with that popularity came very different styles and variations of his original method. Pilates has been adapted and modified by the dance world, the gym world, the sports world, and the physical therapy world. Some of the adaptations are based on current research and cultural changes. For instance, our culture sits much more now than when Mr. Pilates started his life's work in the early 20th century. Thus, most need a few more preliminary exercises before diving in to his original movement system. (see Restorative Exercise™.) But other adaptations have occurred that have more to do with media driven cultural desires of having "six-pack abs" or believing "no pain no gain" rather than desiring true health and better function.

Pilates with Leslie McNabb

My style of Pilates is a continuation of what I believe was Joseph Pilates' intent: systematic total body movement for health. I assess each 
client and build a program of biomechanically sound movement for better function.  As a result, you will feel better, look better, and be better
equipped for tasks of life and further physical pursuits such as athletics, musical performance, or dance.