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By: Catherine Nemecek
Copyright (c) 2008 Harper DTP Co.
Developed from rehabilitation techniques; Pilates is a safe, sensible exercise system. By emphasizing proper breathing, it gets your mind and body in tune with one another.
The originator, Joseph Pilates, was the son of a prize winning gymnast in Germany; were Joseph was born. A sickly child, Joseph began his life's journey to fitness and health at an early age. By the time he was 14 he was modeling for anatomy charts.
In 1912 Joe went to England where he worked as a self defense instructor for Scotland Yard. At the beginning of WWI he was interned with other German nationals. During his internment, Joe refined his idea and trained other internees. In 1918 an influenza epidemic struck England killing thousands. Not one of Joe's trainees died. He claimed this to be a testament to the effectiveness of his system.
In 1926 Joseph Pilates emigrated to the U.S. and opened his first studio in New York City sharing an address with the New York City Ballet. Along the way he met Clara whom he later married. By 1960 many New York dancers were their clients; including George Balanchine, who later invited Joe to instruct his young ballerinas at the New York City Ballet.
When Joe passed away in 1967 only two of his students were known to have opened their own studios. Carola Trier, a close friend and Bob Seed, who tried to take clients from Joe.
More than 80 years later Pilates has become one of the hottest and most accessible workouts around. It's no wonder as Pilates not only tones and tightens your body, but protects it too.
There are two basic types of Pilates. The most common type (which you can do almost anywhere) consists of a series of floor exercises preformed on a mat. These use the body's own weight as resistance, but can also involve resistance bands or the Pilates Magic Circle (a flexible circle made of rubber or thin metal). The second type relies on two machines called the Cadillac and the Reformer which use a system of springs, levers and pulleys to strengthen and condition. Both types work on the "core" or transverse muscle deep in the abdomen that forms the girdle inside the body. A strong transverse muscle gives you better endurance in every other physical activity. It also protects the lower back and improves posture.
Pilates exercises do produce long lean muscles like a dancer's, but Pilates isn't just for girls. Pro football players use Pilates to strengthen their bodies and cores; which helps them absorb the impact of full body tackles without blowing out their knees. During World War I, Joseph Pilates also used his exercises to help wounded soldiers become mobile again.
Today there are Pilates studios all over the world. Mari Winsor has gained much notoriety with her Windsor Pilates fitness program.
The Winsor Pilates program is one of the top selling fitness programs in the world, and is transforming the bodies of men and women all over the globe.
To learn more about Mari Winsor and Winsor Pilates go to: http://www.harper-dtp.com/articles/pilates.htm
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