The History of Pilates (& Why You Should Be Doing Pilates!)

Today I want to share with you why I created my entire LEVEL UP Program with a foundation in Pilates. This form of exercise truly changed not only my body but my life and it is my intention to expose as many people as possible to the endless benefits of a consistent Pilates practice!

My first exposure to Mat Pilates was during a "Kinesiology & Anatomy for Dancers" class while I was a dance major at UCLA. My love for Pilates grew even more while rehabbing a minor dance-related injury on the Pilates Reformer as a form of physical therapy. My connection with Pilates was instantaneous. It made me feel stronger than ever before and seamlessly fused my lifelong love of movement and fitness into one. After a professional dance career and being a Pilates student for many years, I eventually decided to become an instructor myself and went through a year-long certification program with the PhysicalMind Institute. I was fortunate enough to train under one of the most sought after Pilates teachers in the world, Maria Leone. After completing over 200 hours of education, hands-on teaching, and an in-studio apprenticeship with Maria at her studio Bodyline in Beverly Hills, I received my teaching certification for Mat Pilates and Pilates on the various apparatus (Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Barrel). 

In my opinion, before starting any kind of a Pilates-based fitness program it is extremely important to train with a Pilates instructor who is truly certified in Pilates (and I’m not talking about a weekend group fitness course)- it needs to be a Pilates-specific certification from a reputable institution. The knowledge of the body, the musculoskeletal system and its mechanics are an integral part of teaching Pilates safely and effectively to students. This simply cannot be done without proper training and certification. 

I wanted to give you a brief history of Pilates because I find it so fascinating how it all began and has now grown into a worldwide phenomenon and one of the most popular forms of exercise.

Pilates is a fitness system that was created in the early 1900s by Joseph Pilates of Germany, after whom it was named. Joseph Pilates believed that mental and physical health were interrelated. His series of controlled movements, originally called “Contrology,” encouraged a deep awareness of the mind-body connection. 

Pilates origins date back to the summer of 1914 when World War One began. Joseph Pilates was interned with other German nationals and during this time he developed his fitness method teaching his fellow internees. During the latter part of the War, he served as an orderly in a hospital where he worked with patients unable to walk. He attached bed springs to the hospital beds to help support the patients’ limbs enabling them to exercise against resistance, leading to the development of his famous equipment the Reformer and Cadillac. 

Mr. Pilates immigrated to the United States in 1925 with his wife Clara and together they taught the method in their New York City gym. It soon became very popular, particularly with the dance community. Joseph most notably worked with professional ballerinas at the NYC Ballet, helping to increase their performance capability, avoid injury, and improve their overall strength and flexibility. Mr. Pilates faithfully practiced Pilates and continued to influence the fitness community until his death at age 83 in 1967. It was not until after his death that his exercise method became known as the Pilates Method. 

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” - Joseph Pilates

Today, Pilates is faithfully practiced by millions of people around the world due to its effectiveness and adaptability. Although Pilates has evolved over the years, the roots of the technique remain unchanged.

The Original Principles of Pilates:

  • Breath

  • Concentration

  • Centering

  • Control

  • Precision

  • Flow

My personal experience and results with Pilates influenced my purpose in creating LEVEL UP. The foundation of my classes is built upon the fundamentals of classical Mat Pilates, as well as exercises traditionally done on the Reformer. I recreate the exercises using props while incorporating elements of HIIT, cardio, and dance. Pilates will always be at the heart of what I do.

I absolutely love how Pilates has changed, and continues to transform, not only my body’s frame but my mind frame. The benefits of Pilates are countless. With dedicated and consistent practice, the mindfulness you will find within your body and the way it moves will begin to translate into your everyday life. 

Pilates is so much more than an exercise method - it is a lifestyle. 

Check out this article released in TIME Magazine to hear even more about what Pilates can do to contribute to your overall wellbeing!

"Here Are The Health Benefits Of Pilates"

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