Born near Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1880, Joseph H. Pilates had his challenges as a child, suffering from asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever.  His determination to heal led to his study of Eastern and Western forms of exercise, including yoga and ancient Greek and Roman exercise regimens.
 
Accomplished as a wrestler, diver, skier and a gymnast, he was even asked to pose as a model for anatomical charts. When World War I broke out, he was interned for a year in England, and while in the camp, he taught his fellow internees the physical fitness program he had developed, boasting that they would emerge stronger than they were before imprisonment. Those who followed his program are said to have resisted the influenza epidemic that killed thousands.

 
Pilates fittingly called his method "Contrology," (the study of control) and believed that it would help people to develop the strength and fortitude in body and mind, not only to accomplish daily mundane tasks with ease, but to live life to the fullest. 
 
"Contrology is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit. Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of exercises you progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities. It develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit." – Joseph Pilates
 
Pilates exercises focus on the "powerhouse," or the stabilizing muscles of the torso, which support the spine.
 
Pilates is based on six principles which enable you to learn to move with maximum efficiency while minimizing stress on the body:
Centering: Strengthening the powerhouse and "corset" muscles of the body, which include the abdominals, pelvis, buttocks and back.
Concentration: Bringing one's full attention to the form and execution of each exercise.
Control: Engaging the mind to unite with the body to economize movement (i.e. learning to use only the muscles necessary to perform a task, while the rest of the body relaxes).
Precision: Employing the notion that every movement has a purpose, resulting in a "less is more," and "quality over quantity" philosophy. When a movement is performed well a few times, there is no need to do more.
Breath: Moving in tandem with the breath, resulting in enhanced lung capacity, overall coordination and facilitating a stronger mind-body connection.
Flow: Every movement in a Pilates exercise is performed with the grace and ease of a dancer.
 
The medical community also recognizes Pilates as a modality that assists with physical therapy.

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