THE PILATES METHOD of body conditioning was developed by Joseph Pilates (pi-LAH-teez) after World War I, to help injured soldiers regain their strength and flexibility. When Pilates moved to New York City in 1926, he and his wife Clara established a studio that is still in operation today. Pilates’ method was first popular with the dance community. Martha Graham and George Balanchine studied it. Gradually Pilates developed a wider following.
Today it is popular with athletes, dancers, senior citizens, those with bone or back problems, pregnant women – in short, with all types of people over the age of 12. Pilates aims for a balance between strength and flexibility in the whole body, not just certain muscles. Workouts are low-stress, with the goal of developing the mind and body uniformly. Pilates can be combined with other exercise routines, and requires no special diet. Until you know the routines, however, you must be taught by a qualified instructor.