What in the world do Pilates and the Flu have to do with one another, you ask? The story goes something like this. Back in 1918 when the influenza pandemic wiped out somewhere between 50 to 100 million people around the world, Joseph Pilates was serving as a soldier for the German Army. Health conditions in the the internment camps were very poor, but it is said that Pilates insisted his soldiers exercise each and every day. Some were injured and lay in hospital beds, so he creatively used springs, attached to the headboards and footboards, to create resistance based routines for these “patients.” These mechanized beds would someday evolve to become the machines that we now know as the Reformer and the Cadillac.
Even in 1918 Joseph Pilates understood the importance of resistance training and stretching, as well as efficient breathing. The breathing, in fact, he always emphasized as the most important principle of his method, which he called “Contrology.” To his credit, not a single soldier under his care died during this great flu epidemic, which is truly remarkable considering the less than optimum conditions in the camps, which as a whole were hard hit by this by this killer!
Since the Pilates method has become so trendy, promising “scooped out” abs, and long, lean muscles, the health aspect of this fabulous practice has become de-emphasized. Perhaps now in this time of seasonal flus and H1N1, we should all be far more concerned with our health than our beauty. Just one of the things I love best about practicing Pilates, is that we can attain better health and a better body all at the same time.
Haven’t tried Pilates yet? What are you waiting for? While pricey private sessions are available at studios everywhere, you can also opt for a group class in a gym making it much more affordable. If you are local, come see me in Tamarac tomorrow night @7pm. Get up and away from the depressing TV news about the flu and take control of your own health. Good for EVERY part of your being, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t tried it sooner.