Pilates Fun Facts Every Instructor Should Know!

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While Pilates becomes more popular every year, we know that many students – and even a handful of teachers – find there’s still some mystery around this exercise method that we love so. Here’s hoping these fun facts help expand your knowledge of the method.

Originally, Pilates was called Contrology by its founder, Joseph H. Pilates. He wanted to emphasize the importance of muscle control and, in his words, “the complete coordination of the mind, body and spirit.”

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany and immigrated to England early last century. An avid boxer and gymnast, Joe at one time taught self-defense to detectives at Scotland Yard. Having begun to develop his Contrology method as a sickly younger man, he refined this method while in an internment camp during WWI, where he also began to develop the prototypes for his apparati – including the reformer and Cadillac.

The Universal Reformer, as Joe called it, was literally meant to reform the body. The apparatus itself was born of a hospital bed with rigged springs that let users work against resistance. We’ll tip our hats to the amazing Pilates teacher Benjamin Degenhardt, who shares more reformer information here.

Pilates lore tells that the Cadillac, also called the Trapeze Table, was dubbed that in reverence to the eponymous car. Mythology says Joe thought the Trapeze Table was “the best” apparatus, thus he named it after “the best” car.

There were only a handful of “elders” who carried on the work of Joseph Pilates. These teachers include Kathy Grant and Lolita San Miguel, the only instructors directly certified to teach the method by Mr. Pilates; Carola Trier, the first to open a Pilates studio “with Joseph Pilates’ personal blessing”; and Romana Kryzanowska, perhaps the best-known, and the formative voice in the Classical Pilates method.

The “fun fact” part? Most Pilates teachers today can point to one of these elders as their original teaching “ancestor.” I’m one generation away from Romana, and our co-founder Michelle was a direct student of Romana – making her Joe Pilates’ “granddaughter”!

(Psst: Are YOU ready to teach Pilates? Let us tell you more!)

What other questions do you have about Pilates? What else can we help demystify? Let us know here in the comments and we promise to add to this post!

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