Updated: Apr 10, 2022
Invented over a hundred years ago and it has evolved from a workout for prisoners of war to a global workout favourite. Joseph Pilates, the long-deceased inventor of the workout and German circus performer and boxer, who invented the method more than 100 years ago. Pilates, who was born near Düsseldorf in 1880, was a sickly child. His health problems were the motivation for him to become strong.
When the First World War suddenly broke out in 1914, Pilates was on tour in England with his German circus group. He was arrested and imprisoned in a camp on the British Isle of Man.
To pass the time, Pilates watched cats chase mice and birds, marvelling at their energy and agility, which were in stark contrast to the physical and emotional state of his fellow prisoners. He studied the movements of cats and concluded that frequent stretching must be responsible for their lively nature. Pilates then developed a series of exercises to stretch the human muscles. After good results of the routine on his own body, he started teaching it to the other prisoners in the camp, who served as his unwilling audience. Then, when the great flu epidemic hit the island, there was not a single sick person among Pilates' students.
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