“ Return to Life!” – Pilates Now

“Return to Life Through Contrology” was one of the few publications produced by Joseph Pilates. Interestingly enough, Mr. Pilates was inspired to write his book because (much like today) people were experiencing rapid changes in business, industry, and technology. The world was changing. In 1945, Mr. Pilates wrote his second book.  After two world wars, people were working hard and suffering from fatigue, depression and a host of wide spread epidemics from tuberculosis to influenza.


Joseph Pilates spent his life studying wellness. The German born child of a prize-winning gymnast father and a holistic nurse mother, Joseph was a sickly child. He adapted the methods used by the Greek and Roman warriors to combat and prevail against asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever. Taking these passions into his life’s work, Mr. Pilates trained and rehabilitated soldiers and prisoners of war. The first reformer was an army cot with a system of pulleys and springs that he concocted in a military hospital.

Mr. Pilates’ ideas were revolutionary at the time. His exercises were designed to restore vigor to the body so the individual could experience a better quality of life. (Remember, yoga didn’t appear in the U.S. until the 1960’s.) His belief was to eliminate body fatigue and mental strain through the mastery of the mind over complete control of the body. He believed that mental vigor, as well as physical vigor, was renewed by reawakening thousands of otherwise dormant muscle cells. People were moving from farms to desk jobs. Strain and fatigue, both mental and physical, were evident from sitting for long periods of time. He thought that with new sedentary lifestyles, people no longer breathed properly and posture was poor. He believed that using the minor muscle groups would not only strengthen the major muscles but it would improve spirit.

And you know, he was correct. What the ancients knew in the heart, modern science is now proving to be true. Activating the minor muscles does impact the neurotransmitters in the brain. Mr. Pilates thought that by practicing his exercises called Contrology - the name never stuck - you would not only see a fit and well toned body in as little as three months, but you would also strengthen the will and develop a consciousness of possessing the power to accomplish your desires!

Wow! That’s some pretty deep stuff coming out of an exercise class right?! That’s just it. Pilates, when practiced faithfully twice a week, can really have life changing effects. It spills over from the reformer to your life. You might handle stress better. As you strengthen the core, you whittle the middle. This equates to standing taller, feeling stronger, and having more energy to do the things in life that bring you joy and happiness.

Using a series of precise, well executed exercises – along with attention to correct breathing patterns and posture – the Pilates method will create a fit, well balanced body. Pilates will properly and scientifically exercise every muscle in your body, which will then be reflected in the way you live your life. Mr. Pilates said it best. “It’s a program designed to give suppleness, natural grace and skill.

Shanti Shanti –



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