History of Pilates Exercise (Part 3)

Lynda Lippin

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After WWI Joseph Pilates was deported back to Germany, where he continued to develop, practice, and teach his exercises until 1925. He trained the Hamburg Military Police, took on some private clients, and worked as an early Physical Therapist, exercising patients who suffered from the same illnesses he had, including rheumatic fever. Joe met and collaborated with movement analyst Rudolf van Laban and famous German dancer Mary Wigman, and began developing spring based exercise equipment. “I thought, why use my strength [to exercise rheumatic patients]? So I made a machine to do it for me. Look, you see it resists your movements in just the right way so those inner muscles really have to work against it. That way you can concentrate on movement. You must always do it slowly and smoothly. Then your whole body is in it. "

Post war Germany was not doing well either politically or economically. The Weimar Republic was not accepted by many Germans, inflation was up due to wartime debts, and unemployment was at an all time high. By 1923 French and Belgium troops had moved in to Germany as she defaulted on war reparations payments. The government began printing so much money that the mark became worthless in 1914 the US dollar was equivalent to 4 marks, in 1920 40 marks, in 1922 200 marks, in 1923 18,000 marks, and by 1924 4.2 trillion marks. Things had literally gotten to the point where you needed a wheelbarrow full of paper money just to buy groceries.

In 1925 Pilates was invited to train the New German Army. However, given the situation in Germany, he had already decided to leave. Boxing expert Nat Fleischer and Olympic boxer Max Schmelling convinced Joe to come to the US, specifically to New York City. Here he could train boxers and continue to work on his equipment, inventing and patenting his new machines. He met his future wife Clara, a kindergarten teacher, on the boat to Ellis Island.

Lynda Lippin, “The Pilates & Reiki Lady" of the Turks & Caicos islands. Visit http://www.balancenter.net for more information, links, and Lynda's Amazon.com Store.

Read Lynda's blogs: http://pilatesinparadise.blogspot.com for chronicles of expat life in the Caribbean http://pilatesandreiki.blogspot.com for more on Pilates & Reiki


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