Pilates, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Everyday Life
Health and Fitness

While a great number of exercise regimes and systems of well-being have adherents in the United States, the system known as Pilates is one of the most popular in the country. Joseph Hubertus Pilates was a German-born exercise instructor and health theorist who worked in the United States from the 1920s through the 1960s. Pilates set out his method, which he called Contrology, in his books Return to Life through Contrology and Your Health: A Corrective System of Exercising That Revolutionizes the Entire Field of Physical Education. Designed to be a complete physical fitness regime, the Pilates method stresses using the weight of one’s own body, focusing on physical balance, support of the spine, awareness of breath, and use of the mind to control the muscles.

After Joseph Pilates died in 1967 at the age of 87, numerous Pilates Method practitioners and schools of practice arose, some claiming to offer improved and more modern versions of the original Pilates techniques. After litigation in 2000, a federal court held that “Pilates” was a generic term for a certain type of exercise and could not be trademarked. Numerous companies produce Pilates equipment and video courses; a wide array of Pilates studios operate all over the country. The Pilates Method Alliance, a not-for-profit corporation, was created in order to unite the industry and create standards for training and conduct of practitioners; nevertheless, anyone is free to open a Pilates studio in an environment that is largely unregulated. Nearly every American community of any size has some form of Pilates studio.

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