Joseph Pilates' Your Health
Joseph Pilates in his first booklet called Your Health covered a number of different topics in just 60+ pages.
He never referred to his exercises as Pilates, mentioned wellness nor mind-body exercise. Yet, anybody remotely familiar with these concepts should be able to realize just how much Pilates was ahead of his time when he wrote about these topics. He simply lumped them all into one topic: Contrology.
- In his foreword, successfully predicts that his ideas will become revolutionary.
- Essentially claims in the introduction, that the goal of mankind is wellness.
- Makes the same complaints that one might make today: conflicting information, misinformation, and that the efforts of the health establishment are in vane. Also, complains that money spent on gymnasium equipment and health foods is wasted.
- Blames the then current sad state of affairs on the established health authorities, the so-called scientists, the medical fraternity, physical culture directors, and the trainers of athletes for not knowing what wellness is or how to achieve it.
- Comments on the health quacks of his era.
- Talks about heart disease a few times, but he is mostly interested in the deformities of posture, the spine, or backbone: "curvature of the spine, protruding stomach, stooped-shoulders, hollow chest, hollow back, bow legs, and knocked-kneed conditions." Good posture is very important according to Pilates and claims that his corrective exercises will improve your posture and the flexibility of the spine. He is definitely of the opinion that a straight spine is a major requirement for good health. He devotes an entire chapter to the health of the spine.
- Gives extensive advice on how to raise children.
- Writes about the benefits of physical fitness and mind-body exercise.
- Talks about functional exercise and contrasts his Contrology with artificial exercise.
- Praises many times the ancient Greek and Greco-Roman culture which valued physical perfection.
- Praised the virtue of living outdoors in nature wearing as little clothes on body as possible. Pilates was clearly one of those people who would be a nudist for health reasons.
- Writes about correct breathing. Says that correct breathing is the only thing, that you need personal one-on-one instruction in.
- Writes the entire last chapter of his booklet on his failed furniture business. He was trying to sell the value of his own brand of chairs and beds. His bed designs literally had a distinctive V-shape to them that looked like a sunken worn out mattress. In this booklet, he gave a lot more specifics about his furniture than he ever did about his corrective exercises.
But, without a doubt the major part of this booklet is about his thoughts on wellness, Contrology/Pilates, his concept of the mind-body connection, and mind-body exercise.
The major problem with the writings of Pilates is that they often cannot be quoted directly. They must be paraphrased since he wrote before his time and used different terminology from what is commonly used today. His use of language was often wordy and cumbersome.
- "That practically all human ailments are directly traceable to wrong habits which can only be corrected through the immediate adoption of right (natural, normal) habits."
- "That only through the attainment of perfect balance of mind and body, can one appreciate what really constitutes normal health."
- "Did you ever hear of an animal gymnasium conducted by animals for animals, for the purpose of gratifying their desire or need for artificial exercising?"
- "The first lesson is that of correct breathing."
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- Your Health, Published by Jospeh Pilates, 1934.