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What is Pilates?


Article by Edna Allen and Becky Suarez

Photography by Provided

Strong but limber. A modest description of Joseph Pilates. He died in 1967 at the age of 83 in better physical condition than most men half his age. Here are some facts about Pilates you know and love:

  • Born in Germany in 1883, Joseph Pilates suffered most of his childhood with illness. Exercise including boxing and gymnastics led him to overcome those conditions.
  • Jospeh Pilates referred to his method as Contrology. The root word being control. His exercise required all movements to initiate through the center of the body. A more modern term is the Powerhouse which is often described as all the muscles extending from the pelvic floor to the ribcage including the abdominals, lower back, glutes and hip. He fervently believed that strength through the center of the body created a solid foundation for any movement.
  • Initially, he designed a set of mat exercises with a specific order, one movement flowing into the other. When clients struggled to perform exercises correctly, he developed equipment that used springs to both assist and resist movements. Bodies were supported in a way that could not be achieved solely on the mat. The Reformer is the most common Pilates apparatus today. He also invented the Cadillac, Ped-o-Pull, Chair and many others. All use a variety of spring tensions, and the exercises require control, proper alignment and concentration.
  • His successors changed the name from Contrology to Pilates and its popularity grew. And grew. Today, Pilates is a leading force in the fitness industry. The magic that happens on the equipment and mat have been a resounding victory for those thousands overcoming back pain, poor posture, weak abdominals and untoned muscles. 

Better Bodies Pilates in Lee’s Summit proudly honors the tradition of Joseph Pilates and the principles of his legacy. With two locations in Lakewood and Longview and another in Overland Park, put it on your list and watch your body grow stronger, leaner and more flexible. 

We are dedicated to promoting health and well-being utilizing the Pilates Method of exercise. No Memberships or extra fees. Find more information on how to get started at