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Pilates pandemic story

Joe Pilates Flu pandemic

Lockdown Pandemic Pilates Story

I put a little post of me talking about Joe Pilates and the 1918 Flu pandemic on FB today. Here’s the story.

Joe Pilates was in an internment camp for the duration of WW1 and was imprisoned there during the flu pandemic that arrived world wide and into Joe’s camp in 1918.

Joe lived through a 4 year lock down and a pandemic.In that time. Joe lost his personal freedom. He became a prisoner. A victim of events beyond his control. As a positive and driven character, Joe really used his time in lock down well. He worked daily on the ideas and inventions, the movement exercises and the theories that became what we now call Pilates.The camp became Joe’s laboratory for testing and refining and sharing his gifts as a movement and physical health guru and inventor.

For 4 years in his lock down laboratory Joe developed his ideas. The ideas are the ones that we Pilates teachers still teach every day and place Joe as a world leader and innovator in the field. Today around a 100 years later, he is known around the world as the originator of a powerful, holistic approach to human fitness and wellness.

Joe’s work in the camp was as an orderly in the camp hospital. He looked after the wounded, sick and injured and those in the camp who had caught the 1918 Spanish Flu virus that caused a world wide pandemic.

Joe always said that none of the guys in his compound got ill and died from the Spanish Flu because of the fitness routines he developed and led them in. Joe built an outdoor gym for the guys in his compound with lumber he could find or scrounge from around the camp. He invented the resistance and spring based equipment we now know as the Reformer and the Trapeze Table to rehabilitate bed bound patients. Joe practiced and taught ” Pilates” daily, supporting the health and healing of his fellow prisoners and the patients in the hospital.

I’m so inspired reflecting on this story about how Joe Pilates shared his knowledge with his community and also developed his knowledge during his unique experience of pandemic and lockdown. I’m inspired to remember that Pilates can support our mental and physical health in the best of times and the worst of times.