When people think of Pilates, it’s often in association with women, dancers, and others who have made the fitness regimen mainstream. However, there are several programs out there that focus on the original use of Pilates – as a rehabilitation treatment for wounded veterans of World War I.
You probably know the name “Joseph Pilates” as the founder of the titular workout routine. However, not all people know that when Joseph developed his now popular regimen, he was in an internment camp in Great Britain as a German citizen.
Rather than be bitter about his experience during the war torn years, Joseph worked diligently as a fitness teacher and nurse. During his time in internment, he developed and refined his methods, calling his system “Contrology”. As wounded soldiers arrived from battle lines, he applied his methods to strengthening and reconditioning them.
Today, many projects exist which use Pilates to help veterans with injuries – including many who suffered amputation of one or more limbs. Pilates focuses on strengthening the core, and a few years ago the Royal Danish Ballet stepped up to partner with injured soldiers from Afghanistan to offer rehabilitative Pilates.
The idea quickly gained steam, and now many projects for “Wounded Warriors” exist, bringing Pilates full circle and emphasizing its value to those who require a steady, safe, and effective method for restoring flexibility, range of motion, balance, and inner core strength.
Pilates is a terrific way to work out. It’s provides great training for athletes in all types of sports and activities, from dancers to tennis players to football stars. It can be a terrific family routine, a couple’s way to spend time together while working out at their own pace, and even an option for seniors who need an exercise regimen to strengthen aging bones and joints.
However Pilates was originally developed as a way to help veterans of wars, to rehabilitate their bodies and help them adapt. Today, with soldiers in many countries returning home to a different life than the one they had before, Pilates can provide a way to make that life richer and more mobile.