What is Pilates?

The central aim of Pilates is to create a fusion of mind and body so that movement is efficient, balanced and graceful.

Pilates is a body/mind discipline based on the original system of controlled movements developed by Joseph Humbertus Pilates more than 60 years ago. The method focuses on creating a healthy balance between strength and flexibility of the total body with a focus on core stabilization. The exercises are designed to improve function of the muscular and skeletal systems, enhance circulation, augment energy and elevate overall individual levels of fitness. Pilates consists of the mat exercises and is further enhanced by special apparatus, such as the Reformer, Cadillac, Chairs, Barrels and Magic Circles.


Power Pilates

The Power Pilates Education Program was developed by chiropractor, Dr. Howard Sichel and Pilates Master Teachers Susan Moran, Bob Liekens and Phoebe Higgins, all trained by Romana Kryzanowska in the early 1980’s.

Throughout the 1980’s, Dr. Howard Sichel sent his clients to be rehabilitated by his office neighbor, Pilates Master Teacher Romana Kryzanowska at her studio. After Romana’s original studio passed ownership several times eventually to Wee Tai Hom and then closed in 1989 – Dr. Sichel and Phoebe Higgins salvaged much of the equipment and relocated the studio to Dr. Sichel’s chiropractic office. Soon after Susan Moran joined forces and Power Pilates was created. In 2000, Bob Liekens joined Sichel, Higgins, and Moran and Power Pilates became the dominant force in classical Pilates creating an organized, inspiring teacher training program sought out by Pilates and fitness professionals worldwide.

Power Pilates is the only leading Pilates education program that emerged not from an equipment manufacturer but from a knowledge of the method, a passion for the art, and a recognition of its core value in rehabilitating pain sufferers and advancing the fitness goals of its practitioners. Power Pilates was acquired by APOGEE Wellness in 2009.

For more information, visit the Power Pilates web site.

About Joseph Pilates

Joseph Pilates was born in a small village near Düsseldorf, Germany in 1883. His father was a prize winning gymnast and his mother was a naturopath. In his early years, Joseph was interested in and influenced by both Western and Eastern forms of exercise, including yoga. He achieved some success as a boxer, a gymnast, a skier and a diver. During WW I, he taught wrestling and self defense. 

Joseph came in contact with many soldiers who had suffered from various injuries during and following the war. He devised spring mechanisms attached to beds to aid in rehabilitation and so began the development of what we refer to today as the Cadillac. His system focused on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which support the spine. The central aim of Pilates is to create a fusion of mind and body so that movement is efficient, balanced and graceful. 

Joe and his wife, Clara, opened a gym following their arrival in New York in 1926. The gym was located on Eighth Avenue in the same building as several dance studios and rehearsal spaces. Joseph began to work with the dancers, eventually including such luminaries as George Balanchine, Martha Graham and Jerome Robbins. Many of today's Pilates teachers have a background in dance.

Clara continued to teach Pilates and run the studio after Joseph’s death in 1967. One of their disciples, Romana Kryzanowska, later took over the studio and moved it to 56th Street. The first generation teachers are often referred to as the “elders.” Romana trained Bob Liekens who later became an extremely well known and highly regarded teacher and is now associated with Power Pilates. In 1989, Dr. Howard Sichel and Phoebe Higgins opened a chiropractic office next door to the studio. This was the connection that led to meeting Susan Moran and eventually the development of Power Pilates.

In just 80 years, the number of people practicing Pilates world wide is estimated to be near 15 million with over 15,000 instructors. In recent years, Pilates has entered the mainstream of health and wellness. Today, more than ever, Pilates is far more than a collection of exercises. It is, rather, a living discipline that continues to be developed and refined through constant use and observation.