Ann McMillan Pilates
The first Pilates studio in Montreal was founded in 1992 on Queen Mary Street, under the name ‘Centre Pilates de Montréal’, as Ann McMillan was launching her pioneering work and her great Pilates adventure. She had been initiated to the Pilates Method in the 80’s while pursuing her modern dance career in New York City.
She was suffering at the time from a chronic hip injury, and a colleague recommended Pilates as a way to “help involve your abdominals, and ‘get out’ of your hips”, she said. Ann quickly adopted the Pilates Method and her enthusiasm motivated her to launch her own studio when she returned to Montreal because, as she recalls, “there weren’t any Pilates studios in Montreal at the time, which meant that in order to teach Pilates, I had to open my own!”
Little by little, and as Pilates started to gain notoriety, the centre grew; and in September 2007, Ann moved her studio to downtown Montreal in a large space designed specifically for the practise of Pilates. The year 2013 marks a new era in Ann’s career as she decided to concentrate her efforts on teacher training and Pilates education programs. So she closed the beautiful downtown space in September 2013 and now devotes herself to travelling, teaching and dispensing her knowledge in Canada, the United-States and Europe.
Joseph Hubertus Pilates
Joseph H. Pilates was born in 1882 from a German family. His health was poor as a child. In order to fight the ever present threat of tuberculosis and strengthen his body, Joseph started a rigorous training program, becoming an accomplished athlete in several areas, including gymnastics, skiing, diving, boxing and more. His training was a success, and by the age of 14 his muscle profile was so well developed that he posed as a model for anatomical drawings.
After moving to England in 1912, he became a professional boxer and self-defence instructor. He also organized iRoman wrestlingi demonstrations. Two years later at the onset of WWI, Joseph was interned as a German National by the British authorities. To maintain his and his inmatesi physical condition, he devised a series of floor exercises inspired by yoga and bodybuilding. This training allowed them to keep up their strength and health. In fact, legend says that all those who followed his program were spared by the influenza epidemic in 1918. So it is that mat Pilates exercises came to be.
While working as an orderly with injured soldiers during his imprisonment, Joseph also designed exercise apparatus for his patients by attaching springs to hospital beds, in order to strengthen their muscles during recovery. And this is how the Pilates apparatus were invented, such as we know them today.
After the war, Joseph Pilates returned to Germany where he trained the Hamburg city police force with the help of his new inventions. He also met Rudolf Von Laban, one of the pioneers of modern dance, who had a great influence on the development of his techniques.
Joseph Pilates emigrated to the United States in 1926. On the voyage, he met a nurse, Clara, who would become his wife. Together they opened a physical fitness studio in New York City. As they discovered the benefits of Pilates’ technique for improving flexibility, posture, endurance and performance, his practise quickly became all the rage among American dancers, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham. Actors, singers and athletes followed suit, using it as a training tool to improve their overall fitness. He called his technique Contrology. It was only in the late 70is that the Pilates Method was popularized outside New York, when Pilates disciples started teaching on the American Pacific Coast. It quickly grew popular among the Stars of Hollywood.
During the 90is, a team of health professionals at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco (including physical therapists, orthopaedists and Pilates instructors) began to study the benefits of Pilates in the context of rehabilitation. Therapeutic (or post-rehabilitation) Pilates was born.
In later years, the growing interest in holistic and whole-body medicine in the early 2000is contributed to the increasing popularity of the Pilates Method and its use as a general fitness technique. In addition, numerous athletes and sports teams started to incorporate the Pilates Method in their physical training plans.
Pilates is now used internationally by a wide variety of groups of population, in three main forms:
– General fitness for the public at large
– Post-rehabilitation or therapeutic Pilates for symptomatic populations
– Sports training for athletes
The Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) is a Miami-based non-profit organization that protects and dictates the quality standards of the Pilates Method. Ann McMillan Pilates (AMP) is an institution recognized by the PMA for the training of Pilates instructors.