How Pilates In Austria Began

Beginn Anfang Pilates Österreich Austria ORF Bewusste Bewegung Bewegungsachtsamkeit

I was a lone ranger, ideologically lonely, attractive and as deadly as undiluted Caribbean rum. Afca Dawa, the Afro-Caribbean dance warrior in me, once said …

“For the unknown and strange to be realised, you have to have a mega reservoir of hope, resilience and steadfastness.”

I believe this is true.

The beginning of Pilates in the German-speaking world

In the video below we see the opening of the first Pilates studio in the German-speaking realm filmed by the ORF, the Austrian TV station. Click and have a look now!

As you can see, I was full of passion and 29 years later I am still burning for knowledge, wisdom and truth. Or just for the look on my students’ faces when they have an “a-ha!” experience.

Pilates method – method of control

In Austria, around 1990, nobody had heard of Pilates. Funnily enough, every time I mentioned the name Pilates – and that was at least 10 times a day – people thought I was talking about Pontius Pilatus, the Roman dictator 😀

At that time, nobody was interested in the Pilates method because nobody knew what to make of it. Fact is that many tried to discourage me. They said that Austria was not ready for such a ‘method of control’. Doctors, physiotherapists, … they all rejected the Pilates method. Once a physiotherapist even reported me to the responsible medical association because I used the word ‘rehabilitation’.

A little anecdote to go with the introduction of Pilates in Austria …

Surprise for a doctor

I remember a Pilates workshop I gave for about 20 doctors and physiotherapists in a wellness centre in Vienna/Austria. I think it was early 1991. I was demonstrating the Rolling Like a Ball exercise when a doctor stood up and loudly gave his opinion: “This exercise is not healthy!”. I said that he was right when the exercise is done in such a way that the body weight presses on the lumbar spine. However, if we use our deep muscle corset system (DMCS) – as I demonstrated to the doctor – to lift our upper body upwards when rolling down as well as up, then the Pilates Rolling Like a Ball exercise is a tangible support in keeping our spine healthy.

After trying the Rolling Like a Ball exercise in this new way, he was very impressed and said:

“Mr. Marquis, I don’t understand it, but the pain I’ve had between my shoulder blades for years is gone.”

“Praise Mr. Pilates!” is all I can say. To express my appreciation for J.H. Pilates’ work, here is my tribute to J.H. Pilates in sound and vision. Why not have a look and listen now:)

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