The Evolution of Pilates Equipment. By Rael Isacowitz
The Evolution of Pilates Equipment
Like so many of you, I realized early on in my Pilates career, which started in the late 1970’s, that there was true brilliance to be found not only in the method itself, but also in the apparatus.
I often asked myself over the years, why does Pilates equipment feel so different from other exercise equipment? Why do I feel a certain reverence when I work on Pilates equipment? Why would I never get on the equipment with shoes on? Why do I feel so compelled to always treat the equipment kindly; never abruptly slamming the carriage against the stopper or letting the springs go without slowly releasing the tension?
Certainly, it had to do with my respect and revrence for the system itself. Yet over the years realized that I regarded the equipment more like a partner than an inanimate object. I developed a relationship with the equipment, a give and take, an ebb and flow, an understanding that seemed to grow with every session. With each piece I developed a completely different relationship. The relationship with the Reformer could not be compared to the Cadillac, the
Wunda Chair was so different to the Spine Corrector and the Ladder Barrel – they were all so unique and deserved a special relationship. The only way I can describe these relationships is that it felt similar to partnering in dance, I was partnering with the equipment. On any given day, at any given time, my mood would (and still does) dictate which piece of equipment I want to relate to and workout with.
Over time I saw how I could, and needed to, im- prove myself in order to share a better relationship with the equipment – to be a better partner. At the same time, I began to discover ways in which the equipment could be improved. Some of these improvements were based on more userfriendly materials that had become available over the years, others were based on contemporary knowledge of human movement science, others were based on aesthetic and artistic appeal and yet others on practicality when working with the equipment hours upon hours a day.
I did not desire to invent new pieces of exercise equipment, I simply longed to refine what already existed. I had no intention of reinventing the wheel, Joseph Pilates had already invented it, I just wanted to smooth the wheel out and in so doing create more compatible partners to move with.
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