Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Pilates inventor honoured with giant class at Manx WW1 internment camp

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionA tribute to the founder of Pilates who devised the programme in an internment camp

More than 1,000 people have taken part in a Pilates class at the place where its German creator was interned on the Isle of Man in World War One.

Joseph Pilates dedicated his life to refining the system of physical exercises he created whilst detained at the Knockaloe camp near Peel.

Organisers said Pilates' methodology had "benefited millions worldwide".

Pilates spent about three and a half years interned at the camp, which was designed to hold about 23,000 people.

Image copyright The mannin collection
Image caption Joseph Pilates taught his techniques to many of the 23,000 men interned at the Knockaloe site

The Knockaloe camp was divided into 23 compounds, each designed to hold 1,020 internees.

Organisers recreated that figure for the one-off 45-minute class.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pilates encouraged awareness of the breath and the alignment of the spine through exercise

A spokeswoman said the class had been inspired by seeing a postcard depicting internees putting on a Pilates display, just 15 days after he arrival at the Knockloe camp.

During his time in the camp it is believed the young Pilates worked in the camp's hospitals and was highly respected.

He spent his time developing a comprehensive system of physical exercise which he called "Contrology".

Mo Sherring, of the Isle of Man Pilates Studio, said it is "not just a series of exercises" but a "conceptual approach to movement".

Pilates invented his own unique apparatus formed from the springs from his dormitory bed.

He also studied the movement of animals.

After the war he dedicated his life to refining his methods which are still used widely across the world.


What is Pilates?

  • Pilates (pronounced pi-lah-tees) is a form of exercise which builds your body's core strength and posture
  • This is done through a series of stretching and conditioning exercises
  • Examples include holding your arms out to your side for as long as you can
  • Another is to sit with your legs out in front of you before raising them and keeping them just off the ground
  • Pilates is great for your muscles and in helping prevent injuries

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites