Pilates: a Manx cat-inspired creation

It’s pretty outstanding to think that our humble tail-less resident, the Manx cat, most likely played a big role in forming an exercise that has extended its way across the globe.

Pilates – you know the one with its deceivingly challenging unhurried movements and stretches that are practiced in gym studios everywhere?… but did you know that pilates first started right here on Manx soil!

It was behind tall wired fences in the Parish of Patrick during the first world war that an ‘enemy alien’, German-born Joseph Pilates, began developing this method of fitness and well-being.

During his time locked within Knockaloe Internment Camp, Joseph Pilates grew concerned about his fellow internees who were becoming paler and weaker each day due to their poor diet and monotonous lifestyle. While working as a nurse at the camp, his attention turned to the resident cats.  He wondered how the animals remained bright-eyed and in such good shape despite not having enough food themselves.

In his observations, he noticed that their stretching motions helped keep their muscles limber without using too much energy. This inspired him to create an intense-sounding contraption called ‘the reformer’, something that is still regarded as incredibly effective today with many sport stars and celebrities swearing by the machine.

Joseph Pilates experimented by taking hospital beds apart to make the machine with sliding frames and bed springs for resistance training to help bed-bound patients tone their muscles.

Following the War, he opened a studio using his stretching method – initially dubbed ‘contrology’ – in New York where it became a hit with those recovering from dance injuries.  Thousands of people have since studied pilates to provide classes for those in need of a slow-moving exercise to get their body back to its full potential.

Fitness 360 supervisor, Jess Ward, got in touch with pilates and yoga instructor  Sanchia Ferreria to find out why she is so passionate about pilates:

Jess: Why did you get involved in pilates?

Sanchia: I decided to embark on my pilates journey in 2017 after finding many of my patients were getting recurring back pain and recurring injuries owing to a weak core. I also had many women who were suffering with incontinence and post-pregnancy issues, which I really wanted to address in a gentle manner.

After researching different forms of exercise pilates was the one that resonated with me most. I love how the practice is for all ages and abilities as it’s low impact, which emphasises strength, stability, flexibility and correct alignment of the pelvis and spine.

I absolutely believe strongly in the ‘principles of basi pilates’ which are: awareness; balance; breath; centre; control; concentration; flow; harmony and precision. when this comes together magic happens.

Jess: What are the benefits of this exercise?

Sanchia: There are many benefits to pilates. improved balance, core strength, flexibility and muscle tone are a few obvious ones, but this in turn improves posture and stamina, reduced risk of injury and increases your mental fitness.

jess: what do you enjoy about instructing pilates classes?

Sanchia: I love watching people discover what their bodies are capable of. Most of us think we are limited in what we “think” we can and should do, but if we progress gently and correctly we can really surprise ourselves!

Jess: What is it like to be a pilates instructor in the island where Joseph Pilates first began the motions and created the reformer?

Sanchia: I absolutely love teaching pilates on the Island as it’s a privilege to be able to teach where the practice was founded.

I love that I bring a bit of a different take on pilates – with high energy and music and class repertoire that is constantly changing, but still staying true to the practice. many people were under the impression that pilates is slow and boring so having the opportunity to show the Manx public how fun it can be is such an honour. The <anx public have been absolutely amazing as they have welcomed me with open arms!

Pilates at fitness 360 runs five days a week and booking is highly recommended. You can save a mat via the mindbody app or by popping into fitness 360, located on the first floor of Cycle 360.

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Monday – Friday: 8am – 5pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm (we’re back open on Sundays for Summer!)
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Cafe opening hours

Monday – Friday: 8am – 5pm
Saturday: 9am – 4pm
Sunday: 10am – 4pm
Bank holidays: 10am – 4pm.

For TT opening hours, please see here.